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Jasper Halekas Wednesday, 28 December 2011 07:51 TWEET COMMENTS 0

The Longest Day

Blazing Heat and competition at California's 2009 Western States 100

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Photo by Luis Escobar

I'm not sure where this story begins. Does it begin the first week of January, when I returned to running after a three-month injury layoff, feeling like the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run was a death sentence hanging over my head—a race that I had no hope of getting back in good shape for?

Does it begin after a disappointing eighth-place run at April's American River 50-miler, when, for the next two weeks, I felt like I was struggling through oatmeal on every run? I was mopey, depressed and convinced that I was no longer an elite ultrarunner (if ever, truly, I was). I even told a friend that I would be happy if WS 100 was canceled again this year, as it was in 2008 (due to forest fires) so I wouldn't have to go through the motions.

Does it begin just after that low point, when I hit an eight-week training groove that took me all the way to taper time, during which I knocked out 850 miles running and 850 miles on the bike, topping out with a week where I ran 146 miles and rode 90?

Does it begin at Squaw Valley, California, when the gun went off at 5 a.m. on June 27 and 400 athletes went hooting and hollering up the hill in the pre-dawn twilight (only for the whole lead pack to promptly take a wrong turn, led by two former race champions)?



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