17 July 2013

BIGHORN 100 Race Report

Better late than never. I finally came around to draft and post the report before the details get relegated to the dust bin of my memories.  
So the race was held last 14 June in Wyoming, USA. 100 miles in 34 hours in its 21st annual holding (http://www.bighorntrailrun.com/). So what is there to report other than I have finished it? Hmm, good question. Will just post random thoughts and tidbits here and there. My lack of verbosity for this report will be replaced by pictures instead :)
 Billings airport

One of the beauties of joining races outside the country is that you have no friggin idea what is in store for you in terms of terrain, weather, race course and organization. So there is a huge level of excitement to it. I think it pays to travel and race nearer to one's country before heading out to and joining longer and farther races. For one, travelling is costly, time-consuming and to a certain degree stressful. If you are a professional runner then most likely these are not issues to you at all. The simple idea behind this is to get used to the preparation and set up. Meaning, gradually ease into it. I have listened to several stories of DNF from runners because of jet lag. I know it sounds ludicrous. Heard it from a runner who came all the way from USA and unfortunately DNFed in UTMB. Perhaps, jet lag is not the only issue.
Where I stayed in Montana
Dude Rancher Lodge, its lobby
At the famous The Burger Dive resto 
In a souvenir store
 En route to Wyoming
Sports store in Wyoming
If you are from Asia then it pays to join races in Asia since there a slew of ultra races now. Start with 50 miles then 100k and if you are prepared, 100 miles. Why 50 miles as minimum? I don't know but you have to make the cost, time and training worth it. Why go out and spend so much when you will only run 50K? Duh. Go long and hard. Make it worthwhile and brandish your (ultra) battle scar to  show for it after the race. Of course, there is no substitute to joining local races. Then there is also the issue of domestic travel heading for the race. Both for Bighorn and WS100, I had to make some pit stops and a lot of road trips. Thank God our good friend Rick Gaston was around to make things less stressful.

I ran with her on the course, chatting and all and at the end, I got chicked. She finished ahead of me. Didn't realize it was the famous Pam Reed. Here receiving her age category award. Awesome strong woman!
In contrast, jumping into longer and harder races without adequate preparation can be disastrous. I was in the same boat when I joined my first 100 trail miles in 2010 - GNW100 which is touted to be the hardest in Australia. Well I did not know about it was until after the race. Hard race based on my newbie experience. I barely made it within the cut-off. Looking back, my first venture out was in HK in 2009 with Oxfam 100k. So joining 100 miles the next year was like biting more than I can chew.
 My first time to drive in US of A
 The hotel where Rick, Maria and I stayed for the race
 Maria during breakfast before the awarding
 Post race breakfast. Everyone was there. Awesome race because of the community support!
 Rick Gaston receiving his award
 Local resto in Wyoming, post-race, Sunday. Beer was good here and cheap too!
 Place of Rick in SF
Race kit distribution center in Wyoming
The celebrity runner - Rick signing his poster in the famous San Francisco Running Company (store) 
As mentioned in my past blog post, I had to pass by Billings-Logan Int'l. Airport in Montana since it is the nearest international airport close to Wyoming, race venue. There are small airports but too costly.
Going back to Bighorn 100, it lived up to its name WILD and SCENIC. The course is simply beautiful and rugged. Wild flowers everywhere! It felt like running through a garden. Too bad I did not bring a camera. In particular running along the river with high cliffs bordering it was breathtaking. Aid stations were nicely stocked with fluids and food. Above all, race volunteers were very helpful and supportive. My only regret was not seeing a grizzly bear or mountain lion :)

May I also add that the race was deceptively easy. With only 17,500 feet of climb and 18,000 feet of descent, one will think this is manageable but on the contrary. Some technical terrains here and there. It did snow during the night. So approaching the turn-around (Porcupine) aid station, there were patches of snow and since the snow started to gradually  melt, the ground on which we were running became wet and muddy. So that added a level of yuckiness (if you are squeamish) and difficulty to the race. It was very cold also during the night. That is why I was wearing a pair of SealSkinz gloves almost all throughout the race even during daytime.

 A friend of Rick. The finisher shirt is one of the loot items including duffel bag, buckle made of fiber glass (wished it was metal) and official long sleeve shirt. 

At downtown SF
 Fantastic rich food cooked by Maria and properly washed down with single malt and beer :)
The were 2 bad patches during the race. One was when I was approaching the Porcupine aid station. I remember it was at night and I ran out of water and food 3-4 kilometers before the next aid station. My energy plummeted so fast that I could hardly run. Perhaps I was bonking and most likely. So I stayed a bit at the following aid station to really eat solid food and hydrate. For this race, I mostly ate solid and real food and some gels. Ratio is probably 80-20. My energy level overall was good and felt really strong throughout the race except for the bad patches. The other bad patch was 20-30 miles before the finish line. 

 At SFRC, Rick and his autograph :)
With Rick at Mt. Tamalpas where he trains.
Rick and Maria took me to Mt. Tamalpas (called "Mt. Tam") and behind is SF Golden Gate
My right knee was already sore and to think I still had 20-30 miles to go! So you could imagine what went through my mind given the trail leading to the finish line was mostly downhill = faster running. But in my case, it was the contrary. So this is part where I really slowed down considerably. It was annoying. Instead of wallowing in my misery, I instead focused my energy on why it was happening.
My assessment was the number of races I did prior to BIGHORN namely, Hardcore 100 miles in February, TNF100K in April and 3 weeks before Bighorn, the Four Lakes 100K. All difficult races on this side of the planet. So I have no reason to be surprised given what my body went through, er, right knee. Well, it could have been any part of my legs or feet. Also, I think I peaked prematurely during Four Lakes 100 where I posted a PR. In fact, my initial plan for Four Lakes was merely to join its 60K version but I told myself why gimp on the distance. I might as well make the most out of the travel time and ... pain :) (Oh by the way, thanks to my co-RD Jonel for the Four Lakes). So there went through the window my principle or concept of "goal race". No regrets. In hindsight I would not have done things any differently. So my second half of 2013 was fruitful already.
My last day!

With Simon and his local friend
 Best tasting and healthiest Paleo smoothie I have ever tasted! This is near SFRC store

 With Simon, Jorge Maravilla and moi. Check out Simon's shirt! :)
Simon successfully finished WS100 2 weeks ater this was taken.
So for now, I will concentrate on FULL recovery which I have done so successfuly. I have been running for the last 2 weeks. 1 whole week after every 100 miles, the same is spent relaxing and enjoying the downtime. Absolutely no running except chasing my youngest (hmm, he is mostly unshod). It does magic for me, recovery wise. I remember 8 days after BIGHORN, tried running and my knee said "Excuse me!". So that was a no no. I have also my hands full for the upcoming races, CM42K & 22k and the signature race CM50 miles in September and November of this year. Thanks to Maria, Rick's wife for the pix below.

In a local resto in Montana 

With Rick's friends - moi, Kara, Dana, Rick and Jason. All finished Bighorn. Congrats! They were very cool, friendly and helpful!
This will remain an iconic picture for me. Thanks Maria!


So this is another major race for me. I have learned a lot again. Thankful to the Great Sprirt for giving me the strength and calmness of the mind during the race. So what are those lessons if not shared, yes?

Special thanks to Rick Gaston and Maria for their hospitality and support. What can I say? Awesome couple! Also to James Roldan for his generosity and Jonel and his Connie for Four Lakes and cover story in Frontrunner mag. Cecil and Tin for the write up. My family for staying sane despite my being "special idiot" :) Their prayers and all. Friends and the support of the Filipino ultrarunning community. Mabuhay! (Damn, I sound like a beauty pageant candidate).

Jon (itching to run mountains again [which sucks now because of rain] and to feel the burn deep down in the sinews)


  1. Congratulations on your Bighorn 100 finish.

  2. Congrats Atty. Jon! Hats off to you! Rest and recover!

  3. Congratulations Atty. Jon! Hats off to you! Rest and recover!

  4. Congrats Atty Jon for conquering BiG Horn 100 Miles! Another feather in your hats.