I first encountered Sean on Facebook in a discussion about Quest for the Crest. I had no intention of running it, but my husband and trail running partner had signed up, and he refuses to join Facebook, so I was doing recon for him. Quest for the Crest has a reputation as the World’s Hardest 10K, and Sean didn’t stop after 6.2 miles; he completed the 50K. He also posted a link to an article he’d written for Ultrarunning Magazine about his (almost) DFL at the Sheep Mountain 50 Mile in 2015. I wanted to find out what inspires a runner who DFL’s at one race to not only go on to finish Leadville and Quest for the Crest, but also return to Sheep Mountain the following year for revenge.
Did you expect to finish at the back of the pack when you ran Sheep Mountain in 2015, or did your race not go as expected?
You should know this was my first 50+ mile race ever. I had never run longer than 10 miles, outside the army, in any capacity before 2015. After an ankle injury and a random lottery win to run Leadville, my running life was flipped upside down, and I had to start getting myself ready for Leadville. Sheep Mountain was a huge test and a difficult run! From the onset, the elevation gain was total to many 100 mile races. SO, all that being said my goal was to finish and that I did. There were 3 of us that ended up finishing Dead Last that day, and we quickly bonded the last 10+ miles as we dodged rain, stormy weather, bad backs, and nausea. One of the runners was a very experienced runner, and I learned a lot that day
How do you deal with unforeseen challenges on race day?
“You don’t know what you don’t know” is the age-old adage, and you should always be prepared for whatever may come at you. Over time, I have matured into a good short distance runner, for my age group, a decent marathoner, and an Ultra Finisher. I am still learning more and more each day. I try to read as much about fueling, taking care of your feet, recovery, and any other tips I can. This helps me craft a plan for a race to be prepared for that blister, wet socks, nausea, or anything else that may arise. I have a pack I carry with a couple small essential items needed to help me in a tough spot…..or at least get me to the next aid station to receive proper care. For Sheep Mountain, I was so under prepared and not ready it wasn’t funny. You can ask my buddy Steve Knox, seasoned runner and my pacer for Leadville 2 years, when I rolled into an aid station at Sheep Mountain he literally sold me a fireball shot, an ensure, and some food. They all laughed at me but I was buying anything and had no plan.