Trailer Trash


Cajun Coyote 100 RR (Pacer/Crew Perspective) (Read 41 times)


    I was pretty excited about this race, and the excitement continued to build as I found out more about the folks I would get to see run their respective races. I had committed to crew for my brother Nathan as he was doing a 100K training run in preparation for Rocky Raccoon; I would get to pace Kelly; I would get to see Betsy (EDRW) and Matt (Weegee); and I would get to see Sandy again, always a pleasure.


    Nathan and I had his plan worked out months ago: Pretend this 100K is 100 miles. Run the loops like that and try to finish feeling good, preferably in under 16 hours, with sub 15 being a great day. He finished in 15:28 and felt fine. He just had an easy day on the trails with some nice folks. It was really an uneventful day outside of one set of cramps at mile 20, which he recovered from quickly.


    I had mentioned this race to Kelly some time back, and I don’t remember if he responded immediately or not. But, I really felt like he could do well at this race considering past finishing times of winners compared to his finish at Rocky Raccoon in 2012. I consider the courses very similar, but I think these trails are a little more challenging when it comes to the hills. Kelly, Jo, Matt, Betsy, and I took a little 5 mile stroll on the course the afternoon before. It was a good way to shake out the legs and just see part of what was in store the next day. Everybody was a little concerned with the slickness of the hills with all the rain. It turned out not to be too bad in the end. I was ready to get the thing started.


    Every runner is different, and each one needs different things at aid stations. After meeting Kelly and Jo, I figured that aid station visits would be very efficient. And I was right. Although we didn’t discuss it, I figured Kelly got all the moral support he needed by having Jo there to have his things ready. I look at the runner as part of the team/crew. I have seen runners who seem to need to be treated like a king, queen, or princess by their crew or aid station workers, and I think it is comical because acting like that makes the runner the weakest link in the whole team, his own worst enemy. The runner is running 100 miles; everyone else is getting him/her the things needed to make that run as fast as it can be. And that means getting your butt down the trail, running slowly as fast as you can. Kelly and Jo have this down to a science. My biggest concern was not having experience in this capacity with Kelly and Jo. But it wasn’t a problem.


    As a pacer, I knew that my role would be to keep things moving smoothly on the trail by checking his mood, pace, and nutrition. I also paid close attention to navigation along the trail. It is a 20 mile loop, but it isn’t that difficult to get off course because there are several areas where other trails intersect with the race course. I am pretty good with all those things, so I figured we would be fine to get through.


    I looked over the runners. I knew the biggest challenge to a win, other than the 100 mile distance itself, would probably be Ricky Handley. I figured he was there to win it, and he certainly has a race or two that would indicate that he is quite capable of doing so. However, I never had a doubt in my mind that Kelly could win the race unless he had something unforeseen happen during the day or night.


    It seemed as soon as they left, runners were coming into the start/finish. It was Kelly, Ricky, and Krupp (100K’er). The first loop was just under 3 hours, and just as I expected, things worked efficiently at the start/finish. Ricky hung around a little bit longer before leaving out. It wasn’t long before he dropped. Now, Ricky is a real nice guy and a talented runner. I spent a lot of time talking to him after he dropped. I don’t want to see anyone drop from a race, but well, I did have a beer at that point.


    The next guy that I figured could put up a strong run for a win was Ed Melancon. Ed is a good runner, and he is, like me, a former Marine. I always want to see Marines do well. Ed is relentlessly tough, and he is fast, a good combination for a 100 mile runner. I just didn’t know how deep he could go into this race pushing really hard. He had a good bit of time to make up on Kelly after the first loop. At the same time, I didn’t know how long Kelly could push as hard as he was because the first loop was quick. I talked to Ed after the first loop, and he seemed to be having a great time out there.


    Jo, several others, and I helped cold and tired runners as they came into the start/finish all day and into the night. And we did what we could to stay warm by the fire. Each of Kelly’s loops was worked out smoothly. I also paid close attention to when Nathan came through on the 100K, and I made it a point to watch for Betsy, Matt, and Sandy. I don't know if I even saw Betsy. Finally, Kelly came into loop 5, and we were off in a misting rain. I knew we had about an hour lead on Ed, and I knew that he wasn’t going to catch us if we just kept on pushing through the night. My plan was to be just annoying enough to be a little funny, and let Kelly sort of tell me what he needed. And that is exactly what we did.


    We discussed a number of subjects but mostly running from what I can remember. We did mention deer, hogs, turkeys, armadillos, trees, and owls. I won’t run at night without mentioning trees or owls. It just wouldn’t be proper. It took an enormous amount of discipline for me not to answer an owl when we heard a couple in the distance. As Kelly noted in his report, we never really discussed winning the race. We just kept on churning out the miles by walking the hills, running the flats and most of the downs.


    I never noticed any faltering of form in Kelly’s running. It was smooth and steady. I knew he had some blister issues, but they didn’t seem to be slowing us down very much. I did keep a close eye on the watch and knew we were making good time, averaging about 12:30’s. We blew through aid stations very efficiently. Periodically, we passed folks who were on their fourth loops, but mostly, we ran alone. Silence was fine; talking was fine. I made sure to ask about his drinking and calories but not to the point of being annoying. We talked about how much progress Ed might be making. I reminded him we had about an hour on him when we left, and by the time we got to the second aid station they estimated 1.5 hours. I don’t know that Kelly was convinced that they were accurate, and we pushed comfortably hard onto the next aid station about 8 miles away.


    I knew when we left the second aid station that it was in the bag if we just stayed steady and on the course. We did stay on course, and by the time we got to the last aid station, it was clear to me that we had it made. We pushed pretty hard the last four miles to get this one finished. With about two miles to go, Kelly made some reference to a mile marker and Comrades, and I just sensed a calmness come over him that I had not seen all night. Then I saw the road. I said, “We got it, Buddy!!!” And I ran on up to make sure Jo was awake and there to see the finish. It was great.


    I am sort of hurrying to write this, and I should probably take more time because I cannot find the words to describe the truly humbling experience this was for me, and I think for Kelly and Jo, also. I can truly say that I would not have been any happier (maybe not even as happy) if I had won the race myself. The magnitude of the whole thing is just too big to get my head around at this point. I get so much satisfaction out of helping people at trail races, especially 100 milers. They are so special. I don’t mean to imply that others are not; every race and distance is special. But the 100 mile trail distance is just something that I love to be around in any capacity. Jo and Kelly are two of the finest people I have ever met, and I am glad I could be a part of this special event.


    Occasional Runner

      Wow! I love the perspective and all the kind words. The things that happened over the weekend will be forged (see what I did there?) in our minds forever. When I look back on the race, it was nearly perfect in its execution and everything fell right into place. For that to happen, it took all the right people, doing all the right things. I used to think my attraction to ultra running was due to the fact it's a solitary sport, but I was wrong. It's a team effort and the best team always wins. We were the best team in Ville Platte this weekend and you were a huge part of that success. You're a good man Burke and I can never thank you enough for your incredible commitment to my race and the amazing support you showed me and all the runners at Cajun Coyote.


        Well done you 2, great work down in Louisiana!


          I was happy to be there, Kelly. I used to think it was a solitary sport, too. Sometimes, we need a slap in the face to make us realize what is actually happening out there. I think we pick up on subtle things without realizing it; store them in our memory banks, and at the right time, they bring about new, deeper understandings that help us. Running is just like any other thing in life in that it has many levels of understanding. I learned a few new things on this adventure that I don't fully understand yet. It is like, "Hmmm, I think I am onto something because of 'this or that'". Time will tell how I digest some of it and use it in my own running. 



            Nice job guys, and thanks for the Pacer-RR.  Always fun to see a race unfold from someone else's eyes.

              Geezzz Burke I feel like I just read a love letter between you and Kelly!  Blush  Ya didn't even mention how your brother finished!









              Big grin just's always fun to be on the winning team and I have no idea what it is like to run a 100 miles but I am sure it brings on a lot of emotions...I used to always get ckoke up at the end of a long race.

              08/05/17 Sierra Crest 50K

              08/19/17 Marquette Trail 50K Miler



                Haha. Sue. Nathan finished in 15:28. He never had any issues along the course. He was just doing a training run to be prepared for Rocky Raccoon.



                Follower of Forrest

                  You done good!  Thanks for the report also, I love getting different perspectives on the same event.  Congrats!

                  6/21 - Manitou's Revenge 54mi


                  A man may never run the same trail twice for it is not the same trail and he is not the same man



                    I just want to say that LB2 learned all of his pacing abilities from his pacer at Rocky Raccoon a few years ago. He certainly owes a lot to that guy...  whoever he was. I wonder if they saw any wild animals out in the Lousiana night.


                    I'd also like to thank LB for checking in on me each time I came to the S/F area during CC100, he certainly is a great guy, it was nice knowing that he was there.


                    thanks for the pacer report and looking forward to seeing you iat RR.

                    Arkansas Traveler - Oct 7


                      I just want to say that LB2 learned all of his pacing abilities from his pacer at Rocky Raccoon a few years ago. He certainly owes a lot to that guy...  whoever he was. I wonder if they saw any wild animals out in the Lousiana night.




                      I cannot argue with those statements. We didn't see any wild animals on the trails that night. We heard a few owls; I suspect the animals knew the bottom was about to fall out of the sky and were hunkered down. I think Kelly saw about 14 deer, a bunch of hogs, and maybe spooked some turkeys on the first loop.


                      And seriously, anytime I am pacing someone I think back to the things you kept telling me about "sneaking down the trail" and the stuff about catching people. Of course, we didn't have anyone to catch; we were focusing on not being caught. We'll see you soon.


                      Occasional Runner

                        And armadillos! Man...I hate those sneaky little bastards. Prehistoric little freaks of nature.


                        Faster Than Your Couch!

                          Great pacing the winner to the finish line! This must be pretty special, and I can only imagine the emotions that come up once you realize you have conquered it, and things will work out right.


                          I liked reading your observations on crewing and pacing, I am sure it will be helpful to me when I'm in that capacity (again) at some race.

                          Run for fun.