Time shifts dramatically on the mountains. Before we knew it, days had passed. Days of nothing but hiking, eating, and sleeping. Before long it was time to welcome the rest of our team to Salt Lake City. Luckily for us, we have some pretty stellar friends who immediately agreed to fly out and support Zach for his first 100. After picking up Rob and Addison, Team ZARK made it’s way up north to Logan, Utah to await the start of the race.
It seems as if I can’t get the mountains out of my mind.
We’ve been home from Utah for over a week and they have continued to haunt me. Those peaks, the heights, the shear mass of it all. Uncharted territories tend to have that effect on me. Blind we arrived in a new space, with no inkling of the toll this place would have on us.
I’ve been to Salt Lake City several times before. Staying downtown, you see the mountains all around you, but their impact doesn’t hit until you get much closer. To me, Salt Lake was another city, just with more Mormons. Arriving a week before Zach’s 100 mile race, we drove thru SLC and into the mountains just after dusk. Making our way to Park City, I imagined what was around us; for the faint lines of majestic summits could barely be seen. It wasn’t until the next morning did I realize we were amidst nature in it’s truest form.
Traveling inevitably brings folks to together. Seeing that we were running/crewing the same race, a friend from college connected with us to share her beautiful life in SLC. Britta and her boyfriend Nick welcomed us with open arms into their home and their world of trail running. Their genuine passion for the outdoors was so contagious, I felt myself getting wrapped up in their beautiful carefree lifestyle.
Zach’s nervousness was apparent that morning as we quietly ate breakfast and packed up our gear. I desperately tried to hide my building anxiety as I thought about all the scenarios the next 24 hours could bring. Wishing him good luck, we watched on the sidelines as a couple hundred runners turned on their headlamps and walked to the start of the race. It was the beginning of a long day.
With a couple hours to spare between aid stations, Rob, Addison, our friend Kelsey, and I decided it was best to spend our time carb loading at Angie’s Diner. Between devouring a massive cinnamon roll, endless coffee refills, and comments on how obscene the amount of food we received, conversations flowed and I begin to relax.
In those first hours before mile 36 not a lot happened, but introspectively it really defined the trip for me. Here I was supporting my best friend in a phenomenal feat. Not only was I lucky enough to be here to run with him, but I had the honor of doing it with the help of some amazing friends. I’ve known Rob since college. We haven’t always seen eye to eye, but if you were to ask me who is one of the most loyal people I know, without a doubt Robbie’s name would be first. He is a good part of why I’m with Zach and for that, he will forever be one of my best guy friends. Zach grew up with Ad and even though we’ve known each other just a few years, I can see why he has always been a strong support for Zach. His contagious laugh and intense personality are just two reasons why we get along so well. Then there is Kelsey. Kels and I really don’t know each other. At all. But that didn’t matter because I knew this girl was gold after one conversation. Her rawness and utter candor is invigorating to take in. Paired with her passion for running and just having a good f*cking time, Kelsey is a helluva gal.
After way too much coffee and waiting around, Zachary finally came into the first aid station where Rob could pace him. With a somewhat shaky transition, the boys took off and we drove to the next aid station, and then to the next. With the runner only taking a few minutes to fuel up at each aid station, a crew’s time is mostly waiting. It started to feel like a messed up game: drive to the next remote aid station using an old school map since there is no cell phone service, calculate what time Zach would run through the aid station, wait, turn on the car to stay warm, pee in the woods, eat the rest of my massive cinnamon roll, wait some more.
When it finally came time for me to run with Zach, I couldn’t have been happier. The nerves that had been eating away at my stomach for hours melted away instantly. From 51 to mile 75 I ran and walked with Zach through unscathed beauty. It wasn’t easy as I had to witness some pretty low points for Zach. None of which I could do anything to help. With veggie broth and a hot grilled cheese around 9pm, he finally started to perk back up.
The waiting game continued as Rob took over from mile 75 to 92. As Ad and I stared at the endless sky of stars at the last aid station, Ad’s motto couldn’t have put it better. “God is good.” Fighting the urge to sleep, Zach and Rob came through the last aid station around 3am. It was my duty to bring Zach home to the finish before the 24 hour mark… and we were pushing it. The last 25 miles had taken a toll on Zach. As we climbed the steepest ascent in the race, he wrapped his arm tightly around my neck, begging for support. These last miles were very quiet as I didn’t know what to say to someone who was so tired and sore. As we made our way down to Bear Lake, a surge of energy overtook Zach as he hauled ass through the rock filled decent. I kept cursing each rock and boulder, wondering why they were there. As the rocks got smaller and the road less steep, I knew we were almost home. Seeing a lanky figure in the distance, Rob approached us, wielding a smile to tell us we had less than a mile to go. Finishing in 23 hours and 17 minutes, Zach completed his first 100 mile race. I have never been so proud of my husband.
The rest of the day was spent sleeping and stuffing our faces, but it was hard to imagine the adventure was near it’s end. As we soaked in the last of the mountains, it didn’t take long for Zach to admit he wanted to run another 100. I’m with you babe.
To our first of many 100’s and more profound awakenings.