Name: Jeremy Ebel
Home: Boulder, CO
UltraMarathons: Leadville 100 – 2010 (29:27), Leadville 100 – 2012 (25:03), Boulder 100 – 2012 (16:15)
Average pace for Boulder 100, produced by Gemini Adventures – 9:45/mile
*photos courtesy of Glen Delman Photography, official photographer for the 24 Hours of Boulder event.
Very few people will ever attempt to run 100-mile races. Even fewer will finish.
Only a handful of ultra marathoners will cross the line under 20 hours.
And probably only seven of those will ever break 17 hours (give or take a few).
28-year-old Jeremy Ebel of Boulder, CO ran the Leadville 100 in August 2012; it was his second foray into racing 100-milers. That day he ran without pacers and finished in 25:03.
Fast-forward two months. His longest training run between Leadville and the Boulder 100 was 30 miles. Nevertheless he was determined to break the 20-hour mark on his third ultra marathon. Based on several factors including the relative flatness of the course and a detailed nutrition plan, he was confident that a sub-20 finish was possible.
Jeremy recruited a few friends to crew and then requested pacers. His roommate agreed to pace one of the fourteen 7.15-mile laps. Another friend could do an evening lap. I committed to running the last 14 miles with him.
Eleven hours into the race I received an urgent text from the crew chief. Jeremy was on pace not only to finish in under 20 hours, but possibly in 16 hours and 30 minutes. I needed to show up a good two hours earlier than anticipated.
At 10:45pm I waited in the dark next to the truck. Jeremy would arrive approximately an hour and ten minutes after his last lap. A new handheld water bottle with electrolytes awaited him, along with bacon bits, half a Honey Stinger waffle and Pink Lemonade Honey Stinger chews.
He arrived right on schedule, holding on to his 9:40 pace. Two minutes later we left the truck and our headlamps lit the way.
We ran steadily and talked quietly from time to time though it was obvious he wanted company, not conversation. My funny, off-the-cuff friend was deep in the zone, his concentration unwavering. I had never seen this side of him before and mentally readjusted my frame of reference. This guy was serious; beyond serious. He wanted this 16:30 finish.
The following is a sample of what occurred over the next 14 miles.
Lara: “It’s pretty warm out here tonight. Wow, your headlamp is really bright. I wonder why mine isn’t as bright? Did you just replace your batteries?”
Lara: “My daughter and I watched Austin Powers tonight after dinner. She never saw “Goldmember”. Do you remember that one? It starts out with Dr. Evil talking about taking over the world. He’s been trying to get a plan started and Preparations A through G haven’t worked and now he’s on to Preparation H. Do you remember that part?”
Lara: “blah blah blah blah blah… Yadda yadda yadda. Blah Blah Blah?”
Lara: “Blah blah blah… Wait, where are you? Why are you back there? Are you tired? Do you need anything to eat?”
Lara: “Are you looking at my BUTT?”
Jeremy: “It’s bright and shiny in the light.”
Lara: “Here, drink this.” [passes water bottle]
Ten minutes later…
Lara: “It’s so pretty out here. I’ve never run at the Rez at night before. The stars are really bright tonight.”
Jeremy: “Lara? No offense… shut up.”
A minute later Jeremy laughed. A few stray thoughts had gotten through his concentration and we joked in the darkness.
Lara: “So, you’re running pretty fast. Do you still like being an ultra-marathoner?
Jeremy: “Right now; No.”
Lara: “You’re doing great Jeremy. You’re holding pace really well.”
Jeremy: “Please stop talking.”
As we headed down the hill to the truck at the end of my first lap and Jeremy’s 93rd mile, he asked me to run ahead and get a can of Coke ready. I made the pass-off, he waited for the water bottle refill and we left after only a minute. This time he didn’t pause to empty the rocks from his shoes.
Jeremy: “Do you think we can run faster on this lap?”
Lara: “Sure. I’ll set the pace and you just hold on. Can you do that?”
Silence. He gradually slipped behind me but held the gap at 50 yards. His bright headlamp cast my shadow far ahead. I focused on the shadow girl with the braids bouncing on her shoulders and chased her for a few miles.
At the Aid Station he took a handful of potato chips and we began the race to the finish line. We had maintained a steady 8:30 pace for 3.5 miles; at 96.5 miles, we were going to quicken the pace and blow it out.
I led the way over a mile of single track and the little bridge back to the flat section. Jeremy followed in silence.
Lara: “We’re going pretty fast. You doing okay?”
Lara: “Why do you keep checking your watch?”
Jeremy: “It’s a little over two miles to the finish line. Do you think we can get there in twenty minutes?”
Lara: “Absolutely. What happens in twenty minutes?”
Jeremy: “It’ll be 16:20”
Lara: “Okay. We’ll run fast. How are your feet? Want some water? Gel? Umm… Jeremy? You there?”
Lara: “You good?”
We didn’t talk after that. Jeremy’s pace quickened and we ran steady 8-minute miles for the next fifteen minutes. As we came down the hill I saw the crew chief’s headlamp by the side of the road. He was waiting for us.
“Finish line!” I yelled as we flew by.
We ran a small loop around the parking lot on our way to the finish line, gaining speed with each step. With 200 yards to go I yelled “Run Jeremy! Run! Run!!! RUN!!!”
His legs churned faster and faster. Leaning into the motion, he sprinted the last 50 yards to the finish line, beating his previous PR by almost nine hours for a finish time of 16:15. We had done it.
Jeremy sat at the finish line for the next several hours, cheering his fellow runners and slurping warm soup. He placed 2nd overall and the next adventure is already in the works; the Arrowhead 135 Ultra in International Falls, Minnesota.
Trail and Ultra Running thanks Glen Delman for the use of his photos in this article. Glen travels extensively photographing nature, commercial and events around the world. He is a full service photographer doing weddings, family portraits, sporting events, senior portraits and commercial photography.