Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Naked America" - A Crewing Experience

Looking out over Lake Tahoe from the Flume Trail -
Coming down from Tunnel Creek.

To run a hundred miles is an epic achievement, but to run a hundred miles of the Tahoe Rim Trail with a saucy, irreverent and misbehaving crew is a whole different challenge in itself. But, for all our mischief we did our best to get our runner to the finish line.

Meeting up with the Robillards and Jesse Scott up in Tahoe this past weekend was another colossal experience for me. I'd never crewed a runner before and since the 100 mile distance is on my own radar I wanted to experience a little bit of what that would be like.

The four of us met up in Truckee to load up the crew truck and meet our last crew member (and one of Jesse's pacers), Jon Sanregret, in Carson City for a late lunch. Of course that meant Mexican food and margaritas. Just a few margaritas. But who's counting, right?

After lunch we headed over to the Carson City Legislative building for the mandatory pre-race briefing and bib pickup where they tagged Jesse for his race and we found out a ranger had removed a whole section of ribbon markers from the trail stupidly mistaking them for "garbage". Yeah. That was a little disturbing. Much of the Rim Trail winds through High Sierra backcountry that is relatively inaccessible and not the kind of place you want to get lost in. Luckily the race director sent out a bunch of volunteers to sweep the trails to find the missing section before the 5am start. Phew. 

Jason attempting to do some logistical planning.
Apparently he didn't notice how close together
those contour lines were on the map
for our
hike up the Flume Trail to
the Tunnel Creek aid station.
Shortly after the meeting and a sidetrip to WalMart for supplies - most importantly beer - all five of us were on our way to check into the hotel. Being that we were in Nevada (a state known for its brothels and questionable moral laws) I'm sure it wasn't a surprise that the front desk would check in two women and three men into one hotel room. For just one night. Luckily, the TRT event was pretty well known and Shelly and I probably looked more like runners than hookers so I think we managed to keep a respectable profile. Sorta.

Four beers in??
Photo credit: Jason Robillard
In reality, our job as crew members should start before the race. Here are some things we tried to be mindful of:

1) We encouraged Jesse to stay hydrated - We gave him plenty of beer.


2) We made sure Jesse was carb-loading We gave him more beer and added my delicious dirty nipples as dessert - a chocolate truffle-like treat with Kahlua.


Jesse enjoying my "Dirty Nipple."
Photo credit: Jason Robillard
3) We tried to make sure he got plenty of sleep without distractions - um... there may have been some scandalous half-naked shoe photos taken, late night titty flashing, and some aggressive girl kissing going on, but hey, its Nevada. What's that saying?... When in Rome... whatever. I guess we thought jump starting Jesse's adrenalin system could be a good pre-race strategy. 

This was Shelly's "tame" shot
with a pair of sexy Mix Masters.

Ok. So I admit, we have a tendancy to act like a bunch of filthy-minded co-eds when we all get together, but when shit gets serious we are totally on it. Shenanigans aside, we are all serious runners, for the most part anyway. We were 100% there for Jesse once the race began. We ran/hiked up to the top of the course from lake level (about a 4 mile 2000' climb to the top) in record time (twice) to get to the aid station where we could get Jesse what he needed. We sherpa'd a hydration pack, water bottles, a pair of shoes (he was lucky enough to get to use the new Merrell Mix Masters), energy/protein drinks, clothes, lube and Gu to him at Tunnel Creek, Diamond Peak and the Start/Finish aid stations. 

Beautiful photography of the TRT Race Start
Photo credit: Jason Robillard
For the most part Jason was in charge. The rest of us tried to help out when we could and followed Jason's lead. I didn't feel like I contributed much except for a few bits of food I shoved in the ice chest for the crew, but I know it was probably good for Jesse to have us all there when we could see him at the few aid stations we could logistically get to.

And Jesse did incredible. He was super fast in the cool of the morning completing the first 30.4 miles in roughly 5.5 hours. Our nickname for him was "Naked America" because... well... there wasn't a whole lot (except the thinnest of stars and stripes) to separate "his nature" from the nature he was running in.

Sneek Peek at "Naked America"
Photo credit: Jason Robillard
It was those stars and stripes along with his adorably polite personality that made the women at the Tunnel Creek Aid Station swoon. Seriously. The man had a bunch of groupies that screamed out his number "720!!!" whenever he came through. They even asked him to remove his shirt posing with him for their own personal photos. He was always gracious and humble and quietly admitted that Tunnel Creek was his favorite aid station. And it wasn't for the food.

Jesse's chest looks like he got mauled by a bear. Or one of the women at Tunnel Creek Aid Station.
Photo credit: Jason Robillard

And when Jesse got lost on the trail and didn't show up to the aid station when we expected him we hadn't realized all we needed to do was mention his number and about 8 different women would know off the top of their heads exactly where he was last and what time he checked in. Little did we know there are benefits to crewing a hot, sexy, young runner wearing American flag shorts. 

Jason getting ready to pace Jesse for the last 20.
It was a super tough course, though, and when Jesse came running through the Diamond Peak Aid station at around 80 miles he admitted to struggling a bit with the steepest parts (what literally would be vertical ski slopes in winter). But, despite having to spend extra time in the aid stations not only to pose for pictures with women but for losing too much weight on the weigh-ins Jesse seemed in good spirits. 
Only 20 more miles to go.

Even Jon, his first pacer/safety runner who ran with Jesse for about 30 miles, was challenged on fresh legs by the course. But regardless of the trail difficulty, Jon fulfilled his motivational duties well by singing aloud his made-up lyrics to "Naked America" (a tune sang to the tune of John Cougar Mellancamp's "Ain't That America") to Jesse to keep him moving forward. And apparently Jon also promised Jesse (without my prior approval) that I would provide the special finisher's prize of a titty flash upon completion of 100 miles. I don't know any 25 year-old male ultra runner who wouldn't complete a 100 miler for a titty flash. 


This was shot seconds after I flashed Jesse.
I swear he and Jason just kept running and
didn't even look at me. Both assured me they had.
I guess this picture is proof that Jesse got his
"special finisher's prize." Ha!
Photo credit: Shelly Robillard
Yeah. We had unconventional motivational tactics to get our runner to the finish line.

But it totally worked. *wink*


Jesse completed his first hundred miler in 28:08:36 and placed 36 overall. There were about 136 starters and 51 of those dropped from the race. That man kicked some serious ass even on one of the hardest courses in the nation!

Congratulations Jesse! We are so proud of you for doing such an incredible job at completing your first hundo!

Finisher's Tent. 100 miles.
Read Jesse's beautifully written race report. There were some seriously poignant memories along the trail for him and its definitely worth the read.
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2 comments:

  1. Ha ha. That's so awesome! I ran with Jesse on the first Red House loop (he and I chatted about both being from Michigan). I was super jealous of his awesome crew! I had a great pacer who helped me to a 9th place, 23:19:20 finish -- but I didn't get any titty flashes. I feel cheated. LOL. Anyway, congrats to Jesse and team for finishing a tough course!

    John Burton,
    http://runningjohn.blogspot.com/

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    1. Well, John. Apparently in this case being fast doesn't do you any good. Ha!! Sorry you didn't get to see titties on your finish. Maybe next time, man. BTW - I remember you running with Jesse. That's so cool that you were both from Michigan. Congrats on your super fast 9th place finish!! WOW! You must be so stoked about that!

      Now... I have to go check out your blog.

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