Overall Rating
Overall Rating (3 Reviews)
(3 Ratings)  (3 Reviews)
Rio Del Lago will be a qualifier for the Western States 100! Rio Del Lago 100 begins at beautiful Beal’s Point, at Folsom Lake State Recreation Area in the Sierra-Nevada Foothills. With Folsom Lake as the sparkling backdrop you’ll traverse through Oak woodland and meadows, over bridges and creeks, up … MORE
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Recent reviews

    Solupia FIRST-TIMER '17

    Rio Del Lago 100 covers a large territory around the Sacramento Foothill region. You spend a great deal of time along Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma. It's fairly runnable for … MORE

    Rio Del Lago 100 covers a large territory around the Sacramento Foothill region. You spend a great deal of time along Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma. It’s fairly runnable for first time 100 miler with an elevation gain of approx. 8200ft. The course covers similar trails as the American River 50 and Way to Cool 50. You also get to run part of the Western States course when you ran between Auburn Lake Trail aid station and No Hands Bridge aid station. The only difficult thing about this race is its length. This race gave me a new perspective of ultra racing. I now have an utmost admiration of all ultra runners who managed to finish such mental endurance challenge.

    RDL 100 is the last qualifying race to Western States lottery application of each year. This fact attracts a crowd of ultramarathon fans. This is they have 430 participants, that’s huge for an ultra running event. Thanks to the surge of popularity of the race, it makes the entire trip of the race less lonely. There are many fellow runners along to course to cheer one another onward.

    As a big ultra event, it does not always go smoothly without flaws. The problem I encountered personally was the inconspicuous course markings in 2 crucial intersections. Both time I ran passed the markings without realising it. I turned around soon after only because I felt something was wrong and I haven’t seen any other course markings along the wrong trail. For that reason, I deducted the rating on the race production.

    Now let’s talk about my performance. This will give you a better picture of how this race went down as one of my unforgettable self-inflicting adventures. Yeah, that’s how my family think about my race at the least. Every 100 mile finisher MUST have a loose screw in their minds to even consider running one, so I admit I am one of the queer guys next door.

    The first 20 miles of the race are very flat and fast and mostly paved. This was a great disadvantage I had. I was wearing my Salomon Ultra Sense, which is extra light trail running shoes, great for ultra trail races. But they have minimal cushioning against hard top. And with the next 10 miles running on top of granite trails (aka “meat grinder”), my feet were all bruised up (and probably starting to swell as I later find out by the end of the race) from all the pounding. I begin my seemingly never-ending of limping and jogging and running in pain when I departed the aid station at mile 30.

    Mile 45 was located at the Overlook in Auburn. You reach the base of the Cardiac hill 3 miles before the aid station. The climb is actually fairly manageable on a paved road. It was tempting to run up if my feet were not giving me complaints. After the Overlook, you run downhill towards the No Hands Bridge, where you have the American River visible on the right side of the trail the whole time. Gorgeous view I dare to say.

    However, rain started pouring in the most untimely part of the day. By the time I reached mile 58, I was behind my idealistic goal of sub-20hr. I figure maybe sub-24hr may have a say for it. But from that point on, my achilles tendon began to give me grief from the constant pressure of the lip of the heel of my shoes. I was limping even slower than before. It was a long hike before I finally pick up my grooves again when I reached mile 75 at the Overlook in Auburn again.

    The surprise sight of an old friend at the aid station gave me a burst of energy to keep me moving even though I was in much pain on both my feet. My legs were actually still hanging in there. I must admit I haven’t had to break a sweat at all because I was limping so slow. If I wasn’t in so much pain with my swollen feet, I would have been running still.

    From mile 75 to mile 83, I made a quick descent from the Cardiac Hill and got to Rattlesnake Bar, where my friend was supposedly awaiting. But later I found out he might have fallen asleep while he was waiting inside his car. I was super thankful to have a friend who was willing to stay up through midnight at that point just to cheer me on. I was super grateful.

    From Rattlesnake Bar to Horseshoe Bar, it was a drag with lots of limping and mental endurance. I had to constantly remind myself that I still have enough time to finish even if I was to limp all the way in, as long as I stay on a 20min/mile pace (3mph). It was not a very easy task when the temperature continues to drop and my vision became to blur from lack of sleep. I felt like I needed a nap, but if I were to stop, I may be overcame with hypothermia. I can tell my body temperature would have dropped dramatically if I stopped moving. So I do everything I can to distract myself from sleeping, and praying that God would give me strength to get through the hours till sunrise.

    The most challenging trial had came to passed when I got to the next aid station and regained my energy with a delicious breakfast burrito. After the gruesome 8.5 miles from the previous aid station, the longest segment without any aid, the breakfast burrito tasted extra good. At this point, it has been the longest duration I have ever been in a race. The only way I can keep myself going is that I know if I drop out now, I would still need to get back to finish line for my personal vehicle. Without any crew or pacer, I didn’t have anyone who could pick me up on the course and drop me back to the finish line. Even the friend who showed up was a surprise to me, and I would have no idea how to get a hold of him to bring me to finish line. Beside the point, I never wanted to not finish my very first 100mile. I know I have the energy for it still. So I prayed for strength to finish strong. I looked at my watch, it’s low in battery and about to give up on me. I did the math in my head one more time, my goal now is to finish before the 30hr cutoff. I had to give myself some buffer room. I have calculated that it would be close, but I may still make it as long as I stay pushing myself and not to stay too long in any remaining aid stations. I counted my steps to keep my cadence going. One step at a time is the motto of any ultrarunners. You are not to worry about what comes next, just focus on what you can right now.

    Slowly but surely, sun rose up in the sky, I know time is in the essence. I had survived over 26hours of the race at that point. More folks were passing me every 5-10minutes. It might seem discouraging. But my mind was set on the finish line, and I know I can physically do that. My legs weren’t seriously tired until after mile 95. But I knew at that point I had a good chance to still finish under 30 hours. With less than 3 hours to spare from the clock when I reached the final aid station. I was about 4.5miles from the finish line. It was so close that I could taste the “victory” . I worked hard to stay in constant pace to aim to finish as early as I could before the cut-off. I was thinking I may have 30min to spare. Now groups of ultrarunners were gaining on me as everyone was trying to give their all to finish strong. I tried to keep up at my best ability with all the shuffling of my feet. At this point, my watch was long dead. I don’t know how fast I was moving or how close I would have been from the finish line. I could only trust that I was still moving at a reasonable pace to finish strong. I could not yield a moment to doubt, only believed that I would finish. With much hobbling, I finally got to the berm leading to the damn next to Folsom Lake, and the finish line was only 100yd from the other end of the dam. Now my adrenaline finally kicked in. I jog as fast as I could and for bliss of a minute, I felt the pain was fading away as I made my final entry to the finish line arch. The rest was history as I grabbed my finishing medal and buckle to prove that I finished under 30hr cutoff time.

    I still didn’t know how on earth I managed to ran across the dam and to the finish line with all the pain I had. I was limping at most 25-28 min/mile pace. But then, I am surely glad that I was able to do it. It was a miracle indeed.

    The next couple hours, I was walking like a slug, my feet were out of the shoes and socks and very much swollen. Though it was a nice idea to soak my feet in the lake to get them iced up. But the lake seems to be miles away for me to limp to at this point. I slept in my car to regain energy before I took off to return home.

    After my first 100 mile race, I have to seriously rethink if I should still attempt such novelty adventure. But if you ask me whether or not I regret I did it, I can confidently tell you, “No!” In my mind, it’s a great accomplishment, pushing my body to its limit. Afterall, I was guilty of being undertrained. Yet still I had learned so much from the experience. I also deeply enjoyed the ultra running community as a whole. I don’t care about the poor course marking at time, it’s the community of the volunteers and runners that matters the most. Everyone was there for one another and not just for themselves. You cheer for me, and I cheer for you. There’s no judgement or prejudice in the mix, just crazy people who loves running.

    With that being said, I encourage everyone to be part of an ultra running community. I know running 100 miles is not for everyone, but you can volunteer, become a crew or pacer for a fellow runner, or be a spectator just to cheer on those passing by. I think our society would be a better place.


    4 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    M_Sohaskey Nov 26, 2017 at 12:51pm

    CONGRATS on an absolutely amazing effort Solomon, this is an incredible saga of raw will and fortitude. To keep going deep in the night – when you're exhausted and hurting… MORE

    CONGRATS on an absolutely amazing effort Solomon, this is an incredible saga of raw will and fortitude. To keep going deep in the night – when you're exhausted and hurting and hungry and your feet are telling you they want nothing more to do with you – speaks volumes of your physical and mental toughness. As soon as I saw that you'd be running this, I had no doubt you'd finish one way or the other, undertrained or not. Can't tell you how psyched I am for you, and I hope you've found a place of prominence to display that buckle proudly. So now the question: are you putting your name in for the Western States 100 lottery next weekend? :) You've certainly earned your shot. Thanks so much for sharing your epic adventure, this is a must-read for anyone who's thinking of tackling the 100-mile distance! LESS

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    Solupia Nov 26, 2017 at 3:39pm

    About the Western States lottery, the application was actually during the week right after RDL 100. On top of being tired and worn from the race, I was so busy… MORE

    About the Western States lottery, the application was actually during the week right after RDL 100. On top of being tired and worn from the race, I was so busy with overtime at work that I totally forgot about the application. I finally got to slow down this week because of Thanksgiving to think about registration of races, and realised that I missed it. It's a bummer, but I guess I won't be running WSER 100 for a while then. I am still picking through the qualifying races next year. But I have a pretty good idea of my top choice. Just look out for my future races. LESS

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    M_Sohaskey Nov 26, 2017 at 4:48pm

    I definitely will Solomon, look forward to it! Good to give your body some time to absorb everything it's been through in the past month, TNF on top of RDL.… MORE

    I definitely will Solomon, look forward to it! Good to give your body some time to absorb everything it's been through in the past month, TNF on top of RDL. And besides, I have a feeling this won't be your only shot at Western States. ;) LESS

    andreak FIRST-TIMER '17

    This was my 4th race by Nor Cal Ultras and like the others, it didn't disappoint! There was great swag (we received a medal, belt buckle, jacket and cinch bag … MORE

    This was my 4th race by Nor Cal Ultras and like the others, it didn’t disappoint!

    There was great swag (we received a medal, belt buckle, jacket and cinch bag that held some samples), well stocked aid stations (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, potatoes, chips, cookies, soda, etc., with warm food in the later hours such as grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, quesadillas, broth and then breakfast burritos in the morning hours), attentive and helpful volunteers and of course, a great finish line party.

    I ran their American River 50 miler as my first 50 and the two races are on a lot of the same course. I didn’t remember much of the AR50 trails, but I didn’t have any issues with them then and figured I would be fine on those sections again.

    The first 18.5 of the course is a big loop that starts and finishes at Beal’s Point. There are no crew stops allowed at the first two aid stations in this loop, but they aren’t too far apart, especially since the majority of this section is on a bike path. A crew wasn’t needed yet though. The first crewing point is Beal’s and it is also the first aid where drop bags are allowed.

    For the last week leading up to the race, the weather forecast had been predicting rain for the entire weekend. The rain began around 6am (an hour after the race started) and although it wasn’t a cold morning, it was very wet.

    After you leave Beal’s and start the 26 mile journey to the Auburn Dam Overlook (ADO), there are some great views of Folsom Lake and fire roads that eventually lead into some great single track trails. This chunk of the race isn’t too hilly until you start the 3.5 mile climb to the overlook, but it does include a 2-3 mile section known as “the meat grinder.” It’s really not as bad as people make it out to be though; it’s lots of big roots, loose rocks and wood plank stairs built into the side of the trails. It’s hard to get a good groove though because it’s up or down without much flat. Between the meat grinder and the climb to the overlook, the trails are single track and mostly runable.
    This chunk also has four aid stations with crews allowed at two. Although the rain had been off and (mostly) on all day, the trails were surprisingly puddly and very muddy.

    Eventually the trail ends and you get to the end of a gravel road. To the left is the Cardiac trail and going up the road will eventually bring you to the overlook parking lot. A lot of it is road, but there is some gravel, and most of it is uphil. When you finally get to the Auburn Dam Overlook parking lot, you’re met by another big party at the aid station and can also pick up your first pacer (mile 44.5). I was joined by my friend Keith who was probably not looking forward to 31 wet and muddy miles with me!

    The 4 miles after ADO are primarily downhill and take you onto the famous Western States trail where you end up at No Hands Bridge. It’s important to fill up and refuel at this aid because there isn’t another stop until mile 59. This loop of 31 miles that brings you back to ADO is a lot of the same course as Way Too Cool and also includes “Goat Hill around mile 65 or so. This hill isn’t too bad; it’s just short and steep switchbacks, but the trail leading to it collapsed this past winter from the California weather and a new hill leading to it was created. This new hill is much steeper than Goat Hill and had poison oak on either side. It had rained the majority of the day (it was still off and on a little) and this hill was a lot of loose, slippery mud. I attempted to climb up it on my hands and knees which was very scary and made me so thankful I had my friend Keith pacing me because he helped get me up this hill.

    I ran Way Too Cool back in March after a very rainy winter and these trails were very comparable when it came to the puddles and mud on the trails, despite this being the first real rain of the season. There were a few water crossings on this section also so my feet got even more wet then they already were.

    After Keith and I made it back to ADO, I picked up my second pacer, my friend Megan. This is the last 24.5 of the course and you get to run back to Beal’s Point the way you came. The long stretch of road and gravel we had to climb up was much better running down and the meat grinder wasn’t as bad going in reverse. The night hours were tough on me and it seemed like it would never be daytime. Once the sky started lightening, I began feeling better. The rain had stopped between 10PM and 11PM and the weather was supposed to be sunny Sunday for the end of the race. Eventually it was dawn and then the sun was fully up. Megan and I finally hit the the levee which was lined with spectators cheering on their runners and soon after, I crossed the finish line. I was immediately handed my medal, belt buckle and jacket and then went to find my friends.

    Although I didn’t indulge in any of the post race food (there was breakfast food being cooked for runners) or check out the tents, I did stay to see the last runners come in. This was a great first 100 mile experience and although some people got lost, I didn’t have any issues with the course or how the race was organized. It’s a fairly local race to the Bay Area and also a Western States Qualifying race which makes it more appealing for runners. Although I could’ve and should’ve done much better, I have nothing but positive feedback for this race company. I definitely recommend Rio Del Lago for anyone looking for their first 100 mile race!


    4 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    M_Sohaskey Nov 26, 2017 at 9:24pm

    Bravo! Amazing job Andrea, so much respect for what you accomplished out on those trails. And I love the feisty mindset of "I should've done much better"... you finished injury-free… MORE

    Bravo! Amazing job Andrea, so much respect for what you accomplished out on those trails. And I love the feisty mindset of "I should've done much better"... you finished injury-free and (from what I saw) with a smile, so I'd say you did a masterful job in your first 100. I have vivid memories of Goat Hill from WTC and remember thinking as I reached the top (at mile 26), "This would be a great place for the finish line of the Way Too Cool Marathon". So to think you still had 35 miles after that is... wow. Thanks for sharing your epic narrative, I loved reading it and reliving the day (and night) with you. And I know a lot of other runners – and especially 100-mile noobs – will appreciate your valuable insights. Fingers crossed for you at the WSER draw on Saturday! :) LESS

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    mikebeckwith Nov 22, 2017 at 2:04pm

    AK this is an awesome review. Thank you for posting it. I am beyond proud of you. You’ve given me tons of inspiration. I hope WSER is in your future. MORE

    AK this is an awesome review. Thank you for posting it. I am beyond proud of you. You’ve given me tons of inspiration. I hope WSER is in your future. LESS

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    AGeraldi FIRST-TIMER '07

    The race day started early. Chihping and I were sharing a hotel room. We got our race gear together and met the rest of the Ultraholics in the parking lot. … MORE

    The race day started early. Chihping and I were sharing a hotel room. We got our race gear together and met the rest of the Ultraholics in the parking lot. At about 5:30 we all headed off to the Cavitt School starting area. There, we gathered around while Norm gave his briefing for those running in the concurrent 53 mile Sierra Nevada Run.

    I joined Rajeev, Anil and others for some race photos – as they were being taken, we noticed the crowd was moving. The race had started! So off we went.

    I started up the trail from the school, following the runners ahead of me. Slowly, I started passing people here and there. Soon I saw a green shirt ahead – it was Chihping. He and I had a similar race plan, so I joined him and we ran together for awhile snapping photos of each other. After a bit, I noticed I was pulling away from him. I ended up catching a couple other runners. We ran together and soon exited a trail. I was in the lead but I reached a fork in the path and didn’t know which way to go. A runner behind me said “Left”, so I went left and followed him. He was doing the Sierra Nevada 53 miler (his 5th one) so I figured he knew which way to go.

    Pretty soon we got to the first aid station. I filled up my water bottles and headed up the trail. The trail was soft dirt among the trees. Soon, off to the right, the lake came into view (actually, it was in plain view earlier, but it was too dark to see). Then this runner passed me who looked familiar. I said “Is your name Ray?” He told me it was. The runner was Ray Sanchez – he and I suffered miles 50 through 56 together at Tahoe Rim Trail. I joined his pace and we ran together for awhile. Ray is very interesting – a multiple Golden Gloves winner in boxing, he is a former Olympic trialist. Ray was running strong but I stayed with him. At one point, we went through fields that had these plants with bristles scrapping our legs.

    As we approached the 10 mile point, I noticed that my joints were hurting. My ankles, my knees, my elbows and shoulders. My small of my back was hurting. Worse yet, I was feeling really sleepy. This was not only worrisome, it was so strange. I have never felt this way before in any race. And here it was only 10% into my 100 miler.

    Despite the way I was feeling, I kept pushing forward. After awhile, I let Ray pass me by and disappear. Soon I approached 15 miles shortly after the power station. My stomach was feeling uneasy. Then, at one point I was forced to turn to the edge of the trail and throw up. This was really bad. At Quicksilver 50 I had stomach issues, but I was running while fighting a cold/flu bug then. Here, I just couldn’t explain it. In addition to throwing up, I was getting more drowsy, my joints were throbbing and I had a slight headache. Fun times!

    I kept running and soon came to the base of Cardiac Hill. This was a tough climb. A lot of rocky single track with many switchbacks. I was really hurting here and figured that my 5 hour marathon goal would be missed by an hour as I was being passed by runner after runner (I later found out many of these were in the 53 miler). At the top of the hill, I was wiped out. But we ran next to an aqueduct and the scenery was very pretty so that helped (plus, I wasn’t struggling up Cardiac Hill anymore). At the half-way point, there was another aid station. There I fueled up and continue don along the trail. Soon, this exited the trail and entered a paved road in Auburn. My body just said “Enough”. I walked most of the road to the next aid station.

    This aid station was the Auburn Dam Overlook and I was weighed in. My weight was 1 pound lighter than my start weight. Then I started running again and dropped down in a heavily wooded area. The path kept dropping down and I started to feel a little better. I passed a sign and noticed that it read “WS Trail”. I was on the Western States Trail! Ever since first hearing of the WS 100 race, I had wanted to run it – now here I was on the WS trail. I thought that was pretty cool.

    The trail continued down and was dropping down some steep declines. Soon, near a waterfall, the leader of the 53 miler came back at me. We exchanged “hellos” and I kept running. I had to hop across a small stream (about the 3rd stream crossing, each so shallow my feet were staying dry). I was getting a bit of a second wind now and continued picking up my pace. As I rounded a corner, Peter Lubbers (my TRT100 co-finisher) came towards me in a strong 2nd place in the 53 miler. We high fived and he kept going.

    Now, the trail was leveling out a bit and I was running along a river. It was beautiful. I saw two bridges in the distance. I noticed more runners coming back and realized that the nearer bridge must be No Hands. Again, this is a WS 100 fixture so it was kind of a thrill to run on it. I got to the aid station at the end of No Hands. My time was 4:45. This was slightly over a marathon and my goal was 5 hours. Wow! I was surprised. Considering how horrible I was feeling, I couldn’t believe I made my target time.

    Another runner joined me and she and I started up the trail. Now, when I say up, that is a bit of an understatement. This was K2 and it was a hell of a climb with about 7 false summits. Luckily it was relatively short (about 1.5 miles gaining over 1000 feet). At the top, I started running again. I was feeling a bit better, but my stomach was acting up again. I tried to take a gu and ended up barfing it along the trail. Gross.

    But, I kept going along a trail that went through fields and meadows. At the point where the trail turned sharply right towards Cool Fire Station, the leader (John Olson) came running at me. He gave me some words of encouragement. I told him he looked strong – he was flying and showed little effort. Soon, the path exited the field and woods and climbed a bit towards the Cool Fire Station. As I approached I heard my name. Rashmi was there handing me a sandwich (which I turned down knowing that there was no way it would stay in my stomach). I tried an Ensure and that seemed to work. I was weighed in and was at my start weight.

    I then started running on a nice country trail through pastures and meadows called the Olmstead Loop. After about 1 mile though, my stomach was turning again and I almost lost my Ensure. I was forced to walk and jog a bit. But after about 1/2 mile, I was feeling better and started running. I was actually feeling about as strong as I ever felt and began to pick up the pace. I dropped down the trail and crossed a wide stream crossing – again keeping my feet dry. Then it was up to the next aid station. After that station, it was a little over a mile back to the Fire Station. I got back and thought that I should change my shirt as I was getting cold from the constant drizzle. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any dry shirts in my bag. I did pull off my bandanna and my sunglasses as I realized that I would not need those due to the weather. I decided to try some solid food and took 2 slices of cheese pizza without the cheese. This was around 37 miles into the race.

    I then started running back. I got back on the path and was jogging a steady pace. So far the pizza crust had managed to stay in my stomach. I was heading up the trail and saw Anil coming towards me. I quickly snapped his photo. Behind him was Rajeev and another runner. I mentioned how bad I was feeling. Rajeev offered me some ginger, but I declined. He mentioned I should back off my pace and we wished each other luck and continued. One high part of 100 milers is seeing your friends and crew. So much of the race is mental, it takes these mental boosts to help one run.

    I then reached the point in the trail where I had seen Jon Olsen earlier in the day. Here, instead of heading back to K2, the trail dropped down. It was a fun and very beautiful descent down to No Hands bridge. There it was the 40.5 mile aid station. Then it was back across the bridge and up the trail again. I only made it about a mile up the trail when I began to feel bad again. Once again, I was running out of steam – my legs were heavy and my stomach and head hurting. Soon I was slowed to a walk and jog. Heading back up this trail was tough. After what seemed like forever, I made it up the last miles of the WS 100 trail and entered the Dam Overlook station. Here Anu rushed out to help me. I told her how horrible I was feeling and she looked really concerned. I weighed in (about 1 pound light) and sat down. I put my head in my hands. I could not believe how plain horrible I was feeling. I decided to change shirts into my sleeveless race top. I took off my fuel belt and put it down. I decided to put on my Oakley Thumps to listen to some music and hoped it would help.

    After a while I grabbed some aspirin and started running again. I made it up to the aqueduct and was actually feeling a bit better. I managed to run the first section of the aqueduct and thinking how pretty it was. I went to take a photo and then realized that I never put my fuel belt back on – I had left it at the Overlook station! So I made it to mile 46 at Maidu aid station. I told them about my belt and they called back to the Auburn Dam Overlook station to make sure that Anu got my bag. I was really disappointed as now not only did I loose my 3rd bottle (Behind the back – I still had my 2 hand carry ones),my salt tablets and my gu packs, also I didn’t have my camera any more.

    After Maidu I finished running along the aqueduct and started down Cardiac Hill. There were portions too steep for me to run, so I had to walk down it. At the bottom I was feeling a bit better again and kept running. Soon I was back on the trail with the thorns. At one point I looked down and saw a HUGE tarantula walking down the path. I saw a runner getting close behind me and expected him to catch me. But after awhile I entered the power station water stop. My time was 10 hours 12 minutes. This was 52.89 miles – WOW!! I had blasted away my 10 hour 50 mile goal. The runner behind me caught up and we started running together. Soon, I passed him and headed towards the next aid station at mile 55 at Rattlesnake Bar. I checked in – the people there were very friendly. I was weighed in (down about 1 pound) and refueled. I grabbed more aspirin and headed out on the trail again. I turned my music up and enjoyed the run along the trail. I saw some deer running to my right (definitely a hell of a lot faster than me).

    I was really feeling the best I had felt all day. The time at the Power Station had given me a boost, the aspirin was kicking in, and I hadn’t thrown up for a few hours. My ankles, small of my back and head still hurt a bit though.

    I entered the last aid station before the school. This was Twin Rocks at 63 miles. I was told I was around 10th place overall in the 100! Holy smokes! I couldn’t believe this. I started running the last 4 miles towards the school. Now, however, the lows started creeping in. I was starting to get a bit cold. Then, my Thump died when the charge was exhausted. It was also getting dark and I didn’t have my lights yet (they were at the school). About half way to the school the fatigue and general bad physical feelings had returned.

    Finally, I saw the school and entered the playground. I was directed to the weigh in station. My time: 13 hours 45 minutes (I had wanted to do 14 hours). Still on pace, but I was already drained. I was offered my half a Subway sandwich (vegi delite – no cheese) which I decided to try. I changed shirts and grabbed my night time lights. I also applied some icy-hot to my feet. Rajeev Char was there and offered me words of support. Soon a runner came in and I looked – it was Ray Sanchez! I could not believe that I was ahead of him. Poor Ray had a crappy day – he had been lost a few times and this time was off the trail for over an hour and half!

    After about 15 minutes, I decided that I better hit the trail. I had 10 hours to go 33 miles – a brisk walk and I had my sub 24 hour goal! Or did I?

    I headed out of the school and back to the trail. Then it was a sharp right towards the lake. Norm was out there and slapped me on the back and wished me luck. I got to a levee and then headed out. It was dark now and I had my headlamp on and a flashlight in my hand. After a bit, the path dropped down into a forested path. I tried to jog, but often found myself walking. After awhile, I passed by some camping sights – the campers watching me go by probably wondering why all these crazy people were out running at night. Soon, the trail rose and ended onto a paved road. I followed this road as it curved around and entered the next aid station. It was around mile 70. I checked my watch and was disappointed at how long it took for me to get there. So, off I went again.

    This time I followed the road (it was actually a very wide and divided lane bike path). Soon, our signs took us off the path and down a trail. It was pretty dark and I had a little trouble finding the signs/flags and glow sticks but eventually was running. Soon I saw lights coming at me and Jon Olson and his pacer came running towards me. I shouted “Congrats. Great Run.” and said some nice words of encouragement and off again I went.

    After a short time, Ray came up behind me and we chatted a bit. Then he took off. He was running, I was walking/jogging. Soon we entered the 75 mile aid station. I was disgusted. It took me 2 hours to go 5 miles. My sub-24 was in major danger. I had 8 hours to do a marathon – seems like the easiest thing in the world. But at that moment I had my doubts.

    The path then went up into a rocky forested area. The paths were hard on the feet with constant uneven and unsteady footing. Then it dropped down. After about an hour or so, I saw another runner coming towards me. It was Mark Tanaka – one of the Ultraholics! He was in a strong second place and I shouted good luck to him. Then I continued on down the path.

    Soon it exited and I was on a paved road. I knew that I would be coming up on Hazel Bluff. I was really thankful as I was shivering – my mesh running top was soaked with rain and sweat. My feet also were hurting and I was looking forward to switching shoes to see if that would help my feet. I was also looking forward to seeing the crew – I needed that mental boost. I kept following the path. As we approached a power station I saw flags on the fence around the bend, so I rounded the bend and followed the flags up under an overpass and then up to a bridge. I kept expecting to see Hazel Bluff. But I never did. I followed the markings across the bridge and dropped down towards this marina type area.

    Still, no Hazel Bluff. I was getting frustrated as I really wanted to get warm and get to that aid station. After the marina I rounded a parking lot and entered another trail. As we rounded a bend I was sure that Hazel Bluff had to be there. It wasn’t. “Where the F is it?!” I almost shouted out loud. I kept going on a path. I checked my watch and realized that if I still wasn’t at Hazel Bluff then I was going almost 40 minute miles. I knew I was hurting and had dropped almost to a pure walk. But 40 minutes! That was so disheartening. I simply sat down on the side of the path and dropped my head into my hands. I was so cold, I was shivering, my feet throbbing and I was exhausted. My pace was non-existent and I was forced to sit there and watch runners pass me by.

    After about 10 minutes I stood up and continued walking up the path again. The path kept going, driving my spirits even lower. Finally, after an eternity I saw Hazel Bluff in the distance. I got there and the aid station worker said “Welcome to Willow Creek”.!! I just stared at him. “What?” He repeated it and I asked “What happened to Hazel Bluff?” The worker laughed and said that was 4 miles back – and that I was joking. I think he saw the look in my eyes and realized that I was not joking.

    I just collapsed on the ground. Sitting there shaking my head. Somehow, I had walked right past the aid station. I kept repeating “How could I have missed it?” I followed the signs, the flags and the lights. I never got lost, there was never a break in the flags and chalk marks.

    I was so f’n cold. But if I went back to Hazel Bluff and then came back – that would add 8 more miles to my race. I had no choice – I had to continue. The aid station workers at Willow Creek were awesome. They tried to cheer me up. One called Hazel Bluff and told them that I had passed through Hazel Bluff without checking in – they OK’d it (at least I wasn’t DQ’ed). I didn’t know it at the time, but my crew was very worried as they had no idea where I was and I hadn’t checked into Hazel Bluff. I tried some coke to see if it would help me get some energy and almost instantly threw it up.

    I left Willow Creek and slowly headed up the path. I was struggling. My spirits were never so low. Although I now knew I wasn’t doing 40 minute miles, my pace had deteriorated so bad I knew my sub 24 was impossible. But at that point I couldn’t care. My teeth was chattering, I had my arms crossed across my chest trying to stay warm. I was going too slow to generate enough body heat.

    After awhile, I saw lights coming down and it was Ray. He asked me how much further to the aid station and I said it was less than a mile. He continued on. I later learned that he later got lost yet again – probably the 4th time and at Hazel Bluff decided to call it a day.

    A lot of the trail towards to turn around at Mountain Lion Knoll (83.63 miles) went on and off of paved roads. Finally, it dropped down to a path along the water. I heard voices ahead and climbed a bit to the turn around. Here, I just collapsed into a chair. I knew I had to keep going – I just lost all drive. I was too f’n cold, hurting too much and less than zero energy levels. The aid station volunteers lept into motion – they were unbelievably awesome. I found myself with one blanket wrapped around me, then a sleeping bag. Another worker pulled out a space heater and directed it at my feet. He then took off a thin running jacket and told me to wear it back. I was so overcome with gratitude (and exhaustion) tears clouded my eyes. They offered me food, but I couldn’t take any. My stomach was still dry heaving.

    I headed back to Willow Creek. My left foot was really beginning to hurt and I was limping a bit. But I was warmer and eventually made it into Willow Creek. There I was re-weighed (down 2 pounds). I sat down and massaged my legs. I looked at my watch – In theory I had 3 hours to do a half marathon. But I knew I couldn’t do it. There was just too much climbing back to the school. So, I got up and began my death march shuffle back down the hill. Near the marina area, I saw Chihping approaching. We exchanged hellos. He had a day very similar to mine and was walking much of the course too. I told him my 24 hour was gone, but maybe I could get 26 hours. So we said good bye and headed in opposite directions.

    I got to the base of the bridge and someone said “Alan?” It was Rajeev Char. He was pacing Gary and they were relieved to see me. They told me that the otehrs were worried that I hadn’t checked into Hazel Bluff. He used his cell phone and we called in to tell them where I was. I told them how bad I was feeling and what my day had been like. Raj offered to pace me back. But I declined – he was there to help Gary and I wasn’t going to take him away. I was very appreciative but headed off. In about 15 minutes I came across Anil and Rajeev Patel. We also discussed how we were doing and then wished each other luck and headed off.

    I climbed up the path near the bridge and down the other side. Then I saw the trail that I missed heading up a hill. I climbed it and got to the top. I collapsed in a chair. Finally, I changed my clothes and shoes. I tried to eat, but only downed some pretzels. I teamed up with my pacer and off we went.

    So together we headed down the bluff and back to the trails. There, it was a constant stop and go. I kept having to stop. At least 4 times, I leaned against a rock or tree and dozed off for a few minutes. My pacer waited for me and gently prompted me to move forward.

    As we approached the long climb up the hill, a runner came up behind us. It was Gordy (the attached photo is me and Gordy – the man who started Western States and basically 100 mile ultras in the US)! Running shirtless he wished us well and headed up the trail. We continued up the trail and soon the path started dropping down to the Negro Bar aid station at mile 95. Again, I dropped into a chair. I got a cup of cola to drink. As I sat there, I dozed off and the cup fell from my hand and splashed all over my legs. After a bit, we went off again. We headed out the bike path and headed to the last aid station. My left foot was really hurting and I kept having to stretch out my leg and adjust my shoe to see if I could relieve the pain.

    Eventually, we came into the final aid station at Folsom Dam Park (97.18 miles). We struggled out of the station and headed out to the bike path. Soon, we dropped back down in the path and headed towards the levee. By now, 26 hours was also history. So we decided to see if I could get a new Personal Best. My TRT 100 was 27 hours 50 minutes 45 seconds. That was my next target.

    We slowly headed the last 2 miles towards the school. It was a very slow pace (due solely to me). But finally we reached the final trail head leading to the school. At this point, I had about 6 minutes left to break my 100 mile P.R.. We started to jog and we got to the school fence. We round around the two corners and I headed down the finishing shoot – at a very slow shuffle/jog. Finally I crossed the finish line. Time was 27 hours 46 minutes and some change. (40th place overall out of 100 starters).

    In hindsight, I am very happy with the race. Through 70 miles, I was dead on my goals. I know for certain I can break 24 hours using my target times in a future race. RDL just wasn’t meant to be for me – it wasn’t my weekend. My body was never in the race – breaking down 10 miles into a 100 miler is a bad way to start 🙂 I am so thankful for my friends who ran and offered support. We Ultraholics have an unbelievable group of supporters who come out and give us the BEST crew support ever. My pacer’s company and support was and is something I am so thankful for – I don’t know if I could have done those last 9 miles without such support.

    About one minute after I crossed the finish line, Michael Kanning crossed. Michael was the 15 year old Ultraholic who finished one place ahead of me at Stevens Creek 50k. He ran RDL 100 to raise funds for cancer research and finished his first 100 miler in a great time. Chihping, Anil, Gary and Rajeev all also finished the race under the official cut-off. What a day! We each got our finishers trophy – an eagle landing on a tree limb. And I got an extra finishers’ gift: a new blood blister on my right heel:

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