by Marie DeJournette
Things didn’t go as planned. Things didn’t even go according to my modified plans. Basically, things were whack! But considering that I missed out on a substantial block of training due to work, had to maneuver around wildfire smoke and heat wave during training, and was sick with a gut bacteria and antibiotics, I think I did OK for a 62 year old woman who was never really a runner before the age of 40 and whose first ultra was run at the age of 58.
I found out two weeks prior to the Wonderland run that I had H pylori, a gut bacteria that had put a serious crimp in my training for a couple months. The good news is that antibiotics seem to have subdued the bug. The bad news is that the antibiotics upset my stomach and for the first two days of the Wonderland trip I felt like crap while I was still taking the meds.
My modified plan was to ride the support van to the campgrounds and do out and back runs from there. What I didn’t know is that the ride to the camp included long stops for re-supplying, meaning that once settled in to camp there wasn’t time for much more than a quick jaunt.
So while I am sorely disappointed that I was only able to complete about a third of the course, I am still proud of the fact that I far surpassed my fundraising goal, which is truly what the whole thing was about anyway. I raised over $4,000.00 for Breast Cancer Prevention Partners the leading science-based policy and advocacy organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. Their focus is on the intersection of breast cancer prevention and environmental health and I’m so thankful to those who donated in support.
Here’s the low down on the Wonderland trip.
Day One-We drove to Ashford Washington with my friends Janet and Theresa, camped at Big Creek campground for our first group dinner. My belly was feeling off so I only managed to eat a few slices of zucchini and some lettuce. I knew that wouldn’t sustain me for the next day’s planned route so I resigned myself to the fact that I would ride in the support van.
Day Two-To Longmire we went to the start of the Wonderland trail. Sadly, I bid farewell to the runners heading out. I then hopped in the support van to head to the Mowich Lake Campground, stopping for groceries along the way. We then set up camp in the rain and I decided to head up for a 5-mile, wet hike/run to Eunice Lake. From the main trail three of our runners rolled into camp in the dark at about 8:30pm, exhausted and soaked from the wet weather. I was so thankful I had opted out of running 34 miles with close to 10,000 feet of elevation gain that day.
Day Three-We packed up camp and I again watched the runners take off for the next leg of the run. We then drove to White River camp and I headed out for a gorgeous 6-mile run/hike with glacier and mountain views.
I was pretty much feeling like a failure and a fraud around the dinner table that night as the other runners told their tales from the main trail. Any athlete can tell you how hard it is to be in that position, sick and sidelined, and how deep in your head you can get. While I was enjoying the company and the views that I did get, I was seriously bummed to be missing out on the big challenge. I took my last dose of antibiotics in the morning and was able to eat a little more that night so I prepped my pack as though I were going to run the intended mileage with the other runners the next day.
Day Four-I awoke at 3am still unsure of my gut but my head down and decided to go for it. I packed my tent and gear, drank a protein drink, put on my pack, and at 4am headed out alone with my headlamp to tackle the 20 miles to Box Canyon. I saw the sunrise on Mt. Rainier with the alpine-glow pinkness lighting up the sky. My gut was not happy, but I was. I had to make six forays into the bush to dig cat holes to alleviate my touchy tummy but it was worth it. Every turn in the trail had me exclaiming out loud at the astounding beauty and grandeur of the place. Photos don’t do it justice. It took me a long time to do 22 miles and I was pretty tired of climbing by the end of it but I’m SO glad I got out there.
The Aspire Adventure Running crew was at Box Canyon with an aid station so I was able to skip the final 12 miles of the route, a brutal stretch of climbing, during the heat of the day.
The crew from Aspire was top notch, catering to my every need, making sure I could amend the program to fit how I was feeling and it was great to have my friends to hike with and to boost my moral on those down days.
Here are some stats from the adventure:
Training Miles Run 473
Training Elevation Gain 69,663 feet
Training Calories Burned 47,750
Wonderland Miles run 33.02
Total elevation gain 6,986
Calories burned 4,000
Each year I plan a race or excursion and join BCPP’s Get Active Challenge where you can choose your own adventure and pair it with a fundraising goal to support breast cancer prevention. Maybe I’ll head back next year and make another attempt of the 93 miles. Or maybe I’ll tackle something a little more reasonable. Time will tell.
Oh, almost forgot to mention, I ended up with poison oak! Fortunately it was a mild case but what a way to cap off the wonderful Wonderland journey. Sometimes you just have to laugh.
For part 1 of Marie’s story pre-event click here.
This post was originally published in October 2021.