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  • Writer's pictureNathan Moody

2019 Javelina Jundred Race Report

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

Over the last several years, Javelina has become an annual capstone of the season for me, a celebration of running and all that comes with it. Life events delayed me from writing this race report, but its something I want to get out before upcoming races in the 2020 season.

Javelina was my first 100 miler, a gateway to what has become an incredible journey with running. My first attempt at it was in 2016 with a finish of 25:28. Certain trail moments in that race are etched in my memory: the desert sunrise and sunset, coming in late to Jeadquarters without a headlamp, seeing Jackass Junction's party scene for the first time, seeing Rob Krar pacing his friend, slowing to a shuffle at mile 70 and not knowing what to do, getting lost and then having the characteristic joy and thankfulness of being back on trail, desperately wanting to get my 'last loop' glow-stick necklace, and meeting new friends (including Joe Seeley who saw that I was struggling to finish in 2016 and decided that we should finish strong together).

My family came with me the following year, setting up a crew pavilion and having a blast. They enjoyed the resort while I was running the race and this has become our pattern ever since. With their expert crewing, my times slowly improved: in 2017 I finished 53rd in 21:49; in 2018 I finished 6th overall with a time of 17:12 and then this past year I finished 5th overall with a time of 15:50.

Each of these seasons were full of other big races that were at times just weeks before Javelina (The Bear 100, Mogollon Monster, UTMB) so I was running Javelina mostly for fun, rather than with a set goal in mind. This mentality is what has made it so special for me, it was really a celebration of the year. During packet pickup this year, I walked over to the the Hoka tent and was greeted by non other than Jim Walmsley. The fact that he is out here talking to average athletes is just so amazing to me. I was so grateful. I took advice he provided and ran in the Speedgoat Evos this year (I had already broken them in!) and am so glad I did.

Race morning in 2019 found me awake at 5:00am in my tent going through my preparation. Jubilee (the RD and party boss) began to slowly rouse the tent city with a profoundly seamless progression of music that started off like what you would hear in a spa and built up into the pounding mixes that JJ100 is known for. The pre-race activity has a unique feel at JJ100: hundreds of strangers coming out of tents don't feel like strangers at all, because everyone exhibits the same sense of purpose and urgency to everything they are doing. Words of encouragement were exchanged between many and then I made my way somewhat close to the start line, about 100 people back.

The countdown began and before we knew it, we were off. Jeadquarters is based around a horseshoe-shaped loop that enables runners to pass all crew tents on the way to and from the start line. At race start, this meant lots of people pounding dirt and there was a cloud of dust as we began. Once leaving camp, I was excited to hit the first trail loop in the cool of the early morning, anticipating the inspiring sunrise ahead. As usual, nature did not disappoint and I settled into a relaxed 8:00/mi pace to stretch out the legs.

At JJ100, the jumping cholla cactus (cylindropuntia fulgida) are legendary for, well, appearing to jump on you. Once stuck in your skin, it is an ordeal to get it unstuck because the barbs only dig in deeper with motion. I made a mental note that this year I was going to REALLY avoid the cholla and steer clear of them. Only several miles into the start, I was following a pack of runners when one of them abruptly stopped and forced those of us behind him to funnel around on both sides. When attempting to do this without falling, I brushed the inevitable cholla and bam I had a new friend stuck on the right side of my right calf. This is not a big deal really but because I had built it up in my head, I started getting worried about what to do. I have learned from past races that if you have a problem, large or small, you have to develop a plan to solve it or it wears on you mentally. I didn't bring the recommended tool for cholla management (a hair comb) so I was wracking my brain for an equivalent device. I also remembered that my youngest just the day before warned me to not touch the cholla or any other cacti!

At the time, the group I was running with were passing trail flags that were on thin metal stakes in the ground and I had a spit second idea: if I brushed the cholla against one of the wire stakes just right, the cholla might snag on it and get yanked out of my skin. A trail flag with just such a metal stake appeared and I executed this plan, which worked flawlessly!! Now that I didn't have a stabbing pain in my calf, I really relaxed and got settled down.

Without noticing, my pace started creeping up and somewhere before Jackass I started running with a group that eventually included Camelia and Kaci. We chatted about backgrounds and how our seasons were going and it was a great start of the race. I realized that as I came in to finish the first loop at 7:30/mi pace, I had to slow down and refocus on what was ahead even if it meant leaving stellar company.

The second and third loops were the heat battles that all runners face and the aid station workers are beyond amazing for helping runners to with ice and hydration. If I do nothing else in this report, I want to simply thank every aid station volunteer: the only defense the runner has against this desert heat is the hydration and ice you provide. THANK YOU AID STATION WORKERS!!

During these loops, I targeted an average pace of 8:00/mi during the downhill (away from Jackass to Jeadquarters) and 9:00/mi on the uphill. This was doable but shortly into the third loop, I started hearing a sloshing sound. With no one else around me, I realized that this sound was my stomach and its contents. I hadn't battled stomach problems in the past few races, but I do know the signs. For some reason, my body was not processing the food I had taken in and again I had the need to enter troubleshooting mode. I told myself that we can get through this, just slow down a bit and skip the next few calories until I get this processed.

I adjusted my form to be a bit smoother and this caused less jostling of my stomach contents. It also had the effect of improving my running efficiency and the combination of these factors apparently worked because by the time I got to Jackass the third time, my stomach was back in business. The remainder of this loop was exciting because I knew I would join my pacer shortly to get after it on loops 4 and 5.

Michael Carson and I finished MOG100 in September 2019 and both made podium. Finish line discussions at that race hatched a plan that involved Michael graciously agreeing to pace me at Javelina. It takes a special kind of athlete and new friend to agree to pace someone at a future ultra when only minutes have passed since one was completed. Michael finished second at Javelina in the past and I knew from his performance at MOG100 that I could learn from him and that we could really push each other. For better or worse (probably worse) I made the decision to lead on the 4th loop. This did allow for him to check my form and give me needed tips on what I could do better. It also allowed him to see where he would have to push on the 5th loop. I still felt pretty good heading out for the fourth time to Jackass Junction.

Michael and I enjoyed conversation the entire fourth loop, finding we had similar approach to quite a few things. I ran into Tony Russ at Jackass Junction and so many others I knew that it felt like a reunion back there and really lifted my spirits, which is good because there was a battle ahead.

The 5th loop is where I needed help and Michael really delivered. He reminded me I won MOG100 and that pain is part of this journey. He could tell I was struggling and told me to dig deep, as this is why I was here. I said that my job from here on out would be to just trust every word he says and hang on. He started out the same pace as I had maintained during loop 4 up until twilight and then he started passing many people, and I allowed him to be the one telling people 'on the right!' I was just watching his feet, telling myself that my only job is to take the steps he takes: those steps lead me to the finish line.

Despite the pain this last loop, it was really special. Running with a pacer and friend is a true gift and the miles did roll by. We passed through Jackass and then it was downhill to Coyote Camp and it occurred to us that that was the LAST aid station we would see this whole race. Again the pace picked up and we kept passing folks but encouraged every one of them to stay strong. Eventually we heard the familiar sounds of Jeadquarters and upon leaving the trail, I was joined by my two boys who ran the horseshoe finish with me (just like they had each of the times I came in the previous loops). Seeing my wife and the boys was the best thing ever. Michael and I finally crossed the finish line in 15:50 for a fourth place men's finish, fifth overall.

As with MOG100, I used Hammer Nutrition fuels almost exclusively for this race. Specifically, I used a serving of HEED and Perpetuem each time through Jeadquarters and Jackass junction, with Hammer gels in between these aid stations. I also started out each loop with Hammer's Igniter packets. I have found this combination of fueling to be ideal for me and am super thankful to Hammer for making quality food that help athletes succeed at endurance events.

There are many people to thank for this incredible experience: my family for crewing and supporting me; Michael Carson for pacing me and leading me through loops 4-5, my coach Corrine Malcolm for patiently preparing me; all the volunteers and coordinators who selflessly served us runners on the course; the new friends I met on the course and had the honor of running with; Aravaipa running for putting on such a stellar race; and Suunto/Salomon for their pro-dealer support.

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