5:30 a.m. Saturday, September 14
Kevin rolled into the aid station. Head down and determined – he was nearly 70 miles in after yesterday’s 9:00 a.m. start – he was eating well and pacing himself for a hopeful sub-70 hour finish, which would be a 10-hour improvement from last month’s Bigfoot 200, a wet, cold and lonely event. Kevin completed the Bigfoot 200 with no pacers or crew. Tahoe had everything he’d need to reach his goal – pacers, crew, support, and experience. As we left aid – we immediately began to ascend an 1100-foot climb. It was on the descent we met David Aguayo, another competitor, who would join us, then fall back, or speed up, and then rejoin our pack over the next 120 miles. Kevin was moving well and we kept our pace efficient, covering the first 17 miles in 5.5 hours. This was a great pace for a race this long. I was to hand off to John, an athlete on our team local to Reno, who was excited to take Kevin over the 100-mile mark of the race.
The next time I saw Kevin it was on the descent into Heavenly resort. John and Kevin bouncing off the rocks created a thick cloud of dust as they cruised into the Aid Station. Kevin made quick work of some food, re-taped a few hot spots on his feet, before making a full sock change and heading back out. I packed in a few layers and an extra headlamp as this was going to be a journey into the dark, black night. By this point – Kevin hasn’t slept in over 30 hours. He was comfortable pushing his limit in this race knowing he had a crew and pacers to push him through discomfort. He carried a Mylar blanket if tiredness overwhelmed him and pushed him to sleep at the trail’s edge. We were blessed with a nearly endless 90-minute sunset that burned away the first full day of racing – pushing us into the aid station at 10:30 p.m. I was exhausted with 37 miles on my legs for the day. Kevin would attempt to sleep but the pain in his legs kept him awake. He pushed on into the night.
Kevin would go another 4 hours before the sleep demon finally caught up to him. His wife, having just completed the Leadville 100, was reluctant – but willing – to tackle a 32-mile push through the night to get Kevin to the 160-mile mark.