2018 Yeti 100 Mile Endurance Run




The Why?


“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” - Nietzsche


There’s a pain involved in running almost any distance. Ask any 5k’er how they feel at the end of it or any marathoner that’s completed the 26.2 distance. No matter the skill set of the athlete, it hurts like hell if you given it everything you have.


It’s all relative.


So I have to ask myself after running my first 100 miler (nearly 4 marathons in a row) last September 2017, why the HELL would I ever run another one??


It hurt… It hurt REALLY bad!


But the pain eventually… in a few days... fades away! But what does NOT fade away is the incredible sense of accomplishment, the hard work you know you put in to get there. Remembering the strength it took to go on, to keep going when every ounce of everything on your body ached beyond anything you’ve
ever felt before… and you STILL kept going...


....and finished it!


100 Miles… “who does this?” Heather Gardiner asked Yeti 100 Race Director Jason Green when we
crossed the finish line 23 hours 1 minute and 56 seconds after we began our adventure that day last year
in 2017.


“...apparently, you do!” He replied.



So again I ask, what is it that draws a person to come back to the suffering, to put ourselves out there
like that, to put ourselves again through the pain of running 100 miles, a distance more physically and
mentally challenging than most any other mainstream distance race out there?


Is it the passion for the sport? Is it the awesome athletes of the ultra community? Especially those in the
running cult we refer to as #YetiArmy, Or is it because we somehow enjoy the pain? That when we are in
this pain and continue in movement we feel human again, organic & raw, fighting for the survival of the
finish and hoping the pain doesn’t get so bad, we think about quitting. Do we come back because it takes
us out of our “Normal”,  the confines of our day to day lives, possibly mundane, boring, uneventful, and
problematic.. Or not! To again somehow prove to ourselves we can do it.. Again.. And maybe faster or
at least feel better through the process, pushing through the pain… just one more time.


Whatever the reason an ultramarathon runner keeps coming back is there own.
And I am still trying to figure out my own reasons for going back a second time. Regardless, one thing is
true. There will NOT be a third.

The 100 Miler That Wasn’t Going To Be


“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.” - Voltaire


To be honest, there almost was not a second!


Training for the 2017 Yeti was spot on. We grabbed the 70 mile week training plan from Bryon Powell’s
book “Relentless Forward Progress” and followed it to the the letter, never missing a beat, grabbing more
than a few 70 mile weeks and a couple 80 mile weeks as well.


We went into the 2017 Yeti feeling strong and prepared and pulled off that 23:01:56. a finish time we were
extremely proud of.


This time around.. Training was not up to par, or at least that’s what we felt. Not wanting the huge training
burden this time around we opted for Bryon’s 50 mile a week plan. We started in April and humidity on the
Outer Banks crept in quick, that coupled with the fact we fell off plan pretty fast to help and encourage an
old training partner with his marathon training, we started feeling doubtful. So much to the point I
remember one morning Heather and I having the conversation about deferring to 2019 if it was possible.
We just were not getting in the long runs we needed and weekly runs were just kind of all over the place.
We left it at that. But not really.. It was just “up in the air” for a bit. We continued running 6 days a week
but we hadn’t looked at the plan it seemed in several weeks.


As we got closer and closer to race day, we had to make the call.. run the 100 or not! I didn’t want to lose
the funds I spent on the race, but I definitely did not want the burden of another 100 mile training cycle
looming over me in 2019.


Screw It, Let’s Do It!


Deciding to bite the bullet and do this thing, we started making our lists and confirming our arrangements.
I was still concerned about the lack of training compared to last year and how it might affect our
performance. I was telling a friend, (a fellow runner) in the days before the race about my concerns,
bullet pointing the training weeks and he replied that it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. He
noted that just maybe we would do better, having not beat up our bodies so bad.


To put that in perspective, in 2017 we trained over 1200 miles in 24 weeks. This time around the plan
called for 995 miles. Now keep in mind, we deviated from plan early on. However, after running some
Garmin reports, doing some research for this write up, Heather and I ran 970 miles after all, over the
course of our 24 week training cycle. A mere 25 miles short of goal and having never run a 50 mile week
with the exception of one 70 mile week in late May which was because we ran the Damn Yeti 50 Miler!
Had I known this before hand… well, who knows?


The Road To Abingdon


It’s almost a 7 hour drive or so when you account for bathroom breaks and our normal stop for lunch
and our first prerace beer! We left for our Yeti journey around seven in the morning, I think and
entertained ourselves with good conversation, some music, a podcast about a twenty something year
old unsolved murder that happened on the Outer Banks where we are from. And of course, Heather got
in the occasional power nap along way.

Power Nappin'

Arriving down in Abingdon around four in the afternoon, we headed right to the AirBnB we rented to settle
in a bit before getting ready to head out for some dinner before picking up our packets for the race.

Our AirBnB

Our AirBnB

We decided on a local establishment named JJ’s Sports Bar. A relaxed, unassuming hangout with a huge menu and many beers on hand to try out! Turns out the the restaurant owner’s parents live in Manteo where we live. Crazy small world! It’s why we love to sit at the bar when we go out because you can meet so many interesting people that way. The owner’s daughter waited on us and recommended the Creole Sautee for me, a New Orleans inspired dish with crawfish, andouille sausage, shrimp and vegetables over rice! Because Heather wanted pasta, they modified the same dish I ordered, adding cream to the creole sauce and substituting bowtie pasta for rice. We both loved the dishes and the hospitality was incredible. We shared some conversation with a couple other locals and then headed out!

Dinner at JJ's Sports Bar

With belly’s full, we made our way to Wolf Hills Brewery, a local craft microbrewery offering on-tap house
beers and the host of the 2018 Yeti 100 packet pick up! As we pulled in there were cars everywhere,
dawned with ultra-running stickers and yeti cult markings… yup! We are in the right place! We parked and
started walking to the brewery.


The place was packed, mostly with yeti runners but you could tell there was a great deal of brewery
patrons just there for the brew. We were kind of lost at first but were quickly pointed in the right direction to
pick up our pre race goodies. We jumped on line and we immediately saw a familiar face, our friend Ashley
from Va. This would be her first 100 miler and we know she was excited to be there. Her Husband and son
accompanied her and were there for race support along the way. We chatted for a few before losing her
after we grabbed our bags and headed downstairs where we got in line to get a beer from the brewery.
Upon inspection of the bags, we got a sweet Yeti Pom Winter Hat, a yeti 100 tech shirt and did I mention
the awesome Yeti skateboard deck!! Really.. Who does that? Probably the best thing I have ever received
at a packet pick up!

From Left: Me (Shane), Ashley, Heather

Wolf Hills Brewery

Enjoying our beers, Heather and I mingled a little with some other familiar faces from last years 100 and
the Yeti 50 earlier this year in May. We took a few photos, bought a couple Yeti Trucker Hats and hit the
road to go have a relaxed evening at our AirBnB.

Heather with skate deck (upside down)

Yeti Skateboard Deck
Excuse me.. will you take our picture? 
New Yeti Trucker Hat!


We returned home and layed out our gear and prepared our drop bags. This wasn’t a 5k or a marathon…
this was 100 miles and we were not sure how long it would take us. So we checked, rechecked… and
then checked again to make sure we had everything we needed and no snafu’s were made like leaving
our Gym Boss in the drop bag like I did last year.


We set the alarm for 3:10 AM and hit the sack. Tomorrow was going to be a long day!


Running 100 Miles - Race Day


“A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free” - Nikos Kazantzakis


BEEP!! BEEP!! BEEP!!


The alarm was alive and well… us on the other hand… we needed coffee!


I got up and got coffee for Heather and I and then we began to get ready for the long day ahead of us.


Hey… It’s just a day of running, right! No big deal! :)


Part of running a long distance race like this is to fool yourself with positive self talk. Yes… we were
starting early!


So we were ready and had to be at the Creeper Trail Head in Abingdon by 5:30 AM to make the shuttle
for the ride up to WhiteTop Station. We grabbed a bagel and a banana on the way out. It was only a 10
minute drive so we had plenty of time.

In the car waiting for the shuttles.


It was misting a little as we headed to the trailhead and that was a good thing for us as the weather for
race day had been calling for thunderstorms and rain all week. Cars were making their way into the gravel
parking lot already as we arrived. We parked. We chilled for a minute, a few last bites of a banana and
we gathered our stuff and jumped into a shuttle and took off up the winding mountain for what seemed to
take forever, twisting and turning, it’s wonder people don’t get sick before the race even starts and
thankfully, the trail going down does not mimic the road up!


Off the shuttle, it was still dark.. Oops! We didn’t bring a headlamp. Many people did and there was no sign
of daybreak just yet. It was most likely just after 6:30 AM and we got right onto the bathroom line. The race
started at 7. After waiting a minute I left the line and went behind some brush… coming back to the line,
Heather was still waiting and eventually did the same! I played lookout!


Heading to the start line we all gathered to hear Jason’s pre-race motivational speech and about how 10
year old girls make their way from Whitetop down to Abingdon every Saturday and don’t get lost! “Don’t be
that person!” He would continue.


“Trains do not make left and right hand turns!” - Jason Green


The Yeti 100 takes place on the Creeper Trail and runs down from the community of White Top through
Damascus (ultimately, halfway point) and then down into Abingdon. We would then go back up to Whitetop
and then back down, once again.The trail itself is a reclaimed railroad track that is made up of crushed
gravel, cinders, charcoal and in some areas grass along the middle.


The trail was very wide in most sections and at some points became very narrow, this was where grass had
mostly grown in middle, almost creating two very narrow paths.


Tripping hazards dot the course as half buried rocks protrude up along the path, hidden by fallen leaves.
These rock, waiting for the right moment, when tired or least expecting runners lower their guard.. And when
they do.. BAM!! You’re down for the count!


At the Yeti, there is no timing company, fancy arches or digital checkpoints! It’s a grassroots ultra for those
of us who like the challenge of running a 100 miler. So we head to the front right before the start. This is a
gun-timed race so there is no point in being in the back of the pack no matter what your pace is. Strategy
number one!


Jason started the race at 6:59 AM.


Light was just starting to creep into view and I was a bit worried heading down the mountain. Those
tripping hazards I mentioned were everywhere and I couldn’t see that well since I didn’t have a headlamp
on. I was mostly afraid of turning my ankle as the Sunday before the race, only 7 days earlier, I rolled it on
the last .05 miles of our run… on the road no less. It wasn’t too bad and knew I would be okay in a week
with the proper care, but it totally turned colors the next day. Black and blue down the entire side of my
right foot, sensitive not really on the ankle as much as the side and the top of my foot. I pampered it with
a blend of 100% therapeutic essential oils that I put together myself. They have aided me in very quick
recoveries of minor nags, pains and injuries in the past. I call this blend the “Miracle Oil” because I am
surprised every time I use it by how quickly it works!


We started down the path at a 5 minute run with a 2 minute walk inbetween. We do this from the very
beginning. This interval strategy allows us to recover more often while running faster through the run
portions.




Approaching the the five mile mark our friend Ashley (remember, from the packet pick up line) rolled up
behind us. She said that she had been trying to catch us and wanted to know if she could hang. “Of course”
we obliged! We’d love the company and Ashley actually ran with us for several miles at the Yeti 50 in late
May.



The first aid station we came to was Tayler Valley at mile 10.5 or so. They had the aid station this year was
staged up a steep driveway at a residence of a house. As I ran by I said out loud “that’s not the official aid
station is it?” “Yes it is.” I was told right away and at that point I was passing it. Heather, behind me a few
strides said she was going up. I thought what the hell is an aid station doing off course and at the top of a
driveway?? Last year it was on the side of the road. Either way, we needed aid so we had to stop. I did hear
that some people passed it up,  not wanting to climb the driveway




Last year being our first 100, we spent entirely too much time in aid stations, one hour and 45 minute to be
exact. One of our goals this year was to move through them very quickly… or as quick as we could. We
needed to be more efficient this year. One way we would do that was to bring little zip lock bags with us
and fill them with all the things we wanted and get a drink real quick, have our water bottles (or bladder)
filled if needed, and then move out. Even if we walked a bit after leaving, we were still moving forward….
And that’s always the goal. Every step we take gets us one step closer to the finish line.


But honestly, we don’t think about the finish line too often. Breaking the run down into bite size pieces
helps us to not be overwhelmed. 100 miles is long way. To much to comprehend.. And the hours that it
takes to cover that ground is nuts! So we just take it from aid station to aid station. We reduce to the
ridiculous. Bite size, doable increments!


From Taylor Farms we were headed to our mile 18 aid station and drop bag location in Damascus.
This aid station would also serve as the 50th and 85th mile aid station as well and quite possibly the
funnest with music, shenanigans and hot food, if needed! We didn’t need anything from our bags so early
in the race so we just got bottles and bladders filled, stowed some food in our ziplocks and hit the road!






Ashley was still hanging strong and we were now making our way to 2017’s fave and funnest aid station,
Alvarado! The home of the Fireball Shots!! And for the record.. I never did one last year and had no intention
of doing one this year!! Call me boring, but I’d have to train with fireball before I would ever introduce that
stuff to my system in the middle of a 100 miler!!




Two time Yeti 100 finisher John Davenport was there and was helping to dish out the good stuff!! Like the
aid stations before, we grabbed what we needed and took off!




Conversation was flowing smoothly and everyone was in good spirits, so far. We shared some
conversations with various runners along the way in true ultra fashion, making new friends and getting to
know the other “Yeti’s”! Our interval of 5/2 was still working for us and we were just several miles now from
the turn-around down in Abingdon!


Hitting Abingdon, Heather and Ashley used the ladies room and I just started grabbing fuel for the hike
back up the mountain. We posed for a couple photos and started back up the 33 mile stretch to Whitetop
Station.


Abingdon Aid Station

Heather Grabbing Fuel For Her Bag!



We kept up the 5/2 interval for a few more miles and then cut it back to 4/2. We were now over 50k but
only a third of the way. The next several hours would have us running up the mountain and we were going
to start getting tired.


Moving on and running through, we kept it going.. Running, walking… running. Walking!


Aid station after aid station.

Cows Occasionally Show Up for a Photo Opp!! 

No Fireball in the Pepsi Machine?? Whaaat??

Taylor Farms aid came early, just 10.5 miles from the top of the mountain with plenty of day light left. We were making great time but we knew it would be dark by the time we got there.


And approximately 13 hours and 49 minutes after we began this little journey we arrived at Whitetop!
Several people were hanging out there and unlike last year there was no aid station, that was down at
Green Cove this year which was great because it gave us an addition aid station over a 6 mile trek! So
there was a sign up at the top and we were told just to touch it and then head back down… I kissed it!! A
celebration of sorts to signify the third and last leg of this race, heading back down the mountain from
where we whence came!


I was elated at this moment, having grabbed a cup of sweet potato soup from Green Cove, I was feeling
great and blurted out that when I get down to Alvarado, I was going to do a shot of fireball!!


We flew through Green Cove without incident and was making our way down to Taylor Farms for our
third and final visit. Somewhere on the way I took a pretty good fall. Now bleeding from my elbow and a
bloody black wound on my ring finger, I was anxious to get there so I could get cleaned up and move out.
They had a first aid kit and got me taken care of.


23 miles to the finish!


And we couldn’t get there fast enough. I was ready to be done and my attitude was slipping at times..
Especially when I thought and aid station should be coming up and it wasn’t. I don’t like when I get that
way.. But I guess it’s just in my nature during a run like this. I’ll try harder on the next one to keep that
stellar positive attitude. It can be a challenge though. I felt like sometimes I was on a virtual treadmill, not
making any progress at all… and it was frustrating me.


As we made our way to mile 85 in Damascus, Ashley was going to get her pacer to join us, Frank. She
had been talking about him for a lot of the run and how he was a coach and a musician, a friend of her
husbands who just happen to ask her if she needed help during the race. She took him up on it, of course.
She said she would never have asked anyone and it was so nice of him to offer and to drive all the way
here to help her. We had met him earlier in the race at mile 50 where he helped her out with her bags.
We had few more minutes back there as we were grabbing long sleeve shirts, watch chargers and
headlamps for nightfall. I remember when we called for her as we were leaving she was getting a foot
massage or something from Franks as her feet were sticking straight up on the air. She got to her feet
and caught up to us.


So here we were approaching mile 85 and we were eager to grab a fourth runner, new blood, and
renewed excitement for the last 15 miles!


As I grabbed my fuel to hold me over till Averado I heard Heather say to Ashley something about
leaving with us anyway…


Frank was not there.


She seemed bummed that Frank was not there but she was going to leave with us. Smart move on her
part. I wouldn’t have waited either. Too many unknowns. Let’s get this thing done. At least she wasn’t
alone. We have stuck together this far.


But it wasn’t much longer that Ashley started to fade back, just a little. Around mile 87 or 88 she said just
to go, that she would be fine.


NO! I said,


There is no way were are separating now. I told her we were hitting the 90 mile mark in just a few miles
and we only had 10 miles to go. Now was the time to dig. We were going to stay together… to the end!


At 91.5 we landed in Alvarado with only 8.5 miles left to the finish! We were so excited but still new it was
going to be a long run from there. We were tired. And at this point, while we were still running, it was a
struggle at a 3 minute run and a 3 minute walk! But we kept moving.


This was it! No more aid stations, no more turn-arounds, we were heading to the finish line and it was
apparent at this point we were going to PR over last year.


As we made our way toward abingdon we passed about 4 runner’s and at some point, I am guessing
now about two and a half miles from the finish we saw a headlamp coming our way.


As we got closer and met, the man in the headlamp spoke, “saying who do we have here?” We replied
“How far to the finish?” in which he replied about a mile and a half.


That was good news. And then an instant later.. Heather yelled out.. “It’s Frank!!” Oh My God! Ashley
was so excited and it turned out that Frank showed up 45 minutes after we left Damascus. He had thought
we would slow down and calculated a later arrival time.

Does Frank know who we are?


Haha!! Well, Ashley was elated to now have Frank running in with her now, It was”...perfect timing” as
she explained it. We were all suffering. We were ready to finish.


But again the treadmill was happening. Frank was wrong about the mile and a half and another guy later
said 1.1 miles but it was farther than that. I’d been running now for a while... I was tired too. We were so
close to a sub 22 hour finish though. I didn’t want us to miss it by seconds and I still didn’t know how
close (or far) we were to the arms of Jason Green, our finish line hug!


We came around the corner.. The grade started to go up.. I didn’t remember this but I kept running…
Heather following. We heard a yell from Ashley and Frank.. The trail split, we were going the wrong way..
we turned quickly and I cut through the grass. At that moment you could hear the cheers and clapping
from those at the finish line and as it came into view, we all started running faster! This was is it.. We made
it!


The clock read 21:49 and some seconds as I ran in for the Jason Green hug, the finish line staple of all
Yeti races! Right behind was Heather and then Ashley!  We were all smiling to be done, to have finished
and to have come in at such a great time!

We shaved off over 45 minutes at aids stations over last year and PR'd by over 1 hour and 10 minutes!




As for Ashley, she was like a little girl in a candy store! The smile on her face was ear to ear and I could
feel her happiness as she had just completed her first 100 mile ultra distance run!


And she did it well, I might add! We all did.


Jason double-buckled us all and that was it. We grabbed some finish line photos and hung out for just a
few minutes before saying goodbye to everyone and waddling our way to the car.


Our Finisher Buckle (Sub 24 Hour Buckle Not Shown)
I Totally Came in Before Heather... Just Sayin'! :)

Garmin App


I started writing this report on Monday, two days after the race. I was still moving slowly, muscles hurting,
and my feet in really bad shape. And as I’ve been working on this all week, slowly recovering.
Now finishing it up following a 14 mile recovery bike ride here on a Saturday morning, one full week
from our finish, I realize why I went back to run my second 100 mile race. It’s simply because I love to
run. It’s because of a shared passion about something I love, WITH someone I love. It’s not that the first
100 miler changed my life, It’s because running itself, on it’s own, changed my life. And It’s is partly
because of the ultra community I returned to run the Yeti again. These are my people. These are the
people that get me. Understand me. And share the same struggles. Because I bet if you ask any one of
them, they will tell you too, that running saved them, changed their lives for the better somehow in some
way.


So it goes, when you have any army of believers behind you.. An army of YETI’s behind you…
There is nothing that we cannot accomplish… together!



    Race Gear

Shoes: Altra Paradigms
Socks: Feetures
Pack: Nathan Krar
Watch: Garmin Fenix 5


See you in May, Yeti's for the Yeti 50 Miler!!



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