Pacing Diana - Page 3
We waited for the next woman to arrive—Darcy Africa looking strong and confident—was over 30 minutes behind. We then drove over the Dallas Divide, a mountain pass between Telluride and the next aid station in Ouray. I looked south, to the high peaks, where clouds loomed and the course would transect. Diana would be up there, hopefully heading out of those clouds, down the free-falling scree that lies below the exposed Kroger's Canteen Aid Station.
Ouray, mile 43. We expected Diana to come through shortly after 4 p.m. She arrived at 4 p.m. exactly, still the first woman. Surprisingly, she was now second overall. Her dad and I both noticed that the lead runner (by mere minutes), appeared tired in Ouray. "I think Diana will pass him soon," he said.
I texted friends "watching" the race online at www.hardrock100.com that they should not be surprised if she was in first place by the next time results were posted. At mile 56, Grouse Gulch was the next accessible aid station, where I would start pacing.
When we arrived at Grouse Gulch, a HAM radio operator listening to race reports from other aid stations yelled: "Diana Finkel is in first place and should be here shortly!" A loud whoop went up from 20 people waiting at Grouse Gulch.
I should have slept, rested for the long night ahead, but I was too amped. And this was a new pressure. I have paced Diana to top-10 finishes at other races (first female at Leadville, first female at Angeles Crest, a top 10 at Western States), but this was different. First overall. Dale Garland, the Hardrock race director, approached me, saying, "You've got a big job tonight, eh? Are you going to try to get her home in first!?" I just smiled genially.
There are four major 100-mile ultramarathons in the American West: the Wasatch 100 in Utah, the Western States 100 in California, the Leadville Trail 100 and the Hardrock 100, both in Colorado. Among ultrarunners Western States is the most famous. Leadville has the most entrants. Wasatch is considered challenging. Hardrock is considered the ne plus ultra of difficulty. The hardest.
A buzz rolled around Grouse Gulch. I sat next to Utah runner Jared Campbell's pacer, both of us readying ourselves. Jared was in second behind Diana. At the start today, Diana had said to Jared, "I hope you win it today."