Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Babe Ruth" Anderson: It's a home run ultra event! - 2011 Ruth Anderson 100K 50M 50K Ultras

On this 23rd day of April, 2011, I was once again, "Ultra Lucky" to be associated with such great teammates on the Quicksilver Running Club - Ultra Racing Team.
Post Ruth Anderson Ultras team photo with Rajeev Patel, friend, Quicksilver Running Club member, and Race Director.

Thank you to The Running Revolution in Campbell and Santa Cruz for the great racing tops.

The day is Saturday. The time is 6:30am. It's the start of the 19th running of Ruth Anderson Ultra's - 50K, 50M, and 100K. This is the 4th of 18 events on the Pacific Association USATF - MUT (Moutain, Ultra, Trail) Northern California Grand Prix Circuit. The team with the measurable presence at the start is Quicksilver Ultra Racing featuring 12 runners, including myself. It's a relatively flat course with less about 100 feet of gain and loss during each loop. Call it flat and fast with the cool temperatures.

I set out to run the 50K (so I am taking it easy), but was ready to run 100K if need be. With this unusual format, a 4.47 (4.5 mile) mile loop around Lake Merced in San Francisco, I was an insurance runner for our team. Essentially, we had 5 men in the 100K, but needed only 3 to finish for our USATF Grand Prix points. We had anther two men in the 50M and one woman in the 50M. If all three finished we earned points for our Mixed team. We also had two men running the 50K as insurance runners and three women running the 50K for women's team points. Knowing the perseverance of our team, this was pretty simple given the history of a high finishing rate for each person.

Before each race, I (like you too I am sure) like to size up the competition. With only a handful of representatives from other running clubs/teams on the entrants list, I decided to send an email to the Team Captain/Manager of Tamalpa Running Club (our toughest competitor) to invite more runners to compete at Ruth Anderson. I thought it was as nice gesture to create more friendly competition. Perhaps when my Quicksilver Running Club and Ultra Racing teammates read this blog, they will see another side of me - the fair one. The obvious and well known fact is that I am very competitive.

Well, this race wasn't as easy to "finish as a team" as I thought it was going to be. We all were gathering at Rock Bottom Brewery the night before to pick-up our new racing tops and have a few pops. But then came the email from Jean Pommier, a 100K entrant. "Greg, I will be unable to make the start of Ruth Anderson because my flight has been delayed." Uh oh...

Then, Jim Magill (another 100K entrant who has an injured knee that required an x-ray earlier in the week) was also questionable to finish. Yikes...

Finally, Chihping Fu ( another 100K entrant) told me that he was 30% to finish the 100K because he was hurting all over from running so much. Oh boy...

So, 3 of the 5 are most likely not going to finish the 100K, which meant I have mentally prepare myself to run the 100K. Quite honestly, I didn't want anyone to know that I didn't want to because of the Miwok 100K in two weeks. I wasn't the only one in this situation. Fellow QSURT and RA runners Jean Pommier, Sean Lang, Adam Blum , Jim Magill, Scott Laberge, and Clare Abram are all running Miwok too, so I had to be as tough as them. No so the case...

Jean Pommier didn't leave Florida until 12:30am and was in Arizona when the race started at 630am. He arrived at SFO ariport at 750am and proceeded to RA with Police Escort, son Alex, and Agnes, his awesome wife, driving. For more about this act of Ultra-dedication. see...

Quick timeout here. I have to mention that I was just imagining Jean and family running through SFO with his briefcase hurdling seats and stanchion lined cues like OJ Simpson in those Hertz Rent-a-car commercials in the 70's and 80's.

Back to the race. Not much to describe about the course other than we are running 4.5 mile loops around Lake Merced in San Francisco. For those not familiar with a lake in San Francisco, it's in the Southwest region neghboring the world famous Olympic Club (home of 4 US Open Championships and the site for 2012) and Harding Park golf courses.

You may recognize the logo (w/o text) above as the one Graham Cooper (Western States Winner 2006) wears at all his events.

Lets start this event. 50 degrees and overcast.

I am on  my second lap when Ian Sharman passes me. I assumed he was here to break 100K records after breaking the US 100M record at Rocky Racoon early this year. Not so the case as I asked him, and he said "I am doing the 50K." Then Victor Ballesteros (Tamalpa Ultra Racing) decides to do the same and he too let's me know he is doing the 50K and preparing for Miwok as Ian is. Then Joe Binder (100K), Jon Olsen(100K), and a few others

I am having so much fun out here. I am watching, saying hello, and even talking with the tens and later hundreds of normal folk walking or jogging around the lake for daily exercise.

On my 5th lap, Pommier laps me and says he is good for the 100K. I keep asking all the aid station volunteers, "How does Jim look?". "Jim looks great!", they all say. I haven't seen Sean yet, but I assume that the thoroughbred he is will have no problem completing the 100K. Scoreboard says we have 3 runners to score 100K and I am off the hook. Or am I?

Ian passes me a second time on his way to finish at 3:10 a course record for the 50K. Victor finishes up at 3:23 for 2nd.
Ian's finishes:

I have to mention the fact that this dude has the sweetest gate/stride/arm stroke ever. When he lapped me for the second time, I thought he was ROBOCOP sprinting by me.

A few laps later, I am now coming to the 50K finish. What to do? Well, the uniqueness of this race is that when  you get to the 50K or 50M mark you tell the scorer if you want to go on. If you go on to run the 50M or 100K, then your time at the 50K and 50M are now just splits and cannot be used as a finish time should you decide to drop between distances. I decide to sit at the 50K finish and let the clock keep ticking while I wait for teammate Jim Magill or Scott Laberge (also insurance runner for 100K) to come around so I can ask them how they feel. Scott shows up first and is now at mile 36. We chat and he asks me if  "we" (the Quicksilver Ultra Racing Team) need him to run the 100K. I say, "YAH! can ya?" Scott says he feels great at continues on. "WOOOOOOOOOO!", I yell. That makes 4 100K runners and I tell the scorer that I am stopping at 50K.

Clock it at 5:23, a nice easy jog for fat boy today. While this was my first loop course race and flat 50K, I believe I would have had a much better time (under 5hrs) if "racing" the 50K.

As the team loops around the lake, Jean is cruising (mile31), Sean is feeling shin splints nagging (mile 41), Jim's knee is acting up (mile 36), and Chihping is stopping at 50K too. Now the "MVP Ultra" photographer can get to work.

Meanwhile, back at the start/finish, there is a buzz about Joe Binder getting on the US Men's 100K team for the World Championship 100K in the Nederlands 9/10/11.

Joe needs a 7:01 to get a spot on the 6 man team. With a crew of 10 cheering him on, he is now on his last lap. We spot him across the lake about a 1/2 mile out and realize that he is gonna be close. The clock is now at 7:00 hours and he hasn't made the final turn about 100 yards away. Enough of the suspense he sprints wildly with his head bobbling, hips swaying, and arms swinging, he kicks it home in 7:19. Nice Job JOE!

Joe's finishes:

I am thankful to be lucky this day as I am able to rest up for Miwok 100K two weeks later. However, Jean (8:05 actual or 10:13 flight delay, Age Group Winner 40-49), Sean (9:40 2nd Age group 20-29), Scott (10:07 Age group winner, 50-59), and Jim (11:51 Age Group winner, 60-69), who all finished the RA 100K, will also be running Miwok as I mentioned earlier. Thanks  for saving me for my own good guys!

100K Team Result: 1st Place Men
Jean Pommier in three States in one day and finishes a 100K. PR 8:05 Actual time 100K.
One more lap to go... Sean Lang.
Jean stretching it out at mile 51.
Jim heading out for lap 13 of 14. Oh, who is that behind him? That's Bill Dodson promoting GU. ewe!
Scott Laberge enjoying his PR 100K finish. Clare and Rajeev hold the tape.

 Clare, Scott, Jason Reed, Suzy, Jean, Charles Blakeney, and Jean Suyenaga chillaxin.
 Jim celebrating with Toshi.
Jim and Rajeev with Guinness Award Presentation.

We also had a mixed team on the 50 mile race this day. Clare Abram, set the course record for women with a 7:03 and  Toshi Hosaka won it for the men at 6:31, and Adam Blum 5th overall with a 7:47.

50M Team Result: 1st Place Mixed Team
 Clare was #1 today!
 Adam Blum at finish.
Rajeev, Race Director with Toshi.

We also featured a women's team in the 50K distance. QSURT's Amy Burton (Former Race Director with husband John) won this distance at 4:17. Followed by Suzy Brewer (5:19, Second Age Group 40-49) and Kat Powell (6:28, Won Age group 60-69) had brilliant runs.

50K Team Result: 1st Place Women
 Suzy phoning home in Scott's Ultra Van.
 Suzy keeping warm as we celebrate and wait for Jim to finish 100K.
Kat Powell after Age group win!

There was also something else amazing going on here today. Nishad Singh, Rajeev's nephew was running his first 50 miler. Last year, at 14 years young, he completed his first 50K. I want to pay my sincerest compliments to this young man not only for his great accomplishment, but for what a gentleman he is. I was able to run with him a bit, and couldn't believe he was 15 years old. Quite friendly, encouraging, and very mature for his age. As we know Rajeev to be the same way, this was not so surprising. At least he runs faster than his uncle. LOL
 Nice Finish, Nushad!

 "I love you kid!"

At 15, he finished his first 50 miler in 11:27. Congrats, Nishad! I imagine the 100 miler is on the horizon. I later found out as you see in the photos that a documentary is being done on Nushad as he extends his Ultrarunning distances.

Thank you Jean for your dedication and jet-like effort.
Thank you Sean for fiinishing through the pain I know you felt this day in your shins.
Thank you Scott for stepping up to be the insurance runner.
Thank you Jim for finishing through the knee pain.
Thank you Clare, Toshi, Adam, Amy, Suzy, Kat, Chihping and everyone else for running and making this a very memorable event.

Thanks to Rajeev and all the volunteers for such a great event. Quicksilver will be there next year, yet again.

In good health,

Ps. next race Miwok 100K May 7th, Sausalito, CA