Angeles Crest 100; Bringing It All Together

Summary Stats

Location: Wrightwood to Pasadena, CA
Miles Run: 100.5
Total Time: 25:49:18
Average Pace, 1st 53mi/2nd 48mi/Overall: 4.4mph/3.5mph/3.9mph
Elevation Gain/Loss(ft): 21,610ft/26,700ft
Highest/Lowest Point: Mt Baden-Powell 9,210ft/Alta Loma Park 1,371ft
Temperature High/Low: Clear, 86F road to Cloudburst Summit, 55F Wrightwood
Pacers: Chris, Toby Guillette
Gel/GU Consumed: 32oz
Approx Calories Consumed: 6,000kCal+
Salt Caps Consumed: 45(27,000mg salts)
Approx Calories Burned: 18,000(5.1 lbs!)
Approx Water/Liquid Consumed: 18L+
Injuries: One small blister on the left foot and sore hip flexors
Other notes: One bloodied shirt, lost arm sleeves, poison oak covered clothing(last 20miles)
My Photo Album
My Dad's Photos


In December I was denied from Western States, February denied from Hardrock, so what next? After browsing the Run100s list I picked out a few possibilities and sent an email out to a few experienced ultrarunners to get their takes. Steph suggested the Angeles Crest 100, and being somewhat familiar with the trails from my time in San Diego and with my parents happy and willing to crew me the stage was set. September 13th I’d toe the start line in Wrightwood, CA bound for Pasadena, my second 100miler.

After months of training it was Sept 1st, taper time and none too soon as a super tight hamstring was aggravating some of my tendons. Lots of stretching, icing, and rest helped and I was feeling better. I arrived at the hotel just outside Wrightwood Thursday afternoon and after a jog on the Angeles Crest trail I settled in to pack drop bags and prep for weigh in. Friday went smoothly and I met my parents to go over crewing and race plans. Then to bed early (930pm) for the 345am wakeup and the 5am start.

345am My phone alarm blared and I rolled out of bed, probably the best pre-race sleep I’ve ever gotten. After a quick shower to wake up I quickly dressed and stuffed a banana and two poptarts into my stomach and drove up to Wrightwood. The town was a buzz as runners, crew, and viewers scurried around. Disturbed blaring in my ears, I went into my shell, mentally prepping myself for the long day ahead. After saying a last good bye to my parents I toed the line with the other 130 runners, everyone was bubbling over. Months and months of training had brought us here, a dirt lot in the center of Wrightwood, 100.5miles of trail stretched out before us, not everyone would make it, but that wouldn’t dampen the spirit.

And We're Off

500am The gun sounded and the mass slowly trotted up the hill. I took a very conservative pace at the start, heading up the first climb somewhere near the middle of the pack. The road soon turned to single track and the trotted turned into a power hike, I allowed others to dictate a pace that was very comfortable, and before I knew it we were at the top of Mtn High resort as the sun illuminated our surroundings. The downhill went by quickly and before I knew it I was at Inspiration Pt, and after a quick resupply with my parents off I went.

704am From Inspiration Pt the trail was great single track and I ran most of the slow descent to Vincent Gap. After grabbing my drop bag and some food it was time for the big climb up Mt Baden-Powell. Immediately the trail took off uphill through the trees, climbing, climbing, climbing. Thanks to my training the elevation did not bother me at all, and I made quick work to the summit in just over an hour. The trail then made a smooth rolling descent along the ridge on great single track, passing 3 more peaks before finally dropping into the Islip Saddle aid station. I had radioed ahead to my parents who had my hand bottle and food ready to go, I dropped my backpack, picked up my hand bottle, and ran through the aid station barely stopping. As I began the climb up toward Mt Williamson someone turned on the heat and the lack of shade was very noticeable. My pace slowed as my core heated up, but I was still doing alright. The run down into Eagle’s Roost was slow and steady, and the aid station sure was a sweet site.

The Heat of the Day

1133am This would be my first long break of the day, a shoe change, some food, and ice, lots of ice. I was still running well, but took off at a fast walk as I let the peanut butter pretzels, clif bar, and GU2O settle in my stomach. The next stretch start off with 3miles of road due to a wildlife closure on the regular trail, heat radiated off the pavement. I began jogging down the road and into Buckhart canyon, finally hoping back onto single track in the trees, a very welcome sight. As we crossed Cooper Canyon creek myself and two other runners soaked our heads in the slow trickle, oh so nice! As we climbed up the exposed hill out of Cooper Canyon it was evident everyone was feeling the heat of the day. It was here I realized that carrying my extra 20oz bottle of GU2O drink was a god send. I slowly jogged into Cloudburst summit; overheating, struggling through a low, but apparently looking much better than many people in front of me.

132pm I sat in the shade drinking cold GU2O and eating pretzels. As nice as this was it was time to get moving, I grabbed a new gel flask, my pack/bottle filled with ice cold liquid, packed my hat with ice and took off down the trail toward 3 Points. This section flew by as I made the big descent down into the valley on a dirt road that paralleled the highway. Though the temperature was peaking, 86F, I was moving well downhill and the ice was finally cooling me. I pulled into 3 Points and quickly reloaded my supplies for the next two aid stations, as Mt Hilyer was not crew accessible. I felt revitalized and maintained a steady jog as the trail slowly descended on good single track down to Sulphur Springs. I alternated jogging and walking up the gentle hill toward Mt Hilyer. I passed by several chalk smiley faces on the road, it’s amazing how such a simple gesture can make you smile. I pulled in to the minimal Mt Hilyer aid station, grabbed some snacks and took off downhill toward Chilao where my resupply and pacer were waiting. This 4miles of downhill was much tougher than expected as the trail was rocky and just when you were getting into a downhill groove, back up the trail went. I rolled in to Chilao to the cheers of my parents, friend Toby, and pacer Chris.

Run, Run, Fast As You Can...

500pm After weighing in(2lbs lighter) and reloading my food and liquids Chris and I headed down the trail. It was great to have company along after over 12h of mostly running solo. We jogged along, finally cresting near Charlton Flats, where a big descent awaited us. We cruised down in Tujunga Canyon, then up the short climb to Shortcut Saddle as the afternoon’s faded away. We met up with my parents to grab flashlights, food, and a jacket for the night to come. As we jogged down from Shortcut Saddle the sun faded out behind the mountains just as the moon rose in the East. The night was warm and we moved well by flashlight down into Shortcut Canyon, finally crossing the river and climbing back up to Newcombs Saddle. In the dark things either seem to go by really slowly or extremely quickly.

855pm This was one of those quick times, and I was soon seated at the Newcombs Saddle aid station all alone. I sat down to have a snack when I heard Cindy’s(Chris’s wife) voice behind me, huh? I turned around to a 5ft projection screen with a live feed from Chantry Flat(mm75), they had video cameras and microphones at both aid stations, How Cool! Chris and I said farewell to Cindy and told her we’d see her soon. From Newcombs Saddle the trail dropped down on good single track into Santa Anita Canyon, the canyon walls framing the lights of the city below. As we neared Chantry Flats the lights and sounds of the crowd above us reeled us in.

1044pm My parents, Toby(next pacer), and Chris’s wife Cindy were waiting for us and welcomed us with open arms to Chantry Flats, our final crew aid station of the race. One final goodbye to my parents and Chris, with a special thank you for their support. Now it was Toby’s turn to take me home, 25miles to go, with two big hills in the way. The trail began climbing uphill immediately, 3000ft of uphill to Mt Wilson Rd. As we climbed my legs began to tire and my left hip flexor, which had been compensating for my sore hamstring, began to spazzum uncontrollably. I had to stop numerous times to stretch my hip and hamstring out, this would alleviate the pain for a while, spazzum, stretch, hike and repeat. When we finally hit the Mt Wilson Toll Rd I was relieved, as the flat and downhill did not bother my hip. We cruised down the road and into the Idle Hour aid station, the lights were getting closer. And none too soon as my flashlight’s batteries were dying(old one’s were accidentally placed inside).

Heading Home

2:00am Though Toby and I had passed a few runners on the climb, we’d been alone for some time. As the aid station crew refilled my water I ate and stretched out, knowing one more big climb was ahead. We descended down the rocky trail and across the valley below. The blinking towers atop Mt Wilson lined the ridgeline to our right, and a set of lights in the saddle would turn out to be the next aid station, Sam Merril. I pushed up the final climb, knowing that when we reached the aid station it would be all downhill, a welcome rest for my painful hip flexor. We entered the aid station, again alone, but excited to be 10miles of downhill from the finish. 400am I slammed a coke, drank some soup broth and let Toby drag me back onto the trail. I began to tire as we descended, popped a caffeine pill and wobbled for 15min in a half delirious state until it kicked in. As we ran along the ridgeline the houses below grew closer and closer, finally we descended on rocky trail back into the trees and Millard Canyon. The sky grew brighter and before we knew it we were at the Millard aid station. After a short stop Toby and I pushed off down the trail, we were close, very close. The trail down Millard Canyon was single track that slowly rolled downhill through the wooded green canyon. Several large cement dams stood as massive reminders of a flood many years ago. The trail spit us out onto the road, actually a welcome sight, and a surprisingly nice way to finish the race. The road took us up a small rise then onto a dirt connector that spit us out several blocks from Loma Alta park.

We picked up the pace and rounded a corner on Lincoln to the sight of the grassy fields of Loma Alta park. Toby dropped off and I ran in the final 200yards alone, crossing the finish line in 25:49:18 in 22nd place. In the early morning light only a handful of spectators were present, most importantly my parents and Toby, all of whom had shared this journey with me in different capacities. I was tired, but happy, as it had been a wonderful race and a great day in the mountains. For me this race was not just about the competition or pushing me limits, it was about proving to myself that I could do this. It was about redemption for mistakes made at Leadville and Spring Desert, all those times in my life where I wasn’t good enough, strong enough or tall enough. When you’re running 100miles in the mountains it’s just you and the trail, what everyone else does is irrelevant, all that matters is what your mind and legs say you can do. As I sit here today, beaten and sore I know nothing is impossible.

A special thanks to my parents Martha and Kerwin for doing such an amazing job crewing me so selflessly throughout the day, to my pacers Chris and Toby for keeping me company and pushing me along, and to all my training friends in Colorado for sharing this journey with me. To many more great days in the mountains and testing the true limits of our being.

Aid Station Time of Day/Elapsed Time Place
Inspiration Point 7:04am/2h4min 46th
Vincent Gap 7:49am/2h/49min 41st
Islip Saddle 10:29am/5h29min 29th
Eagles Roost 11:33am/6h33min 26th
Cloudburst Summit 1:32pm/8h32min 33rd
Three Points 2:39pm/9h39min 34th
Mount Hilyer 4:04pm/11h4min 32nd
Chilao Flat 4:50pm/11h50min 28th
Shortcut Saddle 6:37pm/13h37min 26th
Newcomb Saddle 8:55pm/15h55min 24th
Chantry Flat 10:44pm/17h44min 25th
Idle Hour 2:00am/21h0min 21st
Sam Merrill 4:00am/23h0min 22nd
Milard Campground 5:43am/24h43min 22nd
Finish Line 6:49am/25h49min18sec 22nd