Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Mighty Chimera

We'd been watching the weather forecasts all week. A couple of storms were due in the week of the Chimera 100K/M race. Maybe the Wednesday before and maybe the Saturday of the race. Wednesday was overcast but no rain, looks like the storm stayed north. What about Saturday? Could we be lucky and skirt that storm too? Friday was cold and cloudy. I decided I'd better be a little proactive and get some warmer running gear. My North Face Summit series jacket would work-seemed to be warm enough on Whitney, but I needed some running pants. Got an online deal for some NF rain pants. That would have to be enough...maybe it won't rain that much...

Packing up my drop bag, more like a drop suitcase, I put in a complete change of clothing, a waterproof shell and matching pants. These were just in case items, I was figuring the storm to hit in the evening, and clean dry clothes would be a big pick me up at mile 44.

We arrived at Blue Jay campground at 0530, and discovered the race start was pushed back to 0630. We relaxed a bit, chatted with other runners and tried to get a glimpse of Karl Melzer.
At 0630 we took off down the first 9 mile loop. Narrow singletrack, rocky and rooty. The first couple of miles were great fun, bombing the downhills. But then came the mud and uphills. At least the weather was cooperating! A bit of drizzle, but pretty warm-good running temp. We get back to Blue Jay to stock up on essentials, then head out to the main divide. The majority of the next 50+ miles were to be on the main divide road, a short downhill on the motorway and maple springs trail.

As we head out to the trabuco trailhead aid station the weather takes a dump. It is now pouring rain. Along with the wind the rain feels like hail hitting my face. Temperatures are dropping. And we are climbing...and climbing....and climbing...The Trabuco Trailhead aid station was manned by many familiar trailheadz. Steve Harvey, the RD made sure his runners would be well taken care of. Hot soup/drinks at all the aid stations. Heaven!

Next stop, trabuco peak aid station...

I must say, for all the cold and wind and rain...this run was a true adventure. We had a great time slogging thru the mud. Dodging falling rocks. I'd long ago given up skirting the puddles. My montrail mountain masochists seemed to be made for this type of punishment.
We finally arrive at the trabuco peak aid station. Those poor volunteers had their hands full. Their tent was barely standing, and they seemed as wet as the runners. Yet they were still there offering help, food and water. After a brief stop we headed up again, to Santiago Peak.
We'd been out on the trail for 6.5-7 hours. The last 4 in pouring rain. Running the downhills allowed me to warm up, but the slow hikes uphill were hard, you feel the cold. In my mind I just wanted to get to the Maple springs AS to get some dry clothes and waterproof clothing. So I was counting down the miles. Finally we make the peak AS. As soon as we enter the tent the Kristen the Ham operator in charge of the AS tells us the race has been called. The conditions are too dangerous now. The trabuco peak aid station has completely blown away leaving runners having to navigate 9 miles unaided. The roads are washing out and people are getting hypothermic.
We have the option to continue on 5 more miles to the Maple springs AS, or wait it out until the rescue vehicle can haul us out. The tent is filling fast, the wind is howling and snow is falling. We all are trying to make the best of a seriously crazy situation.
After an hour a rescue vehicle arrives, a young man with a SUV who volunteered to drive the 13miles in crazy weather to pick up standed crazy runners! We are packed into the Exterra, dirty, wet and muddy, slipping and sliding over the main divide. Great fun!!! All part of the adventure!! Over an hour later we finally pull in to Blue Jay campground. We thank our driver and head over to warm up on hot homemade delicous soup.

Total miles...about 23. Would I do this again next year...absolutely!!

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Wow Lori! What an adventure. You are one tough gal. : )