One hour before the first runner to arrive at the Finish Line of the 2011 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race, I was already on the gallery/grandstand area of the Placer High School Oval Track which is a few feet away from the finish arc. Volunteers for the race were mixed with lots of spectators whom I believed were family, friends, and other ultra runners from all over the neighboring States in USA and from other countries around the world.
As soon as the Emcee, John Medinger, publisher & editor-in-chief of Ultrarunning Magazine, announced that Kilian Jornet was a few meters aways from the entrance of the Oval Track, I purposely went down to the sides of the Finish Arc and positioned myself on the left side of the gallery.
I was standing on the gallery and on my left was a guy who was wearing a Hawaiian Shirt and denim pants. There was no way that I could see his frontal appearance as we were standing side by side. As soon as Kilian Jornet crossed the Finish Line, I must have said something about the physical description of the Champion. In my recollection, I might have said, “He’s small as an ultrarunner”! And then the guy on my left said something and our conversation started.
I will mention him in our conversation as the Hawaiian Guy and our conversation went this way. (Actually, he did almost all the talking and I could hardly comprehend/understand some lines that he said. I hope I can accurately relate what transpired in that brief talk with this guy).
Hawaiian Guy: Kilian Jornet is a kind and sweet person. We had been “twitting” with each other months before this race. I knew what he went through in his training and preparation.
Bald Runner: He’s too small and light to be an ultrarunner. He came prepared for this year!
HG: Kilian Jornet is a honest man and he was very transparent on his preparations towards this prestigious event.
BR: Yes, I’ve seen his Kilian Quest Videos in the Internet and he is really good. And he has the full support of Salomon.
Our conversation was interrupted with the announcements of the Emcee and some moments of taking some pictures of the Champion. As the second runner, Mike Wolfe, crossed the finish line, we continued our conversation.
The guy kept on talking about the challenges and the hardships that the elite and the average runners had gone through in their training and most of all, to come up with their respective goal in finishing the race on hand. I just kept nodding my head and sending the message to the guy that I understood all the things that he was teling me.
And suddenly, I’ve asked the following questions:
BR: Did you have the chance to participate in this race? Are you waiting for a particular runner to arrive at the Finish Line?
HG: I finished this race for THREE times! And this is the only time I came to be an spectator in this race for the past 22 years. I was the CHAMPION in the 1989 Edition and my name is Mark Brotherton! This is the old WS 100 Belt Buckle that I won as the Champion then. (Showing me his BIG Champion SILVER WS100 Belt Buckle as he turned his body to his right!)
BR: Ohhh…Wow!!! Awesome!!! (Surprised with BIG eyes!!!) I am Jovie and I am from Manila, Philippines. This is my first time to watch this event and see the terrain of the route. I came here to run for MIWOK 100 but I was injured and I extended my stay here to see the real action of the top ultra trail runners in this event.
Mark Brotherton: Very nice! I have friends who are Filipinos and they are the “best” Registered Nurses in the whole world. As a Medical Doctor, I’ve worked with them. They are kind, loyal and industrious. Do you have plans of participating in this race in the future?
BR: Thanks for that nice compliment to our nurses. Well…I hope I am still strong to finish a 100-mile run in 30 hours with my age of 60 years old by next year. I have to qualify first. I have to improve my 50-mile finish time.
MB: You can finish it. Just prepare and train for it. Wait…I think there is a famous ultramarathon race in the Philippines which I discovered while I was browsing the Internet 2-3 nights ago. I think…it’s the BATAAN DEATH MARCH!!!!
BR: (Surprised…Smiling…with both Eyes wide-open!) Oh, yes…we have that race in the Philippines and I am the Creator and Race Director of the said event and we had this year’s 3rd edition last March. This year, we did the first BDM 100-Mile Run where the finish line is the very same place where the POWs Concentration Camp was located in Camp ODonnell, Tarlac.
MB: Wow! It’s a honor to meet you!
BR: It’s my pleasure also to meet and talk to a Legend and Champion of the Western States 100!
MB: We have to look where Kilian Jornet is right now and I have to meet him.
BR: OK, I have to look for my wife, too! And then try to have a picture with Kilian.
As we were going on a separate direction, Mark said something which I could vaguely understand…but there were words which I could understand.
Mark Brotherton: Jovie, thanks for the conversation. I hope you will not say I am “Mr GAGO” if you relate this story to your friends.
Bald Runner: No! I will not do that! Bye..Thanks! (At the back of my mind, I was thinking that Mark B must be fluent in Tagalog as he is associated with Filipino nurses in the hospital. Well, I just said to myself…if there is “LADY GAGA”, why not for a “GENTLEMAN GAGO” as a name of a male singer? hahaha! I am sure, he should be a Pinoy!)
As soon as I was back at the Hotel, I immediately opened my laptop and browsed the Internet to find out more about Mark Brotherton. This is what the results are: 1985 WS 100; 1987 WS 100; and 1989 WS 100.
As the Champion in the 1989 edition of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race, his finish time was 16:53:39 hours. In this year’s edition, his time would land on the 13th position which is still considered as solid, heroic, fast, and strong finish.
He is now one of my “friends” on Facebook and we exchange “comments” with one another. I know he will be the first one who will read this post as soon as I publish it.
With his permission, I am posting some of his pictures that I “grabbed” from his Profile at Facebook.
Yes, he is also sporting a “Bald” look!!!
This confirms my theory (again??) that “Bald Runners” are the best Ultra Runners!!!! (Joke!)