Friday, June 25, 2010

Western States 2010: H - 12 news

This has been an interesting couple of days up here in Squaw Valley and Tahoe City: overcast, chilly temperatures, and even rain, quite an unusual setting at least for me for the end of June in Northern California. With that, who is still going to believe in global warming and that we have to act so urgently to protect our Blue Planet...

Just a short post to give you some news before tomorrow's race. Actually, I need to get prepared so I mostly invite you to look at my Picasa photo album which covers a few pre-race events:
  1. The Flag Raising
  2. The runner check-in on Friday morning
  3. The race briefing (pre-run meeting) of Friday afternoon

Flag Raising

Not quite at Emigrant Pass because of the snow up there. Yes, there is quite some snow and the organizers have declared the run as a Snow Year, although it's nothing compared to 1995 or 1998 from what a few veterans were saying. For instance, in 1998, the top of the Watson Monument was 6 feet under snow while there is barely 2 feet at the bottom of the monument this year. But enough snow for us to switch to the snow year route, going down to French Meadows before Lyon Ridge. I don't know the route but it is said as being much faster and, with the amazingly competitive field toeing up the start line this year, it's likely that Scott Jurek's course record will fall, and maybe the 15-hour mark too.
Anyway, it was great to get back in the Western States Endurance Run mood, spirit and history with this official ceremony whose main goal is to pay tribute to the ones close to the race who left us during the year. Starfire, a horse who spent his 25-year life on the trail and has been the first non-human to get the Friend of the Trail award for all his work carrying equipment for trail maintenance. Among others we also remembered Dan Moores, the founder of the Auburn Running Company, who died the day before the run last year. In my 2009 race report, I told you how much Dan helped me digging deeper and it is certain that he will be with all of us again this year, on a trail he loved so much.
I'd like to take the opportunity to dedicate my race again to Tom Kaisersatt who is battling cancer with the same energy he put into running marathons and ultras for many years and inspiring hundreds of runners in the Bay Area to run a marathon or more. Tom will be at Last Chance again this year, preparing grilled cheese sandwiches! I can't wait to get through Last Chance, the station managed by my fellow Striders, and get the thrill which has allowed me to make it through Devil Thumb twice already.

Runner Check-in

I was the first in line around 7:45 this morning after driving up from Tahoe City. It is so great to see so many known faces both on the volunteers and runners side. Around 8:30, I saw Killian Jornet coming back from a run on the course and I asked Simon, his Salomon teammate, to introduce me.

While we were chatting and I was letting Kilian I put my bets on him, the check-in opened and Simon and I caught-up with the line which was actually not too bad and going through really smoothly though the various steps (waiver, picking great goodies, leaving emergency contacts and finishing up with the medical check.

Pre-run Meeting

With the meeting of the canceled 2008 run, that was my 4th meeting and I must say the most unusual setting. The past three years, everybody was competing for the shade but, today, the whole Olympic Plaza was filled. It seemed like we were three times as many as usual!
The protocol of the meeting was not changed and a nice way to pay tribute to our spouses, our crew members, the more than 1,500 volunteers, all the ones who gave hundreds of hours to maintain the trail. At the head of this huge human adventure, on behalf of the Board of Trustees led by Tim Twietmeyer, Greg Soderlund has been directing the race for the past 10 years, after taking over Norm Klein. To commemorate this occasion, Tim gave Greg his first silver 1,000-mile Race Director belt buckle!
The meeting ended up with the presentation by (Tropical) John Medinger of the amazing top runners who cam this year. Overall we, the lucky ones making it to the start line tomorrow, come from 20 foreign countries and 40 US States (plus Texas! ;-).

Tomorrow should be an amazing race to watch online in case you were not able to join the Big Dance live, this weekend. It is really hard to make a prognosis. I really believe Killian can hammer this course if only he stay with some experience runners up front. My second favorite is Tony Krupicka. But, overall, there are more than 10 runners who can go for a win this year. Many stars who have never lost, who have set numerous course records. In particular, it should be amazing to see the elite runners arrive at Rucky Chucky to jump on the boat since we are taking the boat to cross the river this year. You can follow the race on the Western States Endurance Run webcast. After wearing the bib 99 in 2007, 44 and 45 in 2008 and 2009, I will be #46 this year.

With that, again, see my Picasa photo album to get more of the pre-race ambiance! And, to all, happy dreams before our early start tomorrow.

No comments: