海外チームメンバーのひとり、オランダ在住の Léonie Van Den Haakさんが今年夏に米国コロラド州で開催されたRUN RABBIT 100MILESにて27時間24分42秒で完走しました。
It’s not HA HA funny
After the chaotic and hilarious pre-race briefing of race director Fred I should have known that I was about to experience a very special race. The weather forecasts varied from floodings to snow to thunderstorms. The race director told me just before the race that there was 10.000 at stake for the winner, and that I was running with some of the best 100-mile mountain runners in the USA. That didn’t really ease my nervous mind. In total the Run Rabbit Run is 100 miles long and it has 6400 metres of altitude gain and loss. That’s a heck of a job!
The start of the race was at the base of a ski area (Steamboat Springs) in which they built a gondola to take skiers to the top of the mountain in no time. Obviously, this gondola goes up a very steep slope so you reach the top as fast as possible. It was exactly that steep slope that awaited the runners as a first climb. It took us 8km to climb 1000 metres. At the top I was looking down, trying to catch my breath because it was one of the toughest climbs I ever did. I remembered the words of race director Fred: ‘if you think running a 100 miler is fun, think again. It’s not ha ha funny.’ However, in a weird way I kinda enjoyed the first climb. After catching my breath again I took off with a very simple, yet efficient plan: just keep running wherever you can and walk uphill if necessary. Slowly but surely you’ll reach the finish.
I’m used to running in Amsterdam in the dark, but running in the mountains during the night is another thing. The weirdest thing I ever encounter in Amsterdam are drunk people who fall off their bikes after a night out. Here, in Steamboat Springs, I was facing a group of 3 hunters with huge guns and freshly shot, bleeding hares. That was very ironic because the category I was racing in was also called Hares. I saw myself dangling on the rope the hunters had, bleeding and dead. I asked the hunters if they could point their guns in another direction instead of me. A little confused about what I just saw I carried on, in the end it was a pretty funny situation in the middle of the night. So far, so ha ha funny.
I passed aid station after aid station, they had so much food everywhere that you could actually get fat during the race. The volunteers of the organization were all super friendly: the kept on shouting GREAT JOB and AMAZING! Before I knew it I was also cheering on the other runners that I passed. Everybody was so friendly, even if they did not feel that good anymore after hours of running. I was still enjoying the race a lot, until that one moment……
‘It’s 4.5 miles downhill, then you turn and come back to this aid station’ shouted my boyfriend who was up all night to support me. Not much further down the path I found out that it wasn’t downhill, but uphill. And it was a long, dark, rocky, wet, difficult path too. I lost my great spirit and all I saw was the miles and miles in front of me, I didn’t think of all the miles I already ran. It seemed like an impossible job to finish this race. Maybe the race director was right, it wasn’t so funny anymore.
1 more climb and I’m there, I told myself. But after that was another climb, and another one. By the time I started the final descent to the finish my legs were so sore that I couldn’t even run anymore. Every step hurt, but I was 100% sure to finish this race within the time limits. I found a fellow runner from the USA who also didn’t feel that well anymore, and together we talked the hours and miles away. We were both really looking forward to the beer and pizza they had at the finish line. Step by step we came closer to the finish, really slow but we did it. The female winner of the race finished 7.5 hours before me. It took me 27 hours and 49 minutes. A long, long way but in the end all worth it: the Run Rabbit Run was tough, but I still have a smile on my face if I think back to it.
Thanks to the organization and who knows I’ll be back one day……