Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The 5th Annual The Ghost Town 38.5 (race report)

Poor Susan.

Each year she puts on this race, the town provides less and less support.  Last year the EMTs backed out at the last minute, because they got all in a snit.  This year, the mounted patrol backed out, nobody knows why.  It's gotten so bad that she has reached a point where she provides everything, with a few die-hard volunteers from the town - on her own.  It makes her a little crazy.  It makes her a little manic.

But boy, after five years, she puts on quite a race.  There's a large, pre-race meal in a large tent behind her house, and the next day after the race, there's a barbeque.  They've got a system down so that every runner is accounted for on this mountainous, challenging course. 

But, the town.  Oh, the town.  A few years ago when I accompanied Baboo on his very first ultra.  The Black Range Lodge filled up "unexpectedly" with geology students on their annual visit to the place, and so rather than tell us they had nothing, they gave us a room in a basement--a room with broken furniture that was so small it could barely contain the double bed, and Mini-baboo slept on a couch in the common area.  Did we get a break on price?  We did not.

This year, The local hotel in Hillsboro this year jacked up their rates and demanded a 2-night minimum.  What did we get for our $80+ per night?  Well, we got a bed, in a room, with running water, and electricity.  Some of the water was hot.  The cable was out--so in its place, they gave us 3 VHS movies from the early 90s (no academy award winners).
Anyway.  There's no phone in the rooms, and no cell-phone service in town, and there's no front desk, so there's no way to reach the owners and ask them about the little bill they left in your room, the one that isn't itemized, just has one thing on it: the total amount they're charging your credit card.  I'm pretty sure that's illegal.  I'm going to check.  There's no alarm clock in the room, so I put my cell phone on airplane mode and we went to bed.  And if I ever do this race again, I'm staying in Truth or Consequences.  They love visitors.

So.  Cranky locals aside...The Ghost Town 38.5.  Well, what can I say except that I was vastly undertrained. I had also forgotten the terrain, which is unrelenting.  UN. RE. LENT. ING.  Baboo, meanwhile, vastly overtrained, scampered around like a happy little elf--okay, a happy big elf--with his new camera.  I imagine that for him, accompanying me would be a lot like accompanying your grandmother on a 1k charity walk. And your grandmother uses a walker.

But honestly, if he weren't there, I might have quit.  I walked parts, hiked parts, gasped and bitched and swore at other parts.

In between, there were uphills and downhills that were soul-sucking.  I could see sweet Baboo glancing surrupticiously at his watch from time to time.  He had asked me ahead of time what was good to say and not good to say.

Well, don't look around at me with a look of incredulity and say, "Are you okay?" I offered.

What should I say?

You should say, "How are you feeling?"

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, if you're a middle-of-the-packer or even a front runner, that they are exactly the same thing.  I promise you.  They are not.

The out-and-back course is actually only about 36 or so miles, so there's this one spur that you only do once on the way out.  It finishes with a horrid steep climb up, and up, and up and around until you get to this guy, sitting at the top, (top photo)

and this thing, that you circle around (2nd photo).

and then you get to go back down.

After that, you got up and down some hills that get progressively rockier.

There there's a pretty, runnable part for a few miles....

Then you're about 55% done, and you turn around, and go back up and down the roads, which get progressively uncrappier.
But up until mile 30, I was still jogging, albeit downhill, and then I hit mile 32, and turned onto the road leading back down to the finish line, and that's when the switch in my brain flipped and said, "okay, this is as far as you've trained, so it's time to HURT NOW".

And hurt I did.

But I finished.  I'm done.  And today, everything stopped hurting.

At the finish, I got a big hug from Susan and a Ristra, which is a bundle of chiles that people hang by their front doors as a "welcome" in new Mexico.

IF YOU GO: Say "Hi" to Susan.  And stay in Truth or consequences, where they have real hotels with wifi and cell phone service and even microwaves in rooms, for far less money and attitude.

 If you want to save big $$, stay at the camp ground out by I-25, where there are cabins with electricity, heat, and a/c but you have to bring your own linens.  sleeps 3, $20 a night.  The bathrooms and showers are clean and the owners are awesome.

My time: 11:16 and change.  I'll be awarding that prize soon, and announce it when I do the review of the watch.



  1. Amazing as has come to be expected!

    Great job! I do love how you document both the accomplishemnt and the misery.

    Oh, how I long to be back to where I can even consider these distances again. You are truly an inspiration. I am concerned about getting up to marathon distance by the end of April and you did this and have a 50 in early March! Total beast status!

  2. Stellar work. Our character is revealed when it is tested and you came out a winner. Great work!

  3. Congratulations!!!

    Thank you also for the heads up about lodging conditions. I have stayed in some really seedy places before ultra's and always try to give an honest assessment of the lodging because it is part of the race experience.

    The course looked really tough and it is GREAT that you finished so fast. I would have been well behind you based on the pictures of the technical and challenging course.

    What a great start to 2010!


    P.S. Do I get to see you and Baboo at JJ100 this year?

  4. You two are an inspirtion, Misty. Great work.
    You kinda have to wonder how a hotel with that kind of service continues to operate, don't you?

  5. You are so hard core! And so astute to point out the difference between "are you okay?" and "how are you feeling?" I'd never thought about it before, but probably only because my husband uses a variation of the latter "How are you doing?" Now I know I should thank him.

    I am so impressed with you - am I reading this correctly? You STARTED to hurt at mile 32??? You are awesome.


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