May 2 at 9:05am · Via Kevin Kline
Ultramilano-Sanremo threw major adversity at me. 178.5 miles. Hills, lots of hills. Cold nighttime temps. Warm and sunny daytime temps. Uneven pavement. No road shoulder except the width of the white line. Cars barreling towards us. Pedestrians out for a leisurely Sunday boardwalk stroll. Course markings that were as challenging to find as it was to stay awake. Hard, cold rain.
Pacers could join me after 26 miles instead of 60. When I got to 22 miles, it was hot and cloudless, I was so ready to have Linda Truong Mansell by my side. She and I just chat and chat and she truly is my most calming runner I’ve run with in desperate times.
After Linda and I got a little wayward (i.e. lost) we managed to find the crew again on the actual course. That’s when Frankie picked me up.
I’m not sure how many miles Frank Medrano planned on running, but I’m fairly certain it wasn’t anywhere near what he actually did. Because we’re regular running buddies, running with Frank is like playing with Beans. It’s familiar. It’s relaxing. It’s fun. This was no different as we got lost in conversation and Frank would erase any doubts I had about finishing.
The 1st race save happened around the 19 hour mark. I was sleep shuffling alongside Jean Hofschulte. We weren’t scheduled for a break until another 5 hours. At the pace I was going, I would have missed the next cutoff.
Jean and Brian decided to put me in the van for a 20 minute nap with the caveat that when I got up, I’d be forced to do 15 minute miles for the next 5 hours to make the cutoff.
In my head there was no way I could do that so I went to sleep thinking my race was ending in a few hours.
When I awoke, there was a little more climb left on the mountain then it was downhill for the next 10 miles.
We powered up that mountain and Jered Mansell met me at the top, which was mile 90.
We RAN the next 10 miles at sub 11 pace to put me an hour+ ahead of the cutoff time, oh and a new 100 mile PR (23:45).
The 2nd race save came when a blister formed under a callous on my left foot. Linda made the call to address it then rather than continue my death shuffle. Jean worked some magic and off we went able to run again with minimal discomfort.
Those 2 times were the only real times when I thought the finish was in jeopardy. In fact, through mile 138, I still had visions of running a sub 45 hour.
Jean had powered me up the remaining hills, which were brutal. When we got to the top, we saw a lighthouse. This is how Jean knew I was still coherent at mile 160. The lighting apparatus of the house was beaming and Jean couldn’t remember the name of it.
“What do they call that light in there. There’s a name for it.”
Without any hesitation and not missing a beat I immediately respond, “Trish’s chandelier.”
When Jered picked me up for the final 11 miles, I knew my sub 45 was long gone. I’d been sleep-running but with little time to spare, we couldn’t take a break. I slept-ran the final 10 hours, even lying to Jered that I had to pee just so I could get 30 seconds of shut-eye.
I started to get concerned about a sub 48 and official finish still being attainable.
As phenomenal as my pacers were motivating me, our crew was even better taking care of me.
The queen of ultrarunning social media, Traci Duck, documented this entire journey. I have not looked at any posts, comments or live feeds but I am looking forward to once we return home.
Bob Milligan took our van places an Italian driver wouldn’t even be able to navigate. He drove our van for 48 hours without sleep. He would always answer “There’s no other place I’d rather be” when I’d ask him how he’s doing. That’s so reassuring to know that one of the hardest jobs is enjoyable.
Vickie Anderson had, I think, the toughest job of all, keeping Duck in line. Vickie’s presence allows our crew chief, Brian, to relax and focus on what needs to be done. She’s been his calm for 32 years and it makes a difference to everyone when the crew chief is comfortable.
Brian Anderson has never run an ultra. Brian actually never runs unless Dunkin’ Donuts is about to close, but I would put his crewing ability up against the most seasoned crewing veterans. I know that if I’m going into a battle like this, if Brian isn’t with me, I’m fighting with only 1 hand.
My other hand, my dominant hand, is Trish Snider Kline. Without Trish I don’t think I ever start this race, let alone finish it. She was always 1st out of the van to greet me, ALWAYS told me how well I was doing and when she told me it was with a confident smile of “see, I told you that you could do this”. I could feel her excitement and her pride. With her, I was able to do this. Without her, it doesn’t happen, it’s just that plain and simple.
My running coach, Jon Olsen, is an ultrarunning world champion. I’ll never attain his level of greatness and without him I don’t achieve this high level of personal achievement.
My boxing coach, Brian Caldwell trains world champions. I took some serious blows from this race, but because of our training, I was able to recover and press on.
Though I didn’t outright win the race, I was the 1st American finisher. That means a lot to me as that was one of my goals.
I will forever in my sleep hear Jered saying “gimme shuffle” and “come to me”. I really do need to reassess his pacer participation in future ultras though because, for the 2nd time running with him, I fell into bushes.
Jered shared with me a story about what Snowdrop Foundation and our family of supporters means to him. His words hit me…HARD! It showed me another way, a new one that I had never thought about, of how Snowdrop helps childhood cancer survivors heal and it blew me away.
And that’s what this was all about. Carrying the 115 kids whose name was on my shirt to the finish line.
Carrying the hope of current patients and families that if a regular guy can accomplish an extraordinary endeavor, then someday an extraordinary doctor can find a regular cure for cancer.
I appreciate all who followed, commented and cared so much about this race that you sacrificed your sleep to keep tracking our progress.
I don’t have the words to adequately thank you so I’m hoping that you wil accept my finish, 178.5 miles covered, as my expression of gratitude because when things got tough, knowing you were with us spurred me to keep moving, whether it was sideways, diagonal or the most effective way, straight forward.
#Snowdrop175AcrossItaly #UMS17INTHEBOOKS #ABC13 #EVAMOR #TheNew93Q