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Pinoy runner conquers Western State 100

/ 06:49 AM June 26, 2012

From Sunday June 24 till the wee small hours of Monday morning Manila time, the close-knit community of Pinoy ultramarathoners kept faithful vigil for the online coverage of the 2012 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. They were rooting for runner No. 254 lawyer Jonnifer Lacanlale of Clark, Pampanga.

Atty. Jon as he is fondly called, is the first and only Philippine-based ultramarathoner to ever run Western States 100 to date. He is the course record holder and champion of the 2012 Bataan Death March 102 Ultramarathon. Atty. Jon won one of the 419 slots in the Western States 100, but only after qualifying by hurdling two of the toughest trail ultramarathons on the planet – the Great North Walk in Australia and the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) in Europe.

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The Western States 100 or WS100, is one of the oldest and certainly one of the most challenging ultra trail events in the world. All within the cut-off time of 30 hours, runners must traverse the Western States Trail starting at Squaw Valley, California, and ending in Auburn, California, a total of 160 kilometers. The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn. Most of the trail is so remote and rugged it is accessible only to hikers, horses and helicopters.

The wait for Atty. Jon’s crossing from one check point to the next became anxious when US-based Pinoy and WS 100 veteran Rick Gaston posted this on Pinoy Ultramarthoners Facebook forum:

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Rick Gaston (Sunday, PH time 8:56 a.m.)

Jon came in to the 38 mile aid station around 2:40 p.m., 9:40 into the race. He was being guided by the arm by another runner. Parang bulag and indeed he was. He had temporary blindness. Everything was blurry. Couldn’t see the ground or recognize your face. I was talking to him for over 30 mins. before he realized it was me. If you held up fingers in front of him he couldn’t tell you how many were up. Besides that he was perfect. Drinking and eating well, survived the freak weather – heavy rain and hail.

Jon kept saying “I have to try, I have to keep trying.” Hindi talaga mag surrender si Jon. At 3:50 p.m. 20 minutes before the cut off at the aid station he tried washing his eyes with cold water. At 4 p.m. the doctor and nurse did one more vision test and he passed – perfect. Doctor recommended against his leaving but let him go. Jon left at 4:05, at the last warning horn blast. Fingers crossed.

Jon was suffering from altitude induced blindness at mile 38, but won’t throw in the towel and DNF the race. Paced by Rick Gaston they made it through the rugged and undulating race course. The tension eased when at 2 a.m. Monday, Manila time, Rick updated their successful crossing to the finish but not before going blind again with less than 8 miles to go.

Rick Gaston, (Monday, PH time 2 a.m.)

We made it ! He went blind again with 8 miles to go. He’s blind now. Awesome! Unbelievable!

Displaying true grit the indomitable spirit of a great ultramarathoner, Jonnifer Lacanlale crossed the Auburn Finish Line in 29 hours 50 minutes 33 seconds and earning for himself the coveted WS 100 finisher’s buckle and the renewed pride, respect and admiration of his fellow road and trail warriors back home in the Philippines.

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Hours after completing his herculian feat Atty. Jon seems unbelieving of the magnitude of his achievement. Here is OUR buckle, he says. It is not without sacrifice. You don’t know what Rick and I went through just to get this one. How can an almost blind runner with 2 sprained ankles finish a 100-mile trail race? Ask Rick Gaston but it was a miracle.

For a more detailed account of Jon Lacanlale’s running exploits and adventures, you may visit his Ultrarunning and Beyond at http://jon-ultra.blogspot.com/.

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TAGS: 2012 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, run
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