Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
The Bear 100
August 23, 2011
by Gary Gellin
The Bear has sunk in its claws. I suppose I need to answer a common question I've received: "So you couldn't find a nice, flat 100-miler for your first?" I've had guarded interest in racing longer than 50 miles, and had never experienced a run longer than nine hours. Descriptions of this epic course with its beautiful fall colors which I heard from Errol "Rocket" Jones and others, along with an urge for a new challenge, sucked me in. The Bear is remote and rugged, is the only race to start in one state (Utah) and finish in another (Idaho), and has a very intimidating elevation profile with 22,000 feet of climbing over 11 successive mountain passes.
I knew well to expect something totally unlike the 50 milers which are still relatively new to me. Many experienced ultrarunner friends of mine offered great advice and knew that it would be inevitable I would attempt to carry over the speed I have in shorter distances. "This is not a race of the fittest, but a race of adapting the best to the conditions" someone would tell me.
The biggest preoccupation leading up to the race was determining what to bring - what items I'd need in drop bags, logistics of where and when I'd need them, and how to fit all that crap in to two small carry-on bags. In retrospect, it was better to worry about these things than to focus too much on the horror stories of the Mile 70 breakdowns of runners more talented than me.
My initial plan for a race pace was to settle in to a comfortable heart rate of 155 (out of 206 for this hummingbird heart of mine). As fate would have it, the first ten or so runners would hit the initial 3300 ft monster climb faster than expected. Damned if I would let the mountain goat with hiking poles in front of me disappear up the mountain. So I gave it a little bit of gas and passed through the mile 20 aid station in first place with eventual winner Nick Pedatella hot on my heels. Nick, from Boulder, Colorado, is a super talent and was four weeks earlier one of the top finishers in the grueling Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc race in the French Alps. Nick is a space physicist and looks more that part than the beast of an endurance athlete that he is.
As in any ultramarathon distance, you eventually settle in to your all day pace. It may have taken me a little too long to get there, but I was thankfully joined at mile 40 by Ben Lewis, another 100 mile rookie, but very solid competitor at shorter distances. Nick was gone, but Ben and I became inseparable partners, sharing 2nd place for the next 43 miles. We settled in to a comfortable effort and the time passed quickly, a lot of it with frequent reports from me on our current altitude, number of miles to the next aid station, predicted pace, etc. Ben is a resident medical doctor in psychiatry, but politely made no attempts at analyzing any psychosis I might have.
The Bear has only recently exploded in popularity and still retains its low-key atmosphere. The organization is first-rate, but the one old-school element which I would like to see evolve is the course marking. Fortunately, I had rounded up enough Garmin gps wrist watches to last the whole race and loaded the course map on to each. This saved me on more than one occasion where flagging was missing or difficult to locate. The majority of finishers found their way, but many made wrong turns, and some were too far astray to finish within the 36 hour limit.
Mile 70 came and progress to that point was terrific. The sun was just about to set and a sub-20 hour finish was a yawning 6-1/2 hours away - no worries. After all, how long could it possibly take to run, or just jog and hike, 30 miles? My good friend Mike Topper, a successful veteran of many ultramarathon races, came out to crew for me and pace from Mile 76. Mike's company for the last 24 miles proved to be invaluable. I had been carefully eating and drinking all day and consumed all the special snacks I had sent ahead. The sun went down, and soon thereafter the fire in my engine room was flickering. The key to a good split time for the end of a 100 mile race seems to be the ability to run the runnable sections of trail and to spend a minimal amount of time at the last 4 to 5 aid stations. This is baffingly easier in concept than practice. At first, complacency took over. Then fatigue crept in to my legs to the point where inflammation prevented me from running down hill at all. Then adrenaline masked the need for caffeine which ultimately led to a very slow and somewhat scary shuffle for over a mile to the Mile 92 aid station. Somehow things turn around after these rough patches and it took some long stops at aid stations to be revived.
Fortunately, my feet were in good shape, my digestion was working well, and the clear night sky was incredible. Unfortunately, there was a maddeningly steep and rough, 7 mile descent from mile 93 to the finish. The ibuprofen I took was no match for the soreness in my right leg, so it was a very long walk off the mountain. The city lights of Fish Haven Idaho, population 201, were over 3000 feet below and drew closer at an alarmingly slow rate. I had parted ways with Ben at mile 83, and from mile 91 on, I watched one runner after another sail by. Miraculously, I slipped only to 7th place, having taken just under 5 hours to cover the last 15 miles with a finish time of 22:46. The last runner to pass me by was Nikki Kimball. Getting beat by a champion of her stature is okay by me.
Ben Lewis unknowingly took the lead at mile 85 when Nick Pedatella went off course for a solid hour! Nick put his UTMB legs to good use by retaking the lead at mile 92 and flew to the finish, while Ben finished with a comfortable cushion for second place.
Along with 18 others, my sub-24 hour time earned the coveted wolverine belt buckle. The wolverine is a powerful predator in the weasel family, but looks like a bear - something else I've learned from running 100 miles.
The memories will last for a long time. The spirit of community amongst the participants, volunteers, and crews is truly unique and will inevitably draw me back to this distance again.
Inov-8 X-Talon 212 (8 oz) shoes
Go-Lite double bottle waist pack
Fenix LD20 handheld light and Petzl headlamp for backup
Garmin Forerunner 305
Honey Stinger gels and waffles
Good old cheese sandwiches and salty V-8 juice
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Anne Lundblad was 3rd OA female in 11:01:44 at the UROC 100k. Chris Reed was 9th OA in 10:05:34 at UROC. Mark Lundblad was 6th OA (4:04) at the Flagline 50k. Scott Dunlap won the overall title at the Half Moon Bay Marathon in 2:57. Amber Moran won and broke the female CR in 29:54 at the Ache Around the Lake 8k in Tryon, NC. Gary Gellin was 7th OA in 22:46 at the Bear 100 Mile. Gary wore the X-talon 212 from start to finish in his first 100 miler. DeWayne Satterfield kept his streak of at least one ultra win per year by taking the Georgia Jewel 35 Mile title. That makes 18consecutive years in a row that DeWayne has won an ultra race! Amy Lane won the Vermont 50k in 4:47, 1st female, 2nd OA.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
UROC 100k - Ultra Race of Champions - Wintergreen, VA
Flagline 50k - Bend, OR
Gary Gellin - The Bear 100 Mile - Logan, UT
DeWayne Satterfield - Georgia Jewel 35 Mile - Dalton, GA
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Pemi Loop FKT
9500 feet of ascent
I wish I had more time. I wish I could have raced the Curley’s half marathon in Western Massachusetts and taken a run on the Pemi Loop in the White Mountains. I wish I had the time to hang out on the Bonds during my Pemi run and run a fast time. The problem is that I enjoy both relaxed hikes and hard mountain running. Since my family spent a good amount of time doing relaxed hiking around Seattle this summer, I decided on a hard run of the Pemi. The FKT had been dropped quite a bit since Kevin Tilton and I ran it, and I was curious to see what I could run after a good summer of training and racing. Here is the FKT history right from the site run by Peter Bakwin:
Ryan Welts scorched the route in 7h05m32s on August 9, 2009. He had support on Mt. Lafayette and had made a food drop at Galehead Hut the day before. Slightly more information is available at this thread.
Less than a month later, on September 4, 2009, Ben Nephew (9 time Escarpment Trail winner) and Kevin Tilton ran the Pemi in a new FKT of 7h04m47s, taking just 45 seconds off of Welts' record! Their report with splits is here.
Jan Wellford beat Nephew & Tilton's time on September 8, 2010, running the loop in 6h47m04s. His report is here. Wellford provided some splits for the run below.
Finally, on June 19, 2011, Adam Wilcox did the Pemi in 6h46m10s, less than 1 minute faster than Wellford. This is the current FKT. Links to Wilcox's report and GPS track are below.
As best I can tell, prior to Welts the FKT for the Pemi Loop was held by Alex Kahl, at "about 7h25m" in (August?) 2005. Charles Dona reported doing 7h26m31s in September 2008, which seems to be close enough to "about 7h25m" to be considered a tie.
I woke up at 4am on 9/11, got in the car at about 4:30 and made to the Lincoln Woods trailhead just before 7. I was on the trail by 7:13. I had Jan’s splits, as I was running clockwise, and made it to the top of Flume about 4 minutes faster than Jan, in 1:05. It was warm enough to pack my shirt on the ascent, but the Franconia Ridge was a bit breezy, with winds at 30-40 mph. I was a little cold in just shorts, and did hang out on the summit of Liberty which I reached in 1:24. I had been running for 2:01 as I crested Mt. Lincoln, and was about 6 minutes ahead of Jan’s pace by the time I topped Lafayette. I was glad to get out of the cold wind, and the decent down to the Garfield Ridge was nice and dry. My 318’s didn’t let me down on the technical ridge, and my legs were still in good shape as I climbed Mt. Garfield (3:04). I took my time on the descent ledges, and made it to the Galehead hut in 3:50.
I refilled my water bottles and took out a Cliff Mojo bar. I was thinking I could eat it while climbing South Twin, but I just can’t swallow solid food while moving even remotely quickly. I managed to get down most of it with lots of Gatorade, and then pushed the rest of the way up the steep 1000’ climb to the summit (4:13). My legs were still in good shape, and I was looking forward to the easier running on the rest of the loop. It is easier, but it is still very technical in spots, and I took one good spill that resulted in blood running down my right shin and into my shoe. I crossed the summit of Bond at 4:55 with tired legs, but still managed to run most of the small final climb up Bondcliff. The last nine miles consist of about 4.5 miles of singletrack followed by 4.5 miles of mostly flat rail trail. Usually the singletrack is very runnable, but there was a good amount of damage from recent storms, and had a hard time keeping my toes about the rocks and roots. It was hard to maintain any sort of momentum.
I was able to crank the pace down below 7 minute pace when I finally reached the Lincoln Woods trail, but I was too tired to get it down to 6 minute pace. There was more damage on this trail, and I too tired to compensate for the slower sections. I pushed the last two miles, and finished the loop in 6:27:47. Since the Pemi Bridge is closed, I started and finished about 30 meters past the bridge towards the road. I had hoped to gain a bit more time in over the last 9 miles, but I was happy with the time considering the trail conditions.
My 318’s were perfect for this route. You really need a shoe with a solid midsole and good upper protection to allow you to push the steep descents and rough rocky sections, and the 318’s get the job done. I had no blisters, hot spots, or nail issues at all during the run. The roclite sole worked well on both dry and wet rocks, even with hundreds of miles already on my pair.
Team Inov-8 had a very solid showing at the Pisgah Mountain 50k. Amy Lane won the overall female title for the 3rd year in a row and she also broke the CR with a speedy 4:31:11. Jim Johnson also went under the CR for the men and got 2nd OA (3:42:10) in a very tight finish. Ben Nephew was a solid 3rd OA in 3:45:18. Dane Mitchell was 6th OA in 3:50:35. Kevin Tilton was 8th in 4:00:35. Just the previous day, Jim Johnson raced and won a 5k at the Pelham Old Home Days 5k in a fast 15:34. Speaking of fast, Camille Herron was 6th OA female and set a 10k PR in 34:39 at the Great Cow Harbor 10K in Northport, NY. Peter Maksimow and Alex Nichols went 1st & 2nd, both breaking the existing CR at the Lead King Loop 25k by 4.5 minutes. They finished within seconds of one another wearing the X-talon 190.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
by Peter Maksimow
If you are not familiar what the Gore-Tex Trans Rockies Run (GTTRR), think of a cycling stage race and you start to get the idea. Over 6 days and 120 miles, teams of two run together through the Rockies, starting in Buena Vista, scaling and dropping back down Hope Pass, passing through Leadville, climbing the bowls in the ski resort of Vail and descending down into Beaver Creek to finish. No easy task.
So, the next six-plus weeks included little-to-no running and lots of aqua “running” (I don’t like the term “jogging”), elliptical and cycling workouts. Talk about monotony! Actually, the cycling wasn’t too bad as I was actually getting somewhere. After little help and direction from doctors, I monitored Tibi with the knowledge and advice of our newest Colorado Springs PT, Simon Gutierrez (thanks for the expertise Gute, the next race is mine!). I tested the leg out with a run to the top of Pikes a week before the Ascent and it held up. Tibi didn't show its face....or crack, or whatever.
Unsure that I would even be competitive come race day, I set off with the lead group and pretended I was going to do well. To my surprise I found myself running smooth to a 2:27:24 and a 7th place overall finish. A place higher than last year and only 45 seconds slower. What would I have run if I was actually training!? I couldn’t complain, though, considering the circumstances. The best part of it all was the leg held up.
After the Ascent awards ceremony, Alex Nichols, who also ran the Pikes Peak Ascent, and I (no longer competitors but now teammates) drove through the thunderous storms with our support crew and fans, Nora and Martin. With the GTTRR welcome BBQ and registration over with before we arrived, we drank good beer and ate dinner at Eddyline Brewing Company in the small town of Buena Vista and discussed our race strategy. Not knowing how the race would unfold, we were very conscious that it was a long 6 days and anything could happen. Just coming off the Pikes Peak Ascent, we agreed to stay comfortable the first day.
Stage 1 – The Opener – Buena Vista to Railroad Bridge - 20.9 miles
Comfortable is NOT what I would call the manner in which the first stage went out. FAST, is what I would call it! It seemed like these dudes were running a 10-mile trail race the way they were pushing the pace in the first few miles! I guess that is what happens when you have really fast road runners and track guys. We were not prepared for that at the beginning of a 20.9-mile stage so we hung back with 2010 Run3 champion, Justin Ricks, who gave us a lot of good advice which set us at ease (the Run3 option is a 3-day solo run of the first three stages). Justin had beat all of the solo runners as well as all the 6-day teams last year so it made us feel much better about letting those teams go.
This first stage was a hot one with deep sand that lead you to believe you were at the beach and an amazingly (mentally) difficult last 3.5 miles on a straight, flat dirt road to the finish (actually, the profile shows a slight uphill all the way to the finish, which explains why it felt so difficult). I don't think it would have made a difference if we had worn the x-talons, as the sand was so deep. Alex and I both wore the f-lite 230's. Our comfortable pace turned out to be 7:07 average for the 20.9-mile day and that is including almost 3,000 feet of gain and loss. We didn’t see the top two teams, Team Bend and Team Run Flagstaff, but we were going back and forth with the British-based Team Salomon who, as we discovered, loved to hammer the down hills—Crazy Brits!
Alex and I were thinking the Brits would be easy to take as they were power walking on the uphill sections, but that thought changed when they went by us like a freight train on the descents. “Maybe they will just wear themselves out,” we hoped. Gradually gaining on the Brits in the last couple of miles, we felt content coming in 4th position, as there was some tough running ahead. 2 hours 28 min 48 seconds was a long time to be out in the heat. I looked like a salt lick at the end of the stage and the icy river was much needed to salvage the legs. I could tell it was going to be a long week.
Stage 2 – Straight Up & Straight Down Hope Pass – Vicksburg to Twin Lakes - 13.3 miles
This was our day, Alex and I believed. Our specialty is climbing and after both placing in the top-10 at the Pikes Peak Ascent, we knew we needed to attack on the most difficult climb of the race, Hope Pass. This stage went out fast for the first two miles then shot straight up almost 3,000 feet in a matter of 2.5 miles, then descended sharply over the next 3.5 miles and finished with a flat 5 miles along Twin Lake.
We knew we needed to be in front when we reached to start of the climb, because passing would be very difficult on a 20%+ grade, so we took the pace out in the first two miles with our honorary 3rd teammate, Justin Ricks. The altitude seemed to be working to our benefit, as the other teams did not attempt to pass us to get position up Hope Pass. I decided to go with the x-talon 195 to get traction up the steep slope of hope! Alex went with the f-lite 190's.
I could tell Alex was eager to push the pace; he seemed to be floating up the steep grade, where I was having trouble getting the power output I had just a few days ago at the Ascent. It became very ugly really quickly. My quads were heavy and I had Ryan Bak of Team Bend breathing down my neck (actually, more like breathing on my calves with the steepness we were running). Even though the total time of the climb was approximately 40 minutes, it seemed like an eternity. Thus is the case when you are struggling. I watch as the top 3 teams passed me and slowly pulled away up the climb and disappear as the downhill dropped away in front of us.
Alex and I were both very cautious on the rocky downhill while the team of Mario Mendoza and Nick Hirsch (Salomon Trail/Adidas) whooped it up as they and a few individuals bolted by us. Cautious = Slow. We were able to get the pace back up once we were along Twin Lake but no one came back to us. When we finished we discovered how much time the leading teams put on us, it was disgusting, it kind of made me gag! The winning team, the Brits of Salomon (sounds like a biblical passage, doesn’t it), had powered their way down the Pass and put 12 minutes on us. You see what I mean about gagging now?
I wasn’t really sure of the cause of my lack of power needed to climb the Pass, but it could have been the accumulation of miles (about 50 in three days, more than I had done in the previous 5 weeks thanks to Tibi). Our only consolation was that we knew our legs would not be destroyed like the other teams might be after pounding the huge downhill. So, our sights set on Day 3. In the meantime, the beer that John Schneider of Black Fox Brewing Company supplied for us helped to numb the emotional pain of the past two days. Carbo loading is carbo loading, right?
Stage 3 – The Long Day – Leadville to Camp Hale – 24.2 miles
The longest stage of the 6 days, this one weighed in at 24.2 miles. A marathon in trail terms! Showing no signs of slowing down as the stages progressed, this one went out in 6:30 for the first mile and 12:45 through two miles. Yeah, a bit fast! Determined to utilize the rested legs, Alex and I stayed close to Team Bend and Team Run Flagstaff on the climbs and tried to gap the not-so-strong climbers and not-so-used-to-the-altitude Brits of Salomon. The gap that we created on the Brits was short-lived as they closed it on the descent and proceeded to put a gap on us.
On the flat section in between the climbs we edged up on the Brits of Salomon and Alex gave me the “hold our position” sign after I gave him the “let’s go around them” sign. I guess I was running myself into shape because I was ready to charge ahead. This pulling back of the reins really got me eager but gave us a few moments of rest. Alex dropped his hand and we went with some authority just before the next climb.
And run hard we did. We were able to get rid of the Brits on the flat sections of the course and make them disappear out of out rear view mirror. Just past one of the aid stations we spotted what turned out to be the yellow jersey’s of Team Run Flagstaff (the team leading the race wears yellow jerseys as the leader of the Tour de France would). This made us very happy and we continued to push the pace.
This was the second shortest stage of the race (14.1 miles) and we knew it had a very big climb that we would use to our advantage. The first two miles again were 12:45, still fast. I was not sure what had gotten into me but it was difficult to stay controlled, I really wanted to charge up the steep climb. And yet again, Alex had to calm me down – a yank on the reins.
This was finally a day that we both felt like ourselves, like mountain goats. After leading the first few miles, Team Run Flagstaff took over but we stayed right on them throughout the climb. Today would also mark the first day that I heard an expletive out of Alex’s mouth. When he thought the climb was finished, we broke out of the tree, turned a corner and it continued to climb. The f-bomb was pretty funny out of someone that is so soft-spoken.
As usual, the Brits lurked in the background, threatening to catch us on the downhill, which there was a lot of to come. We ran the uphill and flats hard to put some buffer space in between them and us. We also managed to run a fairly decent downhill but, as we expected, the British invasion came from behind.
With 3 miles to go, we had to run through a ¾ mile section of a freezing cold stream with the Brits gaining on us quickly. We knew that our Inov-8 f-lite 230’s would retain considerably less water then their beefy, rainbow-colored Salomons, which would be crucial in the last few miles. The feet went numb after a minute or so and once we got back onto flat ground it was difficult to tell if an ankle had turned, if they were landing correctly or even if they were broken. No time to think about that, they couldn’t be felt even if they were broken; we had to run at top speed.
This had to be the fastest we ran the entire race thus far. We were probably pushing 5:30/mile pace in an effort to stay in front. Hitting the tarmac, one of the Brits pulls up alongside us while yelling to his compatriot to follow suit. We see an orange cone and a finishing flag about 100 meters in the distance and I hear Alex yell, “GO!” We unleash a kick like the finish of a 5k and crossed the line in 1:47:55, 5 seconds ahead of the Brits, to claim the second tier on the podium behind Team Run Flagstaff.
It was a close day, but we were moving ourselves up on the podium. After speaking to last year’s stage and overall winner, Max King, we learned that we had run over 10 minutes faster on the day and we weren’t even the leading team. This year was by far the most competitive on record and we were happy to be proving ourselves worthy. The margaritas we consumed at Mango’s Mountain Grill at the end of the finishing chute were well deserved.
Stage 5 Another long one
The human body is a very interesting piece of machinery. It can be pushed beyond limits that you ever thought possible and, on the contrary, it can also cease to function at any given point in time. We anticipated the latter from my body, having made a quick transition from no running to the highest mileage week I have ever put in, but it was perplexing when it was Alex’s body that did not want to cooperate.
Alex and I getting to theplace where beer flows like wine…Vail hunterimagery.com
Even with running as easy as we were, I still managed to almost fall on my face two times, while Alex had several close calls and his first official tumble. Luckily, it was in a soft, beautifully decorated field of alpine flowers. We both attempted to urinate while running, which didn’t work out too well. That is a very difficult thing to do! While Alex had his first official fall, I had my first official shart (otherwise known as gambling and losing). Don’t ask, it’s long story. Well, not really, it can probably be explained by the multiple cans of sardines and bags of tuna we consumed after yesterday’s stage.
With our setback, we still managed to finish the day in 4th just ahead of the fast charging co-ed Salomon team of Anna Frost and Rickey Martin (ehh, Gates, I mean, Rickey Gates). It was off to find that fountain where the beer flowed like wine and watch the US Pro Cycling Challenge time trial up Vail Pass.
Stage 6 -- The Injury -- Vail to Beaver Creek -- 23.4 miles
This might have been the single-most memorable running experience of my life, and, trust me, I have had a few: from running in a Viking burial ground in Norway, to discovering that cows with bells around their necks really do exist in the Swiss Alps and running through the frighteningly polluted city streets of Cairo, Egypt (it’s just as polluted as New York you say, well, the gas in Egypt still contains lead!).
The people at the Gore-Tex Trans Rockies Run fed us plentifully day and night, set up the tents we slept in everyday, had a daily awards ceremony including a video and picture show, kept the beer on ice, had a chillax area under the Inov-8 tents run by who else but Inov-8's own Gina Lucrezi, where we could catch up with friend, old and new, and enjoy a nightly camp fire. Every runner there became recognizable and part of the experience, no matter how fast or slow (or how much beer they drank: JT). If you would like to experience a similar adventure, forgo that cruise and take a weeklong running vacation through the Rockies!
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Getting There ~ Largim
The trip over was pretty uneventful. That is until we started to fly over the north of Albania. I didn't realize Albania had such beautiful alps. Once the plane landed I could tell it was warm. All of the service men outside were sweating, which very well could have been due to the fact that they were wearing pants. Made my way through customs and finally I was able to get some Leke (Albanian Currency). Pretty much impossible to get Leke anywhere outside of Albania so its kind of a big deal. We set off through the streets and country side of Albania on the way to the Western coast of known for tourism and beautiful beaches. Destination was Durres just 40 mins East of the capitol Tirana where the race would be held. The USA Team was quite lucky to be offered housing at a 5 star hotel, famous for visits and accommodations of past Presidents, Prime Ministers, basically very important people. So many local Albanians reminded me of the honor it was to stay in "Hotel Adriatik".
|Brought this back to the USA!|
The Town ~ Qyteti
I set off for the beach as soon as I got in. I was already drenched in sweat from the humid air and 90 degree heat wave. The beaches were filled with people. Every inch of the beach was filled as if it was spring break in Key West. Restaurants or at least places where you could grab some Rocky and local cuisine sprawled along the board walk, which occasionally went through the middle of various local restaurants' dinner patios. I eventually set off for a run as well and came across some of the various lifestyles in Durres. In one area near the train tracks you could see a community of homeless and just minutes later you would come across homes the size of mansions with elaborate staircases and vibrant paint jobs. For some reason the staircases in Albania were eye catching some had very isolated designs and others quite old fashioned flat brick twirled so tight that if you were to run up the staircase you'd get dizzy. All over the streets were people flashing money in attempts to exchance with tourists in need of Leke, Euro, or even USD. At times these black market exchanges give you a better rate than banks will.
|Inov-8 Athletes gettin in some beach time in Durres|
The Course ~ Gjurmë
After my first run on the course I could see a few problems waiting to be exposed. For one, we found some sharp poles poking straight out from the ground, most likely left from some construction. Keep in mind some of the course was run through construction zones. After seeing the last section of the climb I knew the course would challenging for even a strong climber. Some sections of the climb got up to 30% grades or even greater. What made the course even more unique was that the Albanian Army was working on a section of the Forrest to be used for the descent that would feature highly technical drops and twists through a rooty area that nobody had ever run on because they were uprooting the entire section for the Championships. Being that it was new trail, wildlife had not quite made the adjustment. After running on this trail a few times I had multiple encounters with lizards and turtles. I figured this would be a problem by time the race came if Mr. Turtle didn't move his big shell off the trail. The course was said to have gained and loss 200 meters per lap. Not sure if I agree with that. Some said it was short, however the race itself was long with the Men running nearly 13k. The heat I think made the short climb feel a lot longer. Each lap totalled 4.3k and to add to the difficulty the course had portions where you could have to negotiate over sandy terrain and even dry dusty paths. Already I knew when the race passes these sections there will be a lot of people with dusty faces and dry mouths. In conclusion, the course I feel was a bit weak, not much technical and lots of flat runnable sections. So more of a cross country race than a true mountain race. The heat will somewhat intensify the gradients on the course. For a little video of what the course looked like check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YccGDfzW90
The Race ~ Garë
Race day I woke up, opened the door to see if the expected +94 degree weather would show up for a date. Turns out she never stands you up in Albania. It was microwave city already and I hadn't even finished eating breakfast. Not to mention, the men were the final race scheduled to start at high noon. That means, more dust, more heat, and more humidity. Watching the Women finish I could see the hurt in the finishers' eyes. Nearly everyone had white tongues longing for water. Even athletes who trained near the Adriatic Sea (known for hot regions and humidity) were suffering. I knew in our race being that it would be longer and the heat even a bit higher that conditions would be tough for everyone no matter where you train. As we lined up, somewhat contorted between various other teams, the race was delayed 2 mins, 3 mins. Finally we are off, and the mad dash to the sharp left turn 200 meters in opened the gate to the dust clouds that lie ahead. Already I was struggling so I decided to be smart and not do anything that could hurt my team. Being that I was coming off of an injury I knew my fitness was not good enough to go out with the lead pack so I was in about 20-25 nearing the peak. The dusty trail had done its damage and cotton mouth set in. The first water I tasted almost went unnoticed because my mouth was filled with granules of dirt. All I could taste was a bland earthy blend of liquid.
Team Inov-8 was doing well with Ryan W. close behind with Tommy M. lurking a few seconds back. I was able to pass a few people and move up to the top 15. At this point I shocked myself. I did not expect with my fitness to be able to feel as I did and compete as well as I was. Could be due to the lack of the Eritrean team this year, but oh well. As we approached the peak on the 2nd lap I moved up a bit more and maybe got a little anxious and burned out a bit. By the time it was time to climb for the final lap I fell back to 13th or so. A scary moment sparked and my calve tightened up a bit. This was the longest I had run let alone run hard in over a month so I was in pain. I found a second wind even though the race had run out of water on the last lap for pretty much any athlete not in the top 5. Without water I could really feel the heat radiating on my skin. I managed to pass one more athlete near the peak and move to 11th. It was a battle holding him off as he stayed within striking distance the entire way down. An athlete went down near the last turn and the ambulance blocked my tangent line a bit as I swung wide to make the turn. I looked back and noticed the crowd dispersed as my chaser hit the turn so he made up a big gap and pulled very close to me. I managed to hold him off and place 11th! Symbolic if you think about it. September 11th was the date of the race, which also now serves as a day of remembering the lives lost during a terrorist attack in America back in 2001. Even more impressive, the Men's winner was an American (Max) and so was the Women's (Kasie). The rest of the Team had rough days however, represented well, helping Team USA place 4th! Many athletes ended up dropping out due to lack of water and dehydration and some dropped out due to incidents on the course. From what I heard a few athletes face planted on the descent...ouch.
~ Lamtumirë ~
Monday, September 12, 2011
I'm excited for my daughter Tasha Hartwig for running in her first Ultra event. She did Howl at the Moon 8 hour in Danville, IL. She enjoyed herself and did a great job finishing 19.74 miles. Here is the link to an article the local Northwest Herald did on her. It's an inspiring read!
At the World Mountain Running Championships Joe Gray was the 2nd American in eleventh place with a time of 55:33, Ryan Woods came in 49th place in 1:01:51, Tommy Manning finished in 79th place in 1:08:10, and Jared Scott in 96th place in 1:20:21. Congrats to Max King and Kasie Enman for taking home the gold medal for Team USA. Both the US men's and women's team finished in 4th place overall. Scott Dunlap finished the Wasatch 100 Mile in a 29:35 clocking. Kevin Tilton won the Bradbury Bruiser 12 Mile Trail Race in 1:20.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
Camille Herron won the Brookhaven 5k in Norman, OK in a speedy 17:01. Kevin Tilton took 3rd OA (1:17:43) in the Pemi Youth Center Half Marathon. Kevin wore the Road-X 233's. Amy Lane ran a great race and got the overall female title and a new CR at the Wapack Trail Race in 3:07:09.