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From the throne to the podium? 32


First off, Congrats to Evan Honeyfield and Becky Wheeler for winning the Wasatch 100 this year!

Evan ran a tough, strong race off the front once he took the lead to win it in 19:31.  The third fastest Wasatch ever.  Becky ran strong early, had a few struggles, but managed to take home her first skull.  Luke Nelson ran second with the fastest split from Brighton (5:09) joining the elite few to break 20 hours running 19:52.  And now my story…..

Back (no pun intended) in July, I dropped from the Hardrock 100 at mile 81 due to a bulging disc, which had been slowly getting worse since mile 40ish.  I did the right thing there, not putting myself in danger of really injuring myself so bad that running could be in jeopardy the rest of my life.  All injuries heal, but had I gone further, it would likely have not lead to this post about even running Wasatch.   I would not be running today had I kept going.  OK, enough about Hardrock and why I stopped.

After HR, I could not run for a few weeks.  My biggest goal at that point was to be able to mark the Speedgoat 50k course.  Noone but I can mark my baby, so I had to get well enough to make that happen.  Happen it did. I hurt daily hiking around the Speedgoat course, but I got the job done and managed to pull the race off…..somewhat pain free.  I still could not run normally.  All I could do is hike around cautiously and slowly.   I had to bail on UTMB and further decide what my next move would be.

A few days after the Speedgoat race, around August 2, my back was starting to hurt again, enough where I was not comfortable to go hiking.  What do I do now?  I am out of shape, have Wasatch and the Bear 100s in front of me, and a sore back.  I took a cortisone shot into the joint to see if could take down some inflammation in a hurry.  Dr. Russ Toronto stuck me with that long needle on August 5.  I had nothing to lose.  I wasn’t necessarily focused on running Wasatch or the Bear at that point, I just wanted to be able to get out in the mountains and have fun.  On August 9, I went for a walk up to the infamous “luge run“.  This walk was slow, very slow to say the least, but my back didn’t really hurt.  I used my Z-poles for some added support to save me from any “tweaks”.   This was the beginning of the comeback to running.  From this point on, I hiked 15 days in a row, anything from 6-14 miles over rugged Wasatch terrain.  Albeit slowly, I was out and about, enjoying every minute of it.  On August 24th, I started to test the slow jog.  Each day from this point I would jog a little bit more, hoping to eventually average 5mph.  Cuz 5mph is 20 hours at Wasatch.  If I can run 5mph now, pain free, I might be able to finish the 100 in a few weeks.  Each day was a slow progression, a little more running, a little bit faster.  Never did I run hard, especially downhill.  All the way up till September 3, I could not run full stride downhill.  I could only shuffle until this point.  Finally on September 4, I ran my favorite Little Cottonwood Climb,  White Pine, at a normal speed.   I was psyched.  I decided I “might” start Wasatch.  I was confident I could get to the finish.  I could always bail anywhere on that course and get home in 30 minutes.

And then on Tuesday night the  sledgehammer decided to hit me on the forehead……

The puke flu.  From 930pm Tuesday night, until Wednesday midnight, I was back and forth to the throne kneeling, sitting, kneeling sitting.  Well, you get the picture. My head hurt so bad, my whole body was more sore than I am now.  I had not felt worse than this in 20 years.  Hmmmm, I am running a 100 miler in 36 hours.   What do I do now?  do I bail cuz’ it’s certainly legit, or do I just wait it out and see what happens.  I think I’ll wait it out.

Wednesday I was able to eat 3 crackers, cool eh?  What a great way to get in some calories for a 100 mile mountain race.   Thursday morning I woke up and felt much better.  Not better per se, but the headache was subsiding slowly and almost gone, and I was no longer enjoying my cup of morning coffee on the throne.   I decided to drop my car at the finish line and make the effort to start the race.  After checking in at 1pm, I went for my first meal in a day and a half.   A cup of soup and a half sandwich.   I was able to keep it down.  Encouraging as that sounds, that was almost all I ate the rest of Thursday as my appetite was short and nothing looked good.   I probably consumed about 1000 calories all day Thursday.   What the hell, I’m gonna start.

I woke up Friday morning at 3:20, arrived at the start line at 4:20 and with no expectations…..I was off at 5am, up the mountain we go.

Seems as though this “flu” made me forget about my back.   Sometimes things happen for a reason.  Not sure if I’m so happy with getting the flu, but my back is better, I had no issues the entire 100 miles with my back and it feels good now.  How about that.  I’m probably still numb from the whole thing, and maybe it’ll come back, but at this point, I don’t expect anyone to ask me, “how’s your back”?   It’s behind me, that’s all I can say.

I was speaking with Roger Adams, a good friend here in SLC about the race.  I told him I have about a 21 hour run in me.  Well, I guess I was right.  I ran 20:59.53.  Talk about knowing what you are capable of eh?  Not my 31st win, but I didn’t expect to win, I was only hoping to run it pain free.

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  1. Robert says:

    wonderful effort Karl… now that is quite a story.

  2. Phil says:

    Awesome, Karl! That performance is maybe more impressive than any of your wins! Welcome back. Not that you were out very long.

  3. NickP says:

    Great to hear that your back is feeling better and that you are running well again! Incredible race given the circumstances.

    Look forward to chasing you around the Bear in a couple weeks.

  4. Chris Cawley says:

    Any forecast for whether you’ll crew or run at the Bear?

  5. karlmeltzer says:

    Chris, not sure, won’t really make that decision till about Tuesday or Wednesday next week. I feel good now though, all things considered. It depends how my recovery goes. It usually takes a few days to feel any real injuries. I’m pretty numb at the moment. :-)

  6. Jon Allen says:

    Karl- nice job pulling off 3rd place. I think either your back or the flu would have resulted in a DNS for most runners, so getting to the start was impressive enough. And the final result reflects your toughness and experience.

    Hope you can run the Bear. It’s a great course.

  7. footfeathers says:

    One month walk-training, flu symptoms, 1,000 cals the day before a 100. 20:59 at Wasatch. You’re a robot. What have you done with Karl?
    I’m never believing you again.
    See you at Bear. I’m 100% and I’m coming after you. (warm up my car and grab a beer out of it while you wait for me at the finish).

    • karlmeltzer says:

      Tim, if you would have seen me Wednesday, I was going nowhere. Roch Horton had the same thing but a day before me, so I was talking with him and seeing how he was recovering. I never said I “was not” running Wasatch. I said, “I might not start”. A bit of a difference….:-)

      Cheryl is running Bear, so I’ll be there, and I do hope to run. I doubt I’ll have any time to drink you’re beer. It’s your turn to bust one…

  8. Steve says:

    Hell of a run, Karl. Way to show us all how it’s done.

  9. Christian says:

    Great run Karl! The one and only Speedgoat, off the couch and on to the podium. I have to admit I had my doubts, but I was definitely pulling for you. nice work.

  10. Becky W says:

    So great to see you out on the course! Awesome run especially after being so sick! Hope you are able to run Bear.

  11. ScottD says:

    I was stoked to see you toe the line at the start, and even more stoked when the white boards at each aid station had you in the Top 3! Most of all just happy to see you running. Congrats on a great finish!

  12. Moogy says:

    Great job Karl…way to getrdone! Hope to seya there next year!

  13. ChrisB says:

    I like your style. Roll with the punches, show up and get ‘er done. Congrats on a great comeback!

  14. Craig says:

    Karl, it was great to be able to take a minute and chat with you after the race. Thanks for taking the time, I’m sure you had other things going on. Congrats on a great finish, that’s really impressive considering the days and months prior to the race. Good luck at Bear, it will be amazing this year with all the beautiful growth.

  15. James says:

    Pretty awesome. So many runners amplify the magnitude of a headache, a tweak, a cold before a big race. Your ability to deal with the symptoms logically and one-by-one is very telling of how you manage 100s. Don’t overblow a tweak to be the end of the world…and even with a cold you can still run strong! great job Karl and awesome new site design.

  16. Rob Youngren says:

    Awesome and quite motivating Karl! Nothing like you, but I’m nursing a stress fracture to my heel I sustained while mountain unicycling the Slickrock trail in Moab about 2 months ago… This is the longest period w/o running in 20 years for me! Sucks! But hearing stories such of your own really inspire me and give me hope. Can’t wait to get back to running!

  17. Karl: A few weeks ago I started a new award on my blog called the “Get ‘Er Done Award.” It’s for people who grind it out and finish strong despite challenging circumstances that would make most folks DNF. I’m thinking you get it for Wasatch (not that you care). That is incredible that you did so well despite your back problem and this wicked flu making the rounds. I am hoping and praying it avoids my family and me. The last thing we need is for the Hornsby house to get a case of the pukes and runs. Good job!


  18. Joe Grant says:

    Glad you’re back at it and I like the new site :)

  19. mer says:

    psyched over your psyche.

  20. Brian D says:

    Very impressive. Saw you hiking at El Vaquero Loco as I ran by(and of course asked how your back was-sorry) and didn’t think you would be running 100 miles a month later. Good job and hope the rest of the year goes well. Like the new site too.

  21. Craig says:

    Karl, congrats on another great finish. This has to be gratifying after the DNF at HR. You’ve clearly moved on. Good luck to you and the Mrs. at Bear. Keep doing what you do. This sport needs guys like you at the top to keep those of us chasing you, motivated.

  22. karlmeltzer says:

    I’ll have to say, it was nice to get the run done without my back tweaking, it would have been discouraging if it went out again. My left side kinda hurts now, but I think that’s just residual crap.
    Not really sure if I’ll start the Bear. At this point, I don’t see myself recovering as fast as normal after the stress of running 21 on no training.
    Still……”100 miles is not that far”. :-)

  23. Patrick McKenna says:

    Great to see that you are back on your feet. All the best. Thanks for sharing your story.

  24. Hone says:

    Nice! Glad you kicked the injury and are off the couch.

  25. John Brown says:

    I was working pole line pass and you looked so strong coming through at mile 83. I was surprised to read this article. You smashed it.
    I was also wondering what Hokas you were wearing? You ran through so quickly I only saw they were one of the road versions, but I couldn’t tell if they were a new prototype.

  26. Heath Scott says:

    When it sounds like you have pushed the limits as far as they can go, you up and pull off something like running 100 miles with little to no training. Wow! Are you still planning on running the UROC next week? I am training for my first ultra in December, and will be using the 1/2 marathon at UROC as a small training run, because I saw you and Roes would be there. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run on the same course, but well behind, two of my biggest inspirations. It’s good to see another Deadhead is running ultras!

    “Long distance runner what you standing there for?
    Get up, get off, get out of the door”

    Hope you continue to heal, and hope to see you next week at Wintergreen!

  27. Mackey says:

    Nice work ole man! Almost as impressive as your new website.

  28. Philipp says:

    Hey Karl,

    I am runner and a nurse from Germany and I read your Blog for some times now. As I heard about your spine-problems, I thought about a therapy the hospital offers where I am working at.
    The therapy is called “Pasha-Catheter”. It is an alternative to injections. It is just a pain-therapy, not an operation. This therapy is quite new and succesful.
    If you are interested, contact me via e-mail or via my blog.
    Greets from Germanyn and keep the spirit!

  29. Philipp says:

    I have noticed that my comment is deleted. I am sorry. It wasn’t meant to be Spam. Have a good time.

  30. karlmeltzer says:

    Hello Philipp. I apologize for not getting your comment up there. I was just busy, and didn’t get to “approving it”. :-)

    I”m not really having any spine problems. I have an “aggravated ligament” in the sacrum joint area. I”m ok, it’s getting better. I appreciate your suggestions, but I know time will heal this one. I need a break anyway. I tend to come back stronger, so look for some of that from me this late fall.

  31. Philipp says:

    Great to hear that it’s getting better. And I will keep my eyes open and look out for some surprises ;-)