Tom Green

Tom Green’s First Run Report in 33 Years - and Latest 100 Mile Finish

I haven’t written a race report since completing my first 100 miler, 33 years ago. For those friends of mine who have been asking for a Yeti 100 recap, here goes. My preparation for this year’s Yeti 100 mile run began, for me, over 2 and 1/2 years ago while I was still confined to a hospital bed at Kernan Rehabilitation Center, in Baltimore, Maryland. At that time my milestone of walking 10 steps unaided soon lengthened to walking one lap around the entire room. Once released from the hospital, the milestones continued to pass. My first full mile at 2 months post-accident, and within 7 months my first ultra-distance walk at the Crooked Road 24 Hour. One year following my traumatic brain injury and subsequent stroke, I ran/walked 50 miles of the Umstead 100 mile, all-the-while tethered to a stripped down Baby Jogger stroller to help me maintain my balance, which had been all but destroyed by the falling tree-limb-hit to my head.

The 2016 Yeti 100 saw my first serious attempt to complete a 100 mile race within a standard 30 hour time limit. The race that year went well up until the evening darkness stole what little balance I had left, leaving me unable to remain upright, and forcing an early withdrawl from the race. For the 2017 Yeti 100 race, my plan was to have enough lighting on my stroller for the night time darkness along with talkative company to keep my brain awake.

My good friend, Charlie Romanello, volunteered to come out from L.A. and run the entire 100 miles with me as an official entrant. At age 63, this would be Charlie’s first official ultra. Talk about jumping in with both feet! My pacer would be Alan Doss. A long-time friend, Alan was instrumental in helping save my life immediately following my accident. Rounding out my crew would be my team Captain, and wife of 42 years, Kay. Kay has crewed me at well over 200 ultras throughout my running career and would most certainly be instrumental in a finish at Yeti, if it was to happen at all. Nobody knows the special needs of this brain-damaged old man better than Kay.

Tom pre-race with Mark Zimmerman
Tom pre-race with Mark Zimmerman.

Going into the race, I felt that I had a good chance to finsh under 30 hours, but only if I held strictly to my pre-race plan. By hitting the split times written down on a cheat sheet for every checkpoint along the course, I would be able to stay under the cut-offs and within a few minutes of my goal pace the entire way. As in the previous year, the first half of the race was uneventful, as I hit every checkpoint up until sundown as planned. The biggest difference this year came in the next 30 miles of darkness. The extra 3000 lumens of lighting delayed the loss of balance till the daylight returned, at which time no amount of light or mindless chit-chat could prevent my mind from turning to mush. With Alan and Charlie positioned on either side of me, I pin-balled my way down the trail towards the finish line in Abingdon.

Pinballing to the finish are - left to right - Charlie, Tom and Alan
Pinballing to the finish are - left to right - Charlie, Tom and Alan.

As much as I had prepared myself for the day that I would once again cross the finish line of a 100 mile run, I was totally unprepared for the flood of emotions which I experienced when I finally achieved my goal. My finish time of 29:45 (2 minutes under my goal pace) may not have been impressive by most standards, but the statement I set out to make some 2 and 1/2 years ago was undeniable: I was not going to let my injury defeat me.

A special thank you to Jason Green, and the entire Yeti family, for allowing me the opportunity use this wonderful race for my comeback attempt, and for all of your support and encouragement, and for never once doubting that I would reach the finish line.


Editor's note

The third annual Yeti 100 Miler, with a concurrent 50 miler, was held on Friday September 29 into Saturday, September 30, 2017 on the Virginia Creeper Trail. The race was won by Arlington’s own Olivier Leblond, who finished 3:06 ahead of the second place runner. That is three hours and six minutes ahead, with a fine time of 14:04:45. Olivier broke the VHTRC’s Brad Hinton’s previous course record of 14:42:50.