Crewing At Yellowstone-Teton 100 Mile

RIF #1 Joshua Holmes at Yellowstone-Teton 100

Note from Lisa: The following is a post from my blog about crewing RIF #1 Joshua Holmes at the Yellowstone-Teton 100 Mile race on October 6-7, 2012. It was my first time crewing for a friend and I did it for a few reasons:

  • I wanted to give back to the running community that has helped me so much.
  • I wanted to do this for Josh because I’ve seen how much support he’s given others and not just those in RIF – The Club.
  • Selfishly, I wanted to see what a 100 mile race was like from the inside as prep for my first 100 miler, Javelina Jundred.
  • Also selfishly…I’d never been to Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming and wanted to see them.

The whole experience was amazing! Read on to check my perspective on the Yellowstone-Teton 100…

Crewing At Yellowstone-Teton 100 Mile

I have not run in 4 days! 4! And I don’t even care. That’s pretty wild, eh? But I experienced one of the most amazing, fun, and inspiring weekends ever so it more than made up for the lack of running for myself. Besides, I got to see plenty of running while crewing Joshua Holmes (@bayou). This was my first time  crewing a runner during a 100 miler so I was a little nervous. Of course, I didn’t let Josh know that! But I really wanted to help him finish this run and PR so I had a few goals for this weekend:

For Josh

1. Get him to the race start.

2. Help him finish and PR at YT100.

3. Get him home safe!

For Me

1. Don’t get lost during the race.

2. Stay awake.

3. Don’t lock the keys in the car.

I’m happy to report that all goals were met!

So, that’s the short story. The long story is this…

(Yeah, you knew that was coming, right?)

PRE-RACE DUTIES

So on Thursday, I picked up Josh on the way to LAX. We were flying to Salt Lake City and then on to Idaho Falls. There was some traffic and the line to go thru the checkpoint was super long so it was iffy but I finagled us into the short line and we made it to the plane on time. Woo! 1st flight was a go. We only had 30 min between flights so when we landed in SLC, we ran thru the airport to our next flight and made that in time too. Woo! Flights…check.

We stayed in Idaho Falls on Thursday night and drove to West Yellowstone on Friday after hitting up Wal-Mart for supplies. We made it to West Yellowstone around 3:30 with plenty of time to spare before the runner’s meeting at 5. To pass the time, we went to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center to check things out. I almost lost him to a Grizzly there!

But I was able to save him from the grizzly so he made it to the runner’s meeting. ;)

After the meeting, we went and got dinner (delicious lasagna) and then I dropped him off at the hotel while I went to get a few more things. Then I went back to the hotel to get as much sleep as possible to prep for the night ahead.

In the morning, I woke up and sent Josh a text to make sure he was up and then got ready, ate, and packed up. I got Josh’s stuff too and packed them in the car so he could head to the race start. He got to race start on time…barely…but on time. Goal #1 for Josh complete!!! Thank god.

YELLOWSTONE TETON 100

So…a little background first. Before we arrived in Idaho, we thought the overnight temps for the race would be 26 degrees…which is flipping cold, right? But then Josh had checked on Friday and the predicted low for West Yellowstone was SEVEN degrees! Insane! But Josh was going thru with it as did all the other runners. Brave souls.

Luckily…ok, not lucky but at least a little better…it was 12 degrees when the runners started out. I took longer to pack the car than I thought so I didn’t make it to the start line in time for the start but decided to wait in front of the hotel where they would be passing twice. I cheered Josh and the other runners as they passed me going and then coming back and then jumped in the car to head out on the course…and warm up!

I decided to go out a few miles and wait for Josh. I parked by the course photographer and the flash as he took pictures helped identify the runners in the dark. And then there was Josh! And Oh.My.God…he was covered in frost. All of his hair was white with frost, from his eyebrows to his beard to his hair. It kind of freaked me out a little but I didn’t say anything. He told me that his bottle had frozen and he gave it to me. The water bottle that I had taken out with me to fill his Amphipod had already started to freeze too. Yes, it was that cold. As I was driving on the course, the temp dropped to 9 degrees! But Josh ran on and I drove out a couple of miles to meet him. AFTER slipping and falling as I ran back to the car. Doh! But no damage thankfully!

After that, I would leap frog Josh on the course. He’d ask me to wait for him 2-4 miles ahead and then I’d give him whatever he needed: water, nuun, roctane, boost, etc. He would usually tell me what he wanted at the next stop so I could have it ready but sometimes I’d have to scramble. There were a couple of mishaps along the way.

At one point, he told me that he needed to use the restroom and I must have stopped at every building along the road and they were all closed! One of the gas stations was even closed already for the winter. That is so weird. But I finally found a place. Then he asked me to find him a cheeseburger and the only cheeseburger I could find was the last one at this one little store. I microwaved it with their presets but when he tried to eat it, the burger patty was rock solid. Damn it. He didn’t say anything but I’m sure he was disappointed. :(

But he kept running. And it got warmer so he could start shedding layers.

Around mile 30, his knee started giving him trouble. And it was bad. He put a knee brace on and kept running.

He seemed really down about it and thought he might have to DNF. I told him to just be smart about it. But he changed shoes and kept running. He was a machine. And I was really impressed by him.

Saturday, during the day was interesting for me because I not only got to watch Josh but the other runners around him. I’d see the same mix of runners each time I drove ahead to wait for him. They helped me keep track of him. I’d see this runner or that runner and know that he would be coming soon. Then I would grab what I think he’d need or what he told me wanted and run out to meet him. Then I would walk/run with him a little to get the bottle or gel packet and instructions for the next stop.

The other thing that was cool was that I got to meet the crews for the other runners and we would talk while we waited for our runner to come by. And I would get to see what they were doing for their runners and learn a little bit about everyone.

And of course, the views along the course were pretty darn cool!

 

When Josh hit the aid station past the 50 miles and he was still running/walking and didn’t talk about stopping again, I knew he would finish. So then it was about getting ready for the coming night for both of us. He came thru the aid station at mile 60.5 in 10th place and after that, I saw that he was starting to pass some people. He was doing amazing!

So the day time in the sun was nice. No jacket required. And then the sun set.

And the temperature dropped at least 20 degrees faster than you can put on a glove. I was not looking forward to the night ahead. I’d froze my butt off in the short time between the start of the race and sunrise. What would it be like with hours out there? For me, the other crew and most of all for the runners? We started adding layers to Josh and eventually hand warmers. I’m not sure how much it helped but he kept running. Like a machine.

For a while, Josh ran with another runner named Tom who was doing the race without a crew. Josh asked me to get him water at one of our stops and I did. And then later that night, I asked Tom again if he needed water and while I was filling his bottle he told me Josh was doing well but to not turn on the heater for him so he wouldn’t be tempted to stay in the car. But there were a couple of times that Josh asked me to turn on the heater and I did because I didn’t have the heart to say no with how cold it was. That and he kept asking for something hot to eat at the aid stations but they didn’t have anything hot until about mile 90! But Josh was very disciplined so he got going as soon as he’d eaten or changed or whatever. I didn’t have to push him. He was pushing himself.

The night was freezing! But it was beautiful. There was an awesome moonrise w/a golden moon. And then there were a bajillion stars. I made a bunch of wishes: that Josh’s knee would stop hurting, that he would finish with a PR, that I wouldn’t get lost, etc. I’m glad a few of them worked. ;)

Josh was passing more people on the course and it caught me off guard at one stop. The pattern was solo light, solo light, pair of lights, Josh, pair of lights. And then at one point he became the second solo light! I was like wow, he must be have switched into beast mode. So after that it got a little lonelier since there wasn’t other crew around. I’d kind of relied on them leap frogging me too so I would know I was headed in the right direction and I had to do the last part completely on my own, but didn’t get lost once! Woo! So Goal #1 for me was accomplished.

At the 2nd to the last stop, I almost fell asleep. I closed my eyes for a few seconds and the clicking of the hazard lights was hypnotic. It was close, but I didn’t sleep. Goal #2 for me accomplished. But that stop and the last stop were rough for me. At the last stop, I was walking toward Josh and listening to these dogs barking and wondering if they were going to come out at us and it took me a while to realize he was telling me he needed boost. But I finally got the message and got some for him.

And that was my last stop with him and I drove ahead to meet him at the end. He was really doing this! Just a few miles left after everything that he’d fought thru – his knee, the freezing cold, not getting the hot food he needed, me getting things wrong sometimes. He was about to finish.

The race finished at Dreamchasers, which is the store owned by Lisa Smith-Batchen and her husband. Lisa was out on the course so I was talking with her husband while we waited for Josh to come in. Being out the cold and the excitement of seeing Josh finish woke me up a little but I was still not 100% awake, I think, because when he came running in he asked me where my camera was and I was like damn, how could I have forgot that. I didn’t even have my phone on me. :(

So, I didn’t catch the big moment but Josh finished in 21:23:55, over an hour PR for him AND he was 5th Overall and 1st in his Age Group! Totally amazing considering his knee and the weather!

So Goal #2 for Josh accomplished! Oh, and I never locked the keys in the car either so Goal #3 for me was accomplished too. Funny, that Josh told me after he was worried about that too. And about me getting lost. Whatever!

POST-RACE DUTIES

So the race was done but my crewing duties weren’t over. I still had to get Josh home but our first priority was to get him warm and feeling better after running the 100. But I got him safely to the hotel after the race and then to our hotel in Idaho Falls the next day too. And I got him to the airport on time. And I got him home after we landed in LAX. And that’s even with him deciding to take the roller coaster, crazy narrow, steep detour to his house. It was fun…sort of…because he showed me where Steven Tyler lived but my gas warning light came on so when he said did I want to do any more sight seeing, I was like no, let’s just get you home. I was so relieved to drop him off! I’d gotten home in one piece so Goal #3 for Josh accomplished.

Whew.

Seriously, the crewing was not hard at all. He was patient with me and never acted like a diva. I almost wish he would have though because he was too stubborn to let me help! If you’re reading this Josh…learn to accept help from your friends without us having to twist your arm. Sheesh. ;)

I learned a lot during this experience. I saw some beautiful scenery. Met some amazing runners and their crews. And got to watch a good friend accomplish an incredible goal. Definitely a successful and rewarding experience and one I would do again in a heart beat.

If you get the opportunity to do this for a friend, I highly recommend it. You will be inspired.

Oh, one last pic of the two of us back at the finish the next day where we hung out for a while (also a lot of fun since there were other runners and crew back at the finish too).

Thanks for reading!

[Photos provided by Joshua Holmes and Lisa Gonzales]

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This post was written by:

- who has written 717 posts on Run It Fast®.

Lisa (RIF Club Member #5) has completed 27 half marathons, 13 marathons, 5 50Ks, 2 12 Hour races, and 1 100K. Her favorite races to date are the Disneyland Half Marathon, the Leading Ladies Marathon, the Bataan Memorial Death March, and the Jackson Jackass 50K. You can follow her on Twitter @runlikeacoyote

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