Wednesday, May 23, 2012

March 24, 2012- Pacing Matt Van Horn on the Buffalo Run 100:

I had an incredible experience pacing Matt on his first 100. I met Matt Williams  out there about 8:00 pm on Friday. We had to get out there early because they closed the gate to the island at 8:00 pm. On a hunch we decided to check the aid station near the fence (about mile 44ish) and remarkably Matt was just coming up to the road when we got out of the car. We walked with him for about a half mile and had a good chat. Then we went over the the campground a few miles away to cheer him on again. After that we went back to the start/finish to wait for him to come in. We got to chat with several runners and crews and eventually Matt came in looking good.

MattW went out with him to pace and I hung out in the tent helping other runners that came in. Eventually a friend of Craig and MattW (Tyler) came in looking like crap. He is 18 and this was his first 100. He couldn't keep anything down and had been puking and was dehydrated and cold. His Mom and supporters told him that 50 miles was good enough and they started to tell him to quit. I went over to offer some advice and tried to be positive with him. I spent the next hour with the aid station doctor talking with Tyler and his family. I told him to warm up, get some food and water down and try to get moving. Two of his friends showed up and offered to pace him the rest of the way. I thought he was going to give it another shot and I wished him luck and then went to my car to catch a little sleep. I found out later that Tyler never got back out and DNFd. I am sure it was a great learning experience for him.

I tried sleeping in the back of my car, but it was tough and I was restless. I finally dozed after about 45 minutes and I was able to get about 90 minutes of rest before Matt knocked on my window about 2:30 am. I got dressed and drove over to our meeting spot (the short out and back on the east side of the island). I waited for about 15 minutes and they finally showed up. Matt was still looking good, but I could tell he was tired and he said he needed to walk for a bit because his stomach was unsettled. For the next 11 miles we would walk for a few minutes and then run for a few. A couple of times we kept the pace going for about a half mile and before the Frary aid we actually ran for about 3/4 of a mile without stopping. We laughed a lot. I tried to joke around as much as possible and even though Matt was feeling like shite we were having a blast.

We tried to keep the aid stops as short as possible. We would try to get Matt everything he needed and then kept moving. We hit the ranch aid just before sunrise and Matt was getting cold, so he put on some warm clothes and I rubbed out his legs. We had the two aid station workers laughing pretty hard. So far we had not been passed by any runners, but about 10 minutes after we left the ranch we saw the first runner and he was looking strong. Matt started to bonk a bit over the next 5 miles and for good reason. He was over 85 miles in and had been awake for 24 hours. I tried to get him to run as much as possible and eventually the guy that we passed came into view. He obviously didn't spend much time at the ranch. I kept telling Matt they were coming, hoping it would motivate him to move faster, but I could tell he was just wrecked. He did pick up the pace just enough to stay ahead of the other runner to the Frary aid station. We stopped there and ate pancakes, sausage and Coke. Mmmmm. After a brief rest we got moving again. The sun was up and it was definitely getting warmer. About a half mile out of the aid and we could hear and see the runners high on the hill for the other races. There wasn't anybody within a mile of us, but I still tried to keep Matt moving fast. We joked and laughed some more and the next 5 miles actually seemed to go by pretty quick, at least for me, but I am sure Matt would disagree.

The 50 mile runners started coming into view and they looked fast and fresh. We saw Bryce and he was looking strong. I think he finished 7th in the 50. Awesome! There is a nice little hill after the fence line aid station and we grabbed some food and walked the hill. I could tell that Matt was really feeling it here. An older guy passed us and he was moving well. After you get to the top of the hill you make your way over to Buffalo Point. It seemed like Matt was really having a hard time and I just tried to stay positive and make him laugh. For the most part it worked.

At the campground aid (mile 96) we saw Matt's mom and Dad and I could tell that it lifted his spirits a lot, but I think he was looking forward to seeing his wife and boys. Going around the point was slow. I took in the incredible views that I didn't get to look at too much a few weeks ago because I was trying to keep up with Craig and Matt W. What an amazing part of the island. As we rounded the point I tried to keep pushing Matt as much as I could, but he was very fatigued. Eventually we saw a runner coming from behind and he was looking strong. He was closing the gap quick and I told Matt we needed to beat him in. The next 2-3 miles to the finish were the most exciting of the whole race. After prodding Matt for a few minutes he came to life and started to run. It was a 12 min pace and soon became 11. A few more minutes and we saw the 10's for the first time in hours. I would yell out our pace every time we broke another minute barrier.

The other runner seemed to be gaining for about a mile, but eventually our pace was strong enough that he wasn't making up any ground, but I didn't tell Matt that. I told Matt he was still coming and looked strong. It was fun to see Matt pushing it so hard at mile 99. We came to a pretty decent hill with less than a mile to go and I told Matt to hike it strong and he did and we ran hard on the dirt road back to the finish. I finally told Matt the hill killed the other runner and I could see the relief on his face and we both knew he wasn't going to get passed. One more quick walk break to catch his breath and then we ran it into the finish. We passed Eric Jeppson who had just finished the 25K and said hi and then Matt's wife and kids were there with posters to welcome him in. It was pretty awesome and I am just happy I got to experience part of it. Congrats to Matt for finishing his first 100 in under 24 hours (23:20).

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