I’m not sure what time it was as I slowly eased my way out of Javelina Headquarters, heading out to begin lap 4 of 5 laps during the Javelina Jundred Endurance Run. I didn’t care what time it was anymore, I was only watching my feet move below me, my hands on my hips. The darkness slowly engulfed me between beams of light from headlamps bouncing towards me, fine dust filled the air temporarily like talcum powder. Could I still run? Could I continue without collapsing on the side of the trail weakened by nausea and the lack of nutrition that came from it? Half a mile later I started running again, running as if the last 62 miles never happened, like the last 31 miles of nauseating torture never took place. I was running…
Javelina Jundred Endurance Run is a 100 mile Trail race on the Pemberton Trail in the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, just outside of Phoenix Arizona. It consists of running five loops in the desert washing machine style, that is each following loop you run reverse to the previous loop.
I arrived in Phoenix six days before the race to try to get use to the heat, since I didn’t have the time to properly acclimate to the climate, the least I could do is get use to how my body responds to the heat and adjust my gear and or nutrition from there, It didn’t help. After spending the week running the amazing local trails, here I was at 4:45 am bouncing up and down at the start line, waiting to get the race started and get running. I was certain that I had covered all my bases, nutrition, gear, my training and both of my drop bags had all the gear I needed to get me through 100 miles in the desert. Once we were all gathered there, the first wave starters who were planning on finishing under 24 hours, the clock ticked off to the booming voice of the race director Jubilee Paige and we were sent off into the darkness.
The line of runners that hit the trail was amazing and for the first time I didn’t mind being trapped in the throng of runners, I was enjoying the slower pace that was allowing me to conserve energy I knew I was going to need later on. Within in an hour the sun was rising above the distant mountains and we had turned off our headlamps. I was spending more time swiveling my head around savoring the views and the amazing sunrise nearly forgetting for a moment that I wasn’t running 100 miles. The first lap went off perfectly with no surprises aside for the amount of actual climbing there is.
Starting off lap 2 was different all together, it was warmer and the desert sun was beginning to heat the landscape up at a steady rate and within an hour of starting loop 2 I was hot, I mean hot and it was only around 11:00 am. Somewhere around 5 miles into loop 2 I began getting nauseous, I didn’t understand how, I was good on nutrition drinking my fluids on time and getting my salt tablets every hour as planned, but I was still getting nauseous. I was still running strong and physically had no issues at all, just the unrelenting nausea that wouldn’t go away! I was very frustrated and when I got back down to Javelina Headquarters following the second lap I was on full damage control.
I tried to eat something, anything that would help. I was drinking different beverages trying tp find a soothing fluid to settle my stomach and then turned around and headed out for loop 3. At the first aid station of this loop called Coyote Camp I sat for a bit sipping vegetable broth and sucking on dried ginger root hoping they would help with the nausea as well as get in much needed fluids. Meanwhile the temperature on the course was a little over 90F degrees and I was feeling every single degree. I ran out of Coyote Camp at a mild trot considering it gradually gained elevation with sections of slightly more climbing as we dropped down into and climbed out of washes and small ravines.
Darkness fell on me as I climbed along in the desert at just about the high point of the course. Turning on my headlamp I welcomed the night and its promise of cool air. Far off in the distance I can hear the next aid station, the music was booming and it was still a couple of miles away. I peered through the light beam of my headlamp as if it would help me see the aid station better. In what seemed like a lifetime I arrived at Jackass Junction, a huge aid station in the back of the course that includes a disco and full bar with a fire pit. They also have all the amenities you would expect at a 100 mile race, so much so I’m sure you could live there quit comfortably for a fairly good amount of time.
I sat there next to Anthony, who had problems of his own having been vomiting for the last 7 hours refusing to believe his race was over, it was. After about 20 minutes I left still feeling crappy and slowly worked my way back out into the darkness. Somehow I managed to run pretty well the 5.7 miles down to Rattlesnake Ranch aid station and 4 miles from Headquarters. I stopped for a bit to breath and try to sip more broth before heading out for the last section of the loop. I was still running strong, my legs were aching and sore but going really well, this was so disheartening knowing that the only thing keeping me from running my ass off was the constant feeling that I was about to throw up.
I sat at Javelina Headquarters for a bit on the fence about dropping out of the race as I tried to get in some nutrition and suck on some ginger root. But even as I was contemplating quitting the race, my body was already moving to the turnaround and timing mat to begin loop 4. Again, I wandered off into the darkness unsure of what the outcome of my race was going to be. Loop 4 was an emotional roller coaster, I started out hiking when all of a sudden I was running as if nothing in the last 16 hours had taken place. At Rattlesnake Ranch Aid station I tried to force down some broth once more and a splash of soda before running out into the desert for the next 5.7 miles to Jackass Junction.
Two miles out from Jackass I felt the world of pain return, my stomach issues made its return ten fold and at Jackass Junction I sat there for half an hour trying to get down any calories that I could until I started vomiting, a fairly common activity in ultra races. But afterwards I felt great and left running again thinking once more I was rebounding and ready to finish this race, that is once more, 6 miles from the end of lap 4 I was walking with all my wonderful issues slamming me at full force and that was when I knew I was done. I barely even acknowledged Coyote Camp when I passed through without stopping. Back at Javelina Headquarters the time keeper removed my wrist band without a blink and that was that. I nearly cried.
Back at my RV I sat at the table after about 4 hours of rest and I reflected on my race, disappointed yes but also new I was returning next year. You don’t just leave Javelina with unfinished business without a plan to return. With a year to go until next years race, I sat there contemplating my training program, nutrition, a crew, who could pace me, what I could do better to manage the heat, Javelina Jundred 2019 is on and I will not accept this outcome again.