“Lead Runner of Speedgoat 50km Gored to Death by Two Angry Moose.”
I could already see this title of a future newspaper article. What a way to go though! But it sounded painful…much more painful than racing a hard 50km with 11,000ft+ of climbing at altitude with some technical bits thrown in…
So 4 miles into the Speedgoat 50km, when I had opened up a 20 second lead on the field (and was still being closely chased by Max King and Anton Krupicka) I came to a halt. About 100 feet away from me on the road were two full-sized male Moose with a very large spread of antlers. The course ran along the road at this point and I would be going directly at them if I continued. Since I don’t have very much experience with moose [I’ve only seen them from the safety of my car] I timidly assumed that they would charge if I continued on.
Not wanting to lose too much time to my competitors I decided that I could slowly keep walking off to the side of the road where there were at least some trees I could climb if things got dicey! However, Max quickly caught up to me, and, unfazed by the moose he yelled and ran directly at them! The moose scampered off and I then felt safe enough to follow Max. It turns out Max is a pretty tough and fearless guy (but I already knew that). I reasoned that his trekking poles could have also been used as spears if needed…
At an elevation of about 9500’ the road took a turn skyward similar in slope to Mt. Washington (12% grade) and I pushed past my threshold enough to taste the burn of lactic acid. This is usually an intensity that I’d refrain from pressing into during the early stages of an ultra, but there was $1000 on the line from reaching the top of the first aid station “mountain” (Hidden Peak at mile 8.5) in 1st place and I wanted to open up a gap on King and Krupicka. It was a risky move and I gulped down some extra gels because of the extra energy cost.
After climbing for 1hr and 20min to the top of Hidden Peak there is a brutal set of downhills (with some steep uphills thrown in) until the half-way point aid station at mile 15.5. On a stretch of “road” full of boulders the size of my head I made a conscious effort to push and take some major risks over the rocks. Knowing that King and Krupicka are very fast downhill runners I didn’t want them to close the gap on me too much. My reasoning was that the out-back section at the halfway point would reveal my lead (or lackthereof). I wanted to keep at least a couple minutes space on them the whole time…
Timing my turn-around at the 15.5 mile station (reached in 2 hours, 15 minutes) I saw the chase duo close together and 4 minutes behind me (I timed with my watch 2min out from the turn-around and doubled that for 4min as the road was fairly flat in that section). I was feeling some pressure to hammer the next uphill section which proved to be very tough as I was splitting between 12-13min miles slowly running in-between giant rocks on the road. Staying hydrated earlier by gulping down my bottles, I ran out of water in this section and became hot and thirsty. However, I still had the urge to urinate. Not wanting to lose 20 seconds standing in one spot pissing I tried to let loose on the run (this did not work very well). Instead, (glancing around to see if there were spectators out in the woods of this remote section) I managed to powerhike with my shorts half pulled down my legs while totally letting loose. You gotta do what you gotta do!
Coming up into the “Larry’s Hole” aid station for the second time around 20 miles into the race I was thirsty and looking forward to seeing if I had put any more space on King and Krupicka. I made sure to get a gel down as I started powerhiking up a trail I’d usually try to run but I was feeling a bit dizzy and spent. Eventually I saw the two little dots of my competitors coming out into a meadow. It was a relief to see I had probably put about 3-4 more minutes on them since the last aid station. However, I had no idea that soon I would be fully in “powerhike mode” as the climb up to Mt. Baldy then went straight off trail and up a 25-30% uphill grade for a good quarter to half mile for another 1000’ of vertical. Every step I took powerhiking I knew Krupicka was gaining on me rapidly.
Lessons learned (my thoughts at that point in the race):
1. I still need more vertical in my training
2. I still suck at powerhiking
3. I cannot stomach another chocolate flavor gel. When was the last time I even had a gel?
When I finally hit Hidden Peak for a second time at the marathon mark in the race I was pretty tired and ready to finish. The splits I wrote in permanent ink on my forearm revealed that I was about 9 minutes ahead of Killian and Ricky’s course record split/pace at that point in the race. I glanced over my shoulder and saw Krupicka quickly powerhiking up the ridge but knew I had at least a good 3-4 minutes on him. After a swig of Redbull I started down the mountain grimacing at the fact that there were still some technical rock sections left and very steep descents that I could still bust my quads on. Fortunately the technical sections came early and I could still take my time finding good footing and navigating the rocks.
My final thoughts:
1. Don’t break a bone
2. Don’t get lost
3. Don’t blow up and bonk
4. Where is the finish line?!
After the 100th glance over my shoulder I still didn’t see Krupicka across a large wild-flower section as I continued down the steep road at roughly 6 min pace. Cassie Scallon was running up towards me (she was watching race and on a training run) and I casually asked her how my girlfriend Sandi was doing and how far the finish line was away.
A mile or two later when my GPS clicked over 31 miles (I ended with over 32 miles but that is likely due to running extra distance when I got “lost” for 30 seconds or so on the initial climb) I started to become frustrated that the finish line parking lot still appeared far below me and the switchbacks seemed endless! I remember Karl “speedgoat” Meltzer saying something about throwing in 500’ of climbing near the end and I had no idea whether he was joking or not (turns out he was!). So far I had enough reserves in my legs to “blast it” if need be and I kept that dreadful idea of climbing still in the back of my mind. And that’s exactly when I saw Krupicka flying down the switchbacks above me at 5min pace! I can’t say I was totally surprised to see him, but the sight of 2nd place closing so fast on me gave me a rush of adrenaline to get to the finish ASAP! I accelerated down the switchbacks with the feeling of being closely hunted.. I was running on fear and getting ready to for a sprint finish if it came down to it. I heard my Dad yell at me with about half a mile to go and I knew he probably saw that the race was going to be close! It was a huge relief to finally run the final switchback, flip my glasses up, straighten my sponsor logos on the front of my singlet, and give Karl a high-five as I crossed the line. Krupicka came flying in 88 seconds later. The guy is underrated on his ability to switch gears and have a fast leg turnover…especially on steep downhills!
Here’s come footage my ultra supporttive parents filmed while they crewed for me. It is up here on my “Vo2max Productions” YouTube Channel:
Here’s a great little video recap (including some race footage on the first climb) from fellow Speedgoat finisher Billy Yang:
Congrats to everyone who participated in the 2013 Speedgoat 50km. It was a brutally tough 50km and my slowest race (in terms of actual running velocity/pace) to date. (note: when I “blew up” at Tarawera I still averaged about 9:00/mile over 100km and in this race my pace was about 9:30/mile over half the distance!). Major props to those who came up from lower elevations as the altitude and steep mountain slopes are magnified for you!
Finally, I’d like to thank my parents for crewing and filming for me at Snowbird, race director Karl for putting on a classy event, and fellow runners like yourself that read this blog. I really appreciate the support!
Best of luck with your training and racing,
Gear used, Food/Drink Consumed/ Shameless Sponsor Product Plugs:
Shoes: SCOTT Kinabalu
Socks: Drymax (orange bottom)
Shades: Smith Optics Pivlock V2 glasses
Watch: Garmin 910XT thanks to Strava.com (view Run on Strava here)
Hydration: Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Plus and Fast Draw Extreme. Stared off with 22oz of Gatorade then had them filled with Water then with Coke (starting at mile 23). Had a shot of Redbull at mile 27 just for kicks.
Race Calories: Had about 15 total gels (started with Raspberry and Strawberry then switched to Mocha/Espresso). Most tucked in my Ultimate Direction Essential waist belt and others in Ultimate Direction gel flasks which were attached to the Essential via gel flask holder clips.
Fat Burning and Fuel (Nutrition Support all year long): Flora Health’s Udo’s Oil and 7 Sources (rich in Omega 3s), as well as Floradix, Goji Berries etc.
Post Race Recovery: An Avery Brewing IPA and an Ellie’s Brown Ale (each 12oz)
About the Author (Author Profile)2-time Olympic Trials Qualifier, Mountain runner, Author of "Running For The Hansons," trail runner, videos for Vo2max Productioins, LLC.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Daily News, Fri Aug 2 | August 2, 2013
- Sage Canaday Sierre Zinal Race Report | August 13, 2013
- Sage Canaday blog on UROC 100k training | September 12, 2013
- UROC 100km Race Report: “Just Finish” | Sage Canaday: Mountain-Ultra-Trail Runner | October 1, 2013
- The unofficial guide to surviving the U.S. Skyrunning series! | 100 Miles is Not That Far | March 30, 2014