After arriving in Buena Vista 5 days in advance...getting a couple of runs in as well as a couple of hikes in at around 12,000 ft, Steve and I felt good to go. Our first run that week had worried me a bit as we were running on the flats and struggling pretty huge to breath. We both have asthma as well and I was wondering if it was worse because of this or is this what it feels like to run at altitude? After talking with everyone else who had run prior to the race starting I realized that yup, this is pretty much what everyone is feeling...well I guess except for the teams coming from Colorado, Arizona etc. Anyhow, each day that we spent running or hiking after that leading up to the race we started feeling much better and were getting used to altitude. I was just so thankful we showed up 5 days in advance!
Steve had randomly picked this campground for us to stay at for 5 nights prior to the race called the Arrowhead Point Resort. After arriving and chatting to the couple that run the place we discovered that this was actually where they set up the tent city for us to stay after Stage 1 of the race. That was kind of a weird coincidence. Anyhow, I brought my tent along and camped there for the 5 nights before the race while Steve, Kira and their 6 week old Julia stayed in an RV that the owners rent out. The RV was pretty sweet and nice to hang out in the evenings before the race started.
The race started on Sunday...and by friday before the race we were getting super antsy and excited and really just wanted the race to finally get started and have those pre-race nerves out of the way. I woke up on Saturday feeling pretty stoked as things were finally starting to get underway. We drove to downtown Buena Vista to registration and gigantic race package pickup. Here we picked up our race bibs, course maps, timing chips and big duffle bags that would hold all of our gear for the 6 days of racing and camping! All I can say is good thing they gave us those duffle bags there because it was needed to haul away all the other crazy gear they gave us. We left with a TR shirt, Windstopper jacket, Timex Watch, hats, waterbottles, socks, Salomon recovery shoes, visors, food...and i'm sure there's more that i'm missing. It was insane. Aside from that there was other free swag given away each day. I've definitely never experienced anything like that at any race i've done before!
Steve and I at registration
The rest of Saturday we pretty much just chilled out and enjoyed the day. That evening we were at a local school for the opening ceremonies and dinner. It was strange that I recognized so many people but didn't actually know any of them! I finally met Gary Robbins (fellow Newfie!!) after chatting with him through the blog and facebook world the past few months...as well as Aaron Heidt...another fast runner that actually lives in Vernon like Steve & Kira.
I was pretty much starstruck with some other faces I recognized and yes I got made fun of when I got a little excited at dinner and said...hey isn't that Dean Karnazes?!? I've been reading one of his books! Aaron proceeded to ask me if I wanted him to go get his autograph for me...come on...I know i'm a geek but please, i'm not that bad! If I wanted his autograph...I'd just go get it myself haha :) And no, I didn't. What the heck am I going to do with an autograph? I actually didn't realize that so many top ultra runners would be there...Nikki Kimball, Anita Ortiz, Hal Koerner (Mr. Western States!!) to name a few. I was loving it...this is what I do and I get to spend the next 6 days hanging out and running with all these people who love it as much as I do? Sigh...
After the ceremonies/dinner was over we headed back to the campground and I decided to spend the night in the RV so I could get one last night of really good sleep before spending the next 5 nights in tent city.
My Stage 1 Report will be coming along shortly...here is an exciting preview of what's to come as quoted directly from my brother... "Steve sucked and hurt so bad, he nearly crawled over on the side of the trail to die" LOL. I guess yeah it was something along those lines...