Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Buffalo 50 mile - 2nd 6.32:xx

Biggest bonehead move of the century! With the victory AND CR all sewn up I decided to go straight instead of taking a right with 800 meters to the finish.... and with Ryan Burch on my heels that was all she wrote.

Here's how the day played out:

It snowed/rained the day before which turned out to be the best thing for the sandy course, just enough to make the sand harder. We took off right at 6 A.M. and immediately Ryan, Eric Storheim, myself, and Max quickly separated ourselves. And to be quite honest, the pace was pedestrian-like as we all talked and got to know each other. My plan was to follow Storheim as he was the only one I knew that had been on this course but by the time we got the first aid station Burch and I already separated ourselves. At the first aid you have the choice of doing a short out and back along a ridge before or after the loop, I was going to do it after to get a little more light but when Burch left to do it first I had no choice to follow. I knew Burch and I would be close all day so I had to keep tabs on him and get a better idea of his pace. Eric decided to do the loop first and that was last we saw of him until the 'other' out and backs.

Ryan led me through the loop at a pretty good pace, at one point bombing a downhill, but I stayed right there testing the legs. At the end of the loop we were less than a second apart and that's how we stayed for the next 10 myles. We came through the start finish area (mile 19) in 2.25 and I knew we were on pace for the CR. Up to this point the course was well marked with flour arrows but you know as well as I do, any sort of traffic will quickly erase those arrows. Ryan and I entered another out and back, when we got to the port-o-potty (supposed turn around) there were no markings so I continued down the the road all the way to the causeway while Ryan stopped at the porty. When I got to the causeway I saw no markings so I looked back to Ryan with my arms raised and I headed back. As we passed Storheim he told us that we were supposed to turn around at the porty. Mentally that was tough because we lost a good 7-8 minutes but we put our heads down and continued to work together on the next loooong out and back.
Mile 42 - Photo by John Bozung
This next out and back was 20 myles long almost all flat. Mile markers were posted so I began to check my pace, pretty close to 7:10s the entire way out (4.12 at Ranch aid station). My plan was to cruise out and try to make a gap on the way back. Ryan was never more than 30 seconds back both out and back, which was surprising on the way back because I was feeling good and pushing the pace a bit.

While I was out there racing my 10 year old son, Jaxon had now started his own race with his Grandfather in the 25K. They started at 10 A.M. so my thoughts shifted to them and wondered how they were doing. Jaxon had come down with a cold a couple days before so I just hoping he would make it through. Jaxon had helped me with the Colorado Trail last summer up to 15 myles so I knew he could do it. Sitting around after the race licking my wounds, Jaxon and Rick turned the corner down the long traverse and everything that had gone on in the day didn't matter anymore. I became emotional as Jaxon started sprinting towards the finish line - 4.02:xx! You should have heard everyone cheering for him. Several
people came up afterward telling him congratulations, like "I don't know you but I think that is absolutely amazing what you just did". Jaxon was sick but his face was glowing with happiness. I'm always nervous to let him do things like this because I don't want him to have a bad experience. Out of all the races I've done in my life, this one was the most special. Congratulations to Jaxon and also Rick for being there every step of the way. What a day it must of have been with them hanging out on the trails and seeing the amazing scenery.

Finally when we reached the gate and started up hill around mile 43, I sensed that I could push a little harder. On the start of the final loop I looked back and for the first time all day I couldn't see Ryan. After the race when Ryan and I talked, he said it was around mile 43 that he did not feel the best and stopped at the aid for some Coke. Around the 5 mile loop I went building steam on the smooth single track when we encountered the first real rocky section of the day. And wouldn't you know it, I kicked a rock and took a nice digger... I just laughed as I picked up my stuff scattered all over the trail.

Finally I could see the start/finish area which I estimated about 10 minutes away. I looked down at my watch - 6.14, I knew I was well on my way to the win and CR. I turned around and saw Burch 30 seconds back and kept checking for any late race surges. We entered a small maze of trails and then the road(s) leading to the finish. All of these intersections had several white flour arrows, which was comforting. Finally out on the last roads I had the option to turn right or go straight up about 400 yards to some orange signs that I focused on. All day we had orange signs with black arrows that I was accustomed to knowing the right way. When I got up there and noticed the arrows were on the other side directing cars, I turned around, threw my hands up in the air and saw Burch turn the corner pointing down the road. SHIT! Ryan motored to the victory and CR with me in tow 30 seconds later. That's part of trail racing.

I am extremely happy with my result. Congratulations to Ryan Burch for running such a strong race all day! I think it's pretty amazing that we stayed so close all day. Ryan and I will get another chance to race at the San Juan Solstice later this summer where, at least, I know the course. I felt strong all day with constant energy from the EFS liquid shot that I nipped at every 15 minutes. Thanks to Jim Skaggs for putting on such a great race. We hung around all day after the race catching up with family, friends, and drinking lots of Cokes.
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