I pulled into Ouray. It was about 10:00 pm. Perfect. Bedtime. I crawled into my sleeping bag in the back of my car and was soon sawing logs. The morning came with standard bib check in and reading for the Imogene Pass Run. I knew I was ready to race, but still unsure just how ready? How fit?
Race morning question: There I was debating, which pair of shoes to ware? I decided to go with the medium cushion, high traction Hoka Challenger ATR. The shoe is light and with a relative low base and high traction. It would end up being perfect.
15 seconds to race start. Then some muffled noise interrupted the verbose crowd. It was the starting gun. It seemed a little off; somehow distant and muffled. Consequently, there was mass hesitation as we all wondered, “Should we start, was that the starting gun.” Slowly we all decided to go and we were off. I looked over at Jordan Jones (4th in 2015) and said, “Was that the starting gun?” He confirmed that the starting gun was a bit weird.
Jordan, Chris Gomez, and I took the lead with Jordan pushing the pace. I soon settled in watching Jordan and Chris push each other. I sat back and maintained a constant tempo. By mile 2 Chris had fallen back to 3rd place. He was looking strong yet running conservatively. He would be a force to reckon with later in the race. Jordan continued to push the pace. He was now 20-30 seconds up on me. I continued a solid tempo which I knew I could maintain. I quickly checked off miles 3-6 and then caught Jordan. He was pushing it but the early speed was taking its toll. I took the lead and continued at my pace.
I figured I was on pace for 2:16 to 2:20. It felt sluggish, but then again I was now over 11,000 feet. At a bend in the road I could see my lead was now substantially growing. I just had to maintain, but I kept pushing. Often I underestimated my lead and thereby pushing further… but oh well. I topped out on top of Imogene Pass at mile 10 and 13,114 above sea level in about 1:38. I had timed my lead and at this point estimated it to be between 2 minutes to 2.5 minutes.
I rushed down the Telluride side of the pass, trying to run a solid yet controlled pace. At this point I knew I would win, yet I still did not want to slack off. I ran to the finish in 2:15:44 my second fastest time on the course and my 4th victory at the Imogene Pass Run.