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Mike Benge Tuesday, 23 October 2012 12:09 TWEET COMMENTS 103

Run Around Rainier - Page 3

Just 30 minutes up the trail I actually did see a mountain lion. It was terrifying because I was completely alone with no way to defend myself. I yelled and made obnoxious noises, hoping to scare it away. I used up a lot of energy on the next climb. Then, I encountered another lion, it could've been the same one, a few miles up the trail, and again yelled loudly to make myself seem unappealing.

My last large animal encounter was a sleepy bear, as the sun was rising. I disturbed the bear by shining my light in its eyes and then by making loud noises. The bear huffed at me and I decided to quiet down and slowly continue down the trail. As soon as I was around a corner, I hightailed it out of there!

What were the toughest parts about the run?

The trail gains somewhere around 27,000 feet. That really took a toll on my body. The mountain lion and bear encounters were also stressful. Running solo and carrying so much gear for almost 100 miles is tough enough without those additional challenges.

Tell us about your hallucinations and how they affected you?

By the second morning, I was really beginning to hallucinate. Tree stumps turned into cowboys; leaves on the trail transformed into hopping frogs. The hallucinations lasted throughout day two. I think because I was so tired they were more intense than I had ever experienced. I was falling asleep while trying to run. I knew I either needed a nap or a change of pace. I downed another gel, turned my music up and picked up my pace. That kept me from falling asleep, but my mind was creating an outward wonderland from my inner emotional journey.

Have you attempted any other long trails?

Yes, quite a few. I was running about 50K most weekends last fall and winter in the Cascades and last November I ran Utah’s 48-mile Zion Traverse [Burt set the women's unsupported FKT]. A few days later I ran the R2R2R [40 miles] at the Grand Canyon. I also ran around Mount Hood on the 40-mile Timberline Trail solo, a week after the Wonderland FKT. September is a great time to run in the mountains!

Tell us about the Bellingham trail-running scene.

There are so many great trails in town and the mountains around the city, and we have two great running stores that support the trail-running scene. Fairhaven Runners and Walkers has been a key sponsor for the BTRS.

There are a lot of groups run trails, almost every day of the week. It is really an inspiring town to live in. In the summer, it is fun to run around the trails at Mount Baker, just an hour to the east.

Did you start the Bellingham Trail Running Series?

Yes. I began the BTRS in December 2011 after a year of assistant race directing ultra-distance trail races in Washington for Rainshadow Running and after competing in the Washington Ultra Running Series. I was inspired to create a similar series of short- to mid-distance trail races that could bring the trail-running community together in Bellingham.

I wanted to offer competitive, scenic, hilly, singletrack running. There are a number of road and urban trail races in Bellingham, but only a few races that are on mostly singletrack mountain trails.

How did you get interested in race directing?

I wanted to be a integral part of the trail-running community, and felt like I could offer community-centered, scenic trail races. It has been a fun and rewarding way to give back to this amazing community.

What else do  you do to pay the bills?

I also practice massage in Bellingham and teach sports massage at the Port Townsend School of Massage.

What are your future goals in trail running?

I'd like to continue to race direct fun and inspiring trail races in Washington. I am also working with a coach to improve my speed and focus my training on my key events for 2013. I'm a little obsessed with the 100-mile distance and anticipate more solo endeavors in my future. I like the self sufficiency and the inherent danger of a solo adventure.

What's on tap for 2013?

My next goal race is HURT 100 in January. I will put in my ticket for the Hardrock and Western States lotteries and will run one if I get in.

Any FKT attempts?

Yes! The Tahoe Rim Trail [170 miles]. I'm not sure if I will do it unsupported or supported yet. There are more volcanoes to circumnavigate as well, like Mount Saint Helens.


You can read more about Burt’s adventures on her blog: www.wilddefined.com.


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