Monday, August 5, 2013

Berry Pickers - First One to the Top Wins

 Sue and I were in Vail last Summer for a customer’s conference. I wrote about the trip and running on a mountain here -

It was so cool we decided to come back this year and invite Devon, Craig, and Brian. Kinda like a family conference. Hey, if we talk about important stuff, can we deduct the expenses? Ok, I digress, the race.

I was searching on stuff going on our vacation week and the same trail race I mentioned last year was happening. Woooo, a bonus! Brian is taking summer classes and could not make the trip and Devon, Craig decided running in Goshen Indiana would not prepare them for the climb, so just me this year.

There were about 220 runners of all ages, and as it turns out mostly Coloradians. Hanging out pre-race the runners looked crazy fit at all ages. The middle aged and older runners had no body fat and crazy defined calves. I sat next to a girl about 25 and we chatted about races we had done this summer. She joked about the people walking around, stretching, and even jogging which you do not see at ultras. The warm up happens in the first 5 miles or so. She was from Texas and also happened to be in the area for vacation.

Let's do this!

 Sue, Devon, and Craig found me and we chatted a few minutes before the start. They would take the free gondola ride up to the top near the finish line. It’s always great to have a crew. I think I need to at least buy “team shirts or hats” for “my crew” to make the competition worry a bit. Of course, the worry is short lived.

I'm in Orange on the far right
I lined up near the back as the climb starts immediately and I did not want to block the single track that started in a ¼ mile. I ended up moving out to the side and passing as I found my pace. Once we hit the trail, it was strictly single file and no chance to pass. It was like passing on a two lane road with 20 cars in front of you. So be patient and go with the flow and walk when they walk. Eventually it started to spread out and the groups were about 3 to 5 which did allow passing with short bursts. The worry was to expend so much passing you would redline only to be passed right back, as there were no flats to gather yourself.

I spent most of the climb following someone’s butt and when I sensed they were slowing I would pass them and latch on to the next butt. J I also could hear the people behind me and there was no chit-chat like; passing on your left, or pass when you like. Everyone was gasping for air and I did not hear anyone talking.
Sue, I'm watching the trail :)

Drafting Snyder
A good portion of the trail was so steep and layered with roots, everybody around me were “power hiking” those sections. I’m sure the top few runners were somehow bounding up those, which is amazing. 

I took this last year, typical of climb
As we left the woods and started the last ¼ mile climb up a fire road to the finish, I saw two older guys in front of me. I passed the first one and finished 30 seconds behind the 2nd one. As it turns out that one was in my age group and got 3rd, poop. I got 4/9 in age and 135/219 OA.

I attached the results because I found the demographics and home bases interesting.

Last stretch home

Sue Devon and Craig had taken the gondola to the top and were cheering me on the last stretch, cool. We hung out and took a few “postcard” pictures at the top after the awards ceremony. This was a very well run race, and I just loved the experience.
The winner finished in about 35 minutes. Greg Ruckman
These are not "regular" people.


B-Snyds said...

Awesome post! Wish I could have been there. Must have been a hard run when it is up a mountain with less air then down here at sea level!

Larry Hill said...

Great run Steve! That looks like a really tough trail....Jamaican bobsled style. Saw the results and your time was hanging with guys over 20 years your junior. And tops for your group not living in CO! They should have had an advantage with the altitude adjustment. Hats off to you. I don't think I could have posted your time running downhill :)

Steve said...

thanks brian and larry! I can see why people like colorado, even if they do have a shortage of air :)