Given the rave reviews I had heard from friends like Roch and Karl, roughly 5 months ago I decided to sign up for the Coyote Two Moon. “It’s more than a race, it’s an event!”, said Roch Horton. With his talent for recreating great events using his commanding voice and dynamic body language, I couldn’t help being drawn to this race which Roch described to me back in the fall of 2009. He described the “bonus” and “boner” minutes and how they worked. The fact that bowling the night before the race, running into aid stations in costume, performing talent shows after running 80 miles, and eating cat food late in a race when one can barely stomach simple calories can all get you “bonus” minutes makes this event truly unique. Chris Scott the race director sounded like a complete nut… I had to meet him and experience this event of his.
Given that costumes and being creative are part of the event, I contacted my good friend, mentor, and hero, Pat McMurtry and explained the event to him. Within a day or two he signed up. He’s an incredibly talented runner and one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Pat is also going to marry Mindy and I in April, so he’s a special guy in my life in many ways. He is one of the most intelligent, mathematical, and quantitative people I know, but is also somehow one of the most creative and colorful people I know. I try to spend as much time with him as I can. Once Pat signed up for the event his preparation began. Not just training like a wild man, but planning out customes, wardrobe changes at aid stations, songs to sing to the aid station volunteers, gifts for people, documentation (video/photos) techniques, etc. He embodies all things Coyote Two Moon.
Pat and I flew down mid-day Thursday prior to the race. One of my other ulterior motives with this trip was to visit Hollywood Electrics where I scoped out several electric motorcycles (Zero, and Electric Motorsport GPR-S) I had been researching for a while. Afterwards we drove to Ventura and dressed up in costume for the pre-race bowling event. Our bowling team consisted of myself, Pat McMurtry, Karl Meltzer, Roch Horton, Betsy Nye, George V., and one guy whos name I don’t recall. I think we took second overall! We stayed in Ventura that evening.
The next morning we got our stuff together in the hotel room and then drove up to Ojai where we had breakfast and then watched the pre-race briefing. I received a whirly-bird hat which if Karl caught me he was to take from me. After that I dropped Pat off at the Thatcher School and then drove back into Los Angeles to visit with Hollywood Electrics one more time and then have dinner with a friend who works in the area. This friend owns a Tesla, which I got to ride in. Wow, that thing is sexy.
I got back to the Thatcher school at Midnight, but that didn’t matter much because I wasn’t starting until 9AM. When I arrived one of the earlier 100 mile groups was just starting so I cheered for them as they set off into the night. This is a unique event because there is a staggered start and your start-time is determined based on how long you and the RD think it is going to take you. If you think it will take 28 hrs, then your start time is 28 hrs before 9AM on Sunday. The absolute cutoff is 10AM, so by targeting 9AM you only have one hour of buffer with the absolute cutoff. This makes it a challenge for everyone from the back of the pack to Karl. I was put into the 24 hr category, which meant that I started at 9AM on Saturday morning and I “should” finish by 9AM on Sunday morning. I had 25 hrs to make the race cutoff at 10AM. With far from the proper amount of training I really felt that 25 hrs on a course like this (28kft’ of vert gain?) was a tall order, but I was up for trying.
At 9AM I was starting with the second wave of 100km runners. I quickly left them and was on my own. It turned out that I wouldn’t catch and pass a runner for the next 60 miles or so and really didn’t catch the “pack” until about mile 85. The course was stellar from the first step. It is characterized by big climbs that are all runnable. The mtns were much bigger than I anticipated and the trails were so damn good. The weather became imclement after about 15 mile into the race. By the time I summited TopaTopa it was complete white-out conditions. It was really a challenge to stay warm as running from the low points (~1000′ of elevation) up to 3,000-4,000′ of elevation it was raining hard so you were inevitably soaked. Then above the 3,000-4,000′ line it was below freezing and snowing, it was as recipe for hypothermia. In fact, this was the fate for most runners. 150 started and only ~30 finished! This was the lowest finishing rate I have seen at a 100 miler. This would set the tone for much of the race.
The race has you repeatedly leaving and then climbing back up to the Ojai ridge. Every descent was amazing and the climbs equally impressive. Despite the less than optimal conditions I was loving the course. The sun started to set as I came into Rose Valley for the second time, roughly mile 50. I finally put on something over my bare legs, which was much needed. The next sections would prove to be very cold and snowy. It wasn’t until Cozy Dell at mile 67.5 where I finally got to put on some warmer clothes. It was a battle to stay warm, which I guess kept me moving, stopping to rest wasn’t an option. I had seen Pat, Roch and Besty for the first time as I was decending down to Cozy Dell and they were climbing out. I knew that I’d likely catch them, which made it fun because I wanted the company of good friends. I saw them again on the next major descent down to Gridley Bottom and by the top of the climb back up to Gridley Top I finally caught Pat and Roch. It was great to see them both. We all knew that the next 8 miles on the ridge would be cold. After a mile or so and with limited brain functionality I took the turnoff to Howard Creek. It took me maybe a 1/2 mile before I realized what a stupid thing I had done, so I turned around, ran back to the ridge and was back on track again.
This point in the race was great because runners started popping up everywhere. I must have caught and passed 20 runners between mile 90 and the end. The sun started to rise as I had about 8 miles left which meant things also started warming up. When I hit the last aid station I turned it into high gear for the big descent to the finish line, which I crossed in ~23 hrs 15 min.
I waited for Pat, Roch, Betsy, Karl, and the rest of the crew to cross the finish line, after which we had a great breakfast and Chris Scott handed out some awards and belt buckles. While Karl finished behind me, he had started the race 3 hrs behind me. His finishing time was 21:05, the fastest time of the race. I was second in terms of time on the course, but the bonus/boner minutes haven’t been counted yet…
Verdict: This is a fabulous event, a very tough course, and we had very “memorable” conditions. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I’ll likely be back in 2011.