It was a great honor to be part of a good friend’s wedding in Winthrop, WA on May 21st. Originally (several months ago) I was scheduled to be in Japan on May 21st to race the Ultra Trail Mount Fuji. With the devastation and cleanup efforts in Japan following the March earthquake and tsunami, the race organizers made the proper, respectful, and respectable call to cancel the event for 2011. I wish the best for the Japanese as they ‘get back on their feet.’ Of course, my heart went out to the people of Japan and I was not disappointed to not be able to race in what is sure to be an epic event. I was tremendously happy to be able to attend my buddy Brian Gregg’s wedding in Winthrop, WA though. Brian is a good friend from the collegiate Nordic ski racing days as we were teammates and training partners for two solid years on the Western State College of Colorado ski team. He and I shared many adventures that I am very grateful for. Brian had a tremendous impact on my life during my ‘early-life-crisis’ when I was a clueless college kid and he has remained a spectacular friend as we are still able to see each other several times each winter across the country on the Nordic ski circuit. I was so excited that he and Caitlin were getting married!
Once I knew I would be attending Brian’s wedding in a different part of the country, I set out to find an ultra event that I could race on the same trip. I did not have to search far as I quickly found a 50 mile event in the same tiny town of Winthrop: The Sun Mountain 50 mile. Other than one family trip to Seattle as a 4th grader and a couple other times in the Seattle airport, I had never spent anytime in Washington. Winthrop and the whole of the Methow Valley proved to be one of the most amazing places I have ever been. If you ever get the chance to go to Winthrop… do it! I jumped at the opportunity to race in this beautiful area and certainly plan on going back sometime in the future.
I flew into Spokane and made the 4 hour drive up to Winthrop on Thursday, May 19. As soon as I made it to town I went right to the trails on Sun Mountain and jogged for an easy hour. I felt horrible but incredibly inspired to be on new trails in a new part of the country. I met up with Brian and others to grab some dinner and set up a few things for the wedding. I then headed off to bed at another great friend’s family house: Chad Hons. Hons and I had many great adventures in college as well, and he too has impacted my life greatly. Hons and his family could not have made me more comfortable. Thank you! Friday dawned and we headed out on a 1 hour 40 minute run as a group of groomsmen and other friends. For the most part, all these guys are world-class Nordic skiers, so they had to drag the ‘jogger’ (me) with them, but it worked out well and we were able to run in another great area of the valley. The rest of Friday passed with us eating quite a bit, finalizing the set-up for the wedding, and enjoying a great gathering that night with a BBQ and slideshow. Great stuff. Saturday, the wedding day, in short, was awesome as we hiked the 1000 vertical feet and 1-mile up to the ceremony site above the valley for the ceremony. Over 200 people made the trek up to the ceremony and those who could not make the hike were able to ride on the fine machine pictured below!
After a splendid wedding and fantastic meal of pork, baked beans, salads, and cake, the rest of the wedding day passed quickly and I found myself talking many of the wedding party into racing the 25km the next day (wasn’t that hard.. these guys and gals are competitors!). I crashed early, as a few nights with ‘lesser-than-normal-amounts-of-sleep’ had caught up with me, and I woke up on Sunday (race day) fresh and ready to go. The forecast was calling for highs in the low 60’s and mostly cloudy skies… both of these predictions had me super excited! The race started at 7:00am with what felt like a very fast pace….
(Stay tuned for part 2 ….)