Chapter I: Getting Back on the Horse
In spite of my deep familiarity with the race and the course, uncertainty defined my approach to this year’s Chuckanut 50k. The latter half of 2012 was a running disaster for me with two ignoble drops in 2 months time - drops that that more likely should have been DNS’s. Life in Missoula is fantastic, but I’ve been running in a new climate, with new folks (great folks who happen to be exceptional and even world class runners), with a new job, and on top of that, the last 4 months have been almost exclusively run on snow and ice. Hard to know what’s in the mind and body. I’ve also been investing considerable time and effort in strength training, logging two hard circuit sessions per week at the now infamous Momentum Athletic Training. One of the most thrilling aspects of running is entering the unknown. Most often that experience takes place during the 100-mile distance, but as I toed the line for this “mere” 50k, I had no idea what to expect.
I’ll spare you the typical race report drama as there really was none. I felt strong, steady and positive all day. Peeps go out way fast at this race and I rolled into aid station 1 in about 30th place. From there I just clipped along, never feeling too good or too bad, and worked my way up to about 15th by the last aid station. The final 10k was my strongest segment and I worked up to 12th, finishing in 4:06, a 3-min PR (first time I’ve negative split the Interurban Trail segments). This race just gets faster and faster! Huge congrats to David and Jodee and all the other runners who toed the line and had the courage to push themselves. Well done. A huge thanks to Krissy, her Ma and Pa, and the incredible crew of volunteers. This is a soup-to-nuts first class event, but more on that in Chapter II…
Great thanks to Patagonia (especially George and Mark) for supporting me for so many years. The best gear, made in the best possible way. Also thanks for PowerBar, UltrAspire, Rudy Project and Nuun. And no report would be complete without recognizing the enduring support of my most important sponsor, Maggie. Thank you!
Gear List: Patagonia Gamut Short Sleeve, Patagonia Strider-Pro Shorts, Patagonia Ultralight weight Merino anklet socks, Adidas Adios, Buff coolmax headband, UltrAspire Isomeric Handheld bottle.
Fuel: PowerBar Perform sports drink, PowerBar gel, grape Nuun, Base Amino, water.
Chapter II: The REAL Story of Chuckanut
Changing behavior is perhaps the most difficult thing we can do. If you doubt that, try changing your own and see how it goes. We are creatures of routine and get set in our ways. Regardless of your politics, belief or non-belief in climate science, or your religion, I’d hope we can all agree that trail races, though they present a wonderful opportunity to engage with nature, generate incredible amounts of waste. Trash. Many races have done a great job with recycling, composting, carbon off-sets and the like, but what Krissy has done with Chuckanut is currently beyond compare and deserves widespread recognition.
Again, changing behavior is difficult and often you have to force the change. At our UltrAspire retreat last year, Roch Horton floated the idea of improving the available options in portable cups - cups able to meet the mandatory gear requirements at races like UTMB. Bryce took the idea to the lab and came up with a fantastic solution, and Krissy decided the cup was so good that she could take the giant step of declaring Chuckanut, a race with 400 entrants, completely cupless.
Think about that…no cups at the start, no cups on the course, no cups at the finish, and most importantly, no cups in the trash! Carry this easy-to-carry cup and/or a water bottle, or you’re out of luck.
To keep the ethic consistent, Krissy also cut out coffee cups, plastic bowls, utensils and all such disposable supplies at the finish. A 50k, particularly one of the largest in the country, generates a lot of hungry folks. These folks tend to get grumpy when they can’t immediately get what they want - FOOD! And lots of it. Krissy had some great food, but you had to bring your own plate, bowl or mug to enjoy it. She gave fair warning and delivered on the promise/threat.
So if you were there, you did not see overflowing bins of garbage. You did not see volunteers struggling to keep up with that overflow. What you did see what runners changing their behavior. You want nourishment? Bring your own supplies. Behavior changed! That takes vision, commitment and guts and Krissy proved she has all three in spades. She put her race on the line for something she believes in and made a real impact. Let’s hope her leadership, innovation and courage can become a model for other race directors…and (dare-to-dream) policy makers as well.