NWDC Ad 2020

 

The 2020 IMTUF race had substantial differences from previous years. Race directors Jeremy and Brandi Humphrey changed the course to a new start/finish due to closure of the Burgdorf Hot Springs. A new start/finish and camping area was established at Jug Mountain Ranch for the 2020 race. This resulted in course changes; Jer and Brandi had a contingency plan course already established before COVID-19 due to fires that had threatened the course in previous years. This contingency course is known as the “Supercourse,” and in my opinion it had no problem living up to its name.

Check out the teeth on this monster! Nothing like eating a 3500′ climb for breakfast.

The Supercourse had an additional 2000′ of gain and also added miles of cross-country travel without trail. Around 40 miles of the 2020 race were on trails that are not part of the normal course. A notable section is a quarter-mile scramble down a massive talus field after the Jug Mountain summit. It brought a tear to my eye, it was a beautiful thing to see in a 100-mile race. Speaking of 100 miles… its more like 105-108 miles. My neighbor Nate and I both wore Garmin 935’s and both were around 108. I got around 108 in 2019 as well using the same watch. So this is a typical result for distance in an IMTUF race; they don’t skimp on mileage and you can plan on getting your money’s worth with this race.

Another notable difference for 2020 was the feel of the race. COVID-19 posed some serious risks, and in my opinion Jer and Brandi rose to the occasion to provide a safe environment for the runners and volunteers. The start/finish had plenty of room to maintain distancing, and there was high compliance for distancing and mask use by the runners and spectators. A wave start spread the runners out (~190 toed the line, the most ever for IMTUF). Aid stations had a protocol for hand sanitizer and mask use, and almost all runners I saw had no problem with following the rules. I was able to stay out of any dense congo-line situations in the race, and I felt comfortable with the risk of transmission during the race.

The safety protocols affected the feel of the race for me. I didn’t give hugs and high-fives to the other runners I knew. I didn’t meet as many people as normal, or hang out nearly as much. There wasn’t the same collegiality formed by drinking and eating with others. The finish line felt a bit sterile as normally there are lots of people hanging around exchanging stories and such. But this is all to be expected, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to run the race at all, with so many races being cancelled and my last-minute sign-up. Most of a 100 mile race is spent alone (for me anyways), so it’s not a big deal overall.

Nate Sustersic’s socially distanced finish

                                 

My neighbor Nate talked me into signing up for this at the last possible minute. I was the last person admitted onto the waitlist at #57 with less than three weeks before the race.  More time was proabably spent watching the Ultrasignup waitlist than actually running the race. Two days before the race, I got in! Wow… from DFL on the waitlist to a toe on the line! Thanks Jer and Brandi!

The field was pretty stacked. Typically I’ll be in the top 20% of the entrants or so. Not this year- I was back around 50%, and started in the second of three waves. There were a lot of seriously fast runners out there. I think this race funneled in a lot of talent due to most of the hundo’s being cancelled this year- people were itching for a chance to get their legs sore this year! For such a stacked field though there were a lot of DNF’s- more than half the field didn’t finish. It was a hard course and a hot day but this was more DNF action than I would have predicted. I would have liked to see an exit survey to have some idea what is going on there.  There was some chatter on the IMTUF Facebook page about the smoke being a factor for some runners.

Regarding my personal race, I enjoyed much of it and only had one rough patch on the Crestline traverse due to heat, dryness, smoke, and a poorly-timed face-plant.  I ran with my neighbor Nate during the afternoon which was a real highlight. Selfies with the goats and lots of watermelon, pizza, and ramen noodles. I took a quick dirt-nap just below the Snowslide summit at 3 AM- napping during a race is a first for me.  There was even more smoke the second morning thanks to the Oregon wildfires. By the magic of chip-timing I passed someone at the finish. It was a great race and I recovered quickly. Bree as always was a huge help, she assisted with planning, and throughout the race, and after the finish.

Without further ado, I’ll switch to a picture narrative now. Thanks for reading!

Climb to Ladybug Mountain, before Jug mountain.
The trail-less cross country traverse from Ladybug to Jug Mountain
Scramble for breakfast: Jug Mountain Summit
I laughed out loud, the talus scramble coming off Jug Mt. was awesome!
View from the first aid station at Louie Lake. Great spot!
The descent off Jug to Lake Fork was very runnable provided you could keep your eyes on the trail…
The Slickrock climbing monolith, just after Lake Fork Aid
Typical socially-distanced aid station. I catch up with Nate for a while here at S. Crestline Aid.
Nate and I hiking up the first Crestline climb toward the goats.
Hey goat, don’t drink all my water!
Nate and goats. Seriously, how cool is that?
The Crestline is an amazing stretch of trail. One of my favorites.
More Crestline
Smokey sunset after North Crestline Aid
The next morning, with more off-trail climbing to the summit of Boulder mountain.
View from Boulder summit. Smoked in pretty good.
Trail-less traverse from Boulder Mtn to the final aid. Just follow the pink ribbons, they said… It’ll be easy, they said…
The final few miles had some really nice trails like this to the finish.
The finish area, plus smoke.
Finito!
The ol’ almost fist-bump with Jer.
New buckle for second-time finish.
I like them both. I think I like the detail of the first year buckle more, but the black looks really cool too.