The Bear 100 mile endurance run is held the last weekend of September and is located in the beautiful mountains of northern Utah and Idaho, which surround Bear Lake. The Bear has 22500 feet of ascent (yes that’s all going up) and 21900 feet of descent (going down). It begins in the small farming city of Logan, Utah at a park nestled against the foot of Logan peak. It ends in the small town of Fish Haven, Idaho.
The scenery during September is spectacular. The leaves are turning red, orange, and yellow. The temperatures range from the high seventies to the low forties (typically). Of course, you can get your extreme weather years. Last year, it rained the entire race making the trials rivers of mud and rock.
In January of this year, I made Bear 100 my goal race. I saved up the money and went to register in March. The race was full. I was so disappointed. I put my name on the waiting list and began looking for another 100 because I didn’t think I was getting in. I ran Bryce 100 in early June and then planned to participate in the Bear Lake Brawl Ironman distance race, which was scheduled the week before Bear 100.
In early July, I received an email saying I was accepted into the Bear 100. I was ecstatic and registered without a second thought. Then I realized I had nine weeks to train…
On September 25th, I stood at the starting line with my crew and pacers. I was nervous, but confident I could finish this race. At Bryce 100 in June, I had barely scraped across the finish line with 22 minutes to spare. At Buffalo 100 in March, I had cut it even closer with only eight minutes. I was determined to finish Bear with hours to spare despite it being the most difficult 100 of my life. The time limit was 36 hours.
I was a little concerned about stomach issues because I had changed my diet back from low carbohydrate to high carbohydrate.
The first 10 miles of Bear climbs 4600 feet and most of that is in the first five miles. This means you get stuck in the conga line up the side of the mountain on the single track trail. Once we were reaching the top and the trail became runnable in my opinion, I started to get antsy to run and frustrated with those in the front. As soon as the trail hit a fire road, all those stuck in the middle bolted forward careening down the trail.
I reached my first aid station at 10.5 miles, filled my hydration pack, grabbed an orange, and was gone. My crew was supposed to meet me at the second aid station at nineteen miles, but I came in an hour before my scheduled time, so they weren’t there. I filled my hydration pack, changed shirts, grabbed some potato chips, and was off again. The next aid station was only a few miles down the road and I went right through.
Once I finally met up with my crew, I was 30 miles into the race and felt great. The only issue I was having was my insoles were rubbing the bottom of my forefoot. My crew found some duct tape and we taped the insole, so my foot could slide smoothly over it; no more rubbing.
At mile 37, I picked up my first pacer. I was beginning to have some stomach issues. I was able to figure out I needed less electrolytes and more water. I dumped the Pedilyte out of my pack and filled it with straight water at a water stop. I felt better within ten minutes and we were off again at a run. I changed pacers again after sixteen miles. It was dark and the trail was rocky, which slowed us down because we didn’t want to roll and ankle with 50 miles to go.
From 3:00 am to 6:00 am, I’m interesting to be around because I’m very tired and I hallucinate. I am very aware that I’m hallucinating and think it’s hilarious.
Me: “Andrew, do you see those black mice running down the middle of the trail?”
Andrew: “What mice?”
Me: “The ones running between my feet.”
Andrew: “I see them too. It’s a trick of your headlamp.”
Me: “Are you sure?”
Andrew stays with me for 22 miles. At mile 75, I change pacers to Robert. When I first came into the aid station, my plan was to take a twenty-minute nap because I was nodding off along the trail.
The conversation as Andrew and I come in.
Andrew: “She wants to take a nap.”
Troy: “Do we let her take a nap?”
Robert: “No way. Keep her away from the heat tent.”
I don’t nap and Robert and I head out about 5:30 am. It’s a climb out of the aid station (it was a climb out of every aid station).
Me: “Robert, Do you see the black mice running down the trail?”
Robert: “What black mice?”
Me: “The ones running between my feet.”
Robert: “There aren’t any mice.”
Me: “Andrew said he could see them too. He said they were a trick of the headlamps.”
Robert: “Well, Andrew’s on crack too because there aren’t any black mice.”
Once Robert and I left the final aid station, I began planning for Bear 100 2016.
I’m climbing the last mountain, sucking wind and taking breaks. “We need to train doing climbs at elevation, at 10,000 feet.”
Robert turns around. “I can’t believe you are planning for next year at mile 92.”
A wicked grin spreads across my face, “We also need to work on descending rocky trail in the dark. Are you going to run it with me next year?”
Without hesitation Robert says, “Yes, I’m running next year.”
“I gotta find a way to stay awake from 3-6 am that won’t kill my stomach. But it’ll be sad to lose the black mice.”
I finished the Bear 100 in 32 hours and 44 minutes (three hours and 16 minutes to spare).
I’ve registered for next year.