Race Recap: 4th Annual Jackpot Ultra Running Festival by Coach Kristie

Race Recap:  4th Annual Jackpot Ultra Running Festival by Coach Kristie

Most who know me know that Jackpot has worked it’s way into my heart as one of my all time favorite races.  I accidentally came across the inaugural in 2014 when I was following doctor’s orders while walking to rehabilitate after spine surgery.


I was on the course with the most amazing people, all at different levels of suffering. All having the time of their lives.  I ended up sticking with some and pacing.  When I was done with my walk I immediately went home and signed up for the race next year.

2015 I finished with a little over a 100k


2016 I finished with a little over 100 miles earning my first belt buckle


Thats the thing about Jackpot, you go “Beyond Limits”.  To get your goal, you have to go over a little bit due to the loop distances.


Leading up to Jackpot 2017 life started getting in the way.  My son is a competitive youth hockey player, he plays for the Nevada Jr. Storm travel team.  His travel schedule was grueling.  We were out of state practically every weekend.  I was exhausted and I wasn’t the one playing.  Training was getting to be a labor, a chore.  I was out of balance.  I finally confessed to my business partner and Coach, Rebecca, I couldn’t train for more than a half distance.  I didn’t have the time or energy, it wasn’t there.  Dialing back really made a difference in mind and body.  As a coach I really stress to my clients that balance is a huge part in training.

My priority that race weekend would be my son’s hockey tournament that was in town.  Jackpot was for fun. I had no other goals other than to be able to fit both into the weekend.  Race Director Ken certainly was patient with me as so many emails went back and forth leading up to the race.  I wasn’t sure what race to stay in, drop to, or go up to.  Bottom line he said at a moment’s notice I could change to whatever distance fit with hockey.  What race does this?  Oh yeah, they do.  Beyond Limits Running events are all very runner friendly.

The week of the race the weather was post card perfect.  60’s, blue skies, no clouds, no wind.  Mother Nature had a trick up her sleeve.  She was waiting to play her cards….she had “Lucifer” (the name the race director gave the storm) ready on deck to send in and change things up for Jackpot.  I started watching the weather.  Undeniably it was going to rain the entire time and the wind would be nasty.  This would not be the sun shiny Jackpot I had run in the past.

The night before I picked up my race packet at the race site.  It was already raining on the folks who were in the 48 hour race.  I was so excited to see Tracy and Sally again.  They were my campsite neighbors at 2015 Jackpot and this year here as a vendor for Tracy’s company, Marvelous Mud (they are both so talented!).  They are the sweetest most beautiful women, but they are also very talented running beasts, mad respect for these two.  Of course we cannot forget to mention their fur baby Miley!


That night I had a peaceful dinner with my family and got my son ready for his hockey game in the morning.  I set out “flat me”.


As I laid in bed at night and heard the howling winds and consistent rains with frequent downpours, my heart went out to the 48 hour folks.  48 hours is hard enough on it’s own, add “Lucifer” the storm, they had to be suffering.  I said a prayer and had them all in my thoughts before I finally fell asleep.  Las Vegas doesn’t “do” weather well.  When it rains here everything leaks or floods.

There are a few things in the next bit of my recap that I strongly suggest someone inexperienced in racing distances does not do.  I am a coach and work with a coach who knows me well.  I have been racing and training long enough to know what works for me, what limits I can push, and if/when I can change things up on a dime.

The race start was at 8am.  I live very close to the race venue so I was able to “sleep in” as race start times go.  I was up at 6:45am.  Dressed and ready by 7am.  I had my morning cup of coffee.  I did a body check, all systems go.  Stomach was still happily full from the night before, decided to not force feed myself.  I had my bag of tricks (UCAN and peanut butter/sea salt/honey sandwiches) packed.  I am also familiar with this race, the aid station is a virtual buffet.  If I needed something that wasn’t already out, I could ask one loop ahead, next loop they would have it ready for me.


My son’s team was 1-1 in the tournament.  They had a game I would miss race morning.  I was in the marathon distance.  If they won, I would drop to the 6 hour and leave early with whatever miles I had in, to be able to go to his second game.  If they lost I would stick it out.

I arrived about 20 minutes before race time.  The race director had purchased several commercial tents to house the aid station, timing tent, warming tent, etc.  Freeing up the large shelter areas at the race location (Cornerstone Park) for camp sites, gear check, etc.  This was very thoughtful in keeping folks warm and dry during this super soaker of a rain storm.  I had plenty of time to find a spot for my bag, head to the bathrooms and have a few reunion hugs with Jackpot alum.  This race is truly a runner family reunion for me.

Right before race time Race Director Ken went over the course and told us due to severe flooding (waist deep) on the course, one portion was shut down, and a new part was opened.  Oh boy, we get to go over the big hill this year.  Joy of joys.  That’s what Jackpot is about, pushing your limits and doing things big.   This also meant loops were longer.  In my case if I stayed in the marathon I would be going over the distance slightly making it a mini ultra, again “Beyond Limits”.

My original plan had been to run the half marathon distance.  If my son’s team won, I would leave at that.  If they didn’t I would stick it out, run a half and then spend the rest of the time pacing and chit chatting with familiar faces on the course.  However with the addition of the hill, I needed to plan ahead for body preservation, I decided I would walk the up portion of the hill.

The starting horn went off, and off we went.  It was a misty rain, not too bad.  The last two Jackpot races I walked 90%.  This time would be different, my run was solid.  I felt stronger on this course than ever before.  The first couple loops were more of the reunion.  Finally seeing who all was out there, cheering for the 48 hour folks (mind you they looked miserable, but steady and strong), hugs, high fives, and more.  Then it was time to settle into the race and routine.

I started the race with my handheld bottle with ucan hydrate and water.  Each loop I would top off my bottle (I would sip as needed) and grab an orange quarter.   Loop 3 or 4 a friendly goose decided to pace a few of us.  Many chanted “put a bib on that”.  We tried to get photo but couldn’t due to the rain.  Sunday when I went back to the race location (more to come on that) I found our buddy and took a picture.  I am familiar with him.  My son and I visit the park regularly.  He has a broken wing.  He is very tame, and during the race would hang out in the shelter and around the aid station in between taking loops.


It came time for my son’s game to start.  The rain was steady at this point.  I stopped and grabbed my phone and slipped it in a ziploc baggy to keep it dry while I ran and got updates.   The only race photo I have is of me holding my phone during that time.  Hockey Moms get it done!


Eventually I had folks on the course asking “how are they doing?” I was giving fan updates as well.  Sadly, my son’s team lost and were eliminated from the tournament (or were they?).

While I was carrying my phone I was able to snap some photos of the signs on the course and the muddy conditions.





The picture below is of the single track trail portion.  It was a muddy slog.


Cold. Wet. Muddy. My brain knocked against my skull, dude, we have some more running to do, we have to keep going.  So on training of no more than a half marathon distance, ultra #6 was going down.  Again, with the run walk and knowing my body and my limits, I knew how to do this smart and safely.

When the aches and pains started setting in, I remembered the pain of past Jackpot races and knowing that it was temporary.  I prevented my mind from going to a dark place.  This was all familiar territory. It was the distance, mud, wet, and terrain wearing on my body, not the pain of injury. I was able to push through and run most of every loop.  Starting up at the top of each hill, it hurt, but I did it.

Before another downpour hit I asked my husband to bring me a dry top, and a few other items.  Orange slices every loop and a square of my peanut butter/sea salt/honey sandwiches here and there as I needed were keeping hunger at bay and energy even.  I had another scoop of ucan hydrate in my bottle and stayed the course.  I had to wait a while to see them, my husband needed to feed my hungry hockey boy, but when they came by I was hurting.  Seeing them, getting a dry top, and hug from this boy I had plenty of energy to get me through the final loops.


The final loops went by quickly.  I came in for my finish.  Race Director Ken put my medal around my neck (he or Stephanie always do each participant, I love that personal touch).   I went to my gear bag to get my phone to snap some photos and the bottom dropped out with yet another downpour.   But first, a selfie!


I had to take a photo of the sick bada$$ awards table.  Seriously they never stop delivering the best swag.


My shoes were soaked and muddy, they were left (where they still remain) in the garage. I was not bringing that mess into my house!


Another Jackpot race on the books for me.  Another fun time running with friends at a truly unique, top notch event.  What a great way to close out, a great weekend.  Oh but wait….the weekend wasn’t over!

That evening we received notification that due to goal differential my son’s team was no longer eliminated in the tournament but in the semi-final game!!!  They were to play the top seed Sunday morning.  The top seed was undefeated in the tournament.  They had only had 1 goal scored on them in the entire tournament.

Sunday morning, magic happened.  My son’s team, the underdogs, beat this undefeated team 3-0 in a shut out. This eliminated them from the tournament and advanced my son’s team to the championship.  These boys lived the movie “Miracle” during that game.  They played their best game of the season.  Here is the victory pile up:


What an AMAZING way to end the weekend.  Oh but wait….there’s more for my family…..

I had signed myself and my fur baby “Cosmo” up for the inaugural Jackpot Dog and Human race.  As time got closer I told my husband he should run with Cosmo.  They are running buddies.  Cosmo has social hour with me, he doesn’t run with me.  It would be better this way.

After resting up from my son’s adrenaline filled win that morning.  We headed back to Jackpot.  The weather was saying “neener neener neener” to everyone who raced any of the longer distances.  It was all sunshine and glorious on Sunday.

Participants, dogs and human, would receive Marvelous Mud amulets as well as a finisher’s medal.  Top 3 in the 5k and 10k a Dog Bowl Trophy, also by Marvelous Mud.


I admit, I had tears of joy in my eyes when my husband and our fur baby Cosmo crossed the finish line in 1st place overall in the Dog and Human 5k.  I was so proud of both of them!


Cosmo thoroughly enjoyed being the center of attention!


All the participants in this race, dog and human, were just like all the participants in the other Jackpot events.  Some of the nicest people you will ever meet!

Friend and client Teri had come in 3rd place female overall in the earlier Jackpot 10k!  She stayed to cheer on Cosmo.  Love this gal!


Monday, my son’s team finished in 2nd place in the tournament.  Truly proud of these boys beyond words. They were out of the tournament, then came back and shut down the top seed.  They are a band of brothers and magic to watch on the ice!  Well done Nevada Storm Squirt B!


To recap the rainy, muddy, painfully fun roller coaster of the weekend for my family:

Husband and fur baby Cosmo 1st place overall Jackpot Dog and Human 5k

Nevada Jr. Storm Squirt B (my son’s team) 2nd place over 8 teams in the President’s Day Tournament

Then there was me.  I was trying to “fit it all in”.  I ended up 3rd in my Age Group, 4th female overall, 10th overall male and female and shaving almost an hour off my previous race of a similar distance.  Amazing what you can accomplish when you are strong and have balance.

My family definitely went “Beyond Limits” this epic weekend!

To all of my Jackpot family I would list you all individually but fear leaving someone out!  It is always so good to see everyone and hope to see you all again!  ((BIG HUGS))



Many thanks to my business partner and Coach Rebecca for keeping me strong and being my biggest support.  Team KR Endurance for being the BEST TEAM EVER!  Naturally to my husband and son for being my rocks and putting up with me during training and taper.  You’re only as strong as your support system and I couldn’t be stronger.

Special thank you to sponsors:  Generation UCAN,  Nuun Hydration, Skechers Performance, 1BandID, Junie Balloonie, Zensah, ROKA,  Synergy Wetsuits, Blue Steel Sports, Raw Elements USA, Gray Cycling, PlowON Gum, XTERRA Wetsuits, Registered Dietician Dina Griffin, Glimmer Gear, and Swim Spray


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