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Forrest Gump Runs 50 Miles: TNF ECS Park City 50 Race Report

"Please tell me that's a Bubba Gump hat."

The voice came to me as a man with curly hair strode up to run beside me. I turned to face him, my headlamp blinding him as I smiled.

Not that he could see my smile under my beard and mustache.

I had been keeping my head down and mouth shut.
I didn't want to be recognized so early in the race.

We chatted. The wonderful connector between trailrunners is ultras: we meet, we chat, we laugh with complete strangers, we tell funny stories. Some of these have strangers have become close friends, and their kids and my kids become the best of friends.... and others, like this man, I'll never remember his name or where he's from, but we still shared a moment.

Chatting with this curly-haired man was shortly after I had been passed by a pack of 3 women. Each face serious, focused. Strides relaxed but with purpose. Game face. Race face.

As much as I felt it was silly, literally running around in circles and racing each other, I was envious of these women. They had one thing I lacked- drive. Where could I go if I wanted it that bad? What would be possible if I could harness just a bit of that competitive drive?

But this was not the day to find out. This was a day to smile and be smiled at. To run with friends I'd never met and to run around at a group run pace. A day to enjoy, not a day to race.

Which was good, because at about mile 3 (the longest I'd run since WURL) my legs filled up with mysterious lead and didn't want to move. I felt like I was, oh, at mile 80.... not mile 3.5. I tried to back off even more (seriously legs, how slow do you want me to go?!) and tried to settle in to my WURL-almost-killed-me sort of pace. As any 100 miler knows, your legs hurt and then hurt more to a point where they can't hurt anymore. I progressed to the latter end by mile 14, and decided to settle into it and distract myself with the autumn colors and Forrest Gump quotes.

So I did. Forrest Gump comments and quotes abounded all day. Laughter followed wherever I ran. While a couple people spotted me and let the cat out of the bag, I ran nearly the entire of the race free from obligations. Free from expectations both socially and competitively.

But, like all good things, freedom comes with a price. Yeah, free ain't free. Isn't it ironic, don't ya think? A little too ironic...

The cost?
Face sweat.
Who knew cheeks could sweat?
I mean, butt cheeks do, DUHHH, but face cheeks?
I have come to the conclusion that ultrabeards DO NOT make you run faster. Baby face Dakota Jones and Killian Jornet are on to something. A smooth, buttery face is the way to go.
And not buttery as in all the anti-chaffe stuff I smeared all over my face to prevent beard chaffe.
But really, it was fun to wear terribly unflattering clothing all day long. In the I-am-an-idiot and the I-will-never-do-this-again and the why-didn't-my-friends-stop-me sort of way. Seriously "friends." You should be ashamed of yourselves! I know there were bets on how long I could keep the beard on. Well, for those of you who betted on my stubbornness, YOU'RE WELCOME. Because the dang beard stayed on all day.

After mile 21 I met Matthew Baird, a long-time virtual friend (my "lyrics buddy"), and we shared nearly 20 miles together with his pacer. She had just rocked an Ironman and since Matt seems to have great taste in music as a self-proclaimed music snob, their company made the miles just click away.... I even cancelled the pity party I had scheduled at mile 30 because I was having such a good time with them.

I also got to run with a girl named Carrie. During the last few miles she gave me a lesson on how to be 'trailrunning classy' and she showed me what kind of grown-up I want to be in 10 years, assuming I actually grow-up a little by then. She's off in Nepal right now, and I can say that writhing with jealousy because she will be backpacking there for the next month and can't read it. There were many more wonderful folks I met as well.

The true highlight of the day was seeing the smiles and laughter of others when they saw the ridiculous costume.

My two goals of not puking and having lots of fun were met! I followed a strict regime of 80-90cals of homemade fuel every 30-40 minutes, with lots of water, occasional salt, and absolutely no aid station food. I used my essential oil mixture hourly. It worked! I may have found a system :) Glad to actually take the responsibility to make a nutrition plan and glad that I may have a solution to the tummy trouble I have been plagued with.

As for the rest of the race....
Well, I guess I just felt like running. ;-)

10:04 hrs of fun in the fall colors :)

La Sportiva Helios
Jenny Vesta Ultraspire vest
Homemade Gel with Homemade Babyfood
Essential oils
Forrest Gump beard and costume,
with TrailToes protecting my face (and feet)

The North Face put on a great event. Different feel than the local races, a bit less personal, but it ran smoothly like a well-oiled machine. I was overall impressed by the race as a whole. Thanks to all the volunteers and others who made it wonderful! The Wasatch Mountain Wranglers (WMW) aid station and the Northern Exposure Running Club (NERCs) aid stations were my favorite, filled with passionate runners who are always helping others and inspiring me! What great mentors we have here in the Utah mountains. :)


  1. So awesome. I didn't think you'd get past 10 miles with that thing on, only because I couldn't imagine running with a fake beard that long! Not surprising at all that you held true to Forrest Gump through the entire race. Great job, glad you had a fun time.


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