Posted by: pointlenana | May 24, 2016

Codgers On The Run – Sun Mountain 100k May 2016

To cut to the chase on the title, Janet was the oldest person to finish the Sun Mountain 100k on Saturday.  The second oldest person to finish was … me.  We’ve talked for years about what we’ll do once we’re codgers, and I guess the answer – instead of play shuffleboard – is run for a long time.

I’m not really going to describe the run itself in a lot of detail.  Imagine running through the woods and up and down ridges and mountains for several hours, and then running through the woods and up and down ridges and mountains for several more hours.  That’s what we did.  Also, I “describe” the run in lengthy  detail in last year’s video of the 50 mile race – which was similar to what we did this year.  So I’ll just mention some stuff.

The weather:  Last year we had ideal weather, although maybe a little warm for some people.  This year, the forecast was for rain in the morning and then clouds.  We had rain at the start, then cloudy but dry, and then rain again about 4 hours in, and then dry, and then a pretty heavy rain for the last 45 minutes of our day.  We really wanted to finish before we got rained on, but it didn’t work out that way.  It did stop though about an hour after we finished, once we’d experienced a little hypothermia.  It was still beautiful.

Before the race, after Janet said “well, I’ll start but my training has sucked and I’ll drop at the halfway point if I feel tired”, I thought we could finish in 14 and a half hours.  Originally, when she signed up last year, I thought it would be 14 hours but I trusted her sense of training.  The cutoff for the race was 16 hours, she didn’t care about her time, and we both just wanted to finish.  Also, this was her “last race” – she says she’s retiring from running events – so I really wanted her to go out on a positive note.  And, it was going to get dark around 9pm, especially with the rain/clouds, so we hoped not to be chasing the cutoff.  Altogether, I thought we’d finish in 14 and a half hours, plus or minus an hour.  That’s all just a setup for her great day – we finished in 13 hours, 34 minutes and 5 seconds, which is what I thought she’d do if everything went perfectly and she was really strong.  She was really strong.

We shared a cabin for the weekend with my friend Yvonne and her family.  Yvonne was the 4th woman in the 100k race.  Then, because she’s crazy, she went out the next day and ran the 25k with her family.  Her kids ended up being the youngest finishers of the weekend.  So, between us codgers and her whippersnappers, we had the age range covered in our most excellent cabin. And Yvonne killed it in her race and amazingly finished the 25k.  And her husband Dave had a good race in spite of some leg issues.

yvonne and me

Crazy Lady Yvonne and some guy.

The course is twisty and complicated, with a couple out and backs.  The cool thing about the complexity is that we saw other racers from our 100k event, and the fast people from the 50 mile event.  It was very fun to see how quickly the lead people in the 50M event would pass us and how fast they could powerhike up steep hills.  They’d appear behind us, pass pretty quickly, and then suddenly be hundreds of yards ahead of us up a steep climb.  I heard some people whining about the out and backs, but I like them because it connects me to the larger race – fast people, people behind me, etc..

thompson ridgeThe flowers weren’t quite as spectacular as last year, but they were still pretty nice.  Mule’s ears and lupine, as seen here.  Plus paintbrush and some tiny succulent that had a white/pinkish flower that was almost as big as the plant itself.

Early in the race we passed a woman who seemed pretty strong but seemed to be slowing a little.  Many hours later – like 9 or 10 hours later – we saw her just behind us in an out and back, and she passed us soon after.  It turns out she is an accomplished runner and it was pretty neat to see someone who managed her race effort so well.  Janet did quite well in that regard too – she ended up 2nd in her age group, about 3 minutes behind the 1st person in her age group (after 13 and a half hours!) and the 1st place person was definitely fading.  If the race had been 2 miles longer Janet might have won her age group.  Last year I had the pleasure of watching Janet and the amazing Gunhild Swanson (she’s at 10:38 and 11:35 in the video above) flying past some broken 30 year old guys.  It’s neat to see that.  This year, at some point one of the fast 50 mile racers said “There’s a strong woman!” as he ran by Janet.  (Janet tells me, “No, he definitely did not say ‘There’s a badass old lady'”, but I’m not so sure.)

Another person we ran with early in the race was a young ( than me by a lot) guy named Henry.  It was Henry’s first 100k, so I gave him some advice.  He seemed really sweet.  And then he mentioned that he’d ridden his bike over from Bellingham the day before.  Quick geography lesson – Bellingham is about 175 miles from where we were running, there is a ~5500 foot pass between Bellingham (sea level) and where we were running, and there are a lot of other rolling hills on the route.  So basically he’d done a very hard double century bike ride the day before attempting a 100k run.  He finished shortly after us.  Nice job Henry!

Neither Janet nor I had major issues.  This is kind of an ultra runner joke I guess.  I had a hip spasm thing that only happened a few times but caused me to leap in the air in pain when it happened.  Janet had some kind of shin splint/calf strain issue for the second half of the race – 30+ miles of running on a leg that wasn’t working quite right.  We both had to use the portapotties desperately every time we found one.  Janet emptied her stomach at mile 59, 3 miles before the end of the race. But really, we had no major issues and the finish was never in doubt.  I imagine people wonder “don’t you get bored?  doesn’t time pass slowly?”  Surprisingly – to me at least – time passes quickly.  Hours would fly by.  The distance didn’t always go away quickly, but there was a lot more fun than boredom.  There are worse things than spending 13+ hours running with your honey in the woods.


bluejay 2

There was no privacy during this run – see that person 100 yards ahead?

On the drive home, we listened to Death Cab For Cutie’s album “Kintsugi”.  There’s a song on there called “Black Sun” that has the line “There is a city of Seven Hills”.  When I hear that song I can’t help but thinking that it’s about a trail runner paying tribute to the Seven Hills Running Shop in Seattle where many of us get our shoes.  That shop is named after the “seven hills” of Seattle.  Anyway, to finish this twisty story, Death Cab For Cutie was started by a guy named Ben Gibbard.  The very same Ben Gibbard ran the Sun Mountain 50M race on Saturday, and with the out-and-backs, he passed us a couple times during the day.  He was very cheerful as he passed, and went on to a really strong sub-8 hour finish for his race.  It must be nice to drop the rock star persona for a while and have some nice solo hours in the woods as a trail runner.


This is the top of the big climb (Patterson Mountain) during the run – maybe 1300 feet in 2-ish miles at the end of each loop (the course is 2 loops of 50k).  I took this picture as we were finishing the first loop.  Janet celebrated getting to the top the second time, with just a few miles before her big finish, by bending over and tossing her cookies, first in that wide patch to the right and then in the wide patch to the left.  In the space of 3 minutes she went from ok, to really sick, to a brief reprieve, to really sick, to much much better.  Karl Melzter – famous in the 100 mile world – says there’s nothing like a good hurl during a race to reboot your body.  I haven’t experienced that but it seemed to work for Janet.

I don’t think Janet believes me when I say stuff like this, but she did really really well on Saturday.  Her finish was never in doubt, she never seemed to be hurting big time, she was never crabby, and we finished married.  We finished something like 43rd out of 60 finishers (probably a few more people started but didn’t finish), and every other finisher was younger than her.  She claims she’s a retired event runner now, and if that’s true, she finished up in a spectacular way.

Thank you as always to the volunteers and the people (in this case Rainshadow Running) who organized the race.  It was a great day.

The final numbers:  ~100k/62 miles, ~11000 feet of climbing.  42nd and 43rd out of 59 finishers.  Official time of 13:34:05.  Janet was 14th woman out of 21, and 2nd out of 5 in her 50-59 age group.  I had 13:34:05 of fun.






  1. Congrats to both of you, and I’ll be curious to see if this really is Janet’s last race!

  2. You two are definitely not codgers! And big congratulations to Janet on a spectacular “last race”.

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