The Year of the Monkey: A 2016 Recap

Photo by Myke Hermsmeyer

I was also born in the year of the monkey so maybe it's fate (F8) that my year was epic but I don't believe in astrology. I did, however, enjoy reading all about the different Chinese astrological signs on the paper menus at the Chinese restaurant we used to go to when we were kids. I had a pair of Chinese silk pajama-type things that my mom let me wear to the restaurant when we went. Anyway, they looked a lot like this....

Moving on... Overall it was a pretty good year for me.  I haven't blogged since Georgia Death Race and the last time I sat down to begin a blog was after Western States but I couldn't figure out how to put it all in words. So I gave up. Plus the summer was busy and I knew Edward was going to have the short film done eventually, that trail Racing Over Texas commissioned with the support of Nathan, documenting  my Western States experience.  So allow me to summarize the rest of my year after Georgia Death Race.  Without that Golden ticket I earned from my 2nd place finish at GDR, my year would have gone in a completely different direction.  It's scary and exciting to think that a single race can shape your life that much. I don't mean earth shattering change and I am pretty sure my day to day life hasn't changed too much because of it but in terms of where my running has taken me and where I think it can go in the future is not the same as a year ago. A sentiment I think about often.

Western States - June 2016 - Squaw to Auburn, CA
Result: F8 - 45th overall - 20:50:07

Edward Sanchez shot and edited Determined: The Rise of Maggatron which is my journey to Western States.  It is surreal to even have this film exist and I am forever grateful that Robert Goyen from Trail Racing Over Texas and Edward envisioned this film in the first place. I am glad my race turned out the way it did because it can always be worse and an F8 finish is better than some of the alternatives. Regardless of the outcome of my race, the film's message would not have changed.  If you haven't already, check it out. I don't think F8 is a spoiler and the music is awesome.  So if you have 22 minutes give it a watch.

Thank you to Connie Gardner for being my pacer and an inspiration. If you told me 3 years ago that I would run Western States via a Golden Ticket, finish in the top ten AND Connie Gardner would be my pacer, I would have thought you were delusional for real.  Same goes for being paced the last 7 miles by Ryan Schannauer. He's amazing! Also he puts up with my neurotic obsession with ultrarunning on a daily basis.  We share the same love of trails and running but differ in our love of distances over 40 miles and suffering.

Speaking of amazing, the rest of my massive crew who made it happen; Jeremy Hanson aka Jimmy Taco, Matt Magalengo (and his sweet Olympic Valley condo hook-up), Edward Sanchez (mostly filming), Team Nathan; Brent Hollowell, Greg Brantner and Sablle Scheppmann who went directly to the airport shortly after I finished to fly back to SoCal for the sales meeting the very next day.

Here is a quick recap in photos. All pics by Sablle Scheppmann.

Sablle calls this Ryan's male model photo. Please note his 'Western States beard-thing"..oh and THAT shirt.

The talented Edward Sanchez and his short shorts. Not as short as Rob Goyen's shorts.

Crewing is clearly great fun
Refusing avocado sandwich.

Connie meant business getting me out of Forest Hill fast! Sorry about that avocado sandwich I didn't eat, Ryan. 
Teamwork makes the dream work. Part of my Nathan crew hauling stuff to Green Gate, Brent and Greg.

Crew Nathan was on point.

Gratuitous product shots!
Brent giving me the 411 on women ahead of me.

47 seconds after finishing.

Our reenactment of our Georgia Death Race post race pic.
Bethany, Erika and I all celebrating our top ten finishes.

White Face Vertical K - July 2016 - Lake Placid, NY
Result: 7th place - 56:52

Having never done a Vertical K before and not feeling super recovered from Western States I didn't place a lot of pressure on myself. Ian Golden, the RD had to delay the start due to lightning at the top. It was stormy weekend but the clouds broke enough for us to get up and down. Overall it was fun weekend with Ralph, Evy and Ryan at our cute AirBnB garage loft. We ran the race and then played random board games that were in the guest loft as it rained the rest of the weekend. Beautiful area and our hosts were very interesting, accommodating and wowed us with stories of the 1980 Olympics (held right there in Lake Placid). 

That view is real!

Ryan Espulgar passing me.

"Ryan, come one, hurry up!! The clouds are coming!"

That's better.

Transrockies Run - August 2016 - Buena Vista to Beaver Creek, CO
Result: Teammate Katalin Nagy - 3rd Place - Womens Open Team

Like the vertical K, I had never tried this flavor of race. Well turns out, it tastes delicious!!! It truly is a running vacation. Unlike most stage races, this one carts your crap to the next location while you run with only what you need for the 13-25 mile run that day.  The race covers 120 miles over 6 days with 120,000 feet of gain. I was lucky enough to convince, Katalin Nagy, 24 Hour World Champ, to come out of her comfort zone and be my teammate. She had agreed without hesitation but later told me she thought I was asking her to do some sort of all at once 120 mile relay.  She didn't realize it would involve camping, sometimes below freezing temperatures (a few mornings we work up with frost on our tents) and 6 days of racing. Like the true champ she is, she made me proud and we fought our way to a 3rd place finish behind two really strong women's teams.

Kevin McDonald and his TRR crew put on an unforgettable 6 day adventure that is organized seamlessly.  The food, showers, entertainment, couches, and tents being moved everyday from location to location is no small feat. I am still in awe at the magnitude of this operation and its flawless execution. It is worth 4 times as many pennies as they charge, believe me.

Also, notably, Katalin went on to repeat her Spartathlon victory after dealing with injury for much of her summer. Love her to death!

Photo by Myke Hermsmeyer

Day One start line: Me, Devon Yanko (3 day solo), Amanda and Keely (1st  place open womens team) and Katalin.
PC: Otto Lam

Kati and I strategizing.
PC: Otto Lam

Monica Ochs, Nikki Kimball and I. There was a cold river to be found after every stage.

Epic Finish. Kati said, "Let's hold hands!"
Awesome ladies! Super happy to have met them all.

After TRR, Ryan flew out to meet me in Leadville so we could pace our good friend Otto in race 2 of his grand slam, Leadville Trail 100. But first, this happened.....

Leadville Beer Mile (or in my case the Seltzer Mile) - August 2016 -  a dirt road in  Leadville, CO
Result: I finished - around 16-18 minutes.

Ryan DNFed because he threw up from too much seltzer and maybe he ran too fast having just gotten off a plane and being a 10,200 feet for the first time. I endure more pain and suffering than I thought possible from a 16 - 18 minute mile. It is best explained in pictures.

 All pics by Otto Lam who also posted videos on Facebook at the time.

Before. Having no idea what we are about to experience.


After..... I do not recommend.

Franklin Mountain 50k - September 2016 - El Paso, TX
Result: 1st Place Female - 10th overall - 6:54:01 

Another first for me, a legit sky race. This 50k kicked my butt like no other race. The jagged rocks and the steep climbs were hard enough but on race morning we were pummeled with 40 mph hour winds. With no trees or anything other than one side of the mountain to block the wind it made for a very challenging and unique experience.  This is yet another area of the country I may have never bothered to come to if not for this crazy running thing! I don't know how Rob finds these places but I know how much he holds Franklin Mountain dear to his heart. This weekend in September made me see why.

Check out this beautiful video recap here by Edward Sanchez. And if you happen to pick up the December 2016 issue of Ultrarunning Magazine, check out my article on Franklin Mountain.

All pics by Myke Hermsmeyer.

That about sums it up.

Just a typical pre-race meeting at TROT race.

Team TROT. Like family.  These guys....

Total badassery here. Also as of  yesterday the stud on the right, Jeff  Ball, is a golden ticket winner. See you in Squaw!

RD extraordinaire, Rob Goyen and ultra-stud of the year, Jim Walmsley.

Jim says, "Good job but what took you so long? I have been done for 3 hours."

Shandra Moore was on my heels all day and finished just 3 minutes behind me. This girl is awesome.

Getting onto the podium was harder than I thought.
But I finally got to stand above a number 1 on this thing!

Also we premiered Determined: The Rise of Maggatron at the pre-race meeting.
Kind of never racking watching your own movie for the first time in a room full of people.
Thanks for capturing this one Myke. :)

Edward's avant garde moostash. Director and subject Q & A.

 Brazos Bend 100 - December 2016 -  Brazos Bend State Park in Needville, TX
Result: 1st overall,  course record overall - 14:47:02 

So with an epic 2016, I feel lucky enough to close it out with a bang. I honestly wasn't sure how this race would go. I felt a bit under trained having struggled with time and motivation. I battled to keep training with the same vigor and enthusiasm race after race since GDR (so many A races this year) but I can't say it was perfect.

I had the American trail record in mind when I landed in Texas knowing that the weather was going to be ideal.  Not sure if I had the fitness or if my legs would hold up as I felt I had let the leg strength workouts slide the most. Would the flat get to me? I hadn't done much flat since 2015.

I was happy to just fall into a rhythm early on and felt that I had a "flow"experience, that I have only ever experienced twice before (and those times were flat races as well). I really thought I had the trail record within reach. Finishing the 5th lap with 16.67 miles to go, I felt determined. Jeff Ball said he would set the pace. All I needed to do was stick to the pace but 3 miles in I put a gel near my mouth. Not even in it, just near it and the uncontrollable dry heaving began.  I struggled with the most hardcore bonk I have ever experienced. No amount of willpower would will my legs faster than a 10 minute mile at one point.  I crossed the finish line with the third fastest known trail 100 and somewhere on the top ten fastest 100 time on any surface. I finally got to join my girls, Katalin Nagy, Aly Venti and Traci Falbo in the sub 15 hour club. In fact we called Traci seconds after I finished to confirm her trail 100 PR.

The theme of that weekend is one that will stick with me forever. Rob gave a motivational speech before the race. He said "If you want to take the island, you gotta burn the f$&^ing boats!"  Caroline Boller in a similar "boat burning fashion" succeeded in running what we will call a nation's best 50 mile trail time, breaking Ann Trason's 25 year old record. She also won overall and set the overall course record.

Look for Trail Racing Over Texas to release a Brazos Bend movie soon. It's delves into all that the Goyens put into this race and all their races. I can't thank them enough for all they have done for me.  Being part of Team TROT has been life changing.

All pictures by Myke Hermsmeyer

Thanks to Drymax, Altra and Trail Toes. I had the happiest feet I have ever had after a race.

On my way to burning some boats.
Rob calling Traci while we wait for her to answer.

Brazos Bend State Park is truly beautiful.

Rob acting serious?

First lady to earn a sub 16 hour Brazos Bend buckle and only race that has a sub 16 buckle!
I think some more ladies (and dudes) need to come claim this buckle.

Well that about sums it up. If you made it this far you should really consider a 24 hour race because you can clearly tolerate long and monotonous stuff.

I have seen far more places this year than in this post.  I think I crewed and paced as many races as I ran but that I will save for another blog.

Happy New Year, Kids! Here's to the year of the Rooster: 2017. Cock-a-doodle-doo!


  1. Awesome read Maggie and congrats on a memorable monkey year! Here's to 2017!

  2. Who refuses an avocado sandwich?!?!? ;)

  3. Great recap! And congrats again on all of your amazing accomplishments this past year :) :) :)


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