Thursday, July 23:
I drove over to the Salt Lake Valley from Colorado. I had 3 days of racing in a row planned. It was extensive but should be fun.
The plan was simple: Friday would be the uphill Vertical Mile, with over 5,500 feet gained in just 6.5 miles. Saturday would be the Speedgoat 50K with about 11,000 vertical feet and Sunday would be the Quadbanger. It would lose 10,500 feet over the course of about 11-12 miles. Goals were simple: Win the Vertical mile, top 10 in the 50k, and top 3 in the Quadbanger.
I found a great place to camp out and tried sleeping in.
Friday, July 24: In the morning I drove over to Snowbird. Nestled at about 8,000 feet Snowbird sits almost 4,000 feet above the valley. It was time for a great race. I got there a little early and with little else to do I napped, rested, and read prior to the race. Finally it was time, we started at 3:00 pm.
Speedgoat Vertical Mile: The race runs uphill on a ski road for 2,600 feet, then you ride a chair lift down (yes, you read that right: halfway into the race you ride a chairlift back down to the base area) where you then proceed to run up 2,900 feet on mostly single track trail. I started with an up-tempo pace, one I could handle but I would have to stay focused. I thought the pace would be sufficient to gain the lead but to my surprise it was not. Local Salt Lake native Nathan Peters was beside me stride for stride exchanging the lead. Sometimes he would gain it by a few yards only to succumb to the uphill battle and then I would take the lead only to relinquish it again. 15 minutes in I marginally backed off on the pace… just ever so slightly but enough. Nathan took the lead and continued his pace. I decided that the second lap would be the lap to push harder… for now I needed to run consistent. Our lead over 3rd place was at least 1 minute and ever growing.
Finally we topped off and Nathan jumped on the chairlift about 8-10 seconds in front of me. I followed and jumped on the next lift. We rode down stretching our legs and doing bicycles, with me (on the lift) ever chasing Nathan and of course never gaining or losing ground. At the bottom I jumped off the chair lift and started round 2.
I quickly caught up to Nathan on the single track and took the lead. I kept my up-tempo pace going and quickly built up a lead. The higher we went the better I felt. I fed off of the single track and quickly extended my lead. The last 400 vertical feet of the race is on a ridge that finally tops off at 11,000 feet. The ridge was steep… crazy steep... but I kept my legs moving knowing that this race would be over in a manner of minutes. And it was.
I crossed the finish line winning by about 4 minutes. Results are here: http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=30858#id15032
Socializing, a tram ride to the base, and an hour later I found myself back at the start talking with Salt Lake resident Marge, one of the many volunteer workers for the race. As it turned out, she had an extra couch for me to sleep on that night… perfect…. Thank you Marge!
Saturday, July 25: Speedgoat 50K: After a good night's rest, I was ready for round 2. I knew I had to take it easy, at least for the first few hours of the race. The race started and I was surround and soon swallowed up by the mass of humanity. Slowly, consistently I ran forward and emerged about 15th place. Today, I needed to eat and hydrate and run consistently. I focused on these basic life needs and soon topped out at 11,000 feet on Hidden Peak. From here I ran down into Mineral Basin and up a short but steep climb where I passed several people. They had been near me for most of the race so I did not think too much of it, although I had started moving up. Then the long downhill began. I was at mile 12 or so and I was feeling… blah, with little speed. I kept drinking and was sure to take lots of salt tabs as it was getting hotter.
All I could do was run consistently. I then started the second major climb of the day at mile 16. I felt sluggish as I alternated between running and walking. The pace was sluggish but, unbeknownst to me, I was gaining on my competition. By mile 23 I had caught 3 more people and had moved into 8th place. At least I thought it was 8th place. At one section the course runs through a 500 foot tunnel from one basin to another… very cool! Then came the last major ascent of the day back up Hidden Peak. At the base I caught one more runner and kept rolling. The last 4+ miles downhill I felt sluggish but pushed on feeling that I was losing more ground.
At last I finished in 6:20. I soon found out I did better than I had thought and finished in 5th place. http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=30857#id15032 The course was amazing, simply beautiful. If you ever run Speedgoat be prepared to power hike.
Sunday, July 26th: Quadbanger: I felt at ease and relaxed the morning of the race. Sure it would be my 3rd race in as many days but it was going to be fun! The Quadbanger had 10,500 feet of descent over 11 miles. The course starts on top of Hidden Peak at 11,000 feet and descends about 2600 feet. Then the runners jump on a chair lift, ride it up, and run down again. This is repeated so the runner must descend a total of 4 times down the peak to the base area.
The race was small with 3 dozen participants, all ready for some fun. We started casual with one exception. A runner quickly took the lead and started hammering. Within 500 feet of starting he decided to mimic Superman. His toe caught a rock and he went flying. He jumped up looking chipper, said he was fine, and started sprinting again in the lead. 400 yards later his toe found another rock. He scampered up, this time not looking as spry. I, along with two other runners, passed him and took over the lead. I later found out he had dropped out. I tried to run controlled, upbeat, without letting the downhill control my pace. I made it down to the base with a minor lead over 2nd and 3rd. Round 2 would have to be the same… maybe with just one or two surges thrown in for good measure. The 3 of us rode the lift up together chitchatting. Then once at the top the games began again. We slowly took off, getting used to running again after sitting on the chairlift for 16 minutes. I pushed the pace with a few short surges and slowly built up a 15 second lead by the base.
I rode the lift up again for round 3. Once again I tried to run consistently and throw in the few downhill surges. They effectively worked as I had an estimated 60 second lead at the base. I rode the lift up for the last time. I just had to run consistently and I would win. I got to the top and did just that: consistent running. I finished in 1st in 1:10 about 3 minutes ahead of 2nd place. Results are here: http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=30859#id15032
The weekend went as good as I could have hoped for. I won 2 races and was 5th in the other. Special thanks to Karl Meltzer for an awesome race series weekend. Thank you to all the volunteers: your presence, cheering, and aid where amazing. Thank you Marge for a place to crash on your couch and regroup. Thank you to Hoka One One for your amazing shoes! I raced in the Huakas for both the Vertical Mile and the Speedgoat 50k, and the Mafate for the Quadbanger. Thanks to amazing shoes, hot showers, and a couch to sleep on I was able to race, feeling great every day!
Thanks for reading!