Pacing Diana - Page 8
But we arrived at Cunningham first. I wonder where Jared is. "Forget first woman, forget your time, just go for the win!" said her Dad. I tried to signal him, shake my head and mouth, "No." To let her run, no, walk, as best she can and leave it at that. All the women at the aid station, women Diana did not know, were shouting her name in the dawn morning chill. There was a sense that she had been watched, rooted for, been an inspiration all night as she led a major American endurance event.
We left Cunningham at 6:40 a.m., Jared at 6:46. The final major climb before the finish is one of the hardest, and the rising sun nailed us to the trail. We removed jackets, sweated. Diana had led the race for over 45 miles, and she was going to get passed. A switchback below were Jared and his pacer, moving well.
"Hey, Jared is going to pass us. He is," I said. "That's fine, Finkel. That's the reality. We accept it. You come out here and do your best and put up a number. If your number isn't better than somebody else's, so be it. You did your best. There is still work to be done. We'll focus until Silverton."
When Jared approached, Diana stepped off the trail to let him by. "Good job, Jared," she said. "Congratulations."
"Today, Diana, you are my hero," he said. I choked up. He was quickly out of earshot. Diana did not choke up. She was simply angry with herself. "I just can't run. I just can't run. I have no quads. I. Just ... can't ... fucking ... run."
There was little else to say, seven miles from the finish. I looked down toward Cunningham, but saw no other runners. Later, I would learn that the next did not show up until 9:02 a.m. And we had been walking since mile 80.
Her anger and disappointment grew. "What a terrible way to finish," she said. "I am disappointed in myself. Not to finish second, but to finish this way, in this state, in this fashion."
She was coherent. Her legs just said no. Words were few. She fell again and again.
We came into the outskirts of Silverton, the singletrack giving way to a gravel road to a final half mile of pavement. She walked. That was all she had left.
"Hey, you just finished a 100-mile run, 2nd overall, first woman, new course record," I said. "You have nothing to feel down about. Enjoy the finish. How many times in your life will you experience finishing something like this? Think about the work you put in over the last seven months."
And so, after 28 hours 32 minutes 6 seconds, Diana Finkel kissed the big chunk of rock with the race's trademark bighorn ram painted on it that marks the finish of the Hardrock 100. I thought the Hardrock was over. Surcease.