By Yuhan Xu
Colby Wentlandt, age 12, accomplished something remarkable in May: He conquered the Ride the Wind 100-miler near the Red Rock Canyon outside of Las Vegas in 32 hours and 7 minutes. It was his first 100-mile ultra—and he loved it.
“I enjoyed the race experience,” said Wentlandt. “After I finished, I felt amazing; I felt like I was on top of the world. The idea of going farther than a marathon amazed me…I wanted to try it.”
The 7th-grader from Warner, Calif., said he was inspired by his parents Brady and Shawna, who are both ultra-distance runners. “We started running marathons and more about two years ago,” said Shawna. “We try to run together as much as possible. Colby has helped crew for us and been with us at many of the events. Most of our friends are runners too, so running crazy distances is normal behavior to Colby.”
Colby ran the 100k with his mom. They started at 6 a.m. on May 18. It was a beautiful course, surrounded by cliffs and mountains. The first couple miles were smooth, Colby wrote in his blog. But things soon started getting hard.
Colby’s toe got caught under a big rock, and he fell. “I gasped as I watched it happen in front of me,” Shawna recalled in her blog. “He jumped back up immediately and kept going. I noticed blood was dripping from his elbow, but he didn’t want to stop and let me check on it. I was torn between being amazed and horrified in those fleeting seconds.”
The course was composed of three 31.3-mile loops plus a 6.67-mile loop, with a total elevation gain of 7098 ft. The majority of the terrain was rocky and technical. In addition to the challenging course, the desert climate made the race even more difficult.
“We were hot, we were slow, we struggled with the course. BUT, never once did Colby complain. Never once did he say he wanted to quit. … Colby was a trooper that was completely focused on his goal. There was never a need (or a thought) of pushing him to go faster or to do something he didn’t want to do,” wrote Shawna.
It was getting dark as they approached 50 miles. Shawna used her iPhone for light, as they had not made it to the aid station in time to get flashlights. “What really sucked about running in the dark was those dang Joshua trees… they looked like people following us! It was really scary until finally we heard bells and saw our friend Ed with our lights,” Colby recalled.
They got lost, they drank little water, and they barely slept. Colby was exhausted and became discouraged, but his mom cheered him up. “Since I have gotten this far, I am not going to sugar-coat it!” Colby told himself. “My mom said the night part was hard, and boy was she right!”
Colby ran the rest of the course with his dad and a mutual friend. The sun came up and recharged them. Even though he was tired, Colby pushed on, telling himself he was so close to getting the amazing 100-mile buckle.
And he made it. Only three people finished the race; Colby was one of them. “When it [the buckle] was in my hands, all the pain was worth it,” he said. “I can’t wait to do it again!”
Colby is already thinking about his next goal: running the Silverton 48-Hour in a few months. “Now that I have done a 100-miler, my next goal is to be the youngest person to run the Badwater 135.”