Bighorn 100 Race Report
John Fiore, PT
Sapphire Physical Therapy
As I sat in Dayton Park listening to the pre-race briefing, I felt strangely calm. Just two hours before the start of the Bighorn 100 and I just wanted to get started. The presence of fellow Missoulians is always reassuring at Bighorn. JB Yonce, Dan Pierce, Todd Bachman, Babak Rastgoufard, Randy Tanner and I discussed strategy, discussed the weather, and waited in anticipation for the 11:00 am start on the Tongue River road. My primary goal was to cross the finish line in Dayton 100 miles down the trail. After Three consecutive 100 mile DNFs due to injury and illness, my training and nutrition underwent an overhaul and I finally felt ready to charge.
Settling into a rhythm in the heat, the wildflowers and vistas reminded me of why I came to the Bighorn Mountains to run 100 miles. The race course is known for its beauty, technical sections, runnable sections, unpredictable weather, all wrapped up in 17,000 feet of climbing. Babak, Todd, and I were all within a few minutes of each other, and Dan was up the trail a ways. The hours ticked by and we descended “the wall” and crossed the Little Bighorn River where the Footbridge volunteers were buzzing. Kevin Davis of Livingston, MT filled my hydration bladder and got me moving.
Allison paced my up the final climb to Dry Fork where Kevin and Bridger were waiting. I felt spent but 18 miles seemed totally within reach. More Tums and some help with my nausea thanks to Amy Brown and we were off. Kevin would pace me to the finish line. Kevin had accompanied me through the night twice last year during 100 mile races I had to drop at mile 75 and 86, respectively, due to unrelenting vomiting. Not fun, yet here he was taking up the pace again! Kevin told me he would push the pace a bit and instructed me to “hold on the best you can, and if you need me to slow up just say so.” At mile 90 we crested the final significant climb and began the descent of the Tongue River Canyon. I was amazed to discover my legs were fresh and I could run fast and furiously after Kevin! We flew down the canyon laughing and talking about our kids, our friends, and truly enjoyed the last two hours of the race.
Completing my first 100 miler is satisfying and I will always treasure the experience. The emotion which remains, however, is gratitude. Running is a solitary sport, but running 100 miles would not be possible without my friends and family made it their mission to get me to the finish line.
John Fiore, PT