Posts Tagged ‘race reports’

El Chubbo Grande 50k Race Report

Wow, what a great run to finish off 2010!

We had about 50 runners out for Mr. October‘s inaugural El Chubbo Grande Fat Ass 50k. With 3 start times, 3 routes to choose from, and no less than 38 opportunities to get lost, we had runners spread out all over Horsetooth and Lory parks. Everyone was in good company out on the trails and a friendly face was usually only a couple switchbacks away up or down the trail. Running conditions were ideal with clear dry trails and temperatures in the mid-30’s.

I had a blast enjoying my favorite trails with old and new friends and winning the 50k was icing on the cake. I’ve had a pretty good year of running accomplishments with decent results at Ghost Town, Jemez, Western States, and surviving the full Grand Slam series. But I never imagined that I could actually win such a prestigious and competitive event like this. I’m definitely going to bask in the glory of holding the El Chubbo Grande 50k course record for at least a couple days …or until Nick gets around to running the course himself to set a proper FKT.

I think the real key to my success this weekend was adopting some of Nick’s training strategies. About a week and a half ago, I stopped shaving. It’ll be several more months before I can really pull off the scraggly mountain hippy look but I’ve definitely seen some positive results from merely a quarter inch of facial hair. I have a few more weeks to keep growing my hair out for Ghost Town so I’m feeling pretty confident about my chances there next month.

I’ve also made some adjustments to my pre-race fueling strategy. Nick swears by glazed donuts before every race but I really believe that little chocolate donuts are a far superior pre-race fuel.

I started out with the 8am wave hoping to finish the course in 6 to 6:30 to give myself enough time to make it back to the potluck and beer by 3:00. On the first climb up to Horsetooth Rock, I fell into pace with Dan Brillon and we kept each other company on the trail all the way to Arthur’s Rock. We made it to the top of Horsetooth in good time and started catching up with runners from the 7am start on the Stout loop. This was quite a bit faster than I had expected to run but I felt good and just kept cruising along. At Arthur’s Rock, Dan decided to take the marathon route while I continued on up the Timber trail to the north end of Lory Park. I met up with Jen Malmberg, Alex, Mike, and Rob on the way down to the valley trail. On the next mini climb up to the Overlook Trail around mile 20, I finally started losing some steam. But Chris and Nick were waiting with an aid station set up at the Arthur’s Rock trailhead and I grabbed a quick water refill and a cookie and headed off down the easy stretch through the valley to recharge before the final beast of a climb up Sawmill to Westridge. My legs were getting pretty tired here but at this point more runners were converging into the final homestretch to the finish. It was a great mental boost to meet up with friends along the toughest section of the course. At the top of Towers, Sam finally caught up with me and took the lead for a few miles before he decided to take a turn at the Waterhole marker instead of the Wathan trail. I caught up with Tim Long just as we started the final big descent down Wathan and Tim stayed right behind me pushing me through to the finish at Nick’s house. (Tim claims that I was pulling him but I’m pretty sure he was doing the pushing.) My final time was 5:44 – a full 16 minutes faster than what I thought would be a good time.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to run a good hard long run and finish strong. This was my longest run since Wasatch and while I didn’t run an all out race pace, I kept up a pretty hard tempo effort at the end of the run. It felt really good to run well again. This event was just what I needed to get out and run a more challenging route at a bit faster pace than I’d normally run solo.

Nick really outdid himself on this one. This Fat Ass race/social run was organized better than many other official races I’ve seen. Mary’s design work was a very nice touch on the start/finish banner and her full course map was incredibly helpful. We may have cursed Nick’s course design once or twice on the way up Sawmill but the route was the perfect way to give our out-of-town friends the grand tour of our favorite trails. And it was a fun way to make the trail system into a new challenge for those of us who run here regularly. And of course, the post race at Nick’s house was a fantastic way to end the day. I really hope we can turn this into an annual tradition. Thanks Nick!

I’ve posted the full course map from my GPS here.

Here are a few photos from the run (including a couple from Nick and Rob)

Wasatch Front 100 – 2010

It’s taken me a while to sit down and write about this one. I’m still not quite sure how to describe this experience. This was probably the most physically and mentally exhausting experience I’ve had so far. 33 hours is a long time to spend on the trail and my hat is off to anyone who has the determination to stay out until the very last cut off to make it to the finish line. By comparison, this made my 19 hour finish at Western States seem like a 5k fun run.

The day started off well enough. The 5am start is pretty early but made a world of difference from the 4am starts at Leadville and Vermont. I at least started off the day feeling somewhat rested and normal. But I already new that I was going to have a difficult day. In the three weeks after Leadville I cut back on my running mileage significantly and started taking more rest days. But the more I tried to rest and recover, the worse I felt. My last easy social jog with the Fort Collins Trail Runners the previous Tuesday felt like a chore. I was getting winded on easy climbs and my legs were aching and sore. I was in no condition to race …let alone finish a difficult mountain 100 miler. But I had set out to finish the Grand Slam series 9 months ago and couldn’t quit after finishing the first 3 events.

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Leadville 100 Trail Run – 2010

Well, this one really sucked. Going into the race, I have to admit that I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the event. The only reason that I committed to run Leadville was because it was part of the Grand Slam. And even that is a minor point of irritation since I don’t think it’s right for someone to sell entries into a series of events that they don’t direct, sponsor, or donate to. But that’s an entirely different issue.

Leadville is really an over-priced, over-hyped, over-crowded event on a mediocre course. I will say that the event has a lot of potential. It could really be a world class race if it were organized with the same level of support and competition as Western States. After running events like Western States, Vermont, and Bighorn, paying $300 for Leadville is quite a let down.

If they can’t run the entire race on decent trails, they could at least make use of the miles and miles of perfectly accessible road to set up decent aid stations. I had a miserable time covering the final 10 mile stretch over Sugarloaf and the last 13.5 miles from May Queen and I can’t comprehend how anyone at the back of the pack pushing to make the cut offs could manage that. The race would have a much better finish rate with just a few more aid stations along the way. But I guess that’s part of the money making system. Bring in as many entries as possible from anyone and everyone and bank on a high DNS and DNF rate to pocket the profits. The volunteer aid station crews that were out there were fantastic. Especially the team that packed in gear on Llamas and camped on Hope pass. I just wish the race organizers would set up more aid station crews on the course.

And the sheer volume of trash on the trails really put me in a bad mood. On the way outbound, there weren’t more than 30-40 runners ahead of me but I still saw more dropped gel packets and other trash than I’d seen at every ultra I’ve run in the past two years. The runners who dropped that trash weren’t the brain dead zombies who couldn’t manage to hold onto a gel tab with swollen fingers. That’s just unacceptable behavior. On the way inbound, Eric filled his pockets with trash several times between Twin Lakes and Fish Hatchery. But even that was a losing battle and a token effort at best.

So I guess I can’t be surprised at my final performance at the race. You just can’t run a 100 miles well without being fulling mentally committed. I started out thinking that I might be able to run sub-20 if I had an exceptionally good day. At the very least I thought I could run under 24 hours comfortably. Well, I didn’t have an exceptionally good day and I think I’ve finally realized that if I continue to run races back to back each month like this, I probably won’t. I didn’t run under 24 hours either and it wasn’t comfortable.

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Vermont 100 – 2010

After running Western States just 3 weeks ago I really wasn’t sure what to expect going into the Vermont 100. I felt OK but knew I wasn’t 100% recovered from Western States. Based on past runner’s results, I knew that it was possible to run Western and Vermont back to back and not only run both well but run Vermont even faster. So I was curious to see just how far I could push myself to find out if I would hold up or not.

The start of the race was much better than I expected. Despite the 4am start time, I felt well rested and ready to run. We had a nice cool, clear morning which felt pretty comfortable. I was surprised to find myself running in the lead pack with Andy Jones-Wilkins, Neal Gorman, Andy Henshaw, David Larsen, and a couple others. Andy Henshaw pulled out into the lead after a few miles but for the most part, we had a nice brisk social run for the first 17 miles before everyone settled into their own pace and spread out. I dropped back and let a few more runners pass me but still managed to make it to the Pretty House aid station at mile 21 on target for a 17 hour finish.

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Western States 100 – 2010

Since this was my first time running Western States, I went into the race with a broad set of goals. I was fairly confident that I could finish in one piece under 24 hours for the silver buckle. But over the past few months my training had gone well enough that I though finishing under 20 hours would be a pretty good target to aim for. My stretch goal was to beat 19 hours but I figured that I would need to have a perfect day to pull this off. Well, it turned out to be a nearly perfect day and nothing went wrong until I crossed the finish line in 18:58:42 in 18th place.

I showed up at the start at Squaw Valley feeling better than ever. I was fully rested and all the nagging aches and pains from months of hard training were gone. It was hard not to get too caught up in the excitement at the start of the race. Everyone was amped up and ready to go and the energy in the crowd was pretty intense.

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