Born To Run 2015

Born To Run Extravaganza 2015

The Monday back from Born To Run is always the worst work day of the entire year. I’ve showered (maybe), am wearing clean clothes (maybe), and am working (maybe). Its hard to focus because I miss my dirtbag Born To Run family. I’m surrounded by emails, deadlines, and stress. What happened to all that hippie love on the ranch!? Oh, I know…it pings my phone every few seconds as everyone spends the day uploading photos and videos from the event. Obviously I’m not the only one who has a hard time focusing on Monday after Born To Run.

For the record, this is how I know that I survived Born To Run this past weekend.

I took 7 gallons of water
I came home with 6.75 gallons of water (who needs water when you have PBR!?)

I took 6 cases of beer
I came home with a six pack of various beer brands that I didn’t even bring

All of the clothes in my van need laundered, even if I didn’t wear them

None of my running gear was actually used

I have a new Akabill peace amulet hanging from my rear view mirror

I found a broken arrow in my van

I received an influx of new friend requests on Facebook
I remembered very few of the names, but all of the faces

My legs aren’t sore from running
They are sore from dancing

I have rug burns from the wrestling mats where I lost to my younger brother

There are footprints leading up the front of the van, across the windshield, and onto the roof

My pop top wouldn’t close because there was a stray beer wedged in the upstairs bed

I found empty beer cans and a bottle of Fireball whiskey stuffed in my van’s refrigerator

I ate none of the groceries that I brought
But several $20 bills were missing, most likely spent on burritos

To say that Born To Run 2015 was a success would be an understatement. It was amazing.

The Born To Run weekend kicked off with a wedding. No, no, no…not my wedding! Dad had been selling Kathy on the idea of getting married in California since he attended Born To Run the previous year. He would have preferred to be married at Born To Run, onstage, with Luis officiating, but I don’t think anyone is that good of a salesmen. Kathy decided California was fine, but she preferred to be wed in a vineyard, not on the ranch.

Dad and Kathy booked The Retreat in the middle of the Charhartt Sangiovese Vinyard. On Thursday afternoon a local ordained minister arrived to do a simple ceremony. Tyler and I sat on the couch while he officiated the wedding, using quotes from Adam Sandler. They sealed it with a kiss, opened a bottle of wine, and I stayed to celebrate before heading to the Born To Run ranch to set up home before dark.

Clemens Family - Born To Run Ultramarathons
The Clemens Clan – Tyler, Jim, Kathy, Chris

Before leaving town I sent a “B double E double R U N” (beer run) text to Tyler…because the last thing we wanted to do was run out of beer.  I turned off Figueroa Mountain Road, opened the cattle gate, pulled in, and popped my first PBR. I drove the gravel road and found my campsite just about as close to the stage as possible. Sean and Molly were there and I pulled in beside them to set up home base. A short 30 minutes later the top was popped, the awning was pitched, the chairs were arranged, and the flags were flying high. Welcome to Born To Run!

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B double E double R U N

That evening more friends rolled in and we spent most of the night cracking beers and walking from camp to camp, catching up with everyone. The real antics would start the next day.

Friday morning I woke up with the sun and had the breakfast of champions…beer. More friends and family arrived, filling the space around my van. Pretty soon the whole corner was flooded with cars and tents, everyone stopping by to see my new home.

At Home At Born To Run 2015
The Van I Call Home.

The archery run took place near my van (see the broken arrow mentioned above) and we watched friends shoot arrows, miss targets, and run laps. I tried to take it easy as the beer mile wasn’t scheduled until 4:30 PM. Sporadically 200 mile runners who had started on Wednesday night and Thursday morning were completing laps and looping through camp. We cheered and all agreed that we were glad that we weren’t running 200 miles.

After a huge burrito for lunch the bolla races started. I took a stab at kicking the wooden ball down the course in my Luna sandals and won one of my heats, but hobbled away with sore feet.

Chris Tarzan Clemens - Bolla Racing 2015 - Michelle Evans
Bolla racing – Photo by Michelle Evans

Finally the time had come for the (main?) event. The annual Born To Run Beer Mile. So many participants toed the line that there was hardly room to stand between the cans. Red, white, green, and silver dotted the ground. Race Director Patrick Sweeney, having just completed his transcontinental run from Los Angeles to Boston, had made it back to California just in time. He gave us the pre-race oath.

I can drink more than I think I can.
I will be drunker than I think I am.
I. Will. Not. Puke.

And with that, we were off. True to Tarzan fashion, I was still standing on the line drinking my first beer when the leaders returned for their second beer. No, this would not be the day that I would stun the world with a record breaking beer mile. Oh well.

Chris Tarzan Clemens - BTR Beer Mile 2015 - Molly Nugent
Holding down last place in the Beer Mile – Photo by Molly Nugent

I ran the first 3 laps faster than I normally do, but I was still way behind and by the time I grabbed my fourth beer everyone was already lining up for the class photo. Well, I couldn’t miss that, so I sat down, sans shovel amulet, fourth beer in hand, and waited. EVERYONE else finished before me, even Old Man Mike Miller on crutches! I sat for the team photo, drank my final beer, ran my last leg, didn’t puke, and still did it in 26 minutes…not too bad!

BEER MILE BTR 2015 - Colleen Sierra
Beer Mile 2015 – That’s me still drinking a beer! – Photo by Colleen Sierra

You would think that after doing a beer mile the night before an ultramarathon the participants would switch to water and sports drinks, but the band was just warming up, so more brews were handed out and we crowded around the stage for some good ole fashioned dancing in the dirt. The 100 mile race started and those of us who would be racing at 6:00 AM the next morning danced the night away.

Born To Run Ultramarathons

4:29 AM…
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

Shotguns and crazy loud Mexican mariachi music echoed around the valley. If you slept through the start of Born To Run you had to be deaf. Hey…did anyone wake up Akabill?

Race morning was starting out infinitely better than last year. For one, I could find my running shoes. Last year, Dad found them for me on the Metalachi stage only minutes before the race started. My head and stomach also felt better. The only problem was that I hadn’t picked up my race bib, and I needed to get to the front gate of the ranch to do that. With 45 minutes to race time I woke Tyler and Allyson and borrowed her car.

At the front gate Luis was shouting orders mixed with “If you get lost, I don’t care!” and “No, there is no course map!” Beverley was overwhelmed with a queue of runners longer than the conga line at the previous night’s dance party. Luis delegated the wrist bands to me and then I helped Beverley hand out bibs. Finally, it was 14 minutes to race time and I still needed to get ready, so I hugged Beverley and climbed back into Allyson’s care to drive back to camp. Allyson’s car…oh crap! I bet she has all of her running gear in here!

Yup, she did. I pulled up and she and Tyler frantically started grabbing bags to get ready. Luis gave the race instructions, did the oath, and was removing the safety on the shotgun when the three of us finally made it to the start line.

I wasn’t expecting much out of myself. I had run my fastest 50K in February at Chris Rios’ Ridgecrest race, but in the process I had screwed up my back. I took most of the spring off from running and in the month leading up to Born To Run my longest “training” run had been 7 miles, and that was slow, barefoot, and in the soft sand of the Santa Barbara beach. With virtually no training beyond my daily 5 mile barefoot beach jog the race was going to be tough, or so I thought.

The race started as everyone funneled onto the dirt road leading away from camp. In a few short miles we’d be squeezing onto a single track trail so I stuck to the outside and made sure to make constant progress passing other runners. I ran with many friends along the way, talking about last year, and figuring out what really happened last night.

Half way through the first 10 mile loop I worried I was going too fast.

Will this be sustainable? I have no idea. But, heck, I feel good now, maybe I’ll keep going, and if I hit the wall, I’ll just drink some Fireball.

I swung through the camp and threw Dad my shirt. I was incredibly surprised to have completed my first 10 mile loop in just a hair under 1 hour and 30 minutes, way ahead of my PR pace. I grabbed some food, downed some water, and took off on the second loop.

Erica Smith was there too, also surprised by her own pace, but incredibly determined to beat her boyfriend Miguel in his A-Race of the year. She ran with me to the first aid station where I took down some food quickly and pushed on ahead. I was nearing 15 miles and still charging most of the hills, passing other runners walking the steep sections. I still didn’t think it was sustainable, but it felt good.

I finished the picturesque single track section and tried not to tumble down the steep hill with Akabill yelling “Go faster, go faster!” I grabbed aid from Wild Bill’s station and cruised back into camp to finish my second 10 mile loop, this time completing loop 2 in just a hair over 1 hour and 30 minutes. I couldn’t believe it! I was holding pace! I would blow up on the third loop, I was sure of it.

I walked a bit more on the hills than I did at the beginning of the race and could feel the cramps creeping into my leg muscles, but I still held a steady pace. I started passing a lot of people, and a lot of friends. We enjoyed quick conversations as the sun beat down on the exposed course.

I had run the entire race in pair of board shorts and my cowboy hat. No runners pack, no food, no water bottle. At Wild Bill’s aid station I grabbed a small water bottle, shoved a PB&J in my mouth, and left with Cat yelling “Get out of here” behind me.

I made it to the final aid station, dropped the empty water bottle, and almost scooted out before stopping dead in my tracks. Wait…what’s that smell? BACON! Wow…maybe the best aid station food…ever.

I pushed hard. Was it 4 miles to the finish? Or was it 2? I couldn’t remember. Either way, I was close, and I was on PR pace. I cranked up the hills and let gravity pull me down the other side. I was having a lot of fun, something that had never really happened on my third loop at Born To Run.

Before I knew it I was running past campsites, cars, and cheering fans. I crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 39 minutes, good enough for 25th place overall and well over an hour faster than my time at Born To Run the previous year! The course was actually only 30 miles long, but my 50K (31.1 miles) PR was 4:54, so I had 15 minutes to run 1.1 more miles to achieve a PR. I’ll count it.

Dad handed me an ice cold beer (seriously, it had ice in it!) and I made my rounds, congratulating the friends that finished before me and cheering for my friends still out on the course. My only goal was to finish before the inaugural 0.0KM race, and I still had over an hour!

Born To Run 0KM
Athletes preparing for the 0.0KM Race

At high noon an event took place that may (or may not) have changed the world. The First Annual 0.0KM. The entire purpose of the race was to bring a camp chair and a PBR, sit in front of the starting line, and when the gun went off, drink said PBR. That was it. We all gathered around to watch the momentous occasion, and as soon as the gunshot rang out over the ranch we all opened our beers and celebrated.

More runners finished throughout the afternoon and Erica did beat Miguel…but for the record, his spandex pants were way cooler than hers. Then, another epic inaugural event took place, the “Fight Of The Century”. What? A fight at an Ultramarathon? Only at Born To Run.

Chris Ruiz and Anthony Sanders, both United States Marines, concocted an idea to spar at Born To Run to raise funds and awareness for PTSD through the foundation. We all donated money and watched two very experienced Brazilian jiu-jitsu masters roll around on the mat. After 5 minutes they were done and we all went back to the party.

Then someone whispered something to Luis on the stage.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in the second round of the Fight of the Century, please welcome to the mat, the Clemens Brothers!

Oh crap. I looked at Tyler…ahhh, what the heck. We set down our beers and made our way to the mat.

Chris was my coach, and Anthony was Tyler’s. Not that coaching would really help me. I had already run 30 miles, imbibed several beers, and was much more of a lover than a fighter. Tyler is scrappy though. Through years of fighting as kids I had always won because I was the bigger brother. Consequently, that made him a pretty good fighter.

The crowd started making wagers and Todd Kaplan ran around taking the bets as donations to the cause. Tyler and I met in the middle, kneeled down on the mat, and Luis yelled go. Just like that I was on my back. This wasn’t looking good for me. We rolled around the mat while Dad stood off to the side taking pictures. Dad wasn’t a very good cameraman because he only got pictures of Tyler pinning me to the mat. I mean…I think I remember having the upper hand, at least once!

Born To Run Clemens Fight 2015
The Fight of the Century – Clemens vs. Clemens (and the only photo where it doesn’t look like I’m losing.

We were nearing the end of our 3 minute bout, Luis was counting down the seconds, “6, 5, 4” when Tyler flipped me and did what I was trying to do the entire time. He grabbed my arm, swung his leg over my body, and pulled on my wrist. Ok, that was enough. I tapped out. Now…if we had more time I might have been able to sit it out…but in reality, he won fair and square. Oh gezz, I’m never going to hear the end of this. Maybe at least now people will stop talking about me kissing Manley on the lips at Red Rock.

We picked a few more challengers from the crowd and raised $455 for the charity! It was all fun and games until Gergorio passed out while sparring with Ethan. No more wrestling!

I signed Sweeney's shovel. He signed me.
I signed Sweeney’s shovel. He signed me.

Next came the First Annual Dirtbag Non-Talent Show. The acts were great, the judges were a little out there and entertaining. I will spare you the details, but if you want to see something that will make you cringe more than watching a sex scene with your mom next to you on the couch make sure to attend the Dirtbag Non-Talent Show next year. Just leave the kids at home, or at least in the tent.

The next act was the Mother Corn Shuckers. Everyone was out boot scootin’ and foot stompin’. We had danced the night away the previous evening and were sticky and smelly from running 10, 30, or 60 miles that morning, but we were all out there looking cooler than Brooks and Dunn. Jadd handed me a bag of jello shots and they were gone in minutes. Next came Fireball and other whiskey bottles. Yes…Born To Run was in full swing.

Born To Run Ultramarathons - Nancy Kaplan
Born To Run Dance Party – Photo by Nancy Kaplan

As night fell the Red 11’s took the stage and we all rocked out to electric guitars while neon balls bounced around the crowd. It was a big mess of bodies and bottles. This is why I come to Born To Run!

After several encores Luis finally shut it down. Smaller parties broke out across the valley, beers were shotgunned, stories told, vans climbed on top of, and headlamps flashed every which way. Every now and then the entire campground would come alive with the cheers of another 100 or 200 mile finisher. Then, we’d all roll over and go back to sleep.

The next morning we shuffled around between empty bottles and cans, laughing and joking with friends, and packing up camp. Sunday at Born To Run is always bittersweet. We had spent several days in the dust and dirt with people from all backgrounds, ages, careers, home states (or countries), and we were all best friends…no, we were family. We didn’t want it to end, but the real world called. One by one, members peeled off, packed their vehicles, got rounds of hugs, and then drove out to return to their normal life.

A group of us jumped in Tyler’s truck and took off around the course to sweep the flags. Of course, we took a cooler full of beer and a bottle of champagne and generally had more fun driving the dirt roads, telling stories from the weekend, and posing for an epic picture on a boat in the middle of the course.

Queen Mary
“Another amazing Born To Run is in the books. Can’t express enough how amazing it is to get our BTR family together each year for this reunion. And it just keeps getting better! As we swept the course yesterday, we realized it’s time to sail away from this adventure and on to the next. Special thanks to Luis Escobar for putting this on each year, and I can’t wait to see you all again!” – Tyler Clemens

When we returned to the home base only a core group of people remained and we all jumped on the stage to take one last Born To Run 2015 family portrait.

Born To Run 2015 Family Portrait - Born To Run Ultramarathons
My Born To Run Family

And with that, it was over. I started my van, gave everyone one last hug, and drove off the ranch and onto the pavement that would lead me back to my normal life in Santa Barbara. I had spent time with family, made many new friends, started lasting friendships, lived amazing stories, and came home with a rejuvenated heart. Yes, Monday was low…the lowest Monday of the year. But, in all of the depression of being away from my family and the freedom of the ranch, my heart jumped with every message received and picture posted. We had done it again. A bunch of silly, dirtbag, Lunatic, ultrarunners had taken over a ranch and changed the world, at least for me!

What will happen at Born To Run 2016? Who knows. Cartwheel competitions? Line Dancing? I have heard whispers about round two of the Fight of the Century, and god knows that Tyler and I will be called on stage again. I guess I better find a jiu-jitsu instructor…soon.

Born To Run:

One Comment

  1. Great post! I really missed my time at B2R last year. The feeling just never goes away. I must make my way back to Cali soon.

    When did you get that new van? Looks awesome!

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