Monday, November 21, 2016

TMR - Till We Meet in Hell VII

TMR - Till We Meet in Hell VII

November 20, 2016

Thorncraig Bird Sanctuary, Trail Monster Running end of season run and gathering.

The end of season gathering came a little earlier than normal this year, at least earlier than those that i have had the opportunity to be a part of. Saturday the day before was a gorgeous day with temps in the high 50's and it was a little teaser of warmth in late November. Unfortunately the weather would not hold for the TWMiH event. 

Woke up Sunday bright and early to get things ready and pack my car. I had completed the TMR season slide show so i had things to bring along to present the slide show. I walked out my door to load the car and realized it was raining so i needed to rethink my gear for the run. Rain has never stopped this group before so i knew it would still be a great turn-out, which it was.

The chart was completed by Valerie and handicaps figured by Jeff, all was set for an exciting run. 

The TMR flag was set, the Demer music was on and the run began. I heard many stories, fun and laughs throughout the Thorncraig woods as we all ran the course. An hour and half to get in what you can. Some took off with competition in their eyes and having fun challenging each other, others enjoying the woods and the company. Their were young and older this day. The kids hiked, walked and one ran a few loops.

It got a bit chilly during the run, especially after the hour and half stopped. Everyone headed for their cars to change into dry clothes and head to Guthries for food, spirits, fun and hanging out with friends. Others that could not be at the run attended at Guthries. It was a great crowd and always love seeing everyone together having fun, laughing, being silly and just enjoying each others company. 

Great food, slide show rolled on, awards were given for the run. Ryan and Ian gave their end of season presentation of everyone's accomplishments and how the season went. We are all looking forward to the newest TMR event, Riverlands 100. Scout and Squirrel are heading the charge and have this event well organized and participants registered already. 

It was a great season and i feel so very fortunate to have so many amazing friends surrounding me. They are all incredible and i look forward to seeing and hearing of what 2017 will bring. I can't wait to take more of my blurry pictures, hahaha, and meet in hell next year to celebrate. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Trail Monster Running Big Brad Ultras 2016

Trail Monster Running - BBU - October 16, 2016
50k & 50 Miler
Bradbury Mountain State Park & Pownal Elementary School - Pownal, Maine

It was a great weekend for the BBU this year. Saturday was a bright sunny and warm day and Sunday was to be just as nice. The leaf peepers were going to be out in full force again as the vibrant colorful foliage was nearing its end. 

Valerie, Mindy and Ian had been working hard to get things all organized and now it was Saturday and time to set up for all the incredible ultra runners that will be seeking the all so popular HOODY after completing their chosen distance.

Many volunteers arrived Saturday morning to help and we all got busy checking of tasks written on the list. Before too long it was basically ready to go. Course markings, leaf blowing, start/finish line, timing area, aid stations, drop bags......all was ready. 

Jamie and Kate had planned to camp at the Bradbury Campground so i roped then into hiking and checking the portion of the course that runners would be traversing in dark conditions. We had a great hike and a ton of fun........"Porcupine Poop, Porcupine Poop, i smell porcupine poop"......hahahaha. The new section of the course through the boulder field prompted some song from Squatch. we then enjoyed some spirits and a campfire before rest for the night.

Sunday morning arrived and we were all up early to be at the Pownal Elementary School at 4am to set up registration and get the venue awoken for runners arriving. Soon the gymnasium was full of life and eager runners. 

Volunteers filtered to their assigned tasks. It's simply amazing to see volunteers jump into action and just know what needs to be done to help care for these runners and keep them happy, fed, fueled, safe and moving forward to their goal. 

I have been part of this amazing group for 6 years and they have all become my family. I am so fortunate to be a pert of the family. There is never a day i am not impressed with the devotion and friendship they offer. Trail Monsters are the best. 

Here are a few photos from the weekend, but there are so many more. 

Thanks for all the fun and memories again this year everyone. I look forward to next year, who knows, maybe next year i will run the event again. Congrats to all my TMR teammates for an awesome job and efforts in their events. You all are badasses. Rest, Recover and Reflect. 

See you all next year in October to celebrate ultra running again at the Brad BBU.

Halfbomb out.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Humbled by a Once in a Life Time Experience on the Appalachian Trail through Maine with Scott Jurek, Renowned Ultra Runner and Author
By John E Rodrigue, Trail Monster Running Club

It all began with an email from my good friend Ian Parlin, Trail Monster Running Club president and one of the clubs founders. The email explained that Ian and his wife, Emma, and their daughter Iona were hiking up Madison in NH and had come across Scott Jurek, on the AT trail, had a few words and then, by coincidence, met up with Scott’s wife Jenny and his crew in the parking lot on their return from hiking. As Ian discussed the Trail Monster Running Club and its members, he offered to help in any way that might be needed. Surprisingly, Timmy O’Neil, Scott Jurek’s crew chief at the time, took Ian up on his offer.

It was at that point, Sunday July 5,2015, that the email was sent out to members of the Trail Monster Running Club that would have the understanding, skills and knowledge of the Maine AT trails and/or navigational skills to assist Scott and his crew through Maine’s sections of the AT and roadways. Fortunately and humbly, my name was on the email list.

The email simply explained that our job would be to get Scott to his ultimate goal of breaking the Fastest Known Time (FKT) from South to North through Maine’s rugged section of the AT. It wasn’t about meeting Scott and asking questions or being able to run with one of the most well-known Ultra Runners in the world, it was about getting, a fellow Ultra runner, to his ultimate goal.

This is where it all begun, I was incredibly humbled and honored to have been on the list. I have expressed to my club members as to how this group has changed my life, this was one of those times. I immediately contacted my place of employment as to my request to take 5 days of vacation with no notice. They were a bit hesitant at first, although, I explained that if I was not allowed to take the time off I would be composing my resignation. This was an opportunity of a life time that I was not going to allow to pass. Needless to say, I am still employed, thankfully.

My plan was to leave on Tuesday July 7, 2015 and meet several other Trail Monsters that had already joined Scott’s team, Mindy Slovinsky and Mike Carbone and Scott Jurek’s crew at South Arm Road AT crossing in Andover to let them know I was available to help in any way they needed. Once I arrived, I was greeted by my teammates, Mindy and Mike. We discussed their time on the trail and how things were looking and they shared any details they had with me regarding what had been happening and how Scott was doing. This is when i met Hazel. Hazel was Scott's super fan. She was with the crew hanging out and wanting to be a part of the action. She had been following Scott's tracker and knew his every move. She was his super fan. Hazel was a great lady willing to help in any way.

At this point it seemed things were a bit unclear as to what was happening so I had to focus on the job at hand, but soon I was greeted by Timmy O’Neil, Scott’s right hand man, the General of the operation, so to speak. The President of the operation was Jenny, of course. She made the final decisions. Jenny is Scott’s wife. Timmy hauled me aside, into my car, and had me roll the windows up, close the sunroof and create an air tight atmosphere, as he didn’t like the flying insects Maine has to offer, hahaha, and asked me one question…….”Why are you here”?

My response was simple, “I am here to get Scott to the summit of Katahdin in record time and to help you in any way needed to make it happen. ”Timmy’s response was….”You’re in”. He then proceeded to yell…..”Holy shit, they are here. ”I looked over my left shoulder at the exit of the AT trail onto South Arm Road and there I see Scott Jurek, for the first time in Maine. He was  running towards us with Mike Carbone pacing right behind him. It was just Mike with Scott on that section. They were in ahead of time and caught everyone off guard as the crew was not ready for their speedy timing. It turned out that the adventure would begin at that point for me. Scott decided that he needed several hours of sleep before continuing so we all set up tents, found our cars or a spot along the road and got some sleep. The plan was to be up at 4am to continue the journey.

I had literally loaded my car with everything I owned and would get me through 6-7 days of running/hiking on the AT. Tents, Coleman stoves, table top grill, 10 gallons of water, blankets, sleeping bags, gear for every weather condition imaginable, maps, everything I owned for running gear and every hiking pack I owned. Oh yeah, and I can’t forget all my first aid kits that my running friends often poke fun at me about.

Well, my first night on the AT at South Arm Road did not go without excitement. We had mentioned to the crew that setting up where we were might not be the best idea. Tenting or sleeping on the shoulder or near the shoulder of a busy logging road was not ideal and frankly dangerous. Loggers don’t pay attention to things in the road and they travel fast with loaded trucks. Often when they hit something in the road, they don’t stop to see what it was, but we needed sleep and needed to hit the sack. During the wee hours of the morning a ruckus arose. It was 3am in the morning and as I slept I heard a vehicle coming down the road at a good rate of speed. It was not any cause for alarm other than the sounds of what sounded like a horse running down the pavement!!!! Yes, you guessed it, it was a moose being chased down the road by a vehicle. Moose are not the most agile creatures on a pavement surface. I arose and peered out the unzipped portion of my tent as Mike slept peacefully until I spoke the words….”Mike, Mike, it’s a moose, wake up!. He didn’t really get up! I saw the moose coming right at our tent only to see it spontaneously dart into the woods on the opposite side of the road only a few feet from our tent. If the moose had continued its path it surely would have run us over. The vehicle behind it just sped by like nothing ever happened. Well, due to the ruckus, everyone was up and stirring except Mike, he had fallen back asleep as I'm not sure he believed me. It was soon after the logging trucks were running and it was time to get the hell out of there.

Everyone was up and moving. Scott’s van had some movement as Scott and Jenny were awake and getting ready. It was very early. Luis and Chris were gearing up to take Scott through the next section from South Arm Road to Route 17, Height of Land in Township D, just outside of Rangeley. We wished them good luck and sent them off into the wilderness and said we would see them on the other side. The rest of us packed our gear and headed into the town center of Andover to The Little Red Hen restaurant for a good breakfast and an opportunity for Jenny to do laundry as we knew the next several segments we may not be able to get it done. We arrived a bit early, before opening time, so we all took the opportunity to catch up on phone calls, texts and messages. I took some time to check in on Iron Joe and get his plan for joining us to guide Scott through the 100 mile wilderness and for Joe to arrive and give his wisdom about the 100 mile logistics. He would be joining in and meeting us at Route 16/27. I was looking forward to seeing him.

We all then walked into Little Red Hen Restaurant, kindly greeted by a very nice young waitress who sat us for breakfast. I believe I had pancakes, bacon, sausage and scrambled eggs. This might be the last real breakfast I have for a few days. As we sat and ate our meal, I learned about Timmy and Jenny. Timmy is a motivational speaker and stand-up comedian. He proved his comedic talents for the next several days. Jenny was not only a runner but a professional rock climber. She also spoke of her connections to Maine as she had friends who attended Bowdoin College. To our surprise, Hazel walked in the restaurant as we were sitting there. She had her tablet and was following Scott with the Delorme tracker website. She knew his every move. At one point as we talked with her, she stated to Timmy that he must be tired of her obsession with Scott. Timmy promptly responded....."Hazel, YOUR obsession with Scott has become my obsession" was tough to hold back the laughter but Hazel was actually a great lady and really wanted to help. We realized that we needed to get to the Height of Land soon as Scott was getting closer to that check point. Only there was an issue. Jenny had started a load of laundry at the restaurant, as they had a washer and dryer, and it wasn't done yet. Graciously, Hazel offered to stay and make sure it got done and no she would deliver it to Jenny at the Height of Land. We all jumped in our vehicles and off we drove. I knew these roads well from my work in the region as a MaineDOT Project Manager so we took the short route.

Once we arrived in Township D at the Height of Land, Route 17, we parked at the new scenic outlook that I helped design and build years prior as a Project Manager at MaineDOT. It was a proud moment to see AT through hikers, sightseeing folks and others enjoying its beauty. It was the most beautiful day, the sun was bright and warm and it just raised my energy. Sitting there with the crew awaiting Scott's arrival was fun and exciting. A group of through hikers had come up the trail before Scott, Chris and Luis. I walked down to greet them and they were happy to know they were near the town of Rangeley and could get hot meals there. As we discussed their AT journey they asked if we were with Scott Jurek's crew, I answered “yes”. They were extremely excited and asked to hang around to meet him. They waited along with us for Scott and pacers to arrive. We had lots of fun repacking our gear, making fun conversation, we picked up whoopee pies and Moxie for the camera crew to taste. We had learned they had never had whoopie pies or Moxie. It was great to see them react to the whoopie pies and then drink the Moxie, honestly, not a great combination at all. I am not sure the Moxie was a fan favorite. Maybe it was the combination or my explaining I used to use Moxie to clean the rust from my bike as a kid. I also learned that Hunter, the camera crew chief, was from Falmouth, ME. Who would have guessed! This was a time of completing the organizing of vehicles, chatting, getting to know each other, enjoy the scenic views and laugh and have fun. It was very clear that the segments ahead were going to be more secluded and tougher.

It had been decided that Mindy (Squirrel) and Mike (Chaski) would gear up to guide Scott from Height of Land to the next check point at Route 4, roughly a 15 mile stretch. Mike and Mindy got their gear ready and were all set to go. As we all waited there it was apparent that Scott had slowed, there was concern of the mood. Scott, Luis and Chris soon arrived. They climbed the hill into the scenic overlook and headed right for the van to refuel and restock for the next segment. Before continuing the next segment.

He, Luis and Chris had appeared at the wood line as they climbed to the parking area. There the care of Scott took place as it had so many times before. It was precise, methodical and calculated. Like a finely tuned watch. It was impressive to see how well it all clicked. Scott had the through hiker group get together for a photo. They were very happy to have waited for Scott’s arrival and have the photo op.

It was here at Height of Land I learned I would be joining Scott with Chris to run the stretch from Route 4 in Sandy River Plantation to Route 27/16 in Wyman Township, roughly a 32 mile stretch. We would be running through the night and having to lay-over at Spaulding lean-to for 4 hours to get Scott some rest. I began my prep and getting my gear together. This stretch was going to be fun and rugged. It had great technical climbs over Saddleback, The Horn, Saddleback Jr, Lone, Spaulding, Crocker Mountains. It turns out that between the food and gear we needed to carry weighed about 30-35lbs for each Chris and I. I was happy to have included my 33 liter pack into my gear before leaving home, it came in handy for this section, very handy.

While Mike and Mindy were on the trail from Height of Land, we all headed into Rangeley to sit and have a hot meal at the Red Onion, a great local iconic restaurant. I had spoken very highly of its great food. We had thoughts of sitting and eating but it was busy and the service was slow that day. We sat for a half hour, or more, waiting for our food and had light, fun and interesting conversations while we waited. We were getting to know each other and asking fun questions. Timmy ended up waiting for the food while we all traveled to the next check point as we did not miss Scott and pacers arriving at the check point. Jenny stopped in Rangeley at the local grocerie store to resupply the van with her food needs and we all fueled up the vehicles and headed out. Once we got to the check point, Chris and I prepared and loaded our backpacks, we split the gear out and equaled the load as best we could. Jenny made sure we had plenty of food for Scott to last the 32 miles. I believe it ended up being around 35lbs of food. We had to pack gear, food, fluids and everything we needed not only for Scott but ourselves as well. It was going to be a long time in the wilderness and we needed to have what we needed to stay energized and strong.

I’m going to answer the question, that my TMR friends are asking themselves right now, Yes, I carried a first aid kit and it had feminine napkins in it. Hahahaha.

As Scott, Mindy and Mike appeared at the parking area at Route 4 they informed us as to how their segment had gone, how Scott was feeling and reacting to the terrain, his eating and getting in fluids. It gave us an idea of what we would be facing in our overnight 32 miler.

I gave Mike and Mindy a congratulatory hug as they were heading home after a few days of running with Scott and helping him through some rugged terrain. Just before I headed out I explained to Mike that the plan had changed and we were packing heavy. He reached over and grabbed my pack and said...."John, that pack is heavy, are you sure you will be good for 32 miles?"......I was going to make it work and I was there to do what I needed to do to get Scott to that record so a little sacrifice was expected. Little did he know, I had concern in my own mind as I was unsure of the climbing and terrain, but my training this year had lots of Mountainous climbing, so I was in good shape and relied on that to get me through. It was time to suck it up and get it done.

Once Scott was fed, watered, and tended to at the van we said our goodbyes. I was sad to see Mike and Mindy head out, but it knew Joe was on his way to join in the adventure soon and another teammate was joining in. We took a moment to get a Trail Monster photo with Scott then gave each other hugs and wished good luck. I peered over my shoulder as I entered the trail and noticed the expression on both Mindy and Mikes was and expression of pride, a look of wanting to continue to support this adventure and goal. I will never forget that moment we parted ways and how proud I was to be their teammate and friend.

It was also at this point Timmy O'Neil would also be departing. He had prior engagements and had to fly out with Luis Escobar. They had to drive their rental car to Bangor to fly out. There was no easy way to do this as there was no direct route. I did learn later that day that Luis was scheduled to be back before Scott hit the 100 mile wilderness.  I said my goodbyes to Timmy and he gave me a hug and asked that I stay in touch with him as to where we were and the progress. He then looked at me and said...."Don't let him slow down, keep him moving and get him to that record, its going to be close". That stuck with me.

The other thing that will stick with me is seeing Timmy at the summit of Saddleback with PBR's in his hand. The climb up Saddleback was long and difficult and having that beer was awesome. Chris and I pounded the PBR's down and caught back up to Scott as the film crew wanted shots of him alone coming out if the fog so we lagged behind for a bit. Timmy also promised to have beer waiting for us when we finished that 32 mile stretch and I will be damned, he did. he had placed a six pack of PBR in my cooler packed with ice as he was moving my car ahead for me. It was unfortunate that Chris couldn't enjoy them with me as he had to recompose himself as a photographer again and head right back out on trail with Scott. Chris is a beast. He had little to no sleep and then repacked his gear and camera and headed back out.

as Timmy departed, The crew of Topher Gaylord, Kim Gaylord, Krissy Moehl were due to arrive at the next check point to take over until the end.

Up to this point the weather had been perfect. Sunny, warm days but not too humid. Although, rain was now in the forecast for this 32 mile section, and the meteorologists did not disappoint. It wasn't very long before the heavens open the flood gates. We had light to heavy rain and it lasted through the night to Spaulding lean-to. It wasn't just dealing with the rain, it brought the wind, fog and slippery terrain. This section had a lot of climbing on ledge and large rock deposit areas which can be slippery when wet, and it was. Footing had to be deliberate and calculated. I led the group through most of this section other than the first several miles where Chris had lead.

The rain made it fun and interesting to say the least, but when we the fog rolled in, that's when it got dicey. I tried to stay back enough for Scott to see my line and foot placements but also wanted to be far enough ahead to try and motivate Scott to push harder to stay with me as I was pushing the pace. I worked hard to climb, fast and efficiently and keep Scott moving. Between Chris and me, we were reminding Scott of the top and bottom of the hour so that he would eat and drink and how well he was moving and that we were making great time through this section.

I can verify that Scott Jurek is an efficient eating machine. His eating habits while running are incredibly spot-on. This man can put some food down. But along with eating comes bodily functions. Yes, the body has to disperse waste and gasses. Scott had several AT trail names that were shared with his crew only. One name was, “Motor Boat”. This trail name came about due to the way Scott would expel his breath on his exhale. He would exhale and let his lips flap to make a motor boat sound, hence the name motor boat. The other Trail name was “Crop Duster” as he passed gas frequently as you might imagine one would if eating as much as he did and it was like a plane crop dusting fields. It's hard to believe he lost 30lbs during the entire adventure. Jenny had packed plenty of food and it truly was amazing to see Scott eat every last bit of it.

We worked hard through this section. Scott commented on how relentlessly unforgiving the terrain is and how it plays on the mind constantly. We had several Jurek fans find us along the way and join in to run for a short time. I remember a 19 year old guy, Tyler. He was also a Nordic skier like Scott, so there was good interesting conversation for a length of time. The one thing I remember is Tyler asking what his favorite part of the run was for him! Scott slowed, looked over his shoulder and said "Definitely not this part". We all got a chuckle about his response. Once Tyler peeled off after we reached a gravel road crossing, it was back to some silent times and concentration. I would break the silence on occasion to let him know we were doing well and moving along quickly. I could hear Chris and Scott behind me having discussions as we moved along but I couldn't always hear or understand the topics.

The mountains came in this order…..from Route 4 in Sandy River Plantation over Saddleback, The Horn, Saddleback Jr, Poplar Ridge, Lone, Spaulding, Sugarloaf, Crocker Mountains to Route 16/27 at the border of Woman Township and Carrabassett Valley.

The plan was to steadily run to Spaulding Mountain lean-to then to bed down and get a few hours, hopefully 4 hours, of sleep. This would all depend on how well we were progressing. Chris and I checked in with each other along the way as to our movement and we were assessing Scott as well and deciding if we may need to bed down prior to Spaulding. since we were moving well, even though darkness had fallen, we kept moving and forging ahead.

As we climbed these beautiful, rugged, technical and brutal mountains the rain was steady. It seemed to be negligent as far as slowing us down much. It was only when the fog rolled in that it seemed to possibly slow us down. It was only seemingly though as we kept a good hard steady pace through the nasty trying weather. There were several times that it became so difficult to see the infamous white blazes. As I lead through the fog, we had to stop to verify we were on trail and had not wondered off. Scott was extremely cautious and conscious of staying on trail. There was one short section of trail where it appeared the Appalation Trail Club had relocated the trail but had not yet fully marked the new location or removed the blazes on the old section so when we realized this was the case we back-backtracked and did both sections to assure we did not go off trail as it is known.

There was a funny occurance on the trail. We passed a lean-to along the way and there was a througo hiker sitting there talking on his cell phone so we ran past and just said hey as we cruised by. He acknowledged with a hey in return. As we got by him he yells out...."Is that Scott Jurek?".....Scott replies...."yes".....but we kept running and I could hear him say to the person on the other end of the phone call...."Holy shit, Scott Jurek just ran by me"..... it was maybe 5 minutes later the hiker caught up to us running. He had run to catch us to hopefully get a photo with Scott. The funny Thing is he ran a long distance on the rugged terrain in a pair of pink crocks. Scott, Chris and I all wondered if he was actually through hiking in pink crocks.

The stretch between Route 4 and Spaulding lean-to was the most difficult. It was mostly in the darknees, in the rain, in the fog and wind. It was a distance of roughly 19-20 miles. We had arrived at Spaulding around 1:30-2:00am. Chris and I had talked about what needed to be done as we got to the lean-to as to be as efficient as possible as to give Scott as much sleep as possible. I would get Scott's food out and ready and get him fed and then get his change of clothes ready for him. Chris would set up his tent and get his sleeping pad, sleeping bag ready for him to just jump in the tent and sleep. Chris then got his tent up and ready. I got my bivy sack and sleeping bag liner that Mike let me borrow prepared to sleep under the stars, but yes, it was raining. Poor planning on my part.
Scott finished eating, changed into dry clothes and bedded down for 4 hours of sleep. Chris also jumped into his tent as 4 hours would pass quickly. I jumped into my bivy and felt good about our journey so far in this section.

It want long after we bedded down that the rain got a bit more intense, this is where it got dicey for me. I was exposed to the elements in my bivy. I was warm and cozy for about an hour and half then the chills started. the next 2 1/2 hours were concerning. I began shivering uncontrollably and had to get up and walk around while trying not to wake anyone. We were not the only ones at the site. The site was packed. The lean-to was literally wall to wall bodies in sleeping bags and there were several tents set up around the site. We actually had to poke around for a somewhat flat area to pitch the tents. My 2 1/2 hours went slowly. I found myself counting the minutes until we set out again, not a good thing when needing sleep. This was the first time I've ever had concern I might become hypothermic. I tried to focus on pleasant things and the section we had ahead and seeing the crew and meeting Joe. It seemed to work and next thing I know it was time to get Scott up and get going again. I was very pleased to be moving and getting warm. It didn't take long to heat up.

We are back on trail and rested and pressing on for roughly another 12-13 miles. It was light out, the sun was peering through the remaining clouds and the day was looking pretty good. We still had Spaulding and Crlocker Mountains to deal with. There were major climbs ahead and brutal technical descents to negotiate.

All three of us were happy to have gotten some sleep and were eager to get through the next few mlies. It seemed to go pretty well and quickly. We had more conversation and chatting along this stretch and enjoyed the beauty. We talked about Maine facts and why we call it Vacationland. We discussed other beautiful areas of Maine worthy of a visit, its coastline and islands, light houses and cities. Before we knew it, we were descending to Route 16/27 Check point. It was a brutal and very difficult descent as many areas it was necessary to slide down portions on our butts due to its steepness and technicality, although, we moved through this very well and quickly without incident.

We had reached the check point. Chris and I had asked what Scott what he needed or wanted prior to the check point and we conveyed that to the crew when we got there. We get Scott to the crew van and it was amazing to see the excitement he had to see his new crew of Topher, Kim and Krissy. He seemed to have found a burst of energy that the rugged wilderness had stripped away.   He now seemed energized and ready to get back at it. Chris and I then let the crew know how it went and what we encountered and how Scott appeared to be doing. The crew was right on top of it and working to assess Scott and be ready for the next long stretch.

The first thing I noticed was Iron Joe standing there and how many people were in the parking area. Many had come to meet Scott and have a phot op. Just before Scott headed out he took a minute to have his picture with his fans. Joe then approached me and shook my hand and we had a quick bro hug and asked if I needed anything....he then pointed out that Rebecca and Ally had traveled to the check point and were awaiting our arrival. I walked up to the parking area and greeted them with hugs as it was so awesome to see my friends and teammates coming out to support Scott and the Trail Monsters. To my amazement and surprise they had filled a cooler with food, drinks and ice for me. I was so happy. They set up a chair and had me sit and eat and enjoy the food and I totally enjoyed chatting with them and sharing the moment. They insisted I keep the cooler and its contents which came in handy throughout the remainder of the adventure. It definitely got plenty of use. They soon left the check point as they were going to they and hike ahead if Scott and see him on the trail and then do their own hike. I am so grateful for my friends.

I believe Krissy took over pacing with Scott to the next check point which would be at Route 201 in Caratunk. This distance was another long one with one intermediate check point at the road crossing at Flag Staff Lake. It was planned that they would arrive at Flagstaff Road in the dark and that is what happened. After Krissy and Scott were back on trail we knew it was going to be a bit of time until we saw them again so we thought  that we could head into Kingfield go to the market to restock food and supplies as the available opportunities would be sparse from here on out. Also, it was the perfect time to find a place to sit and discuss the logistics of the 100 Mile Wilderness which was a concern for Scott’s crew.

We found a nice spot to have a good meal, sit in the sun, dry out gear and lay out maps and discuss logistics. Joe was the key to the 100 mile remote area. Joe had made several attempts to run the 100 Mile Wilderness in under 48 hours and finally did it on his third attempt. This was an amazing feat to say the least as Iron Joe did it unsupported and solo. The Trail Monsters have a belt buckle for those that complete the 100 Mile Wilderness under 48 hours and some have attempted but not completed in that time frame.

Joe was the perfect person/Ultra runner to assist the crew and Guide Scott through this terrain as he was most familiar with it. We all sat and discussed the trail, terrain, driving navigation, logging road restrictions, gates and timing, nights and days they would be on the trail and any other logistics and restrictions that could pose an issue. A plan was set in place and everyone was on board. It was great to work with Tof, Kim and Jenny. Everyone was very professional and calculated in their thoughts and scheduling the remainder of the run in hopes to get Scott to the record, but ultimately it was up to Scott.

It was hear that I discussed with Scott’s crew that I am there to help in anyway, although, my main concern at that point was to crew and care for Joe. It would be extremely important that I be there for Joe. He would need someone to make sure he has all he needs to make it through the sections he would be running, stay fed, stay hydrated and be happy. Basically not have to worry about much at all. My job as his teammate was to keep him happy. At this point I really hadn’t had to do much, but that would change soon. More on that subject to come.

We all traveled to Flagstaff Road, Joe in his car, me in mine and Jenny and Kim in the crew van. We got there pretty early so we all took time to catch some sleep, organize our gear, get ready for Krissy and Scott’s arrival and refresh a bit by washing down.

We had plenty of time to chat and get to know each other. We talked about most anything and interest we all had and how the adventure has gone since leaving Georgia. We also discussed how we felt that we needed to crackdown on getting this done as time was seemingly growing short for the record. We decided that we would greet any other through hikers, fans or day hikers and politely mention to them that we have a job to do and time is short so we would keep moving along and not take too much time stopping for conversation or photo’s.

It was beginning to get later in the day and there was a bit of concern as to the time. We had expected them sooner, but we all did not know what they were facing as it is a tough section through the Bigelow Mountain Range. It is tough rocky climbing that would be slow and tedious. As we discussed where they might be Joe had decided to gear up and run back on trail to meet them. Joe was itching to get running and join in the fun so it was good to get him moving and thinking about the 100 mile wilderness section which he would be guiding Scott.

Joe headed back on trail and it seemed like he was gone for a long time. Darkness had come, the crew got a bit more concerned but we knew they were still moving. I kept walking to the trail head on the road, It wasn’t too long after dark that I spotted two headlamps up the mountain, which confused me as there should have been three. Did something happen, did someone get injured, who might it be? Well, those thoughts quickly went away as I saw three dark outlined bodies emerge from the woods onto the gravel road. It appeared Joe’s headlamp was not on, Fewwwwww, thank goodness everyone is here and safe.

Scott was directed to the van and was tended to. Everyone looked great, a bit tired but looked great. Topher was ready to join Krissy as she was going to continue to Caratunk. Krissy had to restock her food, fluids and gear as they knew they would be out there through the night and need to bed down for the night at some point. Both Krissy and Topher laid out all the gear they would need between themselves and Scott and split the load. It wasn’t too long after they arrived that they were ready to get back on the trail. I think Tof knew in his mind that they couldn’t let Scott stay at the check points for extended periods, so he pushed to get going quickly and if they needed to rest it would be done on the trail.

From Flag Staff Road they would hope to make it to a lean-to at Peirce pond during the night. If he couldn't make it that far without sleep they would bed down somewhere on the trail that made sense. They ended up bedding down in a random area for a good sleep period. I can't remember how long but 4-5 hours of sleep comes to mind.

We directed them to the trail head and said our goodbyes and wished them well. The crew then packed up and headed to Caratunk the easy way, on paved or gravel roads, it just didn’t seem right.

While the three of them were on trail the rest of us knew we had to get to the next check point and it was a good distance away. The crew also had to finalize the arrangements for Scott to get across the Kennebec River. They had contacted a local rafting company that could offer canoes and personnel to camp out and wait for Scott to get to the west bank of the Kennebec in Caratunk. of course nobody had any idea how long it would be before Scots arrival. It was estimated it would be in the early hours of the morning.

As Scott, Tof and Krissy were out on trail the rest of the crew gathered and decided we would head right out to Caratunk and I expressed my concern for everyone's safety. We were ALL sleep deprived at this point and it was a long drive on secluded roads in the dark with high probability of seeing large wildlife in the road. I suggested we stay close together and if someone was having trouble staying awake we flash out headlights as to stop and take a break. We ended up stopping twice to get fresh air and stretch out and wake up a bit. The one thing we didn't want was for the crew to be unsafe.

Once we got to Caratunk we ran into Aron Ralston and Walter Edwards. Aron lives in boulder and is friends with Scott and are practically neighbors. Walter is also an old friend of Scotts from Boulder. They flew in to Maine to help Scott to his record breaking goal. At the time, Joe and I realized the company we were in. Scott being a renowned Ultra runner and author, his wife Jenny who I understand is an accomplished climber and runner, Krissy also being a renowned Ultra runner, Tof being the founder of the Mountain Hardware and an accomplished Ultra runner, Kim his wife being an Ultra runner, Aron being the man featured in the film 127 Hours and an accomplished climber, Walter being an Ultra runner and all around great guy. We were in great company but as Joe an me understood, we were all just good people wanting to help an Ultra running friend to a record breaking goal in the Maine wilderness. After we greeted Walter and Aron we immediately found the off road parking for the trail head that was on the east side of the Kennebec then we all set up camp there, some in tents and most in vehicles. At this point Joe and I each had our cars. This was going to be an issue from here on out as we couldn't move two cars ahead so we decided we would get our cars to Monson, the location of the 100 mile wilderness and then we would use my car for the remainder of the trip.

We all got a decent night sleep here. It felt great and was needed as the next few days would be sleep deprivation again.

The morning came, we all awoke and started preparing for the runners arrival. We were now on the east side of the Kennebec awaiting the runners which meant they had to arrive at rivers edge, get into the canoes that were waiting and be portaged across. Kim, who is now the general of the operation, asked that Joe and I go to the river and spot Scott when he gets to the river and let them know. Little did Joe and I know that when we got to the river we would see the canoes waiting on the other side of the river. As we stood there waiting for the gentleman, John, we learned when we met him, would paddle to our side of the river and ask if we were there for Scott Jurek. We answered "Yes". He then said, I can't wait any longer, we expected him here sooner and I have to leave.

At that moment, a bit of panic hit Joe and I because we thought we were losing Scotts transport across the river. But then, John the canoe guy asked...."Do you two want to take the canoe over and paddle them across?" Joe and I looked at each other as though we were kids in a candy store with giant smokes and said "well yeahhhh". John the canoe guy asked if we knew how to paddle. canoe, my response was .... "we live in Maine and if we can't paddle a canoe we shouldn't be living here".

Joe and I then got our life vests on, got into the canoe and paddle to the west side of the river and met up with the other canoe which was handled by Judy. Now Judy looked familiar to me but not sure why. Come to find out Judy has done some ultra running and had raced at Pineland and Big Brad. How ironic is that? We were very excited that we are now involved with getting him across the river. We went from Ultra pacers/runners to canoeist extrodinaire.

Shortly after we chatted, along came Scott, Krissy and Tof from the trail with great excitement and joy to be at the check point. It had been a long night in the wilderness and yet Scott seemed very eager to get into the canoe. He had a smoke like no other time. He got his vest on with a little help and jumped into the front of the canoe and immediately grabbed a paddle and started to paddle which he didn't really need to do but it was great to see him so excited to do something other than run on those gnarley trails. We got across safely, Joe and I pulled the canoes out up on shore as we were directed to do and then caught up to the crew. At the van there was yet another celebration as Scott did not know Aron and Walter would be waiting here for him. Again he had a burst of energy to have new life as old friends and familiar faces join him.

Scott had food, fluids and gear waiting for him at the van as Jenny was always ready with whatever Scott needed and prepared to have his gear and nutrition packed and ready for the next segment as to not waste time getting him back on the trail.

From here Walter and Aron would take Scott through the next section from Caratunk to a road crossing at the head of Moxie Pond, I believe Troutdale Road, roughly 9-10 miles. The travel to this check point was obviously getting more difficult as we traveled on the back country logging roads. There were areas that my little silver Ford Fiesta was having some difficulty, but I kept her moving and didn’t look back. It was a long drive on these logging roads and it was getting more and more remote. It was always interesting traveling behind several other vehicles that were creating a massive dust cloud to a point that you literally held onto the steering wheel and prayed you stayed on the road. After this 6 day adventure my windshield was pitted and my windshield wipers were destroyed. We finally began seeing more signs of inhabitance as camps begun appearing and before we knew it we had found the trail crossing the road.

There was a tiny parking are so a few of us had to park on the road and hoped that the logging trucks were not using this particular area on this day. This crossing was extremely pleasant. It was adjacent to a wide rocky stream crossing with the sound of running waters that were music to the ear.

We all gathered and started preparing for the runners arrival and setting up our gear as we had done so many time before. It was becoming second nature already as it was a systematic habit. It was decided that Joe and Aron would be up next for pacing with Scott. They would get him to the road crossing just outside of Monson at the Shirley Road. That would be roughly a 12-13 mile segment. I worked with Joe to get him ready and geared up. As we all waited we watched the camera crew set up for filming and photos for the crossing of the rocky stream, Baker Stream to be exact. The camera crew had set up a cable across the stream to attach a camera that would be on pulleys and roll along as the runners jumped from rock to rock across the stream. This was pretty awesome. There was a film crew and a camera crew. It was amazing to me that they moved so quickly through the wilderness with all the gear they had to carry and they always seemed to appear out of nowhere like trail ghosts in the woods. Their presence was hardly noticed most of the time.

Ok, now things got a bit interesting. It was the first time that I felt helpless as far as needing help in transporting Joes car to Monson and I had no clue how I would get both his car and my car to the Monson trail crossing. It was there that Joe and I decided to leave his car until the end of the adventure.

We all nudged Scott, Joe and Aron onward, they crossed the stream one by one and disappeared into the thick trees on the other side of the stream as we sent them hoots and hollers of encouragement. They looked like children jumping across the rocks and it looked like fun. We all laughed and thought the same thing……we all wanted to be out there running, but we had work to do. We had to navigate our way to Shirley Road.

I now had to refocus my efforts in finding someone to drive Joes car to Monson. I approached Hunter, the film crew chief and asked if one of his staff would be able to transport Joes car to Monson. With a bit of persuasion, he agreed, what a relief that was. It would have been a logistical nightmare to leave Joe’s car there and not know if it would be there when we returned! They were headed that way anyway, but it was risky for them. If the car had broken down or if something major happened it would cause a problem as Hunter needed ALL his staff. I assured him this was the only time I would have to ask for his help, and it was.