Sunday, August 1, 2010

DNF at Grand Mesa and another go at Lean Horse

After successfully completing over 200 running races including 20+ marathons and ultras, I dropped out after 17 hours at mile 60 in the Grand Mesa 100.

The day started well with a beautiful 12 mile loop on the Craggy Crest Trail above the Mesa even though I got off course for a quarter mile with a few other racers. As the day went on, it was clear that course finding was going to be a challenge and by the time I hit mile 26 with a couple of runners in the 50 mile race and Garry who was also in the 100 I knew I was terribly off course.

We struggled through following course markers for a part of the course that we shouldn't have been running until much later until we got to an aid station where volunteers contacted the race director who said Garry and I could complete the section we were on and continue the course and then run the same section later. I spent a of energy being worried and frustrated about being off course, but I tried to get over it and keep going. Losing the course meant missing an aid station at mile 37 where I was to meet Ean and eat and resupply, but I was able to send her a message with one of the 50 mile racers (thanks Jasmine) and I now wouldn't see her until the top of the big climb at mile 56.
The section leading to the 4000 foot drop was through rough cow pastures that weren't always marked and the descent was hot and painful on rough over grown trails. I reached the bottom of the descent (mile 50) at 6:00 pm feeling dehydrated and low on energy. I spent several minutes eating, drinking and refiling my hydration pack before heading up to the 5.5 mile, 4000 foot climb, determined to make the top before dark since my headlamp was with Ean and the next aid station.
I did make it, but the climb was brutal with the last 3 miles climbing more than 900 feet per mile. I had a lot of thoughts about dropping, but I tried to wait until I completed the climb before making any decisions. I got to the top at 9:00 pm and was very glad to see Ean who was waiting with food, a chair and warm clothes. It felt good to eat and rest, but I was feeling more and more like my race was done. After sitting and debating with myself for 30 minutes, I decided to run down the road to the Lands End aid station 3.5 miles away and make my decision there. I felt a little better once I got going, but I couldn't imagine trying to continue to route find the difficult trail in the dark. I also saw Paul Grimm who told us that Karla and Felix had dropped out at the bottom of the climb due to health concerns and course challenges.
I got to the Lands End aid station (mile 60) at 10:30 pm and told them I was done. It felt great to get off the trail and know that I could spend the night in a warm sleeping bag, but it was very hard to give up when I knew I probably could have gutted it out and finished. It is a choice I will have to live with.
After a few days at home, I decided I still want to finish a 100 mile race this year and so today, I registered to run the Lean Horse Hundred in South Dakota on August 28-29. I did a couple of night runs this week to work on getting over my struggles with continuing to run when the darkness tells me I should be in bed and I ran my fastest Colorado 5K (19:59) this morning at the Human Race in Old Town Fort Collins. I am feeling that a sub 24 hour race is well within my reach on Mikelson Trail in 4 weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Great report Alex. Sounds like the race director has some work to do on course marking. I can't think of anything more frustrating in an ultra than having to expend mental and physical energy on that!!

    I wouldn't feel too bad about not finishing! Good luck at Lean Horse