Well, that was a long drive just to race against my local training buddies…
Missoula dominated last weekend’s Pocatello ultra races, sweeping the top four spots in the 50-miler (Wolfe, Kollar, Angle, Hahn) and winning the 50k (Schlarb). It was great fun to mix it up with good friends on a great course. Luke Nelson does a fantastic job with this event. It doesn’t get the same hype as some other (relatively) early season 50-milers, but it delivers a challenging and beautiful mountain course, first class organization, and a quietly competitive field of runners.
Life had been a bit thick coming into race day. The crescendo of Spring semester coupled with some Charlotte sleep challenges left me feeling a little flat, but eager to get out for a long adventure. I slept quite well in the van and my legs felt good during a short warm up. Ready to roll! After the gun I soon settled into about 4th position. Wolfe was loaded for bear from the gun and Kollar gave chase. I could tell Mike was ready to uncork one and that he did, running wire to wire for a huge course record. Awesome to see!
I managed a respectable pace, staying within sight of 2nd and 3rd coming into the first aid station. Next came the off trail scramble. This sort of terrain is not my strong suit, but I stayed patient and positive and kept a consistent effort. Topping out I was unsure where to go. I saw Chris and gave chase only to soon realize that we were off course. It took us about 10 minutes to get back on as we saw Jared’s bright green T- shirt in the distance…a rock solid confidence marker on the proper route. So a little diversion, but apparently all of the top 4 made the same or similar error. The extra credit pumped be up a bit, as it were, and I ran pretty hard down into City Creek and up the second climb. I was now in 3rd and wanting to consolidate that position. After the second climb, the course runs gently down for a long, long time, with only a 1/2 bump to slow the momentum. I felt strong on this segment, though the heat was creeping, and a rolled into mile 32.5 about 20 minutes back of Wolfe and “a few” minutes back of Chris.
The climb up Scout Mountain was a bit of a head game. It’s long and gradual and you are staring at the objective most of the time wondering, “when the hell are we gonna get up that thing?” The endless flirtation got to me a bit, as did the grade. I was not able to find a poppy enough gear to motor up, but walking felt really lame. Not my best section but I finally made the summit and after a rugged and awkward drop off the peak, loose rock gave way to sweet singletrack and I found a nice rhythm into the last aid station at mile 47.
I chatted with Karl and Cathrine a bit and got out of there with a bottle full of ginger ale to get my near-the-edge guts back in order. This last 5 miles is a bit of a drag, with a 700’ climb out in the sun. I was sleepy tired and unable to find the motivation to push. I was feeling pretty comfortable in 3rd…and as I approached the line I realized this comfort was startlingly unwarranted as Keifer was closing fast and Jon Robinson was not far behind either.
Bottom line: 8:49 for 3rd place overall and 3rd place Missoulian! Happy with the day - a good checkpoint on my fitness and an indicator I need to make sleep and recovery a priority in the weeks ahead.
Gear was perfect today:
Shirt: Patagonia AirFlow Tank
Shorts: Patagonia Spring 14 Strider Pro
Hat: Patagonia Spring 14 Duck bill cap (the legend returns!)
Socks: Patagonia Ultra-Light merino
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 3
Bottles: UltrAspire Isomeric Pocket
Many thanks to Luke for a flawlessly organized event. First class all the way! I continue to enjoy the generous support of some outstanding sponsors - Patagonia, PowerBar, UltrAspire, Barlean’s (see forthcoming post), and Nuun. Great thanks for the help. And of course many thanks to my biggest supporters, Maggie, Ainslie and Charlotte.