We packed the car Thursday night and left Friday morning for the 6 hour drive through WY. We stopped in Sheridan to pick up our race packets and leave my drop bags. At packet pick-up, we met up with Mary, Brian, Scott, Kiwi Rob, Michelle, Debi, Alex, and Eddie. From Sheridan, we continued another 20 miles north to Dayton and set up camp with the Walters, Mary, Scott, and Rob.
|photos by Ean May|
After setting up camp, Brian, Scott, Ean, Mary and I went for an easy 2.5 mile run out on the course to stretch out our legs. It was a pleasant afternoon and we all were feeling good about the next day's race.
|Bridge over the Tongue River in the last 1/4 mile of the course|
The race started off well and I made it a whole mile before the first creek crossing which was the beginning of running with wet feet that continued for most of the day. My first miles were a bit fast, but the trail was wide and mostly downhill so I didn't worry about it. It was great to see many friendly faces of 100 mile runners and their pacers on this part of the course. I saw Kari and Chris looking very strong with Victoria and Pete not far behind. Cat and Dan came running up the trail soon after and then Kristel and Steph toughing it out back up to Dry Fork. I got in to Cow Camp (mile 6) in about 55 minutes, grabbed a couple Fritos and some melon and kept going. One of my goals for this race was to run it more like a race and less like a casual long run on the trails so I worked remind myself of this and push the pace as much as I could. I ran with Kiwi Rob off and on through this section and we were able to work together and have some laughs. I got to Bear Camp Aid (mile 13) in about 2:12. I drank some Heed, ate some pretzels and started down the wall. In the 3.5 miles from Bear Camp to Foot Bridge, the trail drops over 2000 feet and much of the trail is steep, muddy and beautiful. There are breathtaking views of the valley and surrounding cliffs and the trail is lined with bunches of wild flowers in brilliant purples and yellows.
|photo by Pete Stevenson|
|Climbing back up to Dry Fork photo by Mindy Clarke|
I finished in 10:07:09 and was very happy. It was by far the best ultra I have ever run and it gave me a lot of confidence in my fitness and readiness for the bigger race that is coming in August. I know that I need to work more on my downhill running and keep putting in the miles over the next 6 weeks, but I feel like I will be ready to have a good race in Leadville. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the grass along the finishing stretch with my family and friends cheering for all the other finishers including many heroic finishes by other Fort Collins and Bolder trail runners, several of whom were finishing their first 50 mile race. It was great to see Ean and hear about her amazing race in the 30K where she beat her goal by over 2 hours. She also decided along with Mindy and Celeste to run the 50 mile race next year. So it looks like we will be going back to Bighorn in 2012 and I can't wait.
Here is the link to my splits and other GPS data if you're in to that.