How I became Ultraman-
Deception Pass 50k 2015
by ultrarunner Jonathan Smith,
Team Silverdale RIOT
I signed up for my first ultra way back in the month of June shortly after completing my 3rd marathon, the Rock and Roll Marathon in Seattle. I was fairly confident coming into this race, especially having completed the very challenging Bellingham Trail Marathon only a month ago, and my 5th marathon this year. The weather when we showed up was your standard Washington weather for this kind of year, low 40s, rain, and 30mph gusts of wind that were slated to get stronger throughout the race. During the pre-race brief, the winds were such a concern that the race directors considered shortening this race to a half marathon distance pending how bad the conditions got.
I started out really well setting a good pace over the first few miles. Crossing over the Deception Pass Bridge the first time, the wind was fierce blowing me towards the rail on several occasions, but I felt great. I felt like I belonged there. After crossing the bridge and getting back on the trail, I took my first real spill in a rather precarious spot they warned us about during the prerace brief. I was flying down a steep muddy downhill section that led right down to the edge of a cliff which was caution taped off, where the trail then broke to the right along the bluff. I lost my footing and slipped and was in no real danger of going over the edge but it was still quite a rush. I got back up and continued on. Lesson learned. I found the trail conditions on the north side of the bridge to be much more stable than what was to come on the south side. There were several lollipops in this race which provided the opportunity for me to high five many of the amazing athletes and friends I’ve had the privilege to meet and run with this year. Coming back across the bridge for the 2nd time the weather was relentless with 40mph gusts of wind and rain blowing across the bridge, but nonetheless this place is still has that awesome beauty that’s difficult to describe in words.
The rest of the race was to be completed in the southern half of the park. As the weather and trail conditions worsened, my miles got slower and slower. I did my best to stay hydrated carrying an Osprey Rev 16 Hydration Pack and an Ultimate Direction Water bottle. I struggled however staying properly fueled outside of the standard energy gels, which in a race of this magnitude is so critical. The climbing also really picked up too during the on the southern side of the park. This race had around 4900ft of vertical climb according to my Garmin. The mud was a factor throughout the race. I would’ve have liked to make up time on the downhill portions, but keeping in mind the earlier incident, it was difficult. When I came around to the last 7 mile lollipop which you had to run twice, I became really concerned with time. My miles had gotten much slower and this part of the course was pretty gnarly. At one point you had to trudge up a part of the trail that had literally turned into a mudslide. I did a pretty good job using the vegetation to brace myself but it was a bear nonetheless. I was continuously looking at my watch trying to calculate what I needed to do to make the 7 hour cutoff at Mile 28.2. After the first loop around the last lollipop, I had serious concerns about whether I could do the loop one more time and make the cutoff. I was bound and determined I could make it. The doubt however still lingered and at the time, I thought I was the last runner. I was able to make the last cutoff by 7 minutes along with surprisingly 4 other runners that came sprinting out of the woods right behind me. They later informed me that they were the last ones the aid station let through.
The last 3 miles or so were some of the hardest of my life with about 2 on the road and another mile back to the finish. I passed the course sweepers at around mile 31 as they cheered me on saying I was under the cutoff. My adrenaline picked up as I was getting close to the finish. I could hear the crowd at the finish line through the trees. As I emerged back onto the beach with the finish line crowd yelling and cheering, I couldn’t hold back the tears in my eyes. I was the last finisher at the 2015 Deception Pass 50K and the jacket that I was wearing got shredded on some tree limbs but I couldn’t be happier. This was the greatest day of my life and I couldn’t me more thankful for the friends I’ve made and support I’ve received on this incredible journey. Thank you so much everyone!