In what is becoming an annual tradition, i headed out to Tahoe on the 3rd weekend of June to watch a few hundred people run 100 miles from Squaw Valley to Auburn, CA. More specifically, i was there to pace my buddy, Dave Mackey. Dave has had great success at Western States, including a 2nd place (and course record breaking) finish several years ago behind Scott Jurek, and a top 10 finish last year. But Dave is a true competitor and I knew he had yet to achieve his best performance on the course.
I wanted Kristin and Autumn to witness the spectacle of one of the most famous and competitive ultra races in the world, so we rented a little condo in north tahoe for the weekend. We drove up early friday morning in time to run in the Montrail 6km Uphill Challenge, which follows the same first 6km as the Western States course the next day (2000 ft of climbing). It was a nice opportunity for all the support crew and pacers to have their shot of competition for the weekend. Team Mackey got off to a strong start with Rickey Gates and Myself finishing 1-2; we would both pace Dave, in that order, the next day.
Saturday morning started off with a bit of rain and hail, but would turn to cool (by Western States standards) and sunny conditions later in the day; likely the best weather the race has seen in over a decade. I paced Dave from Forresthill to Ruckey Chuckey, a cruisy 18 mile downhill section. Dave was in good spirits and running strong in 3rd place, behind Timothy Olsen and Ryan Sandes. Still, pacing is always a bit awkward because the racer and the pacer are in completely difference zones. On one hand you have the racer, who is totally dialed but most likely, feeling like shit. And on the other hand you have the pacer who is feeling great and stoked to finally be running after watching other people run all day. This disparity can cause two friends accustomed to jokes and banter to suddenly have very little to talk about. Nevertheless, it was a very enjoyable run down to the river, and i was stoked to see Dave running so well.
Dave would end up 4th, while smashing the masters course record in the process. His wasn’t the only record setting run; the men and women’s overall course records were also demolished, no doubt aided by the ideal weather, but also an indication of the kind of talent that is being attracted by the sport of ultra running.