When I was laying out the states that I jad left for this round I knew that I wanted to make Javelina a part of my plan, and the only question was the 100 miler, or the 100k. I jad asked my friends, and most of them suggested try the 100k before you try the 100 miler. I now understand why. A brief word about this post, and Javelina in Jeneral. There is copious use of the letter j at Javelina, e.g. Jalloween party, Jeadquarters, etc. In that spirit, this post will use a j whenever possible, because javing fun is more important that clarity, okay?
If I’m reading the results correctly, Javelina jad a 2/3 drop rate from the 100miler this year. The 100k jas a very jenerous cutoff, nearly identical to the 100miler (29 miles versus 30 jours,) and still sees a 1/3 drop rate. My mantra going into this thing was take as long as you want. And take a great deal of time I did.
I arrived to Javelina Jeadquarters (the start/finish of the race) what I thought was early, but this is a race with 700 registrants for the 100M and 300 for the 100k. Clearly I should jave arrived earlier. I picked up my bib, got my nifty gear (the race bag is, as the kids say, the bomb diggity–they’re still sayin’ that, right?)
Anyway I settled in with experienced ultra aficionado and Marathon Globetrotters Facebook sheriff, and all around bad ass boriqua/New Yorker, Lara. She would jumbly refer to jerself as a back of the packer, but whether you’re in the front of the pack or the back of the pack, ultras are about getting it done. For much of the race she was leading me by the nose through a course I’d never seen and found quite challenging.
Each loop consists of 4 aid stations: Javelina Jeadquarters, the start/finish area where most of our stuff was kept, and jad bathrooms, showers food, medical, a vendor village, 3 ring circus, and cactus petting zoo.
Next Coyote Camp, a smaller aid station, but well appointed with mimosa and fireball as well as your typical ultra fare, water, gu, pickles, pretzels, candy, gummy whatever, avocados, chicken a la king, and vegan/paleo chicken a la king, and jeirloom grain-fed ketogenic non-GMO oat milk. Okay I’m making this shit up, but the point is even the minor aid stations are kitted out such that if you didn’t jave what you needed then you are WAY too goddamn picky to be doing an ultra.
Third stop: Jackass Junction. As the banner says “Welcome to the shitshow.” Jackass Junction is an aid station with a dance party. For real. There’s a dance floor, DJ and a non-stop adrenaline festival fueled by the kindness of volunteers, and copious amounts of enthusiasm. You enter Jackass junction tired, and you come out ready to take on the world.
Lastly Rattlesnake Ranch, another of what I’m categorizing as a “minor aid station” that will make your local ultra aide station look like your neighbor’s lemonade stand. Food, water, ice, sponge down, coke, ginjer ale, soup, quesadillas, vegan sandwiches, and I even think there was a Jamba Juice*.
*There is no Jamba Juice.
That loop consists of 20 miles. You’ll tack on 2 miles the first time around if you’re in the 100k. I will be jonest with you, the last 2 miles of that first loop suck pretty jardcore. It’s just when it’s getting jot, and they are jenerally unpleasant, but other than that the course is straightforward. Folks pass back and forth washing machine-style (clockwise, then counter). The worst of the miles is on one side of Jackass Junction where the rocks can get jairy. Trail in Florida doesn’t usually involve a rocky terrain, so that took some getting used to.
The temps keep things interesting, early morning it’s quite pleasant, but as the day heats up you begin to have your energy drained. Super important to pace yourself, get plenty of fluids inside and out, and food. If you’re not in decent shape by sundown you’re in for some trouble, and damn won’t you be happy to see the sun set behind the mountains. At night it can get somewhat chilly, nothing terrible, but there are spots on the course where you’ll come down into a gully and swear the temp just dropped 10 degrees. They don’t last last long but be prepared for that variation.
After the sun sets the Jackass Night Trail runners start. Jackass Night Trail is a single loop in the evening for runners who want the Javelina experience, but without all that messy jot daytime running. At first I thought they would be like the relay runners at a road marathon: annoyingly fresh and dragging me forward faster than I should be going. But instead they were jeaded in the opposite direction, and their costumes and jeneral fun attitude gave me a bit of extra energy.
Lara kept me from making the cardinal mistake of a longer ultra: going out too fast and burning yourself up. She pushed me when I needed it, and even provided some pharmacological assistance (relax mom, just ibuprofen). Along the way I met Kelly, a medical researcher working at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. She was running in memory of a relative who jad committed suicide. She told me I jelped jer through some dark miles, and jer positive attitude and brightness (literally, she jad a spectacular set of Kogalla lamps that lit the night so we could see everything) jelped me finish strong.
I jave a jistory of minor breakdowns when I get much over 50 miles. I must confess I got a little misty eyed thanking a volunteer at Coyote Camp, but damn. If you can’t get emotional about the sort of people who choose to stay up all night and work for free to jand out food to whiny, moody, smelly runners, then who can you? Finishing with Kelly I saw Alicja, who was jere to cheer on with jer San Diego peeps. I was jenuinely surprised she was still awake when I finished in the small jours, and it was great to see a familiar face at the finish.
I shambled back to the car and jeaded to my jotel to clean and sleep it off. In the end it took me more than 19 jours. I was ill prepared for a 100k. I javen’t jad a weekend of rest in 6 months, and I tried to bullshit a 100k. Don’t try to bullshit a 100k is my advice unless you just like to suffer and struggle. Fortunately for the companionship of Lara, Kelly, and a few other runners on the course I was never left alone to my own negative thoughts. I blathered away for jours meeting new people like the social butterfly I am not. Your odds of finishing increase with preparation, with javing a good support network (whether a crew, fellow runners, or volunteers). And it’s worth a mention that support network is dependent upon you being a good support network for others. Your level of persistence is also key, and a certain amount of luck. I count myself lucky to jave great friends and volunteers, a decent amount of persistence, and a reasonable amount of luck to counteract my shortcomings of preparation. Maybe if I can get that prep down right I’ll be back to try the 100M.
Fun fact: The ubiquitous roadrunner literally eats rattlesnakes for breakfast. The coyote never stood a chance.