Home Course! The SageBurner 50k/25k 2009 was an incredible success. With 200 people registering to run either race; the event more than tripled, TRIPLED, their attendance over last year’s inaugural event. The weather held for most of the day with overcast skies and temperatures in the mid 40’s – mid 50’s. The event was great; with a minor course change, and a new course direction; this year’s event was even more challenging than last year. Apparently that was part of the reason so many people signed up this year; the challenge. With some 5200′ of climbing and the same amount of descent on tough and technical single-track, this event lived up to its billing. So; congrats to all who entered, and toughed it out; I look forward to seeing you all next year. You really should put this one on your calendar for next year; fantastic event; great people; great town!!! For results, photos, and race reports; go to the website: www.western.edu/sageburner.
As for a brief accounting of how my race unfolded; and a short listing of the top three; here I go. The 25 km race was won by local Brian Smith in 1:57. Race Director and ‘GEP’ director Scott Drum was 2nd in 2:00:20, and Jesse Rickert rounded out the podium with a 2:00:34; just 14 sec. behind Scott. Close Race! I do not know how the women’s 25 km turned out yet. (see website for details). My wife Annie ran an identical time to last year, despite this year’s event being harder, and slightly longer. Way to go babe!. The 50 km women’s race was won by my Gunnison Endurance Project (GEP) teammate Keri Nelson in a fast 4:35 ish. She really put the hammer down. As for the men’s 50 km; wow! My GEP teammate Tim Parr ran a blazing 3:46 on the 31.42 mile course. (remember this course had 5200′ of climbing on technical trails)!
Mike Selig of Broomfield was a solid 2nd place in 3:55 ish. I was a distant 3rd in 4:15. Dan Vega from Colorado Springs impressed with a 4th place effort in 4:20. Keri Nelson, who won the women’s was 5th overall in a very impressive 4:35. There will be more updates on the website once all results have been compiled: www.western.edu/sageburner. I entered the race with something approaching a ‘lack of confidence.’ I knew I was fit, in terms of base miles and I knew I was mentally prepared to accept the challenge; however, I lacked confidence in my ability to run race pace for 31 miles on brutal terrain. The past few busy weeks had taken their toll on me, coupled with an increase in my training; I knew I was hurting a bit. (I just need to start taking (even slightly) better care of myself). Anyhow… the race started out with several of the 25 k guys taking it out; and the top 4 of us 50 k guys running right with them.
As soon as us 50k guys peeled off to head out on our course (around mile 5.5); it became clear it was going to be a 4 man race. Tim and Mike traded off and on for a while in the lead; with Tim pushing the pace on the ups, and Mike hammering the downs. I was less than 1 minute back until about mile 11 or 12; when I really began to lose contact. I was content to watch these guys hammer each other for a while. It also became clear that Dan (right behind me) had intentions of making it a race for 3rd. Around mile 14/15 I began to slow down considerably; this is when Dan passed me. I then proceeded to follow Dan for a very long time. So; Dan was ahead of me in 3rd place from about mile 14 on. At one point; he was out of sight; and I began to lose hope of reeling him back in. This is when the mental toughness kicked in; and I knew I just needed to buckle down, grit my teeth and suffer through what was amounting to a very bad day of running for me. I started to feel bad almost from the get-go: my legs felt awful, my stomach was weird, and I felt out of snyc, slow; and downright not good! But character is forged on days just like this; when it is almost impossible to keep putting one foot in front of the other; and all you want to do is go home and sleep. So; I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. That’s about all I could do.
With about 10 miles to go, I buckled down and began reeling Dan back in. (At this point I knew Tim and Mike were long gone; and the race was for 3rd between Dan and I). All I remember thinking during these last 10 miles; was biting off small sections of the course; one small hill at a time; one trail at a time; one switchback at a time, etc. As I got into that ‘mental groove’ I began to see Dan again; at first only on the tops of ridges; where I could look down and see him below; and then gradually I began to see him continually; and it was clear I was rapidly gaining on him. He really put up a good fight; and I commend him for that: but with about 5.5 miles to go: I passed him on a very steep uphill. At that point all I wanted to do was slow down, sit down, and have a conversation, but, I had risked too much so far to stop, so, with Dan gamely trying to hang on to me: I just hammered it, got through the last 4.5 miles (actually the best 4.5 miles of the race for me) and made it to the finish in 3rd overall, some 5 minutes ahead of Dan.
To everyone who has had a bad day on the trail, don’t give up, keep pushing, keep enduring, if for no other reason than you will actually have something to write on your next blog post! Seriously, these are the days when I learn the most. These days, when I am a mere mortal, (as opposed to being a 26 year old invincible yuppie), are the days that make the highs that much better; and the successes that much more worth it. If you have a story along these lines; and would like to share it with me; please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to learn any lessons that you all have to share! Also, let me know if you would like me to post your story on this blog. I’d love to do that. Keep on keepin’ on. Remember why you do this stuff.