[Author’s Note: This is the first of an eight-part series in AJW’s Taproom called Race Director Chronicles, where we profile the unsung heroes who make our sport’s racing possible.]
The San Diego 100 Mile takes place each year in early June, about 50 miles east of San Diego, California, in the Lake Cuyamaca area. The brainchild of legendary Southern California ultrarunner Paul Schmidt, the first edition of the race in 2001 had eight finishers, including Schmidt himself! Today, the race has grown to annually attract fields of over 250 to the beautiful rolling hills and buttery singletrack of Southern California.
Another legendary San Diego ultrarunner, Scott Mills, took over the race from Schmidt in 2008 and successfully moved it from October to June in an attempt to reduce the risk of the event being impacted by wildfire. With the 2018 running, Mills transitioned the race to the current co-race directors, BJ Haeck and Angela Shartel.
Haeck and Shartel directed the race in 2019 and then were forced to endure two consecutive cancelations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022 the race returned to the calendar, and although they feared that they would lose some of their loyal volunteers due to the long layoff, they said, “We did not lose a single volunteer!
“We are proud to be the Western States 100 backup race,” exclaims Shartel, “as well as a Western States 100 qualifier!”
Building on the traditions established by Schmidt and Mills, Haeck and Shartel pride themselves on the relationships that have been built around the event. From their connections with the state and regional permitting agencies with whom they work to the group of loyal volunteers and repeat runners who return year after year, Haeck and Shartel see themselves as the caretakers of something special.
“We stage five training runs and three volunteer parties every year. To us, maintaining the community around the event is very important,” says Haeck.
To perpetuate the sense of community even among pacers and crews, one unique aspect of the race weekend is that the mandatory pacer/crew meeting is conducted after the runners have started the race. “This allows us to make sure everyone gets the most up-to-date and relevant information,” says Shartel. Additionally, on race day, Haeck and Shartel make it a point to personally visit every aid station on the course to connect with volunteers, runners, crews, and state park officials. This personal touch is a hallmark of the event.
Acknowledging the increased commercialization in ultrarunning, Haeck and Shartel are aware of the impact of larger, for-profit companies that have entered the sport. When asked if they have ever considered becoming part of the UTMB World Series, their response was emphatic, “That’s a hard no!”
“Our most important priority is to provide a personally meaningful experience for every runner,” says Shartel. Guided by the grassroots legacy created over two decades, it is clear that the San Diego 100 Mile is truly a “people’s race.” The commitment and leadership that Haeck and Shartel provide, combined with the wonderfully supportive and generous San Diego ultrarunning community, together make the San Diego 100 Mile one of the crown jewels of the North American ultrarunning calendar.
AJW’s Angela Shartel and BJ Haeck’s Beer of the Week
“While we talked with Andy, we enjoyed the Mr. Padre 3000 Triple Pale Ale by AleSmith Brewing Company in San Diego, California. The Mr. Padre 3000 was released along with the Mr. Padre 2000 on August 6, 2022, to commemorate not only the date that beloved San Diego Padres player Tony Gwynn got both his 2,000th and 3,000th hits but also his mom’s birthday.
“Related to AleSmith’s more readily available .394 San Diego Pale Ale that the brewery developed with Tony Gwynn, aka ‘Mr. Padre’ himself to honor both Tony and our beloved Padres, the dangerously drinkable Mr. Padre 3000 checks in at 10.0%. While not strictly an IPA, its strong hops profile is classic San Diego while supported with a more evident backbone of malt that makes it a perfectly balanced brew to enjoy when talking ultrarunning with friends.
“However, it is only available in San Diego, so you will have to come visit us to get it!”
Call for Comments
San Diego 100 Mile comments time! Use the comments section to leave your stories of this race, its history as an institution of American ultrarunning, and its modern race directors, Angela Shartel and BJ Haeck!