One of the lines from the morning paper after the event stated “This year’s race was especially difficult, as the mercury in the steep canyons topped 110 degrees – the hottest race conditions ever recorded”. “ It felt like someone had a hair-dryer blowing in my face,” said Koerner (race winner) “Even my eyeballs were hot.”
Out of the 399 starters only 238 were successful in finishing. 40.3% failed.
This was not Chris’ first 100-mile run but it was his first Western States. All of his other 100’s he never used a pacer. That was his plan again until the WMRC entourage inserted themselves.
Jason Klonoski and I were crewing and pacing for Cosmas. The Coury brothers, Jamil, Nick, and Nathan were also scheduled to pace other runners as well. Unfortunately all of our runners weren’t able to continue for one reason or another.
As the heat got more intense and runners dropped, Chris Harrison plugged away. He didn’t worry about the other runners and ran his own race. At mile 16 he was in 191st. The first time we saw him at mile 30 he was in 161st. At mile 50 he was 150th, mile 60 he was 132nd.
With all of our runners out, the WMRC entourage huddled up and came up with a new game plan to accompany Chris and have a pacer run with him from mile 60 to the finish. Jason was first up and both of them did an incredible job. They moved up to 117th place at the river-crossing mile 78. Later coming out of the river Chris smiled and said not bad for two guys, one who never had a pacer and the other who never paced before.
While Jason and Chris were jamming on the trail, Mark, the Coury Brothers and I went to the finish line to watch the leaders finish. It was also awesome to say hello to WMRCer Jamie Mieras who was working the medical tent. From there we all went and drove to the area above the aid station at mile 80. As Mark took a well deserved nap, Jamil, Nick, Nathan and I ran down the 3.5 miles or so to the river to await Chris and Jason’s arrival.
As we were watching the runners wade through the river waist and chest deep. I was lucky enough to have someone throw me a couple beers. I was in heaven. Better yet was watching Chris and Jason cross the river and all six of us jam up the 2-mile hill climb into Green gate aid station mile 80. Just image its about 1:30 in the morning and most of us are wearing WMRC shirts and flying up the hill. We passed 5 different groups in that short two-mile stretch. I heard one group yell out “what the heck was that!?” And another one say “don’t you know someone had already won the race??” We all laughed.
The next pacer up was Nick who would take Chris from Mile 80 to the finish. Even though Nick is only 21 he has made his mark in the ultra running world. Last year he finished 5th at Hardrock 100. So when I told Chris that Nick was taking him to the finish he had the look of fear and said “Great here comes the whip!!” I don’t know if the whip came out but they continued to pass runners and finish in 102nd place. 26:27:48.
A Big ROW Runner up to the two pacers: Jason and Nick!!
Great job Chris Harrison!!! Thanks for letting us be a part of it.
More Photos here: 2009 WS 100 Photos