I made the trek up with Mike Galoob. We got there early, signed up, and decided to walk the first part of the course. The race begins in a parking lot, but in a matter of feet, narrows to a muddy single track section (that becomes quadruple track during the race). I made the note to not bother to try to get across on the bridge and just aim straight through the mud. The trail then meets the river and is a very pleasant path along the shore. It was more of a trail than I was led to believe, but still very fast. After our hike, we then headed back out for a warm up, change into racing gear, and strides in the parking lot and grass. The vibe was more machismo than friendly trail venue. Super focused speedsters not messing around. I was a little underdressed for the chilly start temp, but I knew I would be working hard and never cold during the race. I snuck into the far right hand side of the starting line. I didn't want to be up front, but I also didn't want to get stuck behind people tip-toeing through the beginning mud bog.
The race began and it was a quagmire. Some people fell. I remained upright and stuck to my plan.
Here we go! Tucked into the left corner.
Straight through the mud I go. Stink eye from blue shirt.
Ended up next to Galoob who took the bridge.
Things quieted down. I was in a decent spot (20th?) of a long single file line, although I felt a little out of place, seeing some of the runners I was with.
I shouldn't be near that guy in front of me!
The running felt fast. I was pushing myself pretty hard, but trying to keep my pace to something I could reasonably maintain for 10 miles. I thought the sorting out was done after a mile or so, but I got annoyed as people continued to pass me at the two mile mark. I felt like I was in 50th place (exaggerating). I decided to increase my effort and stick with a group of three runners who just passed me by. After 3 miles, I anticipated the hills. I was told there were three in each direction. I hoped this would be my strong suit, but honestly I also preferred a slower grind to a fast sprint at that point. The hills went well, but it was hard to catch my breath at the top and crank down the other side. There were a few tricky descents. I was reeling in the group of 3. Then, on the steep hill at the powerline, I snuck by two of them after the pace dropped to a crawl (they actually power hiked and I ran). Check out the 2:15 mark of this video for the action.
I continued to trail the last of the 3 in a yellow SRR singlet. I figured it was only a matter of time and I remained close. I definitely had put good distance on the other two behind me. Then as the turnaround neared, I began seeing the leaders coming in the opposite direction. I was very wary of making way for them. I was bummed to see that Galoob wasn't as high up as I thought he would be. I reached the end and had to ask what I was supposed to do (just turn around and run duh!). I think my split was 30:40ish. Running against traffic was a bit nerve wracking. At first, it was scary to see all the competition not far behind me. Then it was a bit frustrating to not always get cooperation from slow runners much later. I wasn't as aggressive as maybe I should have been here. I let the SRR guy get too far ahead at time during the hills, and missed my opportunity on the powerline hill in the opposite direction as I got very close to him. Check out footage from the above video at the 6:20 mark.
Honestly I remember thinking that I wasn't giving it my all on my return trip through the hills. It was somewhat because of oncoming traffic, but really I was tired and I had no pressure from behind. I couldn't see anybody. I actually was looking forward to the last 3 miles of flatness. I knew that I would be able to pick it back up and finish strong. The SRR guy was putting distance on me and I gave up that fight. That is until I reached the flat riverbed again. I clearly was catching up to him. I found a comfortable gear with quick turnover and just tried to stick with it. His lead on me was shrinking, but at a painfully slow rate. My best hope was to make a surge near the finish. Then I caught a glimpse of someone gaining on me from behind - another SRR jersey being worn by Eric Ahern. I know him from the TARC 50K (well 40K for me) and few years ago, and that he is a great ultra runner who looks fast. I wanted to beat him. There was about two miles left. Running scared now - I was moving even faster. With about a half mile to go he caught and passed me. I tried to hold him off, but I think my speed was pegged. I could only watch in disappointment as he then battled his SRR teammate the last stretch to the finish. I made my way gingerly through the mud (almost slipping) and crossed the finish line. See 9:40 mark of video.
1:02:12. I was really happy with my time. Greg nailed it! Turns out that I was 14th overall and 3rd master! Results here. It felt good to compete so well on a big stage. The race was more "traily" than I thought going in. I enjoyed the sprint-hills-sprint format. I definitely feel like I need a little more speed (complete lack of speedwork probably didn't help) for the flats, but I really can't complain.