The “Javelina Jundred” is a 100-mile endurance race which takes place every year on “Jalloween” weekend in the beautiful Sonoran Desert. And while it’s touted as “The 100-Mile Party Run,” the conditions runners endure during this competition seem extremely contrary to those of a party—dramatic temperature swings, an exposed desert course with no shade, and let’s not forget the 100-mile run!
But on October 27, 2018, Alex Hauger, Bosque Class of 2007 and an experienced “ultra runner,” set out on that 100-mile journey and discovered that a relaxed approach to the race not only got him across the finish line, but in a time that in the “ultra world” is “coveted”: less than 24 hours; for Alex, 23 hours and 45 minutes, to be exact.
Despite the excellent time, Alex said time wasn’t his focus at the outset. Racers had 30 hours, if needed, to finish the Javelina, and Alex was prepared to take the time that he needed; he learned this lesson after an unsuccessful attempt at another 100-mile race last year in Utah. “I put too much pressure on myself,” he said of his Utah run. “It became more of a mental race.” The effects of an electrolyte imbalance ultimately ended that attempt about after running only 40 miles.
So to prepare for the Javelina, Alex decided to tackle this race differently. “I took a much more relaxed approach...I had no time goals going into it (although) I wanted to finish in less than 24,” he said.
According to Alex, a lot of runners had on GPS watches to track their every step. But not Alex. “I had one, but I didn’t look at it...This was my last planned race for the year. I took all of the competitive nature out of the race; I just wanted to finish.”
Alex’s training for the race started in June. He said he did a lot of foothills training and added a little insult to injury by making sure he often trained in the heat of day when temperatures were at or above 90 degrees. Utilizing the “loop” around Albuquerque Academy helped him get used to the format he’d experience in Arizona. The course of the Javelina runs along a 20-mile loop incorporating the famous Pemberton Trail that features a rolling single-track trail. The “washing machine loop format” requires runners to reverse loop direction each time, which allows all runners to see each other out on the race course. There would be five loops for Alex to finish.
Alex set out on his first 20-ish-mile lap in high spirits and made good time—just over four hours. Laps two and three were met with the same success. Then...the fourth lap. “It was kind of rough,” he said. And quite a bit slower than the first three, relatively speaking, with a time just shy of six hours.
By this time it was just after one in the morning, and Alex had been running for about 19 hours straight. “There was this one section between aid stations...I got to a low point…a friend was running with me at that point,” he said. “You can do it,” the friend encouraged Alex, implying a sub-24 hour finish. “Dude, I don’t want to think about it,” Alex said he replied as he continued on for the last of the five laps.
But that feeling was fairly fleeting and with nine miles and one-hour-forty-five minutes left before the 24-hour-clock struck, Alex said he decided to “go for it and go for broke.” He started off-loading extra weight he was carrying in his pack, dumping food and water; he bypassed the aid stations and kept running.
Alex ran the last nine miles at a pace less than nine-miles per hour. “(They were) the fastest miles I ran the entire race,” he said. “I couldn’t believe that this sub-24 was going to happen.” He sprinted the last quarter-mile, finishing the race with 15 minutes to spare.
In the couple weeks that have passed since the race, Alex says he’s still processing the finish, but added that it’s a huge weight off his shoulders. He reflects on the huge support from his dad, two buddies, and girlfriend and her kids. “All of this support,” he said. “It was magical.”
Of the 604 racers who set off, 368 finished. Alex was 137th.
Interestingly, as Alex looks back at the journey that brought him through the race, he recalls what could have been the spark that ignited his love for endurance running. He was in 7th grade, sitting in a Bosque social studies class. Former teacher and coach Klaus Weber was subbing for the day. “He was going on in his amazing aura that is Klaus,” Alex said. “He brings up running 100 miles and my ears perked up. He mentioned something about Leadville and Western States (two prestigious endurance races); it definitely caught my attention. I could almost trace all of this back to his sub teaching that day,” he added.
Alex says he’s not sure what race is next; he thinks he’ll stick with slightly shorter races—50k or 50 mile—which his where he feels his real talent lies. He also has big professional plans on the horizon which will require him to put racing on the back burner, at least for a while. “(But) for the time being, I’m enjoying this.”
Since leaving Bosque in 2007, Alex Hauger has completed his undergraduate studies in Art History with a Minor in Philosophy at Colorado University Boulder and graduate studies at the Sotheby Institute of Art earning a master’s in Contemporary Art Theory and Business. He started his career selling investment quality art, which he said he loved and was a lot of fun. A few years ago, he was recruited to work with his father for a wealth management group that specializes in private wealth management. Today, he works for Wells Fargo Advisors. He’s planning to begin a rigorous program in 2019 which will prepare him to become a Certified Financial Planner. He hopes to finish the program and the exam in 2020.