Here is the thing about ultra running. There are so many people out there doing things you never hear about. Karen is one of those people. She literally just finished the Desert Rats Kokopelli 150-mile race from Grand Junction, CO to Moab, Utah. This was her third time doing it. Karen has been running for over 30 years. What started as short runs eventually turned into triathlons, then ironman and eventually to Ultras. Ultra running is where Karen found her passion. She has conquered many ultras including the Leadville 100. Karen currently resides in the mountains of NM with her husband, 3 dogs and 9 chickens.
Karen is one of those positive people you gravitate towards, she never stopped smiling through our entire conversation. On this episode Karen talks about the struggles of her very first ultra and her need to keep pushing herself. Karen also gets us up to speed on her latest adventures, which are pretty cool. Karen is a true inspiration and we think you will love this conversation. Check out Karen’s race report from her first 100 miler and a picture from her latest adventure, the Desert Rats Kokopelli 150-mile race.
A journal entry from Karen:
31 hours 25 seconds. Hello Friends! I promised to send a race report. It was an adventure! Andy and I arrived in Ohio Friday afternoon. We checked in at our hotel and drove to the start/finish line to pick up race info and drop off bags which included extra shoes, socks, etc... We went back to our room, with two of our dogs, (Frost and Newton) made dinner and climbed into bed early. 3:45am Saturday my alarm goes off. I eat, get dressed, grab my backpack and head to the start line. 5am race starts. I turn on my headlamp, kiss Andy and start into the woods. About 45 minutes into the race, the sun comes up and it's going to be a beautiful HOT day. Mile 8 is here. There is a beautiful waterfall and a hand over hand climb to arrive at a steep hill and back on trails. I see Andy at mile 12. I feel great. I have met a nice young experienced ultra runner. He gives me some great tips on this race. We continue running. A few water crossings and a lot more hill climbing and I am already at mile 31. I get to see Andy again. I realize I am WAY AHEAD of schedule, but still feel great. Keep on trucking... Next time I see Andy will be at mile 51. I get there in 12 hours 13 minutes. I know this is too fast. Rookie mistake. It is now pushing 90 degrees. I have already ate 4 peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, 3 granola bars, 2 clif bars, shot blox, pretzels and drank lots of Heed. Approx. 9:30pm. Mile 65 is here. The sun is setting and Andy joins me for the last 35 miles. I was starting to feel a little nauseated, but I got a boost from having Andy with me. My feet are starting to hurt as we shuffle through the dark woods. We arrive at mile 73. We see a few local runners from Indy. I stopped to check out my foot issues. I take off my shoes and my feet are totally covered in blisters. OUCH!!! I change socks, apply Vaseline, and stick lambswool between my toes. I am grateful to be feeling better than the guy sitting next to me. He has started shaking and hallucinating. This is common in an event like this. I later hear he had to DNF. (Did not Finish). We continue. When we arrive at mile 80, it is 4:09am. I am moving VERY SLOW. I probably won't make it to the next checkpoint in time. My feet feel like I am running on sandpaper. I have puked, cried, and felt awful for dragging Andy into this crazy event. I sit for a few minutes, drink some soup and decide to continue. Mile 85 is here. Only 15 more miles. OH NO.... 15 more??? Mile 88.5. I am shot! We barely made the cut off. I seriously think I can't go any further. The aid station volunteer encourages me to go to the next aid station. It is only 2.7 miles downhill. OK. I start moving. Andy changes his shoes. She told him not to let me quit. I think he is motivated to get me to the finish. Two more checkpoints. I call my parents for encouragement. I can't remember exactly what they said. It was encouraging! We make it to mile 91 and press forward. Mile 96.29 is the last checkpoint. We are late. They told us they would give us a free ride or we could unofficially continue. The race is actually 101.9 miles. We have about 5.7 miles to the finish line. Andy won't let me think twice. "We are going". It is a long 5.7 miles. He is pushing me uphills and dragging me downhills. I keep moving forward in a state of pure exhaustion. I just keep moving. 5 miles, 4,3,2...1 mile to go. It's getting super hot again. We climb out of the woods. I still can't see the finish. Andy grabs my hand. I follow him around the road. People are starting to realize we are finishing. They can't believe anybody would still be out there. I hear some cheers. There are no officials at the finish line. It is an hour past the the 30 hour limit. We walk hand and hand (maybe he is dragging me) to the finish. We hugged, I cried, people clapped. I went the distance. I learned a lot and I'll be back! Only 38% of people who started this race, finished. Official or not, We made it! Thanks Andy!!!