UTMB 100: A Race I Didn’t Finish

September 12, 2015 | By | 20 Replies More

UTMB 100…a race I didn’t finish

 

It could’ve been worse. I could have taken a fall off a cliff and died. I could’ve snapped a bone in half and stabbed myself with my trekking poles. My injury could’ve come a few days before the race I and wouldn’t have had the chance to even start.

But I did get to start…I got to run the race I had dreamed about for 39 miles up in the lead pack and everything was going to plan…

 

But life doesn’t always like to follow exact plans. Sometimes unpleasant surprises happen.

Ironically I fell at the very bottom of this hill ( although I will note that it was dark at 1am in the morning and I was heading in the opposite direction). I looked up at a view of the mountain/stars/full moon and then over my shoulder when I tripped on a large rock. This sent me falling into another large rock (it didn't move) that cut into my knee. It was probably one of the least technical parts of the whole trail!

Ironically I fell at the very bottom of this hill ( although I will note that it was dark at 1am in the morning and I was heading in the opposite direction). I looked up at a beautiful view of the mountain/stars/full moon and then glanced over my shoulder when I tripped on a large rock. This sent me falling into another large rock (it didn’t move) that cut into my knee. Noob mistake. It was probably one of the least technical parts of the whole trail!

For those of you that don’t know, I didn’t finish the UTMB100 this year. After falling and cutting my knee on a rock at mile 39 I received stitches at mile 50 and then hobbled my way up a 3000’ climb at mile 55 before having a helicopter come in to rescue me. The actual blow to my kneecap had reduced me to a 0.25 mph hobble on the downhills and it became a “no-choice DNF.” For all the gory details you can check out my super long VLOG here:

YouTube Preview Image
Maybe I should stick to more smooth, uniform surfaces?! Photo by : Matt Trappe

Maybe I should stick to more smooth, uniform surfaces?! Photo by : Matt Trappe

 

Everything was going to plan...feeling good and running with the lead pack through Saint Gervias (around mile 14) Photo by K. Kortebien.

Everything was going to plan…feeling good and running with the lead pack through Saint Gervias (around mile 14)
Photo by K. Kortebien.

 

Rescue operation at Bertone (in Italy). Big thanks to the nurses/volunteers that helped me out!

Rescue operation at Bertone (in Italy). Big thanks to the nurses/volunteers that helped me out (and the helicopter pilot!)

I guess the big takeaway from this whole experience is that I still feel very fortunate to be in the position I’m in. [as long as my kneecap isn’t really damaged too bad…which I don’t think it is]. I mean, I got to spend a solid month in Chamonix (the most beautiful mountain town in the world that I’ve been to) training and exploring with Sandi as a full-time runner. That experience alone and the actual process of training for UTMB is something that can never be taken away from me.

Training with Sandi

Training with Sandi

 

Training with Nico (photo credit: Steph Howe)

Training with Nico
(photo credit: Steph Howe)

 

photo credit: Matt Trappe (Matt Trappe Photography)

photo credit: Matt Trappe
(Matt Trappe Photography)

While I really would’ve liked to finish UTMB (and I really would’ve liked to podium or be in contention to win), just being there was a dream-come true. Actually the past 3 years have been a dream come true. I’ve been very fortunate and there isn’t a day that I don’t take for granted in the sport of Mountain-Ultra-Trail running.

reunited with Sandi (and my Parents) back in Courmayeur.

reunited with Sandi (and my Parents) back in Courmayeur.

 

Big thanks to the UTMB race directors that  helped with my rescue operation and contacted Sandi and my parents when I stopped! Thank you so much for all your support!!

Big thanks to the UTMB race directors that helped with my rescue operation and contacted Sandi and my parents when I stopped! Thank you so much for all your support!!

 

Glacier hike with Sandi about a week before the race

Glacier hike with Sandi about a week before the race

So what’s next? Well, I’ve decided to take my cross training up a notch and get a road bike:

bikeallez

I can still count on my hands how many times I’ve ridden a road bike in my life but I must say it is quite exhilarating to click off 1:42 mile splits (downhill) and attack epic road climbs around Boulder faster than I could ever run.

 

About a week after my fall I was back home in Boulder moving into a new apartment with Sandi. I drank a couple Avery IPAs and then took my stitches out last Saturday night (I was also finally off antibiotics). Initially I was super eager again to get out and race I had this crazy idea that I could jump in the Run Rabbit Run 100 in 1.5 weeks and try to finish a mountain-trail 100. But then it hit me that I could barely walk without a limp. That would’ve been a bad idea.

enjoying fondue in Chamonix

enjoying fondue in Chamonix

Right now this week is a real “testing week” as I’ve done some 3-4 mile light runs to evaluate the knee and see if I need further treatment. Depending on how things go in the next couple of days, I’m leaning towards jumping in a late Fall road marathon to try to chase the 2016 US Olympic Trials Marathon Standard of a sub 2:18:00 again before showing up in San Francisco to defend my title at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-mile Championships in December. In any case I’ll be uploading all my runs (And Rides) up on Strava.com for all to see.

 

Big Thanks to Sandi and my parents for coming all the way over to France/Italy/Switzerland to help support me in this dream. Hanging out with you guys over there was the best! Also, thank YOU for all the support and amazing comments. You guys really are awesome! Hope your late summer running is going well!

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Any Surface, Any Distance:

Sage

@SageCanaday ( on Instagram and Twitter)

Vo2max Productions (on YouTube)

 

 

Shameless Sponsor Plugs:

 

Hoka One One: Kicks… “The Speedgoat”

Flora Health: “Udo’s Oil” and “7-sources” as well as Gogi Berries, Teas etc.

Compressport: Compression recovery socks (R2) Calf Sleeves

Ultimate Direction: Race vests/Fastpacks and new “Groove” belt system I’m testing out!

Julbo: Shades (Stony model is my favorite)

Ugo Bars: Awesome bar snacks!

Vfuel: Endurance gels

Trail Butter: delicious  flavored nut-based butters that come in packets for easy snacking/fuel!

Avery Brewing: amazing craft beer (I usually fly with some for international races)

Drymax: Max Protection socks…no blisters!

Strava: Gps and all training logs/data

 

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Category: blog

About the Author ()

2-time Olympic Trials Qualifier, Mountain runner, Author of "Running For The Hansons," trail runner, videos for Vo2max Productioins, LLC.

Comments (20)

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  1. Steve says:

    Thanks Sage! My running buddies and I really admire you for your strength of character in the face of adversity. We are looking forward to your speedy recovery and your coming great races and videos!

  2. Mr. RG says:

    Why don’t your major sponsors cover some, if not all, of your health insurance premium and deductible costs? Those costs are certainly minor amounts relative to the value provided by someone of your stature. Granted, you are not employed by Hoka One One but you generate far more value to their bottom line than most of their employees who, I would imagine, receive some sort of company sponsored health plan.

    For better or worse, money increasingly flows into this sport. Financial conditions are improving for top athletes such as yourself as companies fight for top talent and professional advocates (aka sports agents) are lured into the battle for their slice of that growing pie.

    Best wishes on a full recovery!

    • SageCanaday says:

      I do get a lot of support from my sponsors (and more importantly people in the running community that support/buy products from the sponsors!). As an independent contractor and self-employed/owner of my own business I got a pretty high deductible insurance plan for myself. The premium isn’t horrible so I really don’t have much to complain about. I might bite the bullet on the x-ray after a couple more runs this weekend. Thanks so much for all the support though. I really appreciate your comment!

  3. Sarah S says:

    Hi Sage, I feel compelled to leave you a comment after reading your post. First, I’m sorry to hear about your DNF. Thank you for opening up and sharing your experience in so much depth though – especially when it comes to responding to adversity. Five months ago I went in for what was supposed to be a simple meniscus surgery on my right knee and in the process they accidentally tore my patellar tendon. This has led me to have a chronically inflamed, dysfunctional knee that I can hardly walk on let alone do any running. I had to cancel my entire running season before it even started (after training under Ellie Greenwood’s coaching all year). My career is also currently dependent on me getting better. What I am trying to say is that I can sympathize with your pain!

    Anyway, I hope that your knee recovers quickly and that there is no serious damage (especially to the patellar tendon which can take ages to heal). I agree that it can be difficult to respond well to adversity. Thank you for acknowledging this. Regardless, we will get better with time. Just remember to keep your chin up!

    • SageCanaday says:

      Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear about your surgery and the patellar tendon tear. That is really a tough thing to overcome, but I wish you the best with your recovery as well. Thanks for sharing your story and best of luck with the knee!

  4. Thanks for the update Sage, and although it really sucks that you smashed your knee, you absolutely should *not* stick to flat surfaces!!! You’ve still got lots of big trail ultras to kick ass in!

  5. Hafisz says:

    Woahhh, that was unfortunate dude, sorry to hear that, but as all runners will do, get up and regroup, and run harder!!!! BTW, please do not giving it up on UTMB, try again next year, will ya? 🙂

    • SageCanaday says:

      Thank you! I would love to try UTMB again. Have to check to see if I am able to qualify/enter for next year though as I haven’t finished 100-miles and will not have the points.

  6. patrick voo says:

    as always sage you inspire all of us (your fans) by your incredible level of commitment, versatility and determination. the fact that you have been able to take this UTMB race experience in stride (pun intended) and demonstrated the smarts and resilience to craft a new going-forward training and racing plan is just more evidence that you are one of the world’s best athletes – PERIOD!

    #anysurfaceanydistance

    • SageCanaday says:

      Hey thanks so much for all your supportive comments Patrick! I think facing adversity is good every now and then (as it’s bound to happen if one takes risks!) and hopefully it will make me stronger. I also really like how you used the hashtag! Thank you!

  7. Dan says:

    Bad luck Sage. Hopefully you’ll be back for the next edition of UTMB next year, and found your approach really inspiring after suffering injuries a plenty during my own running experiences. Feel better and look Forward to seeing you back out there. Cheers

  8. Gunnar says:

    Hey Sage,
    man, I’m sorry for you. Sometimes, shit happens. Glad to see you’re training again. Keep on going, you’ve proven more than enough that you’re a real champ.
    Best from Germany! Gunnar

  9. Austin says:

    Hey Sage, any updates on the injury? Wishing you well and hoping your back to doing what you love. I’m running my second marathon (KC Marathon) in two weeks. Hoping for sub 3:30. Later!

  10. Carlo Diori Tonio says:

    Such an inspiration, Sage!

    Your experiences on UTMB are one of my reasons to keep battling with all the pain and sore when I’m running my ultras, and I do learning from your videos on YouTube.
    BTW, I just think that you are great enough to join the Salomon team, just saying bro 😉

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