Race Report From Ben Gaetos

The following is the Race Report of Ben Gaetos on his participation to the Leona Divide 50-Mile Run:



Lake Hughes, CA

April 18, 2009


Is it me, or are the races these days just get tougher and tougher? This thought came to my mind as I climbed the infamous hill at Mile 28 of Leona Divide 50 Miler. Changes were made to the course this year to comply with United States Forest Service safety issues. As if the course was not hard enough, the revision turned out to be a survival race.


In previous years, weather has always been favorably cool. Happy days were over, my friend. Mother Nature has a surprise in store for us. Co-race director Dennis Trafecanty started the race exactly at 6am in low 30’s temperature. A slightest delay would have resulted damage control procedure as temps rose to high 80’s at mid day.


This year, long out and back climbs on exposed fire roads were laid in the early stage. I looked at the faces of runners. I didn’t have to be a mind reader. They were all telling me that we’re here for a long day. After a couple of weeks of cold and windy weather, this blazing heat was a surprise. Immediately, I backed off even on tempting downhill sections. I had to save something for the big climb at M28.


At M28 AS, I was treated with wet wipes in my face, hot noodle soup, Coke, potato and salt, pretzel, ice on my hat, etc. I took a couple of salt pills too. This is it, time to get down to business in these seven miles of straight uphill. Light headedness struck me a few minutes later. I checked my GF305 and it was only M30. No leg cramps but what did I do wrong? I let a couple of runners pass. Slowly, my power walk put me back in the race again. Luau signs on the trail meant M32 AS was just around the corner. That was stimulus energy for me as they had popsicles. Volunteers were even dressed up in Hawaiian outfits. That was a much needed relief to finish up 3 more miles of rolling hills before the turnaround.


Coming back, I waited until M38 to make my usual downhill sprint at the single trail. There was no question my previous 10 hr finishes was already in the clouds. Give it my best shot anyway. At the bottom of the hill M42 AS, it was festive moments again as my buddy volunteers tended to my needs. They gave me lots of energy and encouraging words for the final 3.5 miles of climbing. It was steep without the luxury of slightest wind breeze. My legs were tired but I was also closing in to the runners up ahead leading to the last aid station. It kept me going. And guess what, they had ice cold Corona beer. That was all I needed to shift to higher gear.


Finally, the finish was in sight. There was no mind reading this time as happy faces and cheers greeted me in 11:52:–.


Congratulations and Thanks, Ben for sharing us your experience on ultra trail running in California. More of our runners here are now interested to try the ultra runs after the BDM102. We hope to see you again next year. Good luck!


(Note: The LD50 has a cut-off time of 13 hours)

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