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5328 Views 25 Replies Latest reply: Aug 25, 2007 2:43 PM by Floridaboiler 1 2 Previous Next
kateMD Rookie 122 posts since
Dec 14, 2007
Currently Being Moderated

Aug 19, 2007 11:53 PM

Drama at Waldo!

Well, here it is, the latest race report from me about an event I'll not soon forget.  Even if I wanted to.

It was a beautiful day for trail running. It was a beautiful place for trail running, too. Willamette Pass, 1 hour east of Eugene, is the Oregon Cascade mountains at their best. Picture high conifer forests and mountain peaks with fog shrouded valleys and glistening lakes. The run takes place in this environ and on some of the sweetest soft single track trail you can imagine. Running between 5000 and 7800 feet, this is an altitude course but the views from the peaks are spectacular!

I took the early start and found our Hippo right there in the dark with me at 3 am. We took off, ran about 50 yards then headed for a hike a mile or so straight up the mountain to the trail. It reminded me of the section from Rucky Chucky to Green Gate at WS.

It was dark for the first 3 hours, I fell once but didn't suffer more than a bruised and scratched knee cap. We climbed up and down in the prettiest forest (seen after it was lighter) and then climbed the first peak, Mt. Fuji, at daybreak. Waldo Lake was shrouded in fog but we could see around us for miles and miles. The weather stayed cool all day and I wore a long sleeved shirt over my short sleeved one most of time. I was feeling pretty strong and kept up well with my hydration and eating.

There were some trail vandals who messed up some of the directional signs but by the time I got to them they were already fixed so I didn't get in any "bonus miles" like many folks did. This includes most of the front runners and anyone else who had a chance for a good time. Poor Hippo says he got 5 bonus miles! One of the hardest sections for me was the trail going up between The Twins. This section is rolling but mostly up and never ending. Then it's out to Charlton lake and then back towards the Twins from a different direction but it's another hard section for me. I think I was already starting to drink less than I should have at this point.

When it came time to the last big climb at mile 50 up Maiden Peak to 7800 feet it was a real struggle. I knew it would be hard but was like climbing Mt. Everest: step, rest, gasp, step, rest, gasp most of the way up. The view was spectacular at the top and Waldo Lake was now visible. I didn't tarry too long because I was on pace to finish in just under 18 hours so I could get my finishers hat.

Coming down Maiden was steep but swift and I was excited to be at the last aid station well before the cut off. The last section was without any more climbing and an essentially downhill course for the last 7.5 miles to the finish. When I had the aid station workers take out my hydration bladder to refill it, it was only a little bit down. Oops. The difficulty of the climb up Maiden Peak contributed to my lack of focus on eating and drinking, and the lack of eating and drinking contributed to the difficulty of the climb. I didn't know it quite yet, but I was screwed.

I sat at that aid station and downed a couple of cups of chicken broth before I left. Not far out on the trail as I started run climb up a small rise I felt light-headed. I actually had to crouch down and put my head between my knees to make it pass. Eventually I had to just walk up the hills slowly but I could still run down them. Over the next four miles things deteriorated more. I got ringing in my ears. I got a burning ache in my stomach. At one point I actually laid down on the trail with my legs up the slope and my head down hoping I could recover enough to finish. Eventually I was reduced to walking even the downs and knew I wouldn't make the 18 hour time limit for the hat. But it got even worse and finally I couldn't even walk slowly on the flats without getting light-headed and nauseated. It was the very unsettling feeling of almost passing out.

I was 3 miles from the end and crouched over when a couple in a tent right off the trail saw me and asked if I was OK or needed help. I paused for a bit, knowing that if I said "yes" my race was over. But honestly I couldn't see being able to go another 3 steps let alone another 3 miles. These very nice people (Randy and Kathy) were PCT through-hikers and the wife was a trainer for wilderness first aid courses. Lucky me! They immediately went into rescue mode. They brought me into their tent and put me in their sleeping bag, on a thermarest pad, put my feet up and started assessing me for what might be wrong. Thinking I was likely suffering from low blood pressure we tried to orally rehydrate me by sips of my GU2O and salt tabs. By this time I was hardly able to keep things down and eventually threw up about a half-liter of the fluids I did get in. Even with my head pitched down a slope and my feet up I still felt like I was going to faint. It was really scary and I don't mind admitting there were times I really wasn't sure if I might be a goner before anyone with the right equipment could get to me.

They had a cell phone and we called my family who contacted search and rescue when they couldn't find any way to contact the race people directly. Meanwhile, Hippo was at the finish line waiting for me and alerted them that I should have been done by now. The trail sweeps had already passed us by at a time when Randy was too busy helping to take care of me to watch for them. Eventually the RD and the search and rescue folks on hand figured out that I was 3 miles down the trail and they hiked in to me with equipment.

After the first liter of IV fluids they put in me I wasn't feeling any better so they had to pack me into a rolling gurney/stretcher and half carry/half roll me back out on the trail. After close to 2 hours of this I tried walking again and after initially feeling faint and nauseous I seemed to stabilize. With the support of one of the EMTs I was able to walk the last 1/2 mile in. They took me to their mini triage station and put another liter of fluid in me. They encouraged me to spend the night there, rather than try to drive alone the 30 minutes back to my hotel, so I did. It was about 4 am by this time. I slept for a few hours, then drove back to the hotel and slept for about 4 more hours then drove home to the coast.

I just can't say enough about the nice people that helped me out last night. The RD came out with the EMTs and stayed by my side every single minute. Randy and Kathy were the best trail angels I could have run into. I was very lucky. And I'll pat myself on the back because I wasn't so stubborn that I caused myself any permanent damage. If I had pushed it until I collapsed on the trail I would have risked severe hypothermia before anyone with the right equipment found me and who knows what might have happened. And now I have learned another valuable lesson about the importance of mental concentration for fueling, even when weary. Especially when weary. I doubt I'll make the exact same mistake again.

So, it's heartbreaking to have come so close. I had really wanted to accomplish the entire Oregon trail series but, oh well. I'll live to run another day. I'm suppose to be doing this for fun so I refuse to feel too bad about it.

So once again - Hippo helped save my day and we had some fun again sharing trail experiences. He'll have to relate his specific adventures himself, as I know he will.


  • Droop Yass Amateur 201 posts since
    Apr 28, 2006
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Aug 20, 2007 1:24 AM (in response to kateMD)
    Re: Drama at Waldo!

    I'll just add a few comments. But first I have to say that I was so relieved to talk to Kate this morning and find out she was OK. We're best buds, and I was beside myself with worry.

    I've never taken an early start before, but Tom Riley suggested I should and I've always trusted him. This got me a lot more night running, which was a great thing as I look forward to my first 100. I was pleasantly surprised that I'm more surefooted in the dark than I expected to be.

    I was second amongst the early starters as we summited Mt Fuji. What a view! I gradually fell back to 4th by the Mt Ray A.S. about 3:30 in. The first two runners were close together and over a mile ahead of Herb Reeves and I running together. We were expecting the fast guys to come screaming by during that next hour.

    Apparently, that's when the vandals messed up the course. Herb and I were the first two mousetrapped but most of the really fast people got it too. Flags and signs were moved and brush dragged across the course - no one had a clue and just ran past. I don't think Herb and I realized anything was wrong for a long time, John Ticer came screaming past and went much farther down the trail, I think he dropped in disgust.

    So we backtracked and got to the twins A.S pretty late. My time through that interval was 3:13, the guys just in front of us ran it in about 1:30. Of course we came in with dry bottles and fueling thrown off: a little extra time and some friendly volunteers fixed us right up. From then on the race was about gradually reeling in people who had passed us.

    I gave up concerns about my finish time at this point and just looked forward to a great day on the trails. Running from the back I got to see all the runners who were struggling and dropping. I've never seen a race completely break people the way Waldo did. So many runners, including some indestructible ones I admire were just completely mentally, emotionally, and physically shattered. I tried to smile and say something helpful but found myself at a loss.

    I had a little low point going over the twins: a touch of altitude problems and just one of those inevitable low points. I always welcome these times as a chance to really look at my own soul for awhile. Somehow I feel like afterwards the person who finishes the race is not the same as the one who started. Back through the twins AS again, great TLC from volunteers and belly dancers. One of the volunteers warned me about what to expect on the final climb and to remember to eat.

    I may be one of the few people who didn't mind the climb over Maiden Peak. 3000 ft in 3 miles to the top at 7800 ft. I was in no hurry at this point so I took my time, losing ground slightly on Kent Holder and Herb just ahead of me. The final out and back to the summit let me see about a dozen people in the field around me, and I was stunned to see how absolutely dead and despondent everyone was.

    Jeff Riley was doing timing duties at the summit and I stopped for a few minutes and chatted with him. He was gearing up to sweep the trail as darkness fell. By this point my mood was off the charts great. I was at mile 52 with a long downhill to the finish and basically everything felt close to 100%. No reason to hold anything back so I just turned it loose, flowing rapidly over the flats and downs, and feeling good enough to run all the ups. I passed Kate at about mile 55: she was really struggling and I started to worry about her.

    Despite the fact that I felt like I was flying the last miles, the finish line did not show up as quickly as I thought it would. The last couple of miles were run through failing light, trying to keep my footing in the gloom by using my backup mini-light. The finish came unexpectedly, a blaze of lights and buildings out of nowhere. I came within 15 minutes of the "hat cutoff" at 9PM.

    I immediately communicated my concerns about Kate to the RDs, but there was little I or anyone could do but wait for Jeff to sweep everyone in. Jeff and the last 3 runners came in a little after 10PM and there was still no Kate! Somehow the scorekeeper had misunderstood the numbers and checked her off as accounted for. Karen W. and I went ballistic at this point and got everyone wound up worried about Kate. Within the hour reports came in by cellphone from Kate's tent angels that she was OK. A recovery party was organized. I desperately wanted to wait for Kate but by midnight I was dead on my feet and shivering in the night air. I retreated to my hotel room.

    One other special comment: Coolrunner MedinaUltraGal recognized me at the start. We'd share a pizza before JFK last year. When I next saw her at mile 37, she was broken down, unhappy, and certain she would drop. Imagine my surprise when I saw her at the finish about 30 minutes behind me! She had just pushed through, never feeling much better anywhere in the last 25 miles. I find myself more proud of Suzanne's effort than anyone else who ran at Waldo.

    Well, now I know what the fuss was about. I will certainly go back next year. After all, I still have a 100K PR to set, having run extra miles at both Waldo and Miwok I still don't know what it's like to run 100K. !|src=|border=0!



    We went to face our demons, but all we found were angels.
    me[/URL" target="_blank">

  • merigayle Amateur 1,569 posts since
    Aug 15, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Aug 20, 2007 6:20 AM (in response to kateMD)
    Re: Drama at Waldo!

    1st- Kate, i am so sorry to hear about your race, but am very glad you had some trail angels and are ok now.

    Hippo- good job on your race. I can't believe you ran extra miles at both Waldo and Miwok. You are a glutton for punishment!

    Suzanne! Good job on a great race, i had no idea you were going out there to run the race.

  • markc7079 Rookie 190 posts since
    Sep 7, 2002
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Aug 20, 2007 9:56 AM (in response to kateMD)
    Re: Drama at Waldo!

    Yikes.  Glad to hear that that you got the help you needed and you're alright.  TOo bad to have to pull out so close to the finish but it's better than crossing the finish line in more serious danger.



    Vegan 100 Miler[/URL" target="_blank">

  • fatozzig1 Amateur 484 posts since
    Aug 9, 2006
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Aug 20, 2007 11:54 AM (in response to kateMD)
    Re: Drama at Waldo!

    Hi Kate - I thought about you a lot this weekend and wondered how the race went.  I was gone to conference, so I had no updates from Karen.  I know your goal was to finish all the Oregon races, but I am relieved to hear that you safely made it out.  Thank God for trail angels!  On to the next race, huh?

    (PS - As a doctor, aren't you suppose to know all that stuff???    And, how much of a butt-chewing did Karen give you??)


    Running Behind the Redwood Curtain

    It's a mad mission but I got the ambition.  It's a mad, mad mission, sign me up.
    I know the price of Success: Dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen. ~ Frank Lloyd Wright
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  • timlooney019 Pro 354 posts since
    Nov 1, 2002
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Aug 20, 2007 12:12 PM (in response to kateMD)
    Re: Drama at Waldo!

    Kate - I'm glad you are o.k.  You were lucky to run into such trail angels.  Wow.

  • dinkwod Rookie 13 posts since
    Feb 7, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Aug 20, 2007 12:21 PM (in response to kateMD)
    Re: Drama at Waldo!

    Kate, sorry about your situation but I'm glad it all turned out good.  You guys sure had a great night.

    Hippo, congrats on your waldo hat. You really earned it with those bonus miles.

    I was more fortunate then Kate but less fortunate then Hippo in that I received my first ever dnf. I actually felt great all day and ran hard but I missed the out and back section to Fuji peak. I guess I just didn't see the junction, thought I was on top and just turned around and ran back down the trail. I new something was wrong when ticer and Arborgast blew by me about 25 minutes later.

    As for the vandalism, somebody had fixed the course change before I arrived.

    Will I finished 60 miles in about 12:18 which was probably one of my best runs but still a dnf none the less. At the end I went right to the time keepers table for my dq without crossing the finish line. No hat but I got a nice coffee mug and a great hamburger.

    Next year I'll know the course better.

    Happy recoverys!

  • phredmur Rookie 72 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Aug 20, 2007 2:07 PM (in response to kateMD)
    Re: Drama at Waldo!


    First and by far most important, it's good to hear you are okay. On the longer more challenging courses, nutrition and hydration are critical. it's too bad that it came crashing down so close to the finish, but so fortunate that you had people to help you. every time we venture out, it's a learning experience. this was a tough lesson on keeping up with your eating and drinking. congrats on a great effort. you're already better prepared for the next one.


  • kp61 Rookie 3 posts since
    Oct 29, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Aug 20, 2007 2:17 PM (in response to kateMD)
    Re: Drama at Waldo!

    I am the sister that received the phone call that Kate was in need of help.  What a long night it was indeed.  After taking matters into my own hands, and with the information that I was able to received from Kathy, I got the ball rolling.  Kate told me that she knew once I found out about what had happened help would be on the way.

    After many phone calls I was able to get Search and Rescue formed to help in the location. The biggest problem was that the location where Kate was is where three different counties join. We had some finger pointing going on until I set some people straight. Point fingers after you deal with the problem, so the listened and did.

    I was so relieved to hear Kathy's voice at 1:40am, that Kate was on the litter and going out with the race folks. Kit, Kimber and I were staying up all night if needed until we received a call. At that point we knew our part of this was over and we could go to bed.

    I had contacted those that would be able to solve the problem, and both Search and Rescue along with the race folks did solved the problem. Kate was in good hands! 3:40am was the next call that Kate had called Rodney and she was off the trail and being taken care of at the lodge.

    To all those that read this and were apart of the rescue THANK YOU! It is very difficult to be hundreds of miles away and work on a problem like this. I do have a lot of experience now if anyone needs advice, but no one should go there I assure you.

    Kate I guess I need to learn the run the extra distance at this point so we can run together. This way I can keep you out of trouble, or drag your body to the end. Poking you with a stick would not have done any good.


  • RunLongVT Rookie 161 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Aug 20, 2007 3:31 PM (in response to kateMD)
    Re: Drama at Waldo!

    KateMD, so glad to hear you are alright.  That sounds like one heck of scary experience and one tough race indeed.

    Let this be a lesson to all of us to brush up on our Wilderness First Responder skills and to be sure, if we see someone who might be in trouble, to ask if they are okay.

  • Benj Deppman Rookie 58 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Aug 20, 2007 5:37 PM (in response to kateMD)
    Re: Drama at Waldo!

    Great lessons.  Thanks for sharing it with us.  I'm relieved to hear you're on the mend already.

  • jimbo55 Rookie 7 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. Aug 20, 2007 10:22 PM (in response to kateMD)
    Re: Drama at Waldo!

    Sorry you didn't make it Kate when you got so close. Do you think it was dehydration plus altitude. Great report, it sounded like you were doing well for a long time. You can get your hat next year. Waldo is one that I am looking forward to giving a try. Glad you are doing better. Jim

  • mudrunner040 Rookie 375 posts since
    May 27, 2004
    Currently Being Moderated
    13. Aug 20, 2007 10:54 PM (in response to kateMD)
    Re: Drama at Waldo!

    Wow....Kate! Glad you didn't suffer anything permanent... despite the way your race ended, it will surely be memorable! Talk about epic!

    Hippo....bellydancers? Btw, if you keep adding the extra miles, the RD's will be onto your little ruse & start charging you extra $$$.

    Thanks for the reports all of you!!!

  • divechief Legend 359 posts since
    Aug 14, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    14. Aug 20, 2007 11:58 PM (in response to kateMD)
    Re: Drama at Waldo!

    So glad the trail angels were there for you
    So glad Hippo was there for you
    So glad this worked out OK, (sort of)

    Thanks for the lessons. Sorry you didn't finish, but I know you will continue to knock them dead in the future.

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