The Sage Burner 25K (Actualy GPS at 16.5 miles): Website and results are here. http://sageburnertrailrun.com/
A Monday race... granted it was Memorial Day but it still was a little different. I figured overall competition and numbers at the race would be down. There were only 120+ people who competed down from over a usual 200+. My goal for the race was simple run a new course record. I did not check the CR before running but i figured it was about 1:55 (it was 1:57:30). After a quick couple minute warm up, seeing old friends and new faces, and a few starting line instructions the race was off. I wanted to warm into the race while going up the first hill while also testing the waters and see who would be competing with me. By 5 minutes into the race. I was surprised that with the initial warm-up all but one had dropped and I was left with only Dane Michele on my heels. He would not budge. I thought of a race strategy to unsettle him. First I noticed he would not voluntarily pass. He was content to give me the lead and let me set the pace. We pounded down a single trace (The Ridge) and he remained stoic giving little as too his plan. At the bottom of the single track I slowed up to a painfully slow jog and let him have the lead. He started hammering up the next hill with me close on his heels. I realized then that I was faster on the uphills, but did not attempt to pass. At the top of the hill Dane continued to hammer downhill. Unlike the uphill portion where I could easily match stride with stride I was now pushing it to remain within close proximity. I realized that Dane was running the downhills better, whereas I was running the uphills better. With this knowledge I was ready to take the lead again and run like the wind. I passed Dane and rolled over undulating terrain which was neither predominantly up or down hill. I hammered through an aid station (about mile 4) just ahead of Dane. I continued on building a 6 second lead until I ran up to a closed gait. I stopped and fumbled with the latch on the gate. I knew my lead was gone so I took the few seconds to relax and relish the easy of the moment.
Once again I headed off just a stride up on Dane. Once again I increased my lead by just a few seconds. We yo-yoed as my lead would go from one stride to 5 seconds ahead and back again. I continually pushed the pace not sure if I could hold on. This eventually gave me an 8 second lead. But then came the long downhill down to the Josie's aid station near mile 9. On the downhill Dane caught up but did not want to pass. We ran through the aid station in 1:00:41. I knew that the longest continuous uphill followed the aid station so I once again dropped the hammer and pushed the pace up the next single tracks: Buddy Bear, Broken Shovel, and Josho's. I was unsure if i could continue the staggering pace but kept at it. I was determined that I was going to drop Dane and win. The risk paid off as I pulled away from Dane and started building up a lead. I averaged 10 seconds per mile faster for the next 3 miles and built up close to a 30 second lead on Dane. I continued hammering with the goal to finish. The last 2 or 3 single tracks disappeared and I crossed the finish line setting a new CR of 1:51:30. Dane finished 31 seconds later.
The race was solid. My legs felt great despite hammering in the race and running a long training run just 2 days prior to the race. A friend of mine, Allen Peoples, also ran a great time in the race. He was 17th. After the race we scarfed down left over Chinese food from the day before, watched a movie, and then scampered up Mt Emmons 12,391 up near Crested Butte. The Sage Burner was a great race and benchmark. I know where I am at physically and look forward to the Hardrock 100 in a month.