I did it! I finished the race. It was long and grueling and not pretty at the end but I got it done. I started the race at 5am in downtown Auburn with about 630 other runners. The early miles were in the dark but once the sun came up we were treated to beautiful views of the Middle Fork of the American River as we ran toward Foresthill. It took me about 8 hours to get to Foresthill which was around mile 33.. At Foresthill, I rested, got some chicken broth, drank a ginger ale and ate a quesadilla. Feeling good I headed toward the next town of Michigan Bluff. The race had many stream crossings but on the way to Michigan Bluff we had to cross a very swiftly flowing Volcano Creek. Ropes had been set up across the creek to help runners keep their balance as they traversed. Unfortunately I slipped and fell into the creek up to my chest. Fortunately even though my phone got wet it kept working so I could keep my family informed of my progress. I was able to dry out on the run into Michigan Bluff around mile 38. The next challenge was a very long grueling 3 mile climb up to Deadwood Cemetery. That took a lot out of me. At the Deadwood aide station I drank more broth and a coke. I tried to eat a quesadilla but only half would go down. Next was a short 5 mile trail that looped around and came back to Deadwood. Now it was 6:30 pm and there were only 10 miles left. At this point after 50 miles, I knew I could finish the race before the midnight cut off. I changed to a warmer top and headed out toward the finish in good spirits. The last 10 miles started with an easy 1.5 mile down hill run to Indian Creek. On the other side of the creek was another 3,000 feet of steep climbing. This soon became really hard. I was reduced to a slow hike. When the sun went down I pulled out my headlamp from my running pack to light my way. This is when I realized that my dip into Volcano Creek also got my headlamp wet and now it was not working. GRRR. So I was literally in the dark. I was tired, hungry, cold, nauseated and now in the dark. Things can get harder. Fortunately other runners would come by and walk with me for a time so I could see a little from their headlamps. Eventually another runner stayed with me for the rest of the race. When got to mile 56 and there was now snow across the forest floor. The trail became a sloshy, muddy uneven mess. In the dark we had to slog and splash through deep, ice cold, mud puddles up to our shins. Things can get harder. The last few miles seemed to go on forever. With about two miles to go I could hear the announcer at the finish line. Hope. Eventually we popped out of the woods and I knew we only had 200 yards to go. It was such a relief to finally cross the finish line. It took 18 hours and 1 minute. I didn't care about my finish time at that moment. The race director, who I have met at other races over the years, gave me a big hug as I crossed the line. I really needed a hug at that moment. Next was the warming tent with other cold runners so I could take off my wet shoes and socks and get some hot broth. I called my wife and announced, "I am never doing this race again!" Everyone nearby laughed and said, "We've heard that before." Fortunately I had no injuries, blisters, pulled muscle or ligaments over the 61 miles. I rested up on Sunday and Monday I was back to work as usual. I appreciate the opportunity to help Sac Life and all the donors. I am not sure what my next adventure will be but I will keep you posted.
Timothy E. Phelan, MD Creekside Ob/Gyn of Folsom Medical Corporation 1621 Creekside Drive Suite #102 Folsom, CA 95630 916-984-7428 www.creeksideob.com