Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Race Report : Javelina Jundred (100 Mile Trail Race)

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the Javelina Jundred (100 mile trail race).  It has been a busy year of racing events, and Javelina was the final stop of the 2009 running tour, so at the very least I looked at it as the culmination of an exciting and somewhat successful running year.  As was the case in 2008, tons of friends were slated to make an appearance at Javelina, although there was a wee bit of disappointment knowing that Bob Gentile would not make it (he had to withdraw due to injury).

When all was said and done, Javelina was an absolute blast.  250 runners lined up at the start line in McDowell Mountain Regional Park on Saturday.  Only 124 would cross the finish line within the 30-hour cut-off (with one runner, Katelyn Benton, finishing in 30:43:07).  38 runners would finish sub-24 hours.  Thanks in part to Lynne Hewett (she spent 61.6 miles on the trails with me before we split up), and Rick Gaston (who has now been my crew/pacer for 3 of my 7 100-mile finishes), my 4th 100-mile race of 2009 was a huge success.  34th place.  23 hours, 42 minutes, 11 seconds.  Nearly 3 hours faster than my performance at Javelina in 2008 (26:41:35).

Breaking it up, here's how it all unraveled.......

Pre-Race - Good friend Dave James arrived at our house late Thursday evening.  We chatted a bit about his race goals and the competition.  Dave always has a shot at winning a race he enters.  Javelina would be his second 100-mile victory in 2009 (both of which I've been lucky enough to witness in person).  Since we were sharing a car to the airport, Dave crashed in our basement (we made sure to provide food and beer to make his stay complete).  We headed to the airport Friday morning for the 5 hour flight out West.  Arriving in Phoenix I met up with Rick.  It was great to have him as a pacer again.  I first met Rick at Javelina in 2008 where he helped me struggle to the finish.  I would call upon his services again at Rocky Raccoon 100 - again a struggle, but he led me to my first sub-24 hour finish.  In each of those races I would struggle at night, walking most of the course and often drifting off into an uncooperative state.  So, it was no surprise to Rick that one of my goals was to be strong during his pacing hours, to follow his lead and run as much of the final 39.8 miles as possible.  We would nearly run it all.

Next stop was our hotel.....well, actually, the next stop was with Officer Beck (oops.....speeding ticket), followed by an epic drive through Fountain Hills trying to find the Benihana where Leigh Corbin, George Velasco, Adam Gifford and Lynne were meeting us for lunch.  The good news is that we finally found the joint at around 2:30 PM.  The bad news was that they were closed between the hours of 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM.  After chatting for a bit, Rick, Adam and I went to pizza joint for a late lunch.  We then went straight to race check-in, picked up our bib and packet, and headed back to the hotel.  I actually fell asleep at around 8:00 PM (11:00 PM back home).

Rick Designed This Shirt

Bob couldn't make the trip due to injury.  Last year at Javelina he took a wrong turn coming out of the aid station and went the wrong way.  When I showed my bib to Leigh and George, we all laughed.  The race allows runners to personalize their bib - you can put your name on it, a slogan, anything.  I forgot that I put "Where's Bob?" on mine.

Race Morning -  I slept like a rock.  We woke up at 3:45 AM (race start was 6:00 AM), got everything together, and met Leigh and Lynne in the lobby for the ride to the start.  At the start I saw George, Tammy, Lane, Jen, Sarah, Scott and many others.  Rick and I put our gear next to George's tent (just like last year) and before we knew it the race started.

Jen, Sarah and Lane

One of My Favorite Costumes

Loop 1 (0 - 15.4 miles) - My goal for the first 15.4 mile loop somewhere around the 3:10 mark.  I started running with Lynne and Leigh, and ended up with Lynne (actually, Lynne and I ran the first 4 loops together).  The start was super-crowded, and it was difficult to move past people on the trail.  So we settled in and enjoyed the sunrise.  It was cool out and we had little trouble moving.  At the first aid station I saw Badwater crew member Brian Krogmann.  Brian was volunteering and pacing a mere week after logging 140+ miles at the San Francisco One Day - sick !  I finished the first loop in 2:54:54.  The race is chip-timed, with runners crossing a mat only on the completion of a loop (and not again when leaving to start the next loop) - so, the time recorded for each loop after the first one includes any time that a runner might spend at the main aid station.  I typically spent only a few minutes at the start/finish aid station, except after completing the 4th loop (more on that later).  Checking the on-line results, it looks as if there were about 98 runners ahead of me after I completed the first loop.

Loop 2 (15.4 to 30.8 miles) - The second loop picked up where the first left off.  Lynne and I moved well on the flats and down hill portions of the course.  One thing I noticed was that Lynne was having difficulty with sand getting into her shoes.  Without gaiters, she was stopping every now and then to remove debris from her shoes.  She would pick up a pair later, but you could see a little bit of frustration on her face.  We had a blast checking out all of the costumes that runners were wearing, and Lynne told me several emergency room stories (she is a nurse) that I am still scratching my head at.  We took 3:16:39 to complete the second loop, which included about a 4 minute stop at the main aid station, putting our overall time at 6:11:33.  I picked up about 3 places (about 95 people ahead).

Loop 3 (30.8 to 46.2 miles) - We knew that loops 3 and 4 would be brutal.  The sun was up.  It was hot.  I had been operating with a simple fueling plan.  Each hour - one bottle of water, one bottle of Hammer Perpetuem with a packet of Gu Roctane mixed in, and one S-Cap.  It worked well.  It made the aid station stops easy and quick.  The heat did get to me for a bit, but I was still moving well on the flats and down hills.  Lynne was staying close behind, and every now and then I'd make sure she was still there.  The great thing about the course is that it is a washing machine loop, allowing you to see all of the runners on the course.  We saw several of the leaders.  Beverly Anderson-Abbs looked flawless.  Dave was smoking the course.  Every time I'd see him we would high five and he would make fun of my lack of costume (not that he had one either).  Michelle Barton and Jonathan Gunderston looked fantastic as well.    I knew that I would slow in the hotter hours of the day, and loop 3 showed just that.  It took 3:46:23 (overall time now 9:57:56), putting me in about 90th place.  Actually, I had discussed with Rick and Bob a goal for the first 50 miles, and it was right about where I was.

Dave James

Loop 4 (46.2 to 61.6 miles) -  The fourth loop started out just as tough as the third, with the heat taking its toll.  Lynne and I took our time, focusing on moving forward, passing the time with stories.  Last year I remembered seeing horses roaming the desert at night.  This year we caught a glimpse of them in the daylight.  Once the sun set things got progressively better.  We started to move much quicker, and finished the loop in 4:02:12 (overall time of 14:00:08 - about 71st position).  I did have some issues with being tired.  My legs were heavy, probably from a long year with many races.  This year has seen the most miles I have ever run, and it certainly took its toll.  When I finished the 4th loop I heard that Dave was soon to finish.  I didn't want to miss it, and Rick gave me the thumbs up.  In all, I lost about 20 minutes waiting for Dave to finish and blast a giant hole in the course record, but it was so well worth it.  Dave finished, I gave him a big hug, and was on my way.

2009 Javelina Jundred (100 Mile Trail Race) - Dave James Setting Course Record from Tony Portera on Vimeo.

Loop 5 (61.6 to 77 miles) - Now, remember, time spent at the main aid station is included in the next loop run.  I picked up Rick to pace me.  I remember him telling me that if we ran the last two full loops in under 4 hours each, we would have a solid 2 hour to do the last, 9 mile section and finish sub-24.  My goal was to work hard.  I wanted Rick to be proud of my effort.  I would follow a simple plan - run when he ran, walk when he walked, do whatever he said to do.  And I did just that.  We were moving.  Walk ?  Hell now.  We would run just about everything and anything in our path.  Hills ?  Run 'em.  We would end up passing runner after runner after runner.  It was just amazing.  Rick had me moving so well.  His watch showed that we completed the 5th loop in 3:08.  3:08 ?  That bought us some serious time.  With the wait to see Dave finish, my overall time for this loop was 3:31:11, putting my total race time at this point at 17:31:19 (good for about 47th position).  Now we had to focus on the last full loop.  Put in a good one and sub-24 hours would be well within reach.

Loop 6 (77 to 92.4 miles) - Most ultra runners know that I take a ton of pictures and videos on the race course.  I was so focused on running the last 40 miles that I stopped using my camera.  I dropped down to using one water bottle.  I was getting tired of the Perpetuem and decided to go with water (with a gel mixed in) and soup.  I limited my time at the aid stations, and continued to run at a steady pace.  I took the lead for portions of this loop, running the down hill sections hard and plodding along on the flats and up hill sections.  Math...I kept doing the math.  I still had a shot at a good time.  We knew that once we hit the last aid station in the loop we would have a nice 5 miles or so of down hill running, and we used that to our advantage.  This loop was not nearly as fast as the last, but we kept it under 4 hours, 3:51:06 to be exact, giving us an overall race time of 21:22:25 (now in 35th place). When we finished the loop Rick told me I had earned some time to sit.  I didn't want it.  The guys filming a documentary on the race (they had interviewed me briefly about Dave earlier) told me that I had better hurry on out and run hard to get a sub-24 hour finish time.  I did the math.  I told him "I've got it".....

Loop 7 (92.4 to 101.4 miles) - .....and I did get it.  We took the climb to the aid station nice and steady, running most of the time, but getting a few walking breaks in now and then.  The opportunities to take a break and enjoy the beautiful desert night were earned on the 5th loop.  When we hit the last aid station we knew it was all downhill from there.  We took off and cruised into the finish, 2:19:46 after leaving it for the last time, putting our finishing time at 23:42:11 - 34th overall.

The Aftermath - I am really impressed with this race.  Jamil Coury (the race director) puts on a fantastic show.  He had over two times the amount of people that he had the prior year, and the event went off without a hitch.  The aid stations were amazing.  The volunteers were fantastic.  I cannot thank Rick Gaston enough.  He pushed me to work very hard in this race.  He used our prior race experiences as a motivating factor to get me to move with conviction.  Without his help, this result would not have been possible.  Congrats go out to everyone who was out on the Javelina race course this weekend.

Our post-race lunch with Leigh and Lynne was relaxing.  Lynne and I were on the same flight out, the red-eye to New York that left at 11:30 PM Sunday night.  It was a long flight home, but I was happy to be back in my own bed and to see my family.

Racing for 2009 is now done.  It was one hell of a ride.  3 100 milers (all sub-24 hours, with a PR of 21:39:37 at Umstead).  3 50-milers.  A few marathons. One Badwater

I'm beat, but there is no rest for the weary.  Time to train for the Brazil 135 Mile Ultra in January !


  1. I wish I could have been at JJ100 with you again this year, I loved that race. Next year for sure. Glad you saw the horses again, that still stands out in my mind from that race. Congratulations on a fantastic race season and I'm sure we'll be running together sometime in 2010.

  2. Great job Tony. Truly amazing to me. I look forward to learning from, and running and hanging with you. Peace

  3. Awesome Job, Tony!! I watched you climb the standings all day/night. Way to earn buckle #3! What a great year for you...It'll be tough to top in 2010, but the Brazil 135 is a good place to start! Rest up for a bit and then good luck w/ your winter training...don't forget the Badwater sauna routine!!

  4. LOLOL funny Bib ...

    well Bob was glued to the Laptop watching the Live updates all weekend. Natalia went to bed and woke up at 3am with me lying on the sofa with my hand on my laptop -lol

    Great RACE Bro, and way to save your energy for the second... U ran a smart race & Congrats on using your pacer wisely and making him work u at night :-)

    Awesome Year!!

  5. Good job, as usual, Anthony! Wow, so many DNF'ers. You did awesome, congrats on another sub-24 finish. Your bib is too funny. Where is bob? LOL

  6. Nice report and video. Congrat on a great race.

  7. Great job, Tony. Way to pull through during the night!

  8. Congratulations on a great race and a fantastic year!

  9. Congrats! What a year you've had. Impressive. Well done.

  10. Hey man, again, great job at JJ. I hope you have recovered well and have finalized your training plans for Brazil 135. I really think that waiting for Dave James was one of the best decisions we've made. It allowed you to rest a bit, recover and thinking about Dave got you thinking about something else rather on how bad you were feeling after 60-miles. It was great running with you and knowing you a little better now, as a person and a runner, helped a lot. You worked hard out there. Best of luck for your final weeks of training for BR135.

  11. Somehow I missed the report and only saw Drymax post. Weird. Congrats on an awesome running!

  12. That sounds like a great way to finish off the year. And, wow, what a solid year. I enjoyed reading the race report and am looking forward to seeing what you have in store for 2010.