Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Da' Bar 2008
When Leland invited me to run the first part of his “new” Bear course last fall I was a bit apprehensive. My first 100 was the original course that started and ended at Deer Cliff Inn outside of Preston, ID. I had spent the last five years trying to re-capture the rush of that first finish-a moment I felt ten-feet tall and bulletproof. By the time Leland and I had climbed Logan Peak and barreled down Leatham Hollow-I knew the change was a good one.
The new Bear course is point-to-point. It starts in Logan, Utah, weaves through maple and aspen-glow hollows, crossing the highway in Logan Canyon at Temple fork before heading up to Tony Grove Lake, the Beaver Mountain ski area, Gibson Basin, before one more climb up to 9000+ ft. before bombing down to Fish Haven, Idaho on the edge of Bear Lake. In all the course tallies 22,518 ft. of climb and 21,576 ft. of descent at an average elevation of 7,350 ft.
As race day approached I was getting really excited to race. I hadn’t raced much this year and the competitive fire in my belly had finally returned. My best races have always come in sets of two, so I was confident after my performance at Grand Teton that I would have a good one if I could keep my stomach under control. My plan was to wear my Black Diamond Pack to carry plenty of iced NUUN during the heat of the day, eat solid foods (plenty of avocado and turkey sliders) and spend a few extra minutes at the aid stations to have a few shots of ginger ale on ice. I that it would take a sub-20 hour performance to beat a tough field that included Nate McDowell, Leland Barker, Eric Storheim, Jared Campbell, and Geoff Roes (who was signed up but DNS).
While waiting in the dark for the start I chatted with Roch and Nate. We joked about who would be keying on who and I suggested that we just light “the circle of death” in the parking lot and settle it all there-it might have been less painful. Early in the race we chatted about kids, running, and family life and the challenge of balancing everything. Jared and Nate also talked about climbing, Europe, and their admiration of Chris Sharma.
After the big climb up Logan Peak the course became very runable and we motored through the Leatham Aid Station at mile 20. By this time Nate had about a 7 minute lead on me but due to some hot spots we left the aid about the same time. This proved to be the theme for the day. Nate would disappear and 30-40 minutes later I would finally catch him. We most exposed part of the course during the heat of the day on our way to Temple Fork. I spent a few extra minutes cooling off at the aid stations, drank more Ginger ale and alternated between the orange ginger and tri-berry NUUN on ice. I caught site of Nate just before entering the Temple Fork aid station. I refilled my pack, ate some avocado and proceeded up the big climb to Tony Grove Lake. By the time I reached the end of the downhill to the lake I caught Nate again. I got out of the aid station first and tried to put a little distance on him to no avail. By the time we reached Roch & the Black Diamond crew’s aid station Nate was right on my heels. It was so awesome to see Andrea and the kids. Roch told me to calm down-that the race didn’t really start until 75 so I ate a little, dropped my visor for a light, switched to hand bottles hand hiked on out of the aid station.
By the time I reached Beaver Mountain Ski Area it was dark and Nate had opened a 10-minute lead on me. I spent too long at the aid station. I used their bathroom and waited a few minutes for my pacer to show up. (I had told him that I would be there around 10 p.m.) I was over an hour early so I just turned up my music blasting Eminem and Metallica and headed for home. I had pre-run the last 25 miles so I was confident I could make it a race if I kept focused and fueled. At Gibson Basin they informed me that he still had a 15 minute lead so I filled my bottles with ice water and Coke and chased after him. Exhausted, I tried to do the math and figured that I would have to run over 1-minute per mile faster than Nate to catch him before the finish. I had my work cut out for me. On the downhill to Beaver Creek I had to made another pit stop so I stepped off the trail, turned off my headlamp, did my business and hopped back on the trail and buzzed down to the aid station. After crossing the creek I noticed a runner and pacer just leaving the station. In my sleep-deprived state I couldn’t figure out how someone had caught me. It wasn’t until I caught them that I realized that it was Nate and his pacer. My confusion turned to elation and after asking Nate if he was okay I took off, running nearly all of the next five miles up to the top of the ridge trying to shake him once and for all. It was super dusty and rocky requiring all of my energy to focus on running and not tripping and killing myself. I pushed hard for about an hour and it wasn’t until I reached the top of the last climb before I dared look back to see if anyone was coming. I couldn’t see any lights so I flipped my light on thinking, “Okay, don’t do anything stupid and you’ll win this thing” then promptly took a flying face-plant in the dirt. I quickly hopped up and headed for the lights of Fish Haven. I caught Leland who had started an hour earlier. I asked for an escort to the finish but he told me to go on ahead. Once I reached the pavement I took another glance over my shoulder to see if anyone was coming then relished the moment all the way to the finish.
It turns out I found what I was looking for. It was every bit as exciting as my first finish at the Bear five years previous. I finally had the magical race. It will be interesting to see how my time holds up in the future. Of course I need to thank all those who helped this year be such an enjoyable and successful one. Starting my family Andi, the love of my life who always loves me even if I don't win:) Jenna, Kayli, and Noah for supporting me and tolerating my absence while training and racing (Thanks for the signs and wishing on stars). I also want to thank all my friends who have helped with pacing, crewing, and supporting me with goods. For my sponsors Patagonia, Black Diamond, Clif, NUUN, Rudy Project, and Ripley’s of Jackson Hole.