“Who in their right mind would want to punish themselves so much?”
This is one of the many questions Sabrina and Avery get asked almost on a daily basis. Running 100 miles is crazy enough, but to do it through the rugged high altitude mountains of our beautiful country????
When a lot of people think of Power Couple they may think of Jay Z and Beyonce or Brad and Angelina. What makes these couples powerful though? Money??? Popularity???
Now take a couple that just ran the Western States 100 and one came in 6th overall and the other came in 3rd of all females (21st overall). The power behind this couple is way beyond any famous couple or couple loaded with cash.
If I put Avery and Sabrina in a lineup of 20 people you wouldn’t be able to pick them out, but they are completely okay with that as they don’t run for you. They run because it’s in their blood. It’s the mosquito bite that fucking itches so bad that you must scratch it until it bleeds.
They run because they can.
They both currently live in Steamboat Springs, CO and even though they will crank out 20-30 miles runs through mountains multiple times a week they don’t come home to their sponsorship money waiting for them in the mailbox. They are considered an Ultra-Athlete or Adventure Athlete and 95% of these athletes must maintain a regular job while still training their asses off just to be able to participate in these races.
A normal day might consist of waking up to run a marathon up through the high altitude of Steamboat and then going home to take a quick shower, eat a quick meal, and then head to work.
It’s not a glamorous lifestyle but they love it and I was able to see that love for running and for each other when I traveled to the Western States to watch these two human beasts run their legs, mind, and hearts out on the oldest 100 mountain miler in the world.
Western States (WS) is no joke. This run brings the elite of the elite from around the world. Some of the greatest names in Ultrarunning were there including the infamous high dollar Jim Wamsley who was claiming new records in pre-race interviews. He didn’t want to just win. He wanted to smash records.
But we learn quickly that talking the talk is easier than walking the walk.
As the race started both Sabrina and Avery knew they were in for a treat as this past winter left a heavy snowfall at the beginning near Squaw Valley. So not only are you going to run 100 miles through the mountains, but know we want you to run through some thick snow at the highest part of the climb and if that wasn’t enough lets throw in 100+ heat when you reach the bottom of the canyons.
I was lucky enough to help Devon Olson (Winner of Eastern States) aid Avery at Duncan Canyon (24.4 miles) and Dusty Corners (38.8 miles). We got there early just to prep for Avery’s arrival and the first person we saw was this Jim Wamsley guy WAY ahead of 2nd place. He didn’t understand the concept of “pacing” yourself. He was full crank 100%.
Eventually Avery would stroll in around 13th place and it was go time. We instantly saw him and took the table out to him with a variety of Clif gels, fresh water, salt tablets, and anything else he wanted for the next chunk of miles. Avery looked real good coming into the aid station. Devon, who has been on many runs with Avery was happy with his pace and position.
After Avery left we hung out for a second to see Sabrina arrive and she was looking in great shape as well. At the time she was in 50-55th spot. Devon and I collected all of the aid goodies and headed back to the car to head to Dusty Corners where we would see Avery next.
We get there in plenty of time and once again the first person we see is this Jim Wamsley guy now over 40 minutes ahead of 2nd place. It almost doesn’t seem real as he rolls in with long strides smiling and un-phased. I constantly look to see if he is a human or a machine.
Over an hour passes after Jim leaves until Avery comes in and he has dropped back to 16th but still is looking good. There was a thermometer hanging from a tree next to our aid set up that read 108 degrees. IT WAS HOT AS SHIT and it was only going to get hotter as they dove deeper into the canyon that was ahead of them. Avery chomped down a bag of salt tablets, ate some gels, chugged some Canada Dry Ginger Ale, and was off before we had to yell for him to come back as he was 100 yards out of the aid station.
Avery had forgotten his cold water bottles. Without these bottles of fresh cold water his day would of came to an end as his body wouldn’t of been able to keep up with the extreme heat.
We didn’t have time to watch Sabrina come in but her crew relayed a message saying she was looking great and running her race and not trying to keep up with anyone but herself.
At this point I had to leave to attend an event for a couple hours but I followed the race via Twitter watching both of them maintain their personal paces. I had seen Avery’s game plan pre-race so I wasn’t too worried when I saw he had dropped back to 27th around 55 miles.
Avery’s simply wrote “Hammer Time” at mile 62. This was the mile when he would be paced by Devon who had been aiding with me prior to this section of the race. He would stretch, eat, and put on his running shoes to finish the final 38 miles with Avery.
Sabrina would have multiple pacers that would join her at mile 62, but she was feeling good and dropped her first pacer at mile 67. Read that again. After running 62 miles through the snowy and EXTREMELY hot mountains of California she would DROP, meaning run away from, her pacer five miles into their run.
That my friends is what we call POWER. Not just of the body but of the mind.
I would continue to watch twitter as both Avery and Sabrina made their moves. Even though I didn’t see Sabrina’s pre-race plan I could tell what was on her mind as her overall position was changing as fast as her legs were moving.
Avery went into Hammer Time and wasn’t messing around. He quickly moved into the top ten and at one point was in fourth.
This is when I looked at my wife and told her it was time to leave the event and head back to the finish in Auburn, CA.
I kept following both runners as we arrived in Auburn. We were driving around trying to find a place to park as we saw the first overall runner make his final turn into the Placer High School Track.
Wait….Where’s Wamsley?!?!? It wasn’t Jim. I had seen his crew wearing “Stop Jim” shirts all day but what they didn’t realize is that they wouldn’t be stopping Jim. He did that to himself. He cranked so hard that by mile 80 he had nothing left. He had bonked and Ryan Sandes from South Africa had taken the lead.
As we were trying to park driving around slowly our car was overheating as it was still scorching after 9pm. The wife and I discussed it and thought it would be smart to just head home so the baby wasn’t in this heat.
I would follow from a distance watching on Twitter and watching the finish line LIVE on YouTube.
Avery would finish 6th overall with a time of 17 hours 37 minutes. Sabrina would come in 21st overall with a time of 20 hours and 11 minutes and the 3rd overall female finisher.
These two had a combined time of 37 hours 48 minutes putting them off just by minutes for the fastest Western States couples time.
Sure Avery and Sabrina were elite athletes but they aren’t the high dollar athletes you see in the sport, but they ran better than most of those athletes and they showed the world that the small town guys can crank and kick ass.
They made a name for themselves not only as badass runners but as one of the most Powerful couples in the world.
You can follow them via social media below