Just because I can’t run (and I’m still a little angry and don’t want to accept it) doesn’t mean I can’t go to Chimera. What’s Chimera? Chimera is a 100 mile race in the very mountains that I run, The Saddleback Mountains.
I worked the Holy Jim aid station, mile 40.7 in this enormous race on Saturday. As always, I met new friends, had a great time, and was inspired by awesome runners. Truly awesome – every last one of them.
We waited about two hours for the front runners to come in on this cloudy day. The first three came in pretty dang close together (within minutes).
The second runner to come into Holy Jim, Fabrice Hardel. He placed first overall (I came into this event on “team Fabrice”):
At one point we learned that Trabuco Trail was not marked. Only a couple people complained. If you’ve run the trail before, you pretty much cannot get lost. If a runner had never taken it though, there are a couple places to take wrong turns to dead ends, and one place to take a wrong turn that would be detrimental to your race. I set out in my truck and marked about a half a mile. Then I hiked the single track to mark the next half mile. Before I returned, I handed the tape off to a runner’s crew members to mark the trail up to West Horsethief. This is the trail that would be a big mistake to take. However, a runner would have to make a hard right to take this trail, so we felt pretty secure that no one had done it.
The runners were amazing. They ran on into our station from about 12:30 until 7:30 PM. The first eight or so just filled up with fluids and were off. After that, the runners began sticking around. Some went out to their personal crews parked in the Holy Jim lot. Others had some warm soup or pumpkin pie at our station. The later they arrived the longer the runners stayed. All but one took off to the next station. The one who stayed eliminated himself from the race. And I have to give him huge credit for that. I know how hard it is to make the call yourself. It was excruciating when I did it at Bulldog 50k.
I recognized many faces, runners I’ve seen at events but don’t know. Runners I know by name, but still don’t know. And runners I do know and have run with. The delight of my day was my friend Robert W. I knew that he’d do well. But he seemed to come in closer to the top than I figured. And then, best of all – he placed 4th overall. I am still thrilled, ecstatic to be precise.
After about the twentieth runner (133 runners started this race), the station grew active with clusters of runners coming in right after another. What a lively bunch! Great personalities, great jokes. And they were oh so gracious.
So, what did we have to offer besides a radio for communication, a fire chief and first aid kit? Let me see if I can recall. We had pumpkin pie, oranges, salt, gels, endurolytes, sodas, Heed, water, ice, cookies, potatoes, candy, peanuts, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas, potato chips, slices of a veggie sub sandwich, pretzels, M&M’s, and chicken noodle soup. Oh, and we had light and a heater when the sun went down.
As nighttime rolled in, the weather grew cold. We had a big moon beneath partly cloudy skies. Dave, the Holy Jim Fire chief, brought out some extra lights and also a heater. Dave was another high point of the day. I remember this man telling me to be careful one early morning as I headed up Holy Jim. He said there had been a dozen rescues the day before. Chimera 2013, I officially met Dave. He was such a pleasure to meet (as were all my crew members). He was full of interesting stories, and I got to learn were the resident mountain lion lives. Right off Holy Jim!!! Dave opened up the firehouse for me and the other lady in the crew so that we could use the bathroom. And when it grew dark, he drove us in his huge red, mountain fire truck to use the restroom. He didn’t think us ladies should have to use the outhouse!
The arrival times between runners grew greater beneath the dark skies. I saw my friend Kurt E. and Randall T. Both were smiling and looking pretty dang great for having endured the course so far. Did I mention that this course is BRUTAL?
Our last runner came in about 7:30 (I believe). And then we waited. We kept the soup hot, but began cleaning up some. We made radio contact several times, but could not learn the number of the DFL and his/her estimated time of arrival. Finally we learned that the last runner had made our station some time earlier. Thing was, all runners had not made it to the next aid, Bear Springs. We could not leave until all runners had reached the next station, just in case they had to double back. And so our captain, Doug and one radio guy stayed behind, while the rest of us cleaned up and headed out. I left the scene at 8:30 PM. The guys who stayed behind, didn’t leave until 10:00 PM. In all, 121 runners reached our station, 12 dropped before reaching us, 2 of those did so because they took a wrong turn early on in the race.
Back at home I tracked the race all night. I didn’t learn until morning that Fabrice had won (yay!), but more importantly, Robert placed 4th (YAY!). What a day. What a wonderful day. Sadly, my foot ached from standing so much. Cheers to a QUICK healing.