According to Greek mythology, the Chimera was a monstrous fire-breathing lion, with the head of a goat arising from its back, and a tail ending with a snake’s head. According to the website for the race of the same name, those who have run the course refer to it simply as “The Beast”.
The Chimera 100 miler takes place on a figure eight course that starts and finishes at Blue Jay Campground, in the Trabuco region of the Cleveland National Forest southeast of LA. With over 22,000′ of elevation gain, it’s rated one of the toughest trail 100 mile races in the country.
I had originally planned on running Cascade Crest in August as my first 100 miler, but after being side-lined for two months from an injury during Diez Vista 50k earlier this year, I was forced to look for an alternative in late-Fall. My buddy Dave suggested I join him for this fairly small race with what would turn out to be a big reputation, and I didn’t hesitate for long. “Chimera eh? I hear that course has got some bite!” was the reaction from another friend. “Just remember to save something for the last 30 miles.”
My goal would be simply to finish feeling strong and hopefully in under 27 hours, although that was very much an arbitrary time goal. The truth is I would have been happy with anything just under 30 hours so I could get the special nickel buckle (and well under the cut-off time of 34 hours). But the change in schedule made it difficult to wrangle a crew or a pacer, so Dave and I would be on our own.
It turns out that mine wouldn’t be a story of pain, suffering, or any of the horrible experiences common with first 100 mile races. No puking, no bonking, and not a single blister. I wish I had a better story to tell, like having to dig myself out from the darkness after an epic low point to come back to slay The Beast. The best I can do is tell you about what I think went right in my training and in my execution during what was a difficult but overall a very enjoyable and memorable race.