Thursday, March 24, 2016

4 mph challenge 2016 race report

This is a recap of the fourth annual Hunger Games!  Each district was required to submit a runner for the grueling competition where the everyone is eventually eliminated except for the "victor", who gets to take home the miniature plastic likeness of a runner clad in shiny yellow.  The unlucky "tributes" were reaped from their home district because of various sins such as being a lazy slob all winter long, signing up for a race that they are no-where near in shape enough for, or because the sixty dollar price point for an event with nearly unlimited low price per mile was too good to pass up.  The tributes are required to run six miles of trail, rocks, hills and road within 90 minutes or else they were eliminated and returned to their districts in complete disgrace.  If the six miles were covered within in the allotted time, the runner is required to complete yet another six miles.  Over and over again - until only one person is able to complete the task.  This year the "game maker", Mark Swanson, chose a six mile stretch of trail along Whiskeytown Lake near Redding, CA for the arena.

The tributes for this years Hunger Games were assessed by the potential "sponsors" (aid station volunteers in charge of handing out indispensable sustenance to the runners) to see who would merit their favor in times of need:

David Petersen.  This man had previously ran 56 miles during the second Hunger Games where the game makers decided to make the participants trudge neverendingly through calf high water.  The crowd loved that spectacle. At 36 years of age and 56 miles as his longest distance traveled, David was considered a long shot for sure...(no chance at all)  (photo credit: Ted Goldsmith)

Davy Crockett.  The man, the legend.  76 100 mile finishes to his name.  57  years of age and only getting tougher and uglier every year.  Representing the monogamously challenged district of Utah, he was expected to deliver.  And deliver he did.

Jeremy Johnson. Representing the rich district of bay area, he was a crowd favorite for his chiseled physique and devilishly good looks hidden behind a seriously manly beard.  He enjoys leisurely walks in the forest and Indian food.  He really likes Indian food.  (photo credit: Ted Goldsmith)

Joe Palubeski.  A formerly "sponsored" athlete, he was a rare breed at this event for sure.  Being of superior pedigree this should have been an easy win for him.  The crowd enjoyed his shrewd tactics, such as feeding fellow competitor Jeremy Johnson some three year old "sunsweet" prunes at mile 30.

Scott Martin.  Representing some podunk,  hillbilly district up north (no-one really cares).  He has a decidedly surfer dude vibe for a sport laden with engineers and professionals.  Always seems to be proclaiming about some astronomical goal, but only delivering half way.  Except he did complete the Euchre Bar Massacre - an even more humbling Hunger Games style of competition.  This made him a wildcard...

There was also 90 mile Tim.  Tim McLean.  I'm not going to write too much about Tim here because I can't find a single picture of him.  It's as if his continual collapse at this competition has led him to erase any traces of his existence on the internet, so as not to remind himself of his inadequacy.

Start of the 4th annual Hunger Games

Panem was practically delirious with anticipation as the runners trotted off the start-line at a startingly brisk pace of 4 mile per hour ish.  Bouts of running were interrupted with bouts of walking, etc.  And so on and so on.  Scott Martin was heard mumbling something about The Hobbit: There and Back again.  Except that this was like: there and back, there and back, there.... and back, there and back, etc again.  He also consulted with Jeremy Johnson about discovering ten vultures that were eyeing him.  Jeremy told Scott this was not good.  Not good at all.

At some point around mile 20ish, Joe Palubeski sprung his first plan of taking down one of the race favorites - Jeremy Johnson.  He described how on one of his bathroom breaks he stepped off of the trail and discovered some interesting archaeological finding.  Being a high school history teacher, Joe fancied himself as someone who stored all of the accumulated knowledge of the local artifacts.  This newest of his findings though, when presented to Jeremy, seemed to have an eery, sinister vibe to it, perhaps some sort of Gallic shrine of evil.  Jeremy stayed away from this place.  Joe also told Jeremy about a ghost town drowned under the lake.  Joe seemed to be pulling out all of the stops in an attempt to rattle the potential champion...

Camden House aid station

Antsy tributes, ready for the slaughter.

The creek crossing.  Caused much angst amongst those runners who hadn't experience what the game makers threw at runners in the 2014 edition.

Road. Yuck.

Shasta Bally.  You know who has the CR for that, right?  Right?

The crowd was cheering for Davy Crockett.  He ran hard from the word go, each time gapping the rest of the field early on each six mile lap.  His intimidation tactics lost their edge later in the game though, as the other runners would eventually catch him on the trails.  He began to deploy other tactics such as showing off his beautiful singing voice while trying to imitate Miley Cyrus, or whoever was playing on his iPod.

It was a beautiful day for running, but then, as usually happens at these things, the sun goes down, the 36 mile runners go home.  And all you are left with is 12 crazy people turning on their flashlights and heading into the night.  Just a few hours later and it was down to 7 men on the course.  Things were thinning out fast.  Finally Joe Palubeski, for all of his potential and energies put into the various shenanigans, realized that this was not his day to put it on the line and he called it a day at mile 60.  Scott Martin eventually succumbed to the bad portents and his old man hip issues forced him to call it at mile 60 as well - exactly half of the 120 miles and course record that he had planned on.  After this, Panem could finally concentrate on who the real men were:  Davy Crockett, David Petersen, 90 mile Tim, and of course, Jeremy Johnson.

The rest of the night was, well, dark.  There was more there and back again.  More aid from those friendly sponsors, ramen noodle soup, quesadillas, grilled cheese, etc.  The game maker did throw a curve-ball and offered chocolate milk at Oak Bottom campground.  Jeremy was the only runner who partook.  In fact, Mark had purchased a half gallon of the stuff, and Jeremy drank most of it.  At some point (mile 76), 90 mile Tim finally admitted that something else had gone wrong for him,  He had lost a toe nail or two, and foot blisters were making his night a living hell.  He was done.  That left three tortured souls out there on the course with the pride of their entire districts hanging on the line.

There and back again.  When interviewed after the race, Jeremy Johnson had this to say about these miles:

"I was on autopilot for most of the night.  A mini can of coke at every aid station was keeping me going.  David was killing me on several laps during this time.  My confidence was shaken and as we left Camden House aid station at mile 90, thoughts of quitting crept into my head.  96 miles started to sound like a pretty good day for me.  It would represent the 24 hour mark in this event, and I knew the sun would be coming up to greet me for my penultimate lap.  As I ran through the early morning darkness though, I came up on and passed Mr. Crockett, and then at the bottom of the hill around the two mile mark of the six mile stretch, passed yound David (I call him young because he seemed like a youthful soul to me, maybe in his twenties.  Turned out he was a year older than me.  Whatever).  David had to take a pit-stop near the Gallic shrine.  At this point I made it up in my head to go for it.  I thought, if this is going to be my last lap, might as well give what I got.  I accelerated down the road until I reached the lakeside trail.  Knowing the topography and how the curvy ins-and-outs of the trail along the lake allowed for following runners to track the flashlight of the runner in front of them, I decided to turn my light off in an attempt to throw young David off of my tracks and not give him anything to aim for.

As the sun rose and gave me just enough illumination to see the rocks in front of me, I picked up my pace even more.  Suddenly it seemed like I was flying.  Just out for my usual morning run, cruising on some beautiful lakeside trail.  I finished the lap strong and then waited for several minutes until young David shows up at Oak Bottom.  As he crosses the line he immediately exclaims that the next lap will be his last!  He wanted 102 miles so that he could officially cross the century mark and that was it for him.  I asked him if he really just made that proclamation.  Jokingly he returned with, well, maybe I just said that, lol.  I don't know if my surge had anything to do with his decision making process or not, but suddenly things just got interesting.  As we waited for Davy, I told Mark about my observations of Mr.Crockett.  I thought he was playing the part of the the losing boxer in the championship fight.  He was bruised and battered, bleeding from everywhere, hanging on to the ropes while the champion swung away at him.  Soon the champion would tire himself out and just collapse on the mat while Davy claimed the victory.  You see, at some point Davy put away his ipod and was only able to channel his pain through various grunts and vocal cues that, frankly, scared the daylights out of the rest of us.  He was the vision of toughness.  The man that would not give up the fight, nomatter what.  I was just sure that this guy would never quit.  As Davy crossed the line with about 5 minutes to spare, Mark breached the subject that one more lap would be 100 mile finish number 77 for him.  Like usual he responded with a not to friendly grunt.  He was in beast mode.

Anyways, we ran the next lap in the early morning light, which was nice.  I finished a strong lap.  Young David finished his lap and was immediately relieved to finally be done with the thing.  Then came Davy across the line.  I saw the first smile from him all day long, and he exclaimed: number 77...

I took my aid and then headed back to Oak Bottom for the final lap, knowing that that was it.  Thank-goodness."

So that concludes the coverage of the 4th annual Hunger Games.  Deep End(my kids always thought that was what I said when reading their stories to them)

Notes on the race:

- drank 20 oz of water per lap - about 2.81 gallons
- ate a whole bag of Cheetos (the big bag)
- ate half a bag of dark chocolate
- 5 oranges
- 15 bacon strips
- some old prunes
- a large amount of quesadillas, ramen soup, chicken soup, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
- almost half a gallon of chocolate milk

One pair of old Nike Tierra Kiger trail shoes did the trick.

Two shirts:  Quicksilver racing jersey and then under-armor shirt

One pair of Injinjis.

One pair of brooks shorts.

The hot shower at the end rocked!


  1. Epic post, bro! And spoken like only a man could do, harsh and to the point. Hilarious though.

    1. No, no, you get me all wrong! No harshness. Only love.

  2. They took of their shoes? Newbs! Shasta CR...let me guess...not BJB...YOU?!

  3. I'm embarrassed. Your race report is better than the race!

    1. Ha, thanks so much for the kind words!

  4. Dude, that was cool! Loved the race report! I'm in for next year - except maybe just hang with the 36-mile pansies!

    1. The 36 milers are affectionately known as the "day campers". No pansies, just the sensible ones...

  5. Epic run. Epic epic. I would be proud to pen the foreword for your book someday. Great job all around, my friend!

  6. Great job bud! Next year I will make it out there!

    1. Haha, good, then you can be the tribute! lol

  7. Thanks for the bed time story uncle Jeremy.