Hard work and determination paid off for our Run With Us Race Team Member, Jerry Garcia. Coming in at 20:04:12 at the Angeles Crest 100, we couldn’t be more proud of his accomplishment!
Jerry’s Recent Press Release:
Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run
Wrightwood, CA to Altadena, CA
“The Battle of the San Gabriel Mountains”
August 5-6, 2017
We all learn from our mistakes. Last year’s AC100 was an experience I will never forget. I went out too fast early and wasted precious time at aid stations. Fourth place overall could have been much better. On the bright side, getting engaged with my beautiful girlfriend, Mayra as I went down on one knee at the finish was prizewinning.
This year, I made some adjustments. First, I had former AC100 champion, Tom Nielsen as coach. I needed a structured training and strategic plan instead of my usual way of just winging it. My work as full time Wildland firefighter required mandatory overtime during summer. During training, I got up at 4am or 5am six days a week and spent five to seven hours every weekend in the mountains missing family time. I am so grateful for my fiancée, Mayra for her support week after week. Her support and love made it all possible. Tom developed a 90-day training plan such as nutrition needs, pushing the ascents, cruise the descents, medium pace trail runs, and mentally visualizing the race. On race day, I was ready to roll.
The race started with a strong climb up Acorn Trail just above Wrightwood. Powered by caffeine from my coffee, I worked that section on an honest pace shuffling the runnable parts and power hiking the ascents. Upon reaching the first aid station at Inspiration Point at 9.3 miles, my crew put on my hydration pack and fed me with bolio bread, turkey and avocado sandwich. I went on my way towards Vincent Gap and the dreaded climb to Baden Powell.
I started the climb at 3rd place and power hiked every step of the way. A few runners passed but I remained unmoved. I kept telling myself to stick with the plan. “Take it easy the first 25 miles. What you hike in the first 25 you’ll be able to run the last 25.” Coach Tom’s words were going through my head. I got into Islip Aid Station Mile 25 at 7th place. I felt really good and told my crew I don’t even feel like racing. Mercury will soon rise. Thus, a long sleeve gear was necessary to protect myself from the sun. My crew also fueled me with calories.
Hitting Eagles Roost at Mile 29, I swapped bottles and onto Cloudburst Summit on paved road at cruising pace. It wasn’t until Three Points Mile 37 that I spotted Branden Bollweg leaving the aid station. The frontrunners, Jorge Pacheco and Dominic Grossman both former AC100 champs were out of sight but I didn’t want to get excited. It was still way too early. Just keep going at an honest grind. I asked my crew if I was closing the gap or if they were pulling away. They reassured that I was looking real good and that they were right there.
I went on my way passing Mount Hillyer and into Chilao aid stations where I picked up my first pacer, Victor Martinez at Mile 44.88. The temperature was rising and relative humidity was dropping. I hit the downhill a little too strong into Shortcut Saddle. It was dry heat with no breeze below the canyon. The two mile stretch into Shortcut was a huge relief to see my crew. Dominic and Jorge were sitting in there while Branden checked in right after me. It wasn’t time to jump into the lead. I felt relaxed in my position. Being in front can sometimes be scary as you run not at your own pace. There were runners behind who were strong and patient racers, Mario Martinez, Rene Dorantes, and Moises Avelar.
Shortcut to Redbox was a new technical section of the course. This section has definite scrappy conditions but I ran it a few times during training under same weather. I knew what to expect on the long ascent to Redbox. The long descent from Redbox into West Fork and up Newcomb’s Pass would be a make or break section. I hit it smooth pushing on some parts and holding back on others. Redbox Aid Station was key factor. I changed shorts and shirt and got my legs massaged by Rich Lorton. He kept my quads and hamstrings loosened all day. Prior to leaving Redbox, I talked to my next pacer, Jon Clark. Let’s do it! It would be until another 15 miles to Chantry Flats at Mile 75 where I will see my crew. I can’t wait to get to Chantry. I’ve trained on that section numerous times. That’s my home turf.
Good news came upon arrival at Chantry Flats. I was 10-11 minutes out from 1st place, Branden and 6-7 minutes from Dominic. Coach Tom always told me that if I was 20-30 minutes from the leaders I was in striking distance. After getting my legs freshened up and soup from my crew, we changed pacers and quickly out of Chantry Flats. Nightfall came but with that a full moon. We hiked up Upper Winter Creek to Mount Wilson Toll Road all in darkness. Dominic’s headlamps and his pacer were in sight.
Jon and I made our way down the Toll Road where we found Dominic at Idlehour Aid Station Mile 84. I quickly asked for Sarah’s delicious soup and was informed by volunteer friend, Armand that I was six minutes out from 1st place. We left right behind Dominic. I patiently waited for the sharp downhills to make my move. He had tripped on the trail. After checking if he was okay, Jon and I motored up towards Sam Merrill Aid Station and onto Branden. We pushed strong, shuffling the feet up and power hiking when we got there. I was still 5-6 minutes out with 10 miles left in the race.
This was it! I wanted to give it my very best and look at my crew, pacers and coach to let them know I gave my best. The Upper Sam Merrill is a technical downhill. I ran it as hard as I could without flying off the trail. Upon hitting Echo Mountain and started on the trail towards Mount Lowe Road / Sunset Ridge Trail I spotted Branden’s headlamp. That got me fired up. There was the Ram trophy right there in front of me maybe three minutes away with seven miles remaining. I regrouped one more time, drank Ginger Ale soda that I carried and let loose.
Jumping and hitting the switchbacks hard, we started closing in on the headlamp. The trail reconnected to Mount Lowe Road where we came up behind Branden. I let him know to keep pushing and that he had a safe lead for 2nd place. I let it rip into Millard Campground Mile 95. Jon and I both yelled, “Bib #2 in, Bib #2 out” and took off up
Brown Mountain. We glanced back and saw Branden still rallying up. I kept the momentum going down very technical El Prieto Trail right by my house located just off the trail. The race wasn’t over and there’s always that feeling that someone can come up. We hit Altadena Drive and about halfway down the block, it finally started to hit me that I was going to win. It was a real good feeling. Priceless!
All the hard work paid off. All of the early mornings wake ups; the back-to-back long runs every weekend; having a coach; and a solid race plan definitely paid off. I couldn’t have done it on my own. I had an awesome crew out there all day comprised of Mayra as my crew chief, Coach Tom Nielsen, Rich Lorton from Vision For Enrichment for keeping my legs healthy during training and the race. Juan, Leamon, Laura, Jennifer, and Molly made sure I was good to go swapping bottles, giving me calories, and icing me up. My pacers, Victor and Jon, both of them fed me mentally to grind beyond what I thought I was capable of. Victor hit the mid-section with the heat chipping efficiency and staying close to the front pack and Jon stalking the front two and pushing me at the end.
Thank you Run With Us in Pasadena. I love representing my team and the love I get there is tremendous. Thank you Hoka OneOne for the Speed Goats 2. I used Stance Run socks, Run Rabbit shorts, Run With Us Pasadena Singlet and long sleeve under armor heat gear shirt during the day, VFUEL for my gel and drink mix for the calories for the race. I always have VFUEL mix on me which worked real well. To prevent cramping, I took a drink of HotShot at every aid station and had no cramps. I wore my favorite Sunglasses Julbos USA Aerolite in black that kept my vision clear and safe all day. To the race directors, volunteers, aid stations, spectators, and fellow race competitors thank you! I can’t wait to come back for 2018 “Battle of the San Gabes” AC 100.