Coupled with the ideal conditions, the stacked field at this years WTC would not disappoint for some fast times. In fact, as it turns out the fastest race collectively in WTC history! The results are listed here. A couple names (Matt Carpenter, Galen Burrell, Thomas Reiss, Rod Bien, Guillermo Medina) that were listed on the entrant list were no shows, to every ones disappointment. Maybe they looked at the entrant list and got cold feet thinking this would not be an easy race to qualify for Western States?? Even with those names not showing up the field was still stacked.... stacked with those fast road marathoners that could use their leg speed on this less than technical trail race. Still with the 3600 ft of elevation gain you would think that would slow 'em down a bit, not today. There were 7 names in the top 15 that I didn't recognize so I went to this website, typed in their names to see what results came up. Not surprising that of the 7 names the slowest marathon PR listed was 2.42!
Here's how the race unfolded for me: The race starts on a paved road with a gradual downhill so it's easy to clock fast myles. The thought I kept saying in my head was "let them go, let them come back to me!" Right from the start a group of about 20 took off at sub 6:10 pace. I stayed relatively close clocking my first mile in 6:22, very comfortable for me. After about a mile and 1/2 the course gets to the dirt on a rolling single track that has one or two stiff climbs. I hit the first aid station (6.1) in 38:17, which was about 10 seconds slower than last year but I wasn't worried in the least bit because I was very relaxed and fresh. At this point I was running with Erik Skaden, Scott Wolfe, and Scott Jurek. The next section is a fast single track plunge down to the American River, along the river for 2 myles, then back up under the canopy of the trees. This section is roughly 8.5 myles long and is the prettiest part of the course. It's easy to go too fast on this section as I did last year. This year I stayed right behind Scott Wolfe, who I thought was going too slow but there is no where to pass. I didn't push the issue and just settled in. I believe by staying behind him I saved myself from later bonking. I arrived at aid station 2 (14.5) in 1.36:51, which was 2 minutes slower than last year. I still wasn't worried because I felt great! The next section is a 6 mile loop that is mostly rolling single track that has one STEEP climb. The climb is ball bearing hill that climbs 1300 ft in one mile. Last year this is were the wheels started to fall off. This year I still felt great, which is always a good sign. I was still running with Eric Skaden and Scott Wolfe but once we started up the hill I never looked back. I came into aid station 3 (21) in 2.28:52, which was 3 minutes slower than last year. Even though I was slower at least this year I was coherent. I knew this next section was the crux of the race for me. It's the same rolling single track that we came out on and very easy to lose or gain time. Last year I was in second place heading into this section and suffered mightily. This year I was all alone and feeling very inspired! I soon caught a glimpse of a runner in front of me and that's all I needed to see, it was on! This is where they all start to come back to me! There is one 500 foot grunt up the aid station 4 (26.2) that I knew I would see people. I passed 3 people on the short climb to include Hal Koerner. I came into the marathon mark at 3.09:45 - I had made back all the time I lost! I filled my water bottle and I was off to see who else I could catch. The next section is 3 myles that's up and down and deceptively hard! Last year I walked quite a bit of this, this year I took off more than 4 minutes of that time. I wanted to be to the last aid station by 3.32 because that would ensure me a 3.40 range finish. I got to the last aid station in 3.34:42 and still running good. The last section is 1.7 myles and all up. My goal was to run the entire section - done! I ran the last section in 10:34 to give me an overall time of 3.45:25!
Now remember my overall goal was not about place but ALL about time, in the 3.40 range - done! Since I've been running ultras this has got to be my best race! In most years at WTC my time would have placed me in the top 3 or in the case of one year (98) I would have won. I guess my training was true to me. I firmly believe that hard work and dedication will pay off. I really gotta thank my wife for allowing me to pursue this crazy passion! This would not be possible without her!
Now the work is done I get to indulge myself!