I walked up the short incline and started to descend through the singletrack that is the PCT and was immediately struck by how dusty it was. Apparently all the frontrunners were trying to warm up by going a wee bit too fast. Now my night running and early morning running is pretty similar in the fact that I suck at both. The little headlamp I had was doing a piss poor job of illuminating the trail and I was already starting to trip on a few rocks and slopes. I decided to go fairly conservative to start, 14 min/mile pace: just enough to keep warm without going nuts and having a really good first 1/4 and then a disastrous 3/4 later on. It was only 12 minutes in when I saw Lorie heading back towards me. Lorie had the flu and had already puked twice, before the race started. She decided to drop as she couldnt keep food or drink down.
As I said before I dropped out of Cascade because of nausea and stomach issues, which I believe was caused by my Nathan bladder pack, so this race I opted for the double waterbottle waistpack, which was great as it had two side pouches stuffed with peanut butter on white superstore bread,gels and candied ginger. At various points on the run I would trade places with a couple of runners as each of us were just trying to find our own pace and rhythm. Finally after the Little Crater Lake aid station, which I ran through, I was warmed up enough and moved on. It was also here that I got caught by Lorie who sat on a rock for 10 minutes and decided to "undrop" herself. We leapfrogged each other for 5 minutes until I took the lead for good. Dawn started around 7am and it's here where I started to catch runners who may have gone out too hard,too fast. Except in this case I caught up to Tony and Shawn who were two weeks after running Plain 100, Shawn in fact was 1st woman! I turned off my light at this point but they still had their lights on. We chatted briefly and they graciously moved aside for me on this uphill portion of the PCT. Passed two more runners leading into Hwy 58 aid station. Took some salt tabs as I had actually put them in my other drop bags and was warned about the potential for wasps and such. Funny thing was during the whole race, I didn't get stung or even get close to a wasp/bee. I guess being in the back of the pack does have its advantages.
About 3 minutes after leaving the aid station,the first male was already on his way back. He looked really strong and the course conditions definitely were favoring him. Heading into Frog Lake, there was a more steady trickle of runners coming towards me. For the most part, everybody was looking really good even running up the trail as I was running down. There were a few runners who may have gone out a little hard, but it was a little early in the day for me to even consider catching them seeing as they were at least two miles ahead and I hadn't even hit the turnaround yet. I saw more Club Fat Assers at this point with Chad and Kirsten running side by side like they were doing at Stormy two months ago. I saw Karl, John and then Gilles on the ascent just before the Hwy crossing. Gilles' words to me, "I love this trail, Baldwin." I also ran into two Hashers one from Ashland, OR: Thumper Humper/Annie and McMuff the Crime Pussy/Lynette from Boise. McMuff was wearing this little skirt composed of ribbons. I made up a little more time on this section and I hit Frog Lake aid station at 3:08. I saw Jerry and Paul Heffernan, both completed Cascade Crest this year, manning this aid station, refilling bottles and stuff. Paul and I exchanged hellos. At this point, it was already starting to warm up and I decided to lose my souvenir shirt to Paul who was going to be sweeping the course, so he could give it back to me later. Turns out he was actually sweeping the first half and I never saw him again that day. He emailed me after the race and will mail the shirt back to me. He'll even wash it.
I exit the aid station at3:10 and begin the trek back to Horse Camp. A few more runners are coming in including Tony and Shawn and now I'm starting to run in earnest. I take advantage of the shade where I can and just run as best I can. All too soon, I make it back to Hwy58 and then Little Crater Lake, everything's feeling okay, but I can already tell that I have two hotspots developing on both big toes that already are starting to blister. My heels are fine, really taped them well and I don't want to take off my shoes so I just concentrate on the trail. I catch and pass more runners in singles and twos, with about 3 miles to go I pull off for a pit stop and then am passed by all those I just passed. The 5 minutes I spend here are well worth it and as I am lighter, I easily regain the lead on 3 of the racers including Danielle who had taken a little bit of time sitting down. Beware the chair!
About 1.5 miles to go and both toes are throbbing, particularly the right one. I make the turn on a really tight switchback and my right blister pops! I felt like I got shot in the foot, the pain was so intense but because I'm wearing Drymax socks, all the fluid got absorbed through the sock and it stopped hurting quickly. I can hear the highway and soon arrive to Horse Camp at 5:55. A 25 minute negative split. I grab my drop bag and quickly change into a dry shirt and downing a thermos of now cold chicken noodle soup. Salt is good. Sean, who was crewing Kirsten and would be pacing her for the last 25 miles, helps me out here. I take all my gels and refill my pouches with food. Kirsten got to Horse Camp at 5:00, Sean tells me. I confide in Sean that I think everyone started too fast. Kirsten said the same thing, said Sean. I posed for a picture under the PCT sign for Lucinda using the horse poop as a prop and told Barry that Lorie was still on the course. I found out later she dropped out for good at Horse Camp having run 28 miles on an empty stomach.
Refuelled and renewed I enter the PCT for the 2nd out and back to Breitenbush.