Sunday, May 22, 2016

Gunnison Sage Burner 25K

The 9th running of the Sage Burner 25/50k was over the weekend. I was not sure if I was going to make it. My wife Lynnette, was due any day to give birth and sure enough Wednesday morning 4 days prior to the race she gave birth to our 2nd daughter Annalise. We had just enough time to drive back to Leadville and settle in for a day prior to me leaving and driving over to Gunnison. I slept at the start: cozy, comfy, and far too short; the day arrived quickly. I got out of bed slowly waking up.

Before I knew it, it was time to race. I quickly took the lead with Josh Eberly and a handful of other runners. I knew Josh would be the greatest threat today. I wanted to stay close and try and wear him down. I kept an up-tempo pace but Josh was rearing to go and took the lead about 2-3 miles in. I hung on to his coattails trying not to be dropped but it was no use. By mile 6… I was dropped. Josh kept hammering. I sat back running hard. In the process, 3rd place, or anyone else, was nowhere to be seen.  I kept trying to get closer to Josh but pretty soon he too had disappeared.

I ran on pushing the pace and trying to finish in a good time. I knew I’d be close to the 2 hour mark so I hammered the last 2 miles, never seeing Josh in the process. I ended up finishing in 2:00:15. This was 7 seconds faster than last year. I’m quite pleased with the result. The course is a little harder on even years. The counter-clockwise direction has a little more climbing later in the race and you have to run an extra 200 yards. 

Solid day! Next up Mt Evans Ascent. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Collegiate Peaks Marathon & Black Canyon Ascent

The last 2 weeks have been fun: A trail marathon in Buena Vista followed up by a road 10k into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Collegiate Peaks Marathon
This race has been on my to-do list for the last 5 or 6 years but I’ve never seemed to be able to make it happen. This year was different. I drove over early ready for a warm perfect spring day of running on… wait for it… DIRT! I’ve not yet done any substantial running on dirt as the trails up here in Leadville are mostly still covered in snow. The race started and I leisurely took the front as the race funneled down to a single track. The racing had not yet began and we ran along warming up into the race. ¼ mile in, I was settling in when I saw a spider web. At least I thought it was a spider web, but it looked different. It floated across the trail waist high. I slowed up and then noticed it was not a spider web, it was fishing line. I instantly tried to stop yet my momentum carried me into the tautly tied heavy duty fishing line in the middle of the trail. 2nd and 3rd place runners ran into the back of me yet even with this much force the line still did not break.
We were all mad. Who sets a trap for runners running on a trail? We quickly warned the pursuing runners lifted up the line and took off. I later found out that one of these runners stopped long enough to take down the line entirely. Thank you!
Well we were all awake now. Our front pack was small. We hammered off a quick 2 flat miles and pretty soon it was just Joseph Demoor and myself. Earlier in the year, Joseph had given me a ride from my hotel to the start of the Red Hot 25k. Thanks again Joseph. A few miles into the race the course went onto some rolling ATV trail and dirt road. I kept an up-tempo pace and felt like I was finally pulling away.
But alas, Joseph is a beast and he kept charging. I made it up the first major sustained climb and had about a 15 second lead. I ran downhill through sandy glade until I reached the base of the 2nd climb. Still Joseph pursued unrelentingly. Until at the top of the 2nd climb, at mile 18 or so, he caught up. The trail took an abrupt single-track decent, I put the afterburners on. The single track put me back in my environment. I cruised downhill feeling decent and smooth. I rolled along for the next 3 miles to the old Colorado Midland Railroad bed. At this point I had built up over a minute lead. I cruised along winning the race with about a 2 minute lead over Joseph, who had kept up a hot pursuit.
For the race I wore the Hoka Speedgoats. What an awesome pair of shoes. Amazing traction, ventilation, and support.

Black Canyon Ascent 10K
The race was to start in 40 minutes. This meant I need a warm up. The notion seemed a little weird. I had not ran a warm up for a race in a few years, outside of jogging around for 5 minutes and maybe doing some striders prior to the race. This race was different though, it was a short road 10k… with about 1700 feet of elevation to be gained during the race. The race had a great field: Roadster and US Mountain Runner Josh Eberly, last year’s winner and US Mountain Runner Peter Maskimow, and perennial US Mountain Runner hardcore runner Simon Gutierrez. Promptly at 8 we were underway for the fast grind on the pavement up to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. We took it fast yet controlled and by ¼ mile in we had fallen into our respective positions. Josh was leading and looking dominant, on a mission. Peter followed looking strong, I tailed Peter trying to hold on. The gap between Peter and I slowly widened while Josh continuously grew his lead to over a quarter mile, easily winning. Peter withstood my last mile attempt to catch him. I was 3rd, 9 seconds back behind Peter, in 43:30.

This race I wore the Bondi, great shoe and perfect for a road marathon but for a shorter race like this, I think I would have preferred the new light-weight Hoka Tracer.