As noted earlier in my blog, I was to be the pacer for my brother's (Kevin) first attempt at 100 miles at the Kettle Moraine 100 this past weekend. What an experience it was!
The race started off well, with my bro coming through the 31-mile/50 km mark in 8th place at 5:15:00. Not too bad, considering the sweltering 90+ degree heat and humidity that made it feel like 97 degrees. However, I was a bit concerned that he'd gone out a bit fast, but nonetheless, I know he's pretty damn talented and he was racing his plan. Defending champ, Mark Tanaka came through in first, looking like he was going to be the man to beat.
Brother Kevin - Looking smooth early
I didn't hang out on the course all day like some pacers do. I stayed at my brother's house and hung out with my sister-in-law, their 2 kids, my son, and my Dad. The kids enjoyed playing together and watching The Wiggles (ugh) while we adults monitored the weather and the race webcast. We were getting very concerned about the severe storms headed our way.
After a great lunch of pasta with meat sauce (my sister-in-law's killer recipe), I headed out to the Nordic checkpoint, which served as the start/finish as well as the 62-mile checkpoint from which the pacers could join the race. I got there a little before 3:30 pm, as my bro requested. I double-checked all my gear and strapped on my new Nathan hydration vest. While waiting for Kevin, I met a few runners who were finished for the day, including a great gal named Ann Ver Hoef from Anchorage, Alaska.
4:30 went by (Kev's earliest projected arrival time at Nordic) with only new race leader Joel Eckberg having come through from the 100-mile solo runners. Soon after, the skies really darkened up and the thunder started to rumble. Shortly thereafter, mother nature unleashed her fury on us all with torrential downpours and windspeeds around 50-60 mph. The outdoor aid station at Nordic was flooded under 6 inches of water within half an hour, so all of it had to be moved inside, along with the drop bags. A rain-soaked Mark Tanaka scurried into the shelter of the aid station just after 5 pm and seriously considered abandoning the race due to the severe weather. However, after a quick internet check by the great race crew and some reassurance that this was the worst of the storm, Mark decided to continue on. The crew even was so kind as to allow Tanaka to send a quick e-mail home to his family to let them know he was okay. At that time, I phoned my brother's wife and let her know that a few runners had come through, but Kevin hadn't yet and that I'd let her know as soon as he did.
Nordic aid station - 62 miles down, 38 to go.
Finally, a little after 6 pm, my brother came striding into Nordic. He looked good and was in decent spirits. I quickly directed him to his drop bag, gave his wife Allison a call, ditched the cell in my car, and got ready to hit the trails. "How are you feeling?" I asked Kevin, who was chowing down some food. "My legs are dead." he responded between spoonfuls of yogurt. Oh shit, I thought to myself, this is gonna be a long 38 miles. He then went on to tell me he had a rough spot earlier but was feeling okay. Unfortunately, "okay" meant he could still walk fast, but not really put any sustained running effort together. Oh man, gut check time! Off we shuffled into a light rain at about 6:20 pm with 38 miles of rain-soaked and wind-torn trail to cover.
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