While hiking about three months ago, I met a runner at the summit of Tiger Mountain who was taking a break from looping the steep trails. Doug was decked out in a Nathan Hydration Vest, mud-covered trail runners and a pair of wrap-around shades.
He looked all business.
This sparked my curiosity, so I asked if he was training for something.
"White River" he said.
"The White River 50 Mile Endurance Run. It's an ultra in July" he mentioned.
After a few minutes of chatting, Doug sipped some water and took off on a trail that crossed the rest of the Tiger peaks.
50 miles, whoa.
I had read about ultra marathons before, but never really considered what training for one looked like. Doug put a face on this, and it was a serious one.
I wondered if I could run it.
After a few weeks of grappling with the idea and reading the White River website, I got my nerve up and registered for the July 31 race.
Fast forward to last Sunday. The organizers of White River held the second of two training runs on a section of the actual course. Myself and about 25 other runners tackled 22 miles and climbed 5,000 feet, finishing in around 4 hours. It was tough, but food, water and great comradely made it bearable.
The last six miles of the run were down an old stone and dirt logging road. While we got plenty of "free speed", the constant pounding transformed my quads into jello. As I finished the last mile, I struggled to contemplate how I'd be able to do that run, plus more elevation and another 28 miles tacked on for the actual race. No time to think.
At the bottom of the hill, myself and a bunch of other runners dipped our legs in the glacier run-off to reduce swelling. After the initial shock of the near freezing temperature, the water was refreshing and helped to make the limp back to the car less painful.
Now its time to rest, heal up and pray for race day, July 26.
Below are photos and a few video clips from the training run.