California Adventure / Western States 100

Alright, it took me much longer to get back at this than I had anticipated.  So after downloading pictures and videos from my phone for over an hour, I’m gonna try to get caught up by Sunday —- here I go.

I am friends with quite a few amazing people.  One of which, Kevin T.  was lucky enough to get picked to run in the Western States 100 Mile Race.  This is the oldest 100 mile race.

In 1955, the late Wendell T. Robie with a party of five horsemen rode the Western States Trail from Squaw Valley to Auburn, proving that horses could still cover 100 miles in one day. Through his energy and vision, he subsequently founded the Western States Trail Foundation and organized the annual Western States Trail Ride, also known as the Tevis Cup “100 Miles – One Day” Ride.

Wendell Robie during an early Tevis Ride In 1974, with the inspiration and encouragement of Drucilla Barner, 1st woman to win the Tevis Cup and Secretary of the WSTF, Tevis veteran Gordy Ainsleigh joined the horses of the Western States Trail Ride to see if he could complete the course on foot. Twenty-three hours and forty-two minutes later Gordy arrived in Auburn, proving that a runner could indeed traverse the
rugged 100 miles in one day. 1974 Western States Trail Ride Start List In 1975, a second runner, Ron Kelley, attempted the same feat, only to withdraw within two miles of the finish with ample time remaining. In 1976, Ken “Cowman” Shirk ran the 100 miles, finishing just 30 minutes over the 24-hour mark. In 1977, 14 men from four states participated in the 1st official Western States Endurance Run, which was held in conjunction with the Tevis Cup Ride. Runners were monitored by Dr. Bob Lind at the three veterinary stops set up for the horses, and although the race organization transported the entrants gear, runners were responsible for producing all of their own supplies, except water. Three runners finished the course: Andy Gonzales, age 22, in the record-breaking time of 22:57, and Peter Mattei and Ralph Paffenbarger, ages 53 and 54, who tied in 28:36 (and the 30-hour award was born!).
Founding Runners, Gordy Ainsleigh and Cowman Shirk In the fall of 1977, the Board of Directors for the Western States Endurance Run was formed as part of the Western States Trail Foundation. It was made up primarily of the handful of runners and riders who had helped monitor the progress of the 14 pioneers earlier that summer. The Run organization later became its own entity and is now known as the Western States Endurance Run Foundation. 1978 heralded a dramatic increase in both interest and participation in the Western States Run. Culminating a year-long effort by the inspired Gang of Four (Phil Gardner, Mo Livermore, Shannon Weil, and Curt Sproul) to create an independent event, the race took place in June, a month earlier than the Tevis Cup Ride. The event mushroomed to include 21 aid stations and six medical checks, thanks to an ever-growing corps of loyal volunteers and the support of the Placer County Sheriff ‘s Communications Reserve and the Search and Rescue Unit. 63 adventurers ran the race, and the first woman, Pat Smythe, finished in 29:34.
No Hands bridge circa 1970 One hundred forty-three runners from 21 states and three foreign countries attempted the course in 1979. Since then, the Run has reached its full entrance quota and draws athletes from across the nation and around the world.
Now that you’ve had your history lesson……
I was trolling Facebook one evening and noticed Kevin posted about looking for a pacer for the last 40 miles of the race.  I immediately messaged him and told him if I could make my schedule work, I’d love to do this for him.  As it turns out, I was able to get things situated — with much help from Kevin and his wife – and join him in this adventure!
Kevin and his wife Janet, were staying at a bed and breakfast in Truckee and headed out a few days earlier than I did.  I was staying at CalNeva Resort and Casino in North Lake Tahoe and headed out there on Friday, the day before the race.  I’ve never been to California before which made this trip that much more exhilarating!  CalNeva was a fantastic place!  It is an older place but was a hangout of Frank Sinatra, The Rat Pack and friends and is full of history.  It’s called CalNeva because the state line runs right through it.

Lake Tahoe - from my hotel window

Lake Tahoe – from my hotel window

Main ballroom showing the state line

Main ballroom showing the state line
It was nice with the time change, I arrived in the morning and had plenty of time to hang out with Kevin and Janet, visit the start finish line and take in some sights.
Squaw Valley - start of course

Squaw Valley – start of course

This place was AMAZING!

This place was AMAZING!

We even took in a gondola ride to the top of the mountain.  This is the way back down.  Wish we were sitting on the other side of the car because the drop off view was spectacular!

Afterwards we headed off to our hotels so Kevin and Janet could get a good nights rest while I did a bit more sight-seeing around Tahoe.

Race day — dun dun daaaaaaaa…..

To give you an idea of the course, Click here for the Google Maps flyover of the course.  I must have watched this a hundred times building up to our trip.

I was planning on seeing Kevin off from the start, but quickly decided since I would be running through the night with him, I’d get a little more sleep then meet up with Janet and catch him at aid stations.  There is live tracking for these races so we are able to gauge where and when we will be able to see him.  Kev started out great and made the first few aid stations well within the cutoff time.  Janet and I headed to crew access at mile 23.8, found a spot to park our butts cheer incoming runners on and wait for Kev.  It was HOT – as in temps +100 deg F. w/o the heat index added in!  After watching a number of our other friends come through the aid station, incoming runners started getting further and further apart and we were getting a bit worried about how Kevin was doing.  I refreshed the screen on my phone about every 2 minutes to make sure we didn’t miss him.

Then it happened —  The next update I received was he dropped.  In actuality, he didn’t drop, he was pulled off the course by the medical team.  Janet and I raced down the mountain to where we could pick him up and anxiously awaited his arrival by the aid station crew.  When he finally arrived he was being helped towards us; his speech was slurred and his demeanor was that of someone who had way too much alcohol.  After bringing him down to lower elevation yet and letting him acclimate, he was telling us about how the aid station at Duncan Canyon (mile 23.8) came running out to meet him, asking if he was alright.  Apparently he was no longer running straight and meandering down the trail.  He was responding to them and to him sounded clear as a bell — but in reality his speech was slurred and incoherent.  The sat him down and he kept going in and out of consciousness.  The diagnosis was altitude sickness.  One of the medical team members said to get him to lower elevation and that he should be fine in a couple of hours.  I felt terrible for him.  This was such a huge adventure, one in which not only did he have a tremendous amount of time involved with training but other personal time and money as well.  Kev kept apologizing to us for not completing the race — totally unnecessary.  This entire trip was about him.  We were there for him no matter what the outcome was; unfortunately this time the outcome wasn’t what we had anticipated, but better to be pulled off the course on your own two feet, than to be medically evacuated from the course in a stretcher!  You did awesome Kev, very proud of you brother!

Now the positive side of dropping this race at mile 23.8 vs. any later?  It was only 1pm!  Kev could get a chance to rest up some and take in the beauty of the area.  After he got a chance to recover the three of us went out exploring.  We found a few trails to hike.  I apologize, but I took too long to get this post done and cannot remember for the life of me what the names of these trails were — I do have the pics tho…

Kevin and Janet - chilling at Lake Tahoe

Kevin and Janet – chilling at Lake Tahoe

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Kev and I 1045251_597989203565751_478365017_n 1017606_597989543565717_1508028168_n 1013915_597990793565592_969735515_n 1010236_597991090232229_1540545143_n 1002831_597990930232245_578034718_n 1000766_597989373565734_1914948158_n

After exploring we found a fantastic place to eat on the water and called it a night.  Although Kev was pulled off the course and didn’t finish the race, a DNF is much better than a DNS.  Mad props Kev – not anyone could just get into Western States.  So very thankful to have a ROCKSTAR friend like you!

Standbye …. more to come 🙂

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One thought on “California Adventure / Western States 100

  1. Hi, My name is Jean Van Buskirk and I wanted to know if there are any riders who rode in the 1962 Tevis ride??? My husband was Robert Van Buskirk and he rode in it and also wrote the story in the Tevis Forum 2009 about it and with Drucilla Barner, he loved it and did finish 33 and she was 34 she took him under her wing as this was his first and only time. I moved here to Auburn and my e-mail address is calsandab@sbcglobal.net if anyone would like to write me I would enjoy talking to them, my Bob is gone now but he so enjoyed that ride. Thank you and Happy Trails~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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