Montana, August 21 & 22, 2015
Ghost of Yellowstone 100 didn't go well for me. Sometimes, mother nature is stronger than us and it is just the way it is. I initially signed up for a 100 out and back. I only found out last week that the course was changed last minute for 2 loops of 50 miles. It threw me off a little... Also, only 13 runners signed up, the event was really small. I arrived in Montana and couldn't see the mountains at all! There are a lot of wildfires in the western states these days and with the wind, all the smoke lands in Montana.
10 runners started the race on Friday in the smoke. It was bad... I was breathing it and could feel it in my lungs. Cutoffs were tight on the first half and couldn't really take it slow to go up to 9600ft. I teamed up with my new friend Tom from Austria for the first 30 miles. We had the honor to meet a moose and lots of cows. Coming to mile 40, I realized I was 10 hrs in with a zero calorie intake. The smoke got to me and I just couldn't eat.
I kept going and was welcomed at the mile 45 aid station by Nikki Kimball. I was SO happy to meet her! She spoke to me in french, we chat about being a girl in ultra running and she really gave me a cool prep talk to keep me going! She was very nice.
The race is located in Pony (aka in the middle of nowhere in Montana). It is tiny but there is a bar! So ran back to my car for the turn around and all the drunk guys at the bar were cheering me up, it was funny. Started making my way up and 1k in, 3 sets of eyes were violently barking at me! Those three dogs would not let me go back to the trails. It was dark, there is no way I was going to confront them on my own. So I literally ran back down 1k, picked up a guy in the bar and told him: "I have a race to run, you need to fight those dogs with me!". I got lucky....he was a 50 miler runner hanging out and happily took me to the trails.
So I started going up my 5th mountain of the day with no calorie in. A German runner was going back down complaining the night marking was bad and told me he was out. He was right....the night marking was terrible. I could slowly find my way but had all those sets of eyes looking at me. I knew they were cows....but kept thinking " what if those eyes are not cows? ". We were 8 runners left on the course and I was the last one. If something was happening to me at night, it would take a long time to find me.
I started falling for no reason and was just getting weaker and weaker from the smoke and the no calorie intake. Coming to the aid station at mile 60, the volunteers put all this food in front of me and I was just looking at it. I couldn't take it. I was in bad shape and the next stretch was a 20 miles leg with no aid station, only water drops with the biggest mountain of the course to climb.
I was weak, alone, couldn't eat, the last one on the course, night marking was bad, the dogs encounter, all those eyes looking at me.... I didn't feel safe going out there on my own for 20 miles. I was too scared. The course is so remote, I couldn't do it. So that was the end for me and I'm happy with my decision. Unless the event grows with more runners on the course, I will not go back for redemption. Big special thanks to those AC folks who took care of me when I dropped and took me back to my car, it was greatly appreciated.
I actually wanted to share my DNF story. I had a strong season so far, but everyone can have a bad day for reason xyz and when it happens, we need to accept it. My nephew's favorite movie is Fire Rescue....can't wait to tell him those wildfires are real and made me DNF a race.