Monday, March 22, 2010

Chuckanut 50km Trail Run

The Chuckanut 50km race went well. The day was beautiful, cool and overcast, and the course was in the best possible condition. It seemed like everyone else in the ultrarunning community was there to participate. And the field was stacked with good runners, too, so times were going to be fast. I definitely was not going to concern myself with what place I was in this year, as I really doubted that I could break into the top 20 without a superbly excellent race.

The race starts with a 10 km section along the Interurban Trail out of Fairhaven, then an 18-19 mile loop on Chuckanut Mountain, then a final 10 km section back along the Interurban Trail to the finish. The course has a lot of good elements in it for speedy road runners, and I planned just to try to keep up. I kept a reasonable pace, except On Chinscraper, where I walked the whole way up (and got passed by 4 or 5 runners) in order to focus my reserves on the last 10 miles. I finished in 4:23:32, 25 minutes faster than my race three years ago, but only good enough for 23rd. I managed to sneak in as the 3rd place Master. Thank goodness I'm old. Gary Robbins snapped a picture of me with the faster Masters winners, Adam Hewey and David Papineau.

My friend Susan said to look for her friend Lia at the race. I didn't realize that I would be running with her most of the race, usually behind her trying to keep up. Lia attacked the race with raw energy, and she finished about two minutes behind the previous female course record. Of course, in this race, that was only good enough for third, but the top women trail runners definitely took notice.

Susannah Beck, who was wearing a little hat with rabbit ears on it, was also within view for much of the race. I tried to channel the fox and chase down this trail bunny, but she kept on hopping, until she was finally out of sight.

Jonathan Bernard had a really good race. After going out strong, I did not expect him to blow by me on the first hill and disappear out of sight. I eventually caught up with him on Chinscraper, where he was having some hydration/electrolyte difficulties. Barring that, I'm pretty sure he would have broken the top 20. He will only be getting stronger at every race, too.

The last 10 kilometers is always a battle of will to keep up my speed on the relatively flat path back to the finish and protect my position, which I did for the most part. However, I saw Ellie Greenwood go by like she was on a mission from God, and she beat me by 4 minutes by the end and broke the previous woman's course record, although she still ended up 15 seconds behind Susannah Beck.

I also saw Justin Angle pass me. Even as he slowly pulled away from me, I visualized our Thursday morning tempo runs around Greenlake and found some solace in trying to keep him in sight for as long as possible as he motivated me and pulled me along for the last half hour of the race.

Thanks to Krissy Moehl and Ellen Parker for all their tireless work to make Chuckanut a success once again!

Top finishers:
Andy Martin 3:49:39
Erik Skaggs 3:52:33
Adam Campbell 3:52:59

Susannah Beck 4:19:33 (new course record)
Ellie Greenwood 4:19:46
Lia Slemons 4:25:29