Race day and the weather would be the story as it often is in these winter trail races. Last year featured frozen sand and trails making for fast conditions. This year it was super windy. Obnoxiously windy. The temperature was in the low 40's and the ground was not frozen. This sand near the water was nice and firm however. The trail section featured some mud (from the thawing ground). The start and finish of the race would be directly into the wind.
The notables in attendance were Jackman, Brightman, Lonergan, Muddy, Chris Fox and the ageless sand Gazelle. Also present was Level Renner's own Eric Narcisi. He was a wildcard.
Race time. I was hoping for another slowish start like at OMF. I also wanted to hide behind some bigger dudes for the first half mile into the wind. Yes, this meant Jackman. It was a very strange scene at the gun: a bunch of unfamiliar people darted out into the strong headwind. I hung back at what felt like an easy pace with everyone else I was worried about (mentioned above). This continued for a bit, but I couldn't help but move up as the pace was still too easy for a race. Besides, the drafting thing didn't seem to be working. I could still feel the wind in my face, even when I did my best to "hide" behind someone. The flag turnaround was nearing and I decided to make a move. I didn't expect to win this race, but someone had to do something. I pushed ahead of the remaining unknown runners and was now up front. Soon after I hit the turnaround and the wind magically went away. I tried to just run fast, letting my legs go. As usual, this was not fast enough for some others, and Jackman, Brightman, and Lonergan soon passed by. At about the 1 mile mark, still with the wind at our backs, Eric Narcisi went by, offering words of encouragement. He looked super strong. No chance sticking with him. I could "feel" others behind me. I didn't want anyone else to pass. I dug in. First GPS mile was 5:48.
Hanging back at the start. All photos by Jana Walker.
Taking the lead.
Heading back. Looks windy!
4th place, about to get passed by eventual winner.
The course then veered toward the dunes and a trail full of thick sand. It feels so slow and people were definitely gaining on me. I pushed harder and finally reached the short uphill road section. I was trailing the top 4 by a decent margin, but they were still within sight. I held off whoever was behind and ducked into the fine gravel trails of Black Point. No letting up now. The breathing I could hear was not Muddy's, and I wasn't sure who it was, but I hoped the trail section would be where I could create some more space. I hammered the downhill and ran the muddy spots as swiftly as possible. There was one tricky descent of all mud. I had scoped it out during my warm up and knew the best line. I barreled down this hill almost slipping at the end. Maybe this would do the trick. Nope. No let up from whoever was behind me. Was I hearing two people? Where is Muddy? GPS mile 2 split was 5:59.
I kept pushing along the ocean side trail in Black Point. I made sure to surge on a wide area just before the stone building, knowing this might be a passing spot. I jumped through the building (no ice or standing water this year) and then spilled out onto the beach. Jackman and Brightman looked to be pretty close ahead of me and they looked really slow. Once on the beach I realized why - the wind!! So terrible and deflating at this point in the race. The screaming headwind killed any momentum and the last half mile stretch was going to be a struggle. On top of that, I glanced back and saw two yellow shirts behind me and then Muddy. I knew I was going to get gobbled up here. I just did my best to fight the wind and poor thoughts. Eventually, I decided to just start my "sprint". Jackman and Brightman continued to be just a few seconds ahead battling it out for third place. I decided it wasn't acceptable to be passed. I finished up in 5th overall, 6 seconds behind 3rd and 4th, and 2 seconds ahead of Mike Macedo (one of my yellow shirt chasers).
My official time was 18:21 - close to my time last year (GPS mile 3 was 6:04). That made me feel pretty good. It seemed that this year's version was significantly slower for most, but I was about the same. I needed to do some research:
Results of the top 10ish who did both 2015 and 2016 races
Results based on smallest difference of finishing time 2016 versus 2015
I'm not Chris Garvin, but I think this means that I really won :) Not sure though.