Here’s an update during some down-time (for me), from Dimi’s Espresso in the heart of Payson, where Jim and I have become “regulars”:
Jim is doing great so far. He hit mile 27.1 at around 1:30 pm Pacific time, which was about 30 minutes ahead of his anticipated schedule, and he was looking and feeling really good. He predicted himself to be running at the back of the pack, but was holding steady in the middle of the group, and looking a lot less wiped out than many of the other runners I saw coming in.
He got up at 3:30 this morning (I got an extra 45 minutes’ sleep), and we were on the road by 4:40 heading to the race start at the Pine trailhead. I’m pretty sure Jim set the record for the largest and most visible “drop-bag” (i.e., a lime-green PVC storage vat), but he organized it so that he would need only one set of supplies, which would be taken to the aid-station at the Washington Park trailhead. The runners will pass through that aid station three times during the race–at miles 27, 51, and 86, and of course Jim prepared separate bags designated for each stop: food, gel, Gatorade, water, flashlights, batteries, socks, clothes…a masterpiece of ultra-run organization.
It was cold—probably in the low 40s—at the start, but warmed up quickly, and Jim was pretty sweaty when I met him at mile 27. However, he was still well stocked with his electrolyte cocktail and other fuel, and even was able to help out another guy who had run out of water a few miles before the aid station by giving him his spare bottle. He’s doing a good job of keeping himself out of a deficit situation, and that (plus the good karma) should help stave off cramps and other misery later in the race.
I will see him at Washington Park again at mile 51, and will pace him through a tricky section of the trail to the Hell’s Gate aid station at mile 56, after which I will turn around and hike back to Washington Park and Jim will head up to the rim. He will be on his own for a few miles, and then will be picked up in the wee hours—somewhere around mile 60 or so—by Dell bud and Arizona “local” Richard Tallman. Richard will be pacing Jim all the way up, across, and over the rim to the Houston Brothers aid station at mile 79, and then will have another three-mile hike to get back to his car (famous last words by Tallman: “It’s gonna be fun.”)
Jim will then continue down to Washington Park, where I will meet him again at mile 86, but I will try to log another update tonight when I get back to Payson after pacing Jim to Hell’s Gate.