At the Inaugural running of the Kodiak 100 Miler on September 20-22, 2013, in Big Bear Lake, CA, 53-year-old Garry Harrington bested a field of 67 runners to win his first 100 miler in five starts at the distance. Of those five 100 mile starts, he crossed the finish line twice, both at the grueling Massanutten 100 Miler, but neither time under 24 hours.
Asked after the race if he was happier with his win, or going under 24hours, Harrington quickly responded, “To win obviously. My goal time was to go under 24, but I didn’t expect the time I posted today to stand up as a victory. It probably wouldn’t have it Sully (Eric Sullivan) hadn’t gotten hurt, and Harald (Zundel) hadn’t gotten stomach issues.”
Zundel went on to finish third, but Sullivan dropped at the half-way point after falling into cactus and injuring his foot.
Sullivan was not the only to drop from the race. There were just 19 finishers before the 36-hour cutoff, with only Harrington finishing in under 24 hours with a time of 23:58:55 on what he called a beautiful, yet brutal course.
That course included more than 14,000 feet of climbing over a mixture of single-track trail and jeep roads, much of which was in the darkness since the race started at 6 p.m., on September 20.
Asked about his race strategy, Harrington reflected, “Well, I held back early, but I found myself moving well on the climb to Sugarloaf (18.5 miles) and was very surprised to find I was in 6th place at the summit…only 5 people had turned around and come back down. I knew then that it was going to be a decent day. I started thinking about who I was going to pick off, rather than who was going to catch me.”
Harrington had moved into fifth place by the YMCA Camp Oakes at the 31.5-mile point, and went out of the aid station in fourth place. At the half-way point at Holcomb Valley Campground, he had moved into third.
“When I moved into third, I knew that Sully was behind me and I didn’t know his status. I was thinking podium, but I thought Sully could come back and catch me and knock me off the podium. I was trying to catch the second place guy, I thought I caught him at Holcomb, but he had left in front of me. It was 10 miles before I got him. After I passed the second place guy, I went past a road crossing where two girls were cheering on runners, they said the next guy was 15-20 minutes ahead. I thought, ‘I won’t catch him until after Rim Nordic,’ but he was right there at a water station. Once I saw that he was there, I didn’t want to stick around, I wanted to put the hammer down on him.”
Harrington led from that point at mile 65 to the finish.
Asked what it like being in the lead, Harrington said, “It was my race to lose and I almost did…I thought.” Harrington got lost in the briars for about 30 minutes after Rim Nordic in the newly-developed section of Siberia Creek which had a 3000 foot climb and a descent into a place called Hades. When he got back on trail he was told that there were two runners ahead, they turned out to be 50 milers who had started their race at 6 a.m. at Holcomb Valley Campground.
Harrington was asked how he could match his effort from today and said, “I don’t think I ever will. That was by far my greatest running accomplishment.”
Race Director Paul Romero is already looking forward to the second installation of the Kodiak for 2014. "The course this year was mean to be a journey around Big Bear. Our vision for next year is to include a bit more single track, and to continue our work in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service to open another trail from the top of Big Bear Ski Area to Sugarloaf."
To stay current with plans for 2014, and for complete results of the 2013 event, visit this link.