Thursday, August 30, 2012
100 Mile Inspiration: Ashley Austin
Every year, during the last weekend of June all the eyes of ultra running descend upon the Western States 100. No, I didn’t run this but I was lucky enough to help crew a good friend of mine Brian Brooks attempt his first 100 miler.
Crewing is by far a very challenging yet rewarding experience. This was Brian’s day and we, the crew, needed to do whatever we could to make his run the most stellar race of his life.
We attended the pre-race briefing, there we got introduced to the top 10 men and women and got a crash course on course conditions and crewing logistics (by the way crewing at this race is a logistical nightmare.)I won’t bore you with how many times we got lost or didn’t make the shuttle. Otherwise this would take forever. So here it goes…
Waking up at 3:30am, freezing our keisters off to get Brian to the start line at Squaw Valley. I totally teared up at the race start watching hundreds of runners especially Brooksie tackle the first 3 miles of uphill ski slope. We left in a flash driving promptly to Auburn (the race finish)and get supplies for the day. Then we headed back to meet Brian at the 30 mile mark and almost missed him due to the line at the shuttle bus. He was in good spirits when we saw him and pretty darn wet from the rain and sleet. We headed to forest hill and set up camp for when he would come through at mile 60, the rest of the crew split from us to meet him at an earlier checkpoint.
We got to see the front-runners (and Hal Koener topless) fly through forest hill while having PBR’s on the porch of a local bar. A few hours later we got word that Brian was close and headed our way, he met up with his pacer at the aid station and had an epic blister popped on his toe (the volunteers were taking pictures it was that big) and he was off. Then quick nap time. We hit up another shuttle bus and we started walking down to Rucky Chucky River Crossing a solid 3 miles down hill and we caught up with Brian. Brooksie was super stoked about learning to pee while walking! We got him fed and changed at the aid station at Greengate or mile 80 then sent him out with a fresh pacer to tackle the last 20. We had to wait for another shuttle bus to get us then we were off again to meet him at mile 93. His girlfriend went to pace him for the last bit while we caught a couple Z’s.
We arrive at the track in Auburn seeing people finish the last 300m while running with their loved ones and we knew Brian was coming soon. We got word that he was close so we met up with him outside the track and we all told him how proud we were and he still had that shit eating grin on his face. ’Get Buckles’ we said!
We got to see record breaking performances by Tim Olsen the overall winner, Ellie Greenwood broke Ann Tresons record (a feat thought impossible) but nothing was better than being there as Brian ran the last 300 meters on the track at Auburn high school with his daughter, finishing his goal that he worked so hard for.
I am in awe of Brian, if anyone deserved this day it was him. Brian worked so hard for this moment and I was lucky enough to be a part of it. Brian is the perfect example of what happens when you have stellar trail karma. Well done sir! Thanks for letting me be a part of your epic race.