Photo By Glenn Tachiyama
Why run ultras? Truthfully, I run out of my comfort zone (an ultramarathon in the mountains will definitely get you out of your CZ) to not only build confidence but also to increase my ability to suffer. I want to hurt. I want to hurt in training because I know I will hurt during the hunt. In almost every ultra I want to quit at some point and likewise on many hunts I have thought to myself something like, "This is stupid. I am never going to kill anything...I am wasting my time." Bowhunting is a test and so is running. How much pain and suffering will you go through for success? On most my hunts this is what has probably made the biggest difference...the ability to suffer more.
This is not to say that I don't enjoy my hunts. I do. I love the challenge that is bowhunting. But, I have yet to be on an easy bowhunt, so I train for blood and gut epics. The polar opposite of an "easy" bowhunt is my upcoming Dall sheep hunt in Alaska. Sheep hunting is tough no matter what the time of year, but mine gets even more daunting beings my hunt takes place in the rugged mountains of Alaska in October. Gonna have to plan for inclement weather and of course there are a ton of grizzlies that roam just below sheep country, which is sure to make for some fun times. I am ramping up my training this year more than ever to combat what I know might very well be the most difficult bowhunting challenge I've ever faced. This is my first ever sheep tag and I am going to do absolutely everything in my power to head out of the mountains loaded down with meat and horns. This is where the Forest Park Ultra comes in....my third marathon or ultramarathon in the last month, starting with Boston, April 21st. In between Boston and Forest Park I finished 10th overall two weeks ago in the McDonald Forest 50k - http://www.mac.oregontrailseries.org/results/50k_2008.htm.
Race Recap -- Cameron finishes 4th overall
Ran a good deal of the race with Ryne Melcher, who is part of the Montrail Ultra Running Team - http://www.virtualraces.org/profile.py?race=Virtual+Route+66&name=Ryne+Melcher. He traveled down from Canada to run. Ryne along with Ultra legend and defending Western States 100 champion Hal Koerner - http://www.sacbee.com/100/story/239028.html and I were running together in the lead out of the gate when things went south. At about 6 or 7 miles in I suppose, me, Hal and Ryne were running hard, following the flagging markers put out by race organizers, on the muddy trails of Forest Park in Portland, Oregon. We had been climbing steadily when the markers finally indicated that we needed to dive off the top of the ridge and head down. We ran down hard and fast following the trail all the way to the bottom of the drainage where we all stopped kind of running in place, looking around for the pink ribbon that was suppose to indicate direction. There wasn't any. The course had been vandalized between the time the race organizers marked it the day before and the start of the race. Flagging ribbons had been moved. Nice....what motivates dipsticks? We had dropped off when we should have stayed up top. So after dropping a ton of elevation for about 1.5 miles, back up the trail we headed. A scenic 3-mile detour. Right after we took the wrong trail, two local runners, who apparently knew the course, came through, knew the ribbons had been moved and fixed the markers before continuing on. This was a good thing, but put me, Hal and Ryne way back. We had lost probably 25 minutes, which in a four hour race is a lot. I had visions of breaking four hours for the first time ever in a 50K and if the truth was told, if I ran my best I thought there could have been a chance I might win the race. Beating Hal would have been tough as he looked real strong, which he should with Western States coming up in about a month, but winning was my goal. Truth is though, the worst part of loosing the time and running extra miles is the mental toll it takes. Like in bowhunting, in ultras there are many mental hurdles to overcome. This is the case without the screwballs messing with the course. Extra hurdles can be very difficult to overcome, even for the best. Hal dropped out, no doubt because of frustration. And, if Hal Koerner dropsâ€¦that canâ€™t be good.
I ran hard to pass all the runners I had previously been ahead of. On the muddy single track, in the pouring rain, this was no easy thing. I went down in the soupy muck once while trying to sneak past four runners single-filing it. I got to a few more trail junctions which had been screwed with and actually, me and Ryne, spent quite a bit of time frantically deciphering the course map, which thankfully he brought, and looking for ribbons over the first 20k of the race. It had more of an adventure race feel than an ultramarathon. When I got to the 20k aid station I looked at my watch and thought that maybe I was 18 miles into the race. Nope only 12. Then I asked how many runners had come through already....20 or so. Given that I had already passed 20 or 30 and still had 20 more to catch after being in the led pack I was depressed. I thought about throwing in the towel as Hal did. Instead, I kept on, determined to finish and hell-bent on reeling in as many runners as I could.
By the next aid station (mile 18 finally) I had moved up to 10th place. Ryne and I were still fairly close. I got out of the aid station a little a head of him and keep picking off runners. I got to the last aid station, mile 24, in fourth place, and feeling pretty strong. The guys at the aid station said there was one guy just ahead of me and two guys a fair distance ahead of him. They were from Portland and I am guessing they never were off course. I took off after downing some quick hitting carbs and refilling my water bottles, determined to hammer it hard for the last 7 miles. Things went well until I got to another vandalized junction. I paused looking in the mud for tracks, unsure if the ribbons were right or if they'd been moved? The doubt sucked. I ran what I felt was the right direction. I was wrong. I ended up out of the park down on the streets of Portland. Back up the hill I went. I got back to the junction just as my good buddy from Canada was coming through. Knowing which way not to go, Ryne and I headed off for the home stretch. I ended up finishing in 4th place, Ryne in 5th. As a side note, I ran the race wearing Under Armour's new Train to Hunt gear, which is workout gear accented with camo. Sweet! Check out the pics!
So, while I didn't achieve my goal of winning, I felt like I did the absolute best I could. I ran what I am figuring was 5 extra miles and yes, while I did seriously contemplate quitting or dropping out, in the end I pushed through the pain and the frustration to reel in 40+ runners. Looking at the photo of me running on the trail (that was mile 35) I think of how much I hate having a pebble in my shoe when I am running. Well, at the time that photo was snapped I guess I wasnâ€™t worried about a pebble because my shoes were soaking wet, as they had been for well over 4 hours, and they were full of rocks and mud. Yes, I suffered, it hurt and I think it will pay off this coming bow season.
To round out the day of course I worked in my daily practice sessions with the ol' Katera XL, which is a sheep killer if I've ever seen one. Come on October!
Keep working hard guys and thanks for all the support. The positive comments many of you have posted on my website give me a little extra strength to dig deeper during toughest parts of my training. And, a little more good news. I am getting tougher. I went on a nice hour long run with Tracey today...normally, the day after an ultra I am hobbling around like an 80 year old man! I love this journey...seemingly every day I learn more and more what the human body is capable of if you work hard and believe! Sincerely, Cam
50 Km / 31 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,185'
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|1 M 40-49
|1 M 30-39
|2 M 40-49
|North Vancouver CANADA
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|3 M 20-29
|1 F 30-39
|2 M 30-39
|3 M 40-49
|1 F 20-29