There were three reasons why I went to the US. First, to join/participate in the 2011 Miwok 100K Ultra Trail Run in Marin Headlands where I ended as one of the Volunteers. Second, to make a recon on the route and watch the top finishers of the prestigious 2011 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race. And, third, to have a rest and vacation from running. It is a blessing in disguise that I was injured last March during my adventure from from “West to East”.
Last weekend, I drove from Los Angeles to Foresthill, California and later to Auburn’s Placer High School Oval Track where the finish line of the Western States 100-Mile Race is located. The distance I’ve traveled was about 450 miles which took me for about 10 hours to include my pit stops along the way. After not being able to locate the exact location of the Foresthill High School where one of the Aid Stations was located, I opted to finally wait at the Finish Line.
After one hour of waiting, the 1st runner arrived and it was Spain’s Kilian Jornet in 15:34:23 hours. He was followed by Mike Wolfe after 4-5 minutes and then Nick Clark, Jez Bragg, and Tsuyoshi Kaburaki of Japan. I left the place after Kaburaki finished the race.
While Kilian Jornet was interviewed by the Race Director Greg Soderlund, I had a chance to have a conversation with a nice guy who was standing beside me on the gallery. I was surprised to know that he was the Champion runner in the 1989 Western States edition! I guess, we talked for about 30 minutes that I forgot to track down Kilian Jornet with the crowd. My conversation with this interesting guy will be reserved in a dedicated post in this blog.
Finally, I tried to locate Kilian by trying to find his support team’s vehicle at the parking lot and I thought I missed the opportunity to talk and have a picture with him. But I was surprised to find out that he was still inside the perimeter of the oval track. I was able to track him as he came out from the bathroom!
I talked to him and wished him with a big congratulations! And he replied positively and he was smiling. We had a brief conversation and he was still fresh and looked like he did not run for the past 15 1/2 hours for a distance of 100 miles in the mountain trails. I requested for a picture with him and he was very cooperative. We talked briefly after the shots and other people from the audience requested also for some pictures with him before he left the oval track compound.
Let me describe how he ran the last 50 yards to the finish line. He started to brisk walk and had “high fives” with the audience on the right side of the oval track. He was also congratulated with handshakes with the people before the finish line. After those handshakes and “high fives”, he simply walked and crossed the Finish Line and turned around and raised his hands towards the cheering audience on the track and on the grandstand. He was smiling and he was looking fresh!
After standing on the weighing scale to get his weight, he was awarded with his medal and congratulated by the Race Director. Immediately, he was interviewed by the RD and his answers were heard by the crowd. He was simply a humble and happy guy!
Looking at him within a distance of 5-7 meters, I could see that he is as tall or short like my elite runners with Team Bald Runner. It appears that the has the same size/built and height with Alquin Bolivar and Alley Quisay. I have the notion that our size as Asian has the potential to train and excel in this kind of race. Knowing that Kilian is considered as the youngest winner in this race at the age of 23 years old, it defies the odds that ultra runners are best when they are more matured or older in age.
As he left the oval track’s compound towards his support vehicle, I could see that he was walking normally without any sign of limping.
It was an amazing sight of a young, strong, and fast ultra mountain trail runner.