Ellen Parker - The Bear 100

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


By: Ellen Parker

On Friday September 23rd, 2011 at 6am I would embark on a journey I had begun just 3 times before and had finished only twice before. A 100-mile endurance run is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Perhaps having had 3 previous experiences to weigh on my nerves was a good thing.  I was so nervous going into The Bear because my last 100-mile race in September of 2010 (Pine to Palm) turned into a suffer-fest junk show from mile 65 to the finish.  During Pine to Palm I was reduced to hours of tears from acutely painful tendonitis in my Anterior Tibilais tendon.  It also rained for 25 of the 26 hours that I was out there.  For The Bear I had no expectations except that I knew I would crumble into a ball on the side of the trail at one point or another between mile 70 and 100…

Krissy Moehl and Matt Hart were my crew and pacers for The Bear. They were super dedicated and the best support team anyone could ask for. Thank you, you two! Krissy and I flew from Seattle into Salt Lake City on Wednesday and stayed with Matt who resides in SLC. We had lots of laughs and fun times as I was trying to forget about the task ahead. Personally, this seems to be a good defense mechanism before such a huge undertaking!

On Thursday we drove from SLC to Logan, Utah and attended the pre-race meeting. I noted one comment from one of the race volunteers who proclaimed, “The last thing that you would ever expect to happen will happen tomorrow during The Bear.”  This statement stuck with me. I was curious. What would it be for me?? 

Under 2 hours into the race and just before the first aid station a bee flew into my mouth as I was taking a bite of my peanut butter, honey and banana tortilla and stung the back of my throat. Oh No! The thoughts going through my head were not good. Holy crap, I’m allergic, but how allergic am I?  I slowed down to wait for another runner to pass so that I could tell them just in case of an emergency. The pain especially with swallowing and swelling didn’t stop me but the fear of it becoming worse was what slowed me down.

I made it to the first aid station at mile 10.5! Unfortunately, they did not have an epinephrine pen so I continued on. The next aid station and my fabulous crew would be at mile 19.6. I had a horrible sinking feeling in my gut. Would I make it the 9 miles down to the next aid station? Swallowing was hard and eating was most definitely out of the picture.

A lot of runners were passing me at this point.  I made sure to tell everyone that passed that I’d been stung in the throat. Everyone was super supportive and gave me all kind words or helpful hints that really kept me going.

By the time I got to the second aid station I decided to take an Aleve to reduce the swelling and pain with swallowing. I was going to be in trouble if I couldn’t get or keep calories down.  Between miles 25 and 33 it started to get hot and because I hadn’t been eating I started to vomit and have diarrhea. Great, I know, TMI but it’s important to prevent these things so that one doesn’t get too dehydrated. This causes lots of other issues as the day goes on.  It was still so early in the race. I seriously was laughing out loud that I kept having to go into the woods.  Was this how the entire 100 miles would go? It will take me 40 hours to finish this thing!!

One thing that kept me going early on was I knew that at mile 36 Krissy would start pacing me. This thought in my head kept me moving forward. I knew she would help figure out the best solution for all of these issues of mine.

Sure enough about 45 minutes of running with Krissy I realized we were actually running at a good pace. My stomach felt fine and I had had only one bathroom stop. I got to the mile 44 aid station wanting to eat. I didn’t feel great but knew I needed to get in everything that I could.  Matt was waiting for Krissy and I there with turkey, avocado, Ultragen, coconut water, and bananas!  I ate everything in site.  This became a milestone of change for the day. By the time I got to mile 50 aid station I felt better than I had felt all day and ready to run the second 50 miles through the night! 

By the end, my left hamstring cramped, my eyes got tired from staring at the ground, my neck and back were achey but nothing was screaming at me. Krissy and I got lost a few times between miles 85 and 92, Krissy hallucinated, I fell off a log into an extremely cold river, Matt and I blasted his skull candy for four hours which I highly recommend and by the end I was happy to be finished but left with wanting more. I learned a lot from Matt and Krissy and from myself. I truly can’t wait to do it again soon!!  This was the most exciting part of running the Bear for me. I didn’t shed a tear. I remained positive and happy for 95% of the day and kept moving forward. I feel lucky to have finished 3rd female and in under 24 hours. 

I wore my favorite La Sportiva C-Lites all day, a pair of Moving Comfort running shorts, a GreenLayer La Sportiva shirt during the day, and a long sleeve GreenLayer shirt for the evening hours.

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