“This is the World Series of 100-milers,” the 51-year old Odell says of the June 23 race that follows a trail from Squaw Valley, winds through rivers and reaches elevations of 8,700 feet to Auburn, Calif.
Extreme races aren’t anything new to Odell, who has run a 100-mile course each of the last four years. “This was the hardest for me because of the heat,” he says. “It was 100 degrees at times and never under 80 during our run through the night. But it was not the hardest course per se. The Cascade Crest, which I did in Washington, is technically harder. Leadville, (Colorado,) which I have done, is very high.”
To be invited to the Western States race, runners must qualify by completing at least a 100-k race and be chosen in a lottery. Odell’s odds of being invited increased as he had qualified and not been chosen for four straight years.
Odell’s 21-year old son, Walker, helped pace his father for the final 38 miles in the dark. They crossed the finish line the following morning on the Placer High School track with Dave’s wife, DeAnna, joining them at the end. Dave’s time of 27 hours and 14 minutes was in the top-20 for runners over 50 in the race.
Dave and DeAnna both competed as athletes at Westmont in the 1980s. In November of 1997, when Walker was less than a year old, Dave had surgery to remove his colon following a serious gastrointestinal illness. Two additional surgeries reconfigured his small intestines to function as the missing colon.
He competes in these extremely challenging physical and mental races in defiance of all he endured. “I was lying in a hospital bed, reading about these guys who had run a 35-mile race, called Santa Barbara Nine Trails, and I thought, ‘I’ll never be able to do that,’” he says. “It motivated me to sign up for the race several years later and complete the Nine Trails. Once I did that, I realized I could push the envelope on this a little bit.’”
Odell, who is surrounded by elite athletes at Westmont every day, says performing in these 100-mile races gives him an even more influential platform to reach out and understand student athletes’ needs and challenges.
(Here’s a video of the Odells crossing the finish line: https://bit.ly/2IXihZ7)