SILVERTON, July 24 7:25 a.m. – It’s on Saturday, July 14. There is a heavy mist locking in the tiny town of
You hear the countdown…five, four, three, two, one, cheers of excitement, and they’re off. The runners head toward
The course takes racers on an elevation rollercoaster the equivalent of running from sea level to the top of Mount Everest and back, all the while staying at an average elevation more than two miles above sea level. These runners have to go above 12,000 feet 13 times and 13,000 feet seven times, as well as summiting
These facts are all well and good if you are the runner who has been preparing for this race, but what about the loved ones who stay behind and watch as a family member decides to be “Wild and Tough?”
This year the superstar award has to go to Tana Wrublik. She is no stranger to the 100-mile race, as her husband Roger has been running them for as long as she can remember. She says Roger has run so many races she can hardly remember them all, but he has completed the Leadville Trail 100, HURT 100 in
This year is different for Tana. She has a little more on her plate and more at stake. After coming to Silverton from
Fortunately, by race day Jimmy decides to have a crew and Hardrock finisher, Bob Bachani, as a pacer. So, as Tana watches the men in her life run for the hills, she can rest a little easier knowing they are in good hands. Well, rest may not be the right word as no family member gets much while the race is on.
Word comes back fairly early that Jimmy is having trouble. At the Cunningham Aid Station, 9.2 miles into the run, his belly is hurting him. “It’s probably just his nerves. He was really nervous this morning before the race and didn’t eat,” Tana says. She suspects he may not be hydrating enough either. It can’t have been too serious because Jimmy pushes on.
At the Maggie Gulch aid station, 15.3 miles into the race, he waits. Jimmy spends 45 minutes resting and being watched by nurse and family friend, Lois Mackenzie. His stomach still hurts but Tana says that’s not unusual for him. He makes a deal with Lois to go up to the ridge and if he is still feeling bad he is to come back. Jimmy pushes on.
Back in town Tana sends me over to the Silverton School Gym, race headquarters, to get a message out to Jimmy asking if there is anything he needs at the Pole Creek aid station. We find out he hasn’t been eating much on the trail but his crew made him take an Ensure. It seems as though Jimmy is doing better; he only spends five minutes in Pole Creek, 19.6 miles into the race. Tana feels good about it. She says he must be OK if he’s in and out so quickly.
We find out that Jimmy will have a medical examination when he gets to the
The other factor is that nighttime is approaching and so is
I leave Tana for a couple hours, feeling good and knowing we’ll have a few hours before there is any more information. Not too long afterward I get a call from her, “The radios are down at
I’m at the hotel, I see Tana at the front desk. She gives me the look and I know Jimmy is back. “Where is he? Is he OK?” Tana tells me he’s fine, he’s in the kitchen. I find him with his little brother Gavin tailing him closely. I ask what happened. “My lungs were really hurting me. The medics told me I could continue if I wanted but I could permanently damage my lungs.”
Twenty-eight miles into the race Jimmy is out. He made the decision on his own terms. Tana comes in and asks if he wants to eat or sleep. “I don’t think I can sleep with Dad still out there.” When we get a moment alone I ask Tana how she feels. It’s hard but she is relieved. It is a rough decision to pull out of a race but Jimmy started the race after being sick and coughing a few days before which probably contributed to his sore lungs. Jimmy will have a rest and head out to crew for his dad.
Tana is less worried about Roger. He has finished the race twice and knows the deal. He’s already ahead of the splits he left Tana. Now, we wait. That is something every Hardrock runner’s spouse is pretty good at, waiting. For some the wait is not so long. Scott Jurek’s wife only had to wait 26 hours, 8 minutes and 34 seconds as he annihilated the course record by 27 minutes, with a sprained ankle he got while playing soccer with the kids on Monday night. Karl Meltzer, four-time winner and defending champion, only kept his friends and family waiting 28:59; and Krissy Moehl came in after 29:24, breaking the women’s course record. For most of the first time Hardrock runners, just finishing is great but then there are those that are out for personal bests like Emily Baer, women’s second place finisher, eighth overall and Silverton local. Baer, who has finished the Hardrock five times, had her personal-best, improving her time by four-and-a-half hours and finishing in 31:41.34, all the while nursing baby Bernard at aid stations.
As Saturday goes on and racers kiss the rock – the traditional way to end your race – positive news keeps coming in for Tana. She manages a surprise visit to the Chapman Gulch aid station 82 miles into the race. “He was so surprised; I know he wasn’t expecting me to be there,” she says.
Roger is also having belly pain. Tana says she knew he would tell her things he wouldn’t tell his crew. “He was getting tired so he drank a Coke. (Apparently a big mistake.) He should have had a flat Coke. Now he has all that gas in his belly, but he’ll be all right.” She says the hardest thing about these races is seeing you’re big strong man so vulnerable. “You’re not supposed to see that.”
Tana comes back from Chapman revitalized after seeing her husband of nearly 26 years. “He thinks he’s doing bad because his belly hurts but I told him he’s two hours ahead of his splits,” she says.
Originally she thought Roger would be coming in around , but with the faster pace than expected it looked like he could be in earlier. Of course, there is the unknown of what will happen after dark. Jokingly, I ask Tana if she told Roger to pick it up a bit more so we wouldn’t have to stay up so late.
I leave her at the hotel with a plan to call me when she has a more definitive time of arrival. About half an hour later, Tana bursts though my front door saying Roger is already through the KT aid station and he should be in sometime between 10:30 and 11 p.m. “He’s with Bob now; Bob will keep him laughing and his mind off the race.”
With only about two hours left, we are again left to wait.
Tana heads over to the school to cheer friends in while I make phone calls to all of Tana’s local friends telling them the good news. We haul our kids out of bed to go greet Roger. The Wrublick boys are in the street waiting for their dad as are his friends. We see lights bobbing up the road toward us. “Is it them?” Tana and Jimmy can tell from the way the lights bounce with the runner’s stride. “No, that’s not them.” We cheer the runner in and wait. The wait seems like forever but it’s only an hour later when the right bobbing lights come up the street. Tana yells out, “Bob, if that’s you, you better say something!” And he hollers back his standard reply, “That’s what I’m talkin’ about.” The group cheers, we know it’s them. We all jog over to the big rock in front of the school gym. Roger kisses the rock for the third time at 11 p.m., and Tana at 11:01 p.m.