Monday, November 9, 2015

Hell, Horror and Hallucinations

Javelina Hundred Race Report, Part 1

It wasn’t all hell. Actually, most of the first 50K was thoroughly enjoyable until my mind realized that my body would have to do it all over again, and this time it would be in complete darkness. During miles 30 and 31, which happened to be uphill, I kept trying to process what was quickly about to become reality.

I would have to run/walk/crawl/death-slog and slowly inch my way forward through the night. Abandoning my circadian rhythms and precious sleep cycles that had already been out of sync since, well, since the previous April--into this unknown territory that I would become very, very familiar with through the nearly 26 hours it took me to reach the finish line.

I would have to traverse the entire 15.5 mile loop twice more. And while it was good and pretty and warm and uplifting in the morning and afternoon light, it would be downright shudder-inducing in the fully enveloping and stunningly claustrophobic darkness of the desert night.

First there was the herd of growling javelinas. They were coming to get me with their menacing oink-growls whose loudness grew more and more intense as I rounded bends on the course and climbed dusty, pebbly hills among light-absorbing, looming saguaro and asshole cholla cacti.

Did you hear that?--- I asked a runner and her pacer.
Hear what?
The animals. Those growling animals?

Um, no? And they continued on, the perky pacer reminding her runner that she HAD to eat something before the next aid station which was miles and miles away.

Once the sun went down, and before the moon showed itself it was completely dark
I definitely heard growling, I thought. I am NOT crazy. What else could that noise be? I know I wasn’t the only person that heard it. It was a pretty consistent low growl that sounded as if the javelinas were planning their attack, timing their oink-growls to each of my Pearl Izumi-clad steps.

This must be why this race is called the Javelina! It was an epiphanous moment. What makes this race so special is that you get to hear and possibly encounter actual javelinas, I reasoned delirious, from hot having slept in over 20 hours at this point. Wow!

The growling continued in an almost conversational way. It would start as a low but insistent hum and grow in intensity until all of the javelinas had agreed on their plan to attack the runners that night and leave their tired, lifeless bodies to dry and disintegrate in the arid, desert heat. I envisioned wild boars with large, protruding yellow teeth like nutria and Templeton the rat from Charlottes web.
Waitaminutewaitaminute! Why isn’t anyone talking about or cowering in fear from the growling javelinas? Can’t everyone hear them? They must be veterans of the race. It’s funny how no one ever mentioned this in any of the pre-race communications.
I started to imagine coming upon human skeletons and screaming/gasping/fainting in horror once it got lighter.

This is what I imagined, a herd of these things... image from
Common Sense and Reason interrupted my hearing hallucinations.

First,  on my first two loops, I hadn’t seen any human skeletons in the daylight.

Second, no one else seemed to be bothered by the menacing growling.

Third, not even one javelina jumped out from behind a saguaro to attack me.

Fourth, the chorus of growling javelinas had a rhythmic quality to it, almost like er, a car or a couple of cars with extra loud mufflers being shown off in a midnight desert drag race with a sort of Doppler effect decrease and increase in sound.

It wasn’t until I rounded a bend and neared the Coyote Camp Aid Station that I saw where the sound had been coming from.  There were headlights and tail lights from a few cars that had been on the desert roads for the previous two or so hours doing who knows what, drifting, speeding up, slowing down…doing what people do in cars in the desert in the middle of the night.

Stay tuned for part 2!


  1. You leave it there??? Thats only half way! Ahhhhhh.

  2. Ha! I can't even imagine what I would have thought!

  3. Bahahahah! I would have had the same thoughts.

  4. That you found the "first 50K was thoroughly enjoyable" is awe inspiring to this new runner. That you then ran another 50K is absolutely incredible. Congratulations on finishing.

  5. Cliffhanger's in blog posts are NOT appreciated! ha ha ha ha. :-) I can't wait to read the next installment!

  6. What? Wait, you just can't stop there.......😳

  7. I was at the JJ100, crewing for my 62 yr old husband. This was his first 100k. I saw you come in and go back out always with a smile on your face. I laughed so hard about this blog. Congrats on your finish and I'm glad the Javelina didn't get you ha.