On Friday May 13, after proctoring a final exam, I caught a plane to San Diego to run the PCT 50, a race almost almost entirely on the PCT from PCT mile 26 at Boulder Oaks to PCT mile 51 at Penny Pines and then back. The course is a strict out and back 99% on the PCT, 100% on single track. It is a big climb on the way out, especially the first 14 or so, and obviously the reverse on the way back. I finished in a 50-mile personal best of 9:36 or so. Splits are as follows:
6.4 mi 1:11:51
14.7 mi 1:30:11--2:42:02
18.5 mi 0:45:56--3:27:59
23.7 mi 0:51:04--4:19:03
25 mi 0:23:31--4:42:34 (Turnaround)
I raced pretty hard. I felt great through 30 miles, bonked in the next few, got very dehydrated and felt fairly horrible from 37-44 or so, but kept going and finished well, if without my 100% of my usual finishing kick.
Although happy with my race, it's all unimportant compared with something else. After "icing" my knees in the ocean at La Jolla Shores after the race, I went with friends to an art show in Torrey Pines on Sunday, then flew home. Monday morning the friend (BH) with whom I'd stayed told me that the friend (TR) to whom he had introduced me that weekend, and with whom I had run the race, who had driven me to and from the race, who was 31 years old, who was a Naval Academy grad, who competed there as a long-distance swimmer, who was an oceanography PhD student at Scripps-UCSD studying ocean rainfall as a way to better measure global warming, who disliked the corporate culture and waste of major triathlons so much he put on his own green race that offset all racers' carbon and collected only two pounds of trash for hundreds of entrants, who was running his third ultra, who by all indications was an amazing athlete and an amazing person, had died in his sleep of a heart attack 36 hours after the race. I don't know many details, but hypertrophic cardiomyopathy sounds like a decent guess.
My condolences go out to those who were lucky enough to know him better than I did. Having only just met him, I don't think it would be appropriate of me to pontificate too much, but let me just say that I believe that going down swinging, and doing what you love, is the best way to go. If I were to die in or because of the mountains (a place where I firmly believe statistics are in my favor compared to driving, or worse, riding my bike in traffic) better when I'm 75 than 31, but still, I can't think of a better way.
RIP TR. You will be missed, and you were going to destroy Leadville.