DFL: 3 Inspiring Stories From Last Place Finishers

Runner: Suzy Gutierrez
Distance: 100 miles
Race: Chimera Mountain Race
Terrain: Trail
Placement: Last, 40 minutes before cutoff

Suzy's Story

A typical running week for me is anywhere from 45 to 65 miles, and sometimes up to 70+ miles. I was very fortunate to have done most of my training runs on the Chimera course. However, I don't train alone on trails because I am a wimp and scared of mountain lions.

In the first 5 miles, I felt awesome. In fact, I felt awesome until 40 miles. I had an excellent groove and a pretty good pace going up to Trabucco. I said to myself, "Man, this is great! I cannot believe how great I feel!" Right when I reached Santiago Peak, I started feeling crappy.

After 83 miles, I needed to climb 6 miles to the top of Main Divide, and then another freaking climb to the top of Horsethief. I felt beyond miserable. My feet were in terrible shape, but the real problem was the weather.

I had left my rain coat jacket along with my beanie and poncho with my first pacer. That was a really bad choice. The winds started to really kick in, and so did the rain. The cold was just unbearable. I had a couple layers on me, but not enough to keep me warm or dry. My only thought was to make it to Trabucco, hoping they could help me. I was 4 miles away.

My body was in really bad shape and I fading out terribly. I started shaking uncontrollably and breathing hard. I made it to Trabucco and they took me in immediately. I spent about 30 to 40 minutes there, while the runners behind me caught up. I didn't care about much, other than just staying near the heater.

At my lowest point I wondered, "Why am I doing this?" But there was also a tiny voice in back of my head saying, "You can do this!" It was way in the back.

I thought about my friends and family cheering me on and believing in me. I was here to conquer the distance. Not for time, but the distance. I had always dreamt of running this distance. And here I was, running the Chimera 100. I was not about to let this dream slip out of my hands. And quite frankly, I had paid $230 to run this damn thing.

My only companion on the lonely trails was God. I talked to him and focused on why I was doing this: I had promised my dad that I would. He was supposed to see me finish, but he passed away. He was here in spirit.

When I thought about quitting, my pacers rolled in. They said things like, "I didn't come all the way here to see you quit!" Both of them were very encouraging, but not always nice. Sometimes I needed a kick in the butt. I would not have finished if it weren't for my pacers. I owe them a lot.

I am sure my dad is really proud of me.

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Vanessa Rodriguez is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, an ultra-endurance athlete, and an online editor for Active.com.

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