Race: Bigfoot 100k
Runner: Stephanie G
Race Date: 08/09/2019
Location: Mt St Helens
Results: 1st female, 8th overall
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2608336181/overview
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
The course – scenic, challenging, and varied
A very friendly group of runners
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
Lightning! Not the fault of the race of course. But it was kind of scary. The weather for the last 2 hours was quite a spectacle of rain, wind, thunder and lightning. The memory will live on for a long time though!
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
I’d say compared to other races, it was the distance between aid stations. There were only four, and two times they were 18+ miles apart. Also running around an erupted volcano!
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
I feel like I paced well and ran my own race from the beginning. I accepted the low point that every race seems to have and believed it would only be temporary. I kept eating the whole day (although still got behind sometimes). I think the distance between aid stations actually helped me be more intentional about eating and drinking since I couldn’t put either of them off thinking I was almost to the next aid station.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
- There’s a lot to know about this race, although nothing that the runners manual doesn’t tell you. But the distance between aid stations is no joke when it comes to hydration. I read all the warnings, but still didn’t take them quite seriously enough and ended up having to ration on a hot/exposed part of the course (and it wasn’t even a hot day). Luckily a stream appeared that saved me. It was white with silt, but still tasted so good. There was another one (clear this time) between aid station 3 and 4 which was also much appreciated.
- I would recommend having poles (I used them the entire second half of the race) if you like them. High socks were really helpful. Lots of people chose to wear gaiters, but I actually never even stopped to dump my shoes. A guy I was running with had both his shoes and socks torn apart by the rocks and was very happy to have another pair in his drop bag at aid station 4. Take a jacket!
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
Preview the course! At least the Loowit part. I ran Loowit several weeks before the race (before even knowing I was doing the race), and I think that preview turned out to be immensely helpful. I had a vague idea where terrain changes were, what the water situation was like, and just how difficult the boulder fields were going to be.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
- The boulder fields are probably the most unique part. Be prepared for them to really slow you down. It is also very exposed throughout the vast majority of the race which could make keeping cool difficult on a hot day (and keeping warm difficult on a cool day). I’ve run 100 miles in Arizona in 95 degree temps and I’d say this would be more challenging if it was above 75 degrees due to the lack of access to water and ice from aid stations.
- The course markings are good for the most part, but kind of vary in their frequency. There was definitely a wrong turn that many people took (including me). The boulder field markings were hard to spot in the dark and rain. All that to say, make sure you have a track on your phone/watch.
- The trail from aid 2 to aid 3 is the fastest trail of the entire day – all downhill and smooth. I wished I hadn’t eaten quite so much at aid station 2 when I discovered this. Full stomach on a downhill is not the most comfortable!
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
It’s difficult in that it takes a long time due to the terrain.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
It was well run.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
The main event is definitely the 200 mile race. The 100k doesn’t draw quite as much of a crowd.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
Logistics were pretty easy. You can camp the night before. I chose to stay in Woodland, which was about an hour drive in the morning.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
The first 3 aid stations were great with a lot of variety (usual stuff). I hesitate to say anything less than positive about any aid station because volunteers are amazing, but I was a little let down by the 4th/last aid station (which was too bad because it was after a long stretch). The focus was definitely on the 200 mile runners and cooking them more substantial food. It wasn’t a “race” atmosphere, but more of a “journey” vibe (the 200 milers are amazing btw!). I just had a hard time figuring out how to get any help and needed to use my own brain a little more than I was prepared to at that point in the race 🙂 A bystander nicely helped me close my drop bag when my hands wouldn’t have worked well enough to do it.
Weather and typical race conditions
I hope this year wasn’t typical! We did have great weather for the first 14 hours or so, but then rain, thunder, lighting and wind moved in. It was pretty crazy weather to be out on ridges and rock fields in. I just hoped to not get hit and kept moving forward trying to get to the end as fast as possible.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
Be prepared to carry a lot of water and food. High socks and poles were also helpful, as noted above.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
No – long drives (hours) between access points.
How’s the Swag?
Nice wooden finishers “medals”. Also a drawstring backpack and a reusable cup (I mean most cups are reusable, but this is one of those squishy ones for cupless races).
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?