Eric and Kate passed me on the very steep trail that took us to the dirt road leading to Winfield. I felt good and ran well in to Winfield meeting up with Eric and Kate again and talked with Eric some about the course and he pointed out where the aid station would be set up.
I ran into Mike on the way back down the road. He had made a side trip from the pass up Quail Mountain and was now just a couple minutes behind me. I had a good run down the road back to the turn off to the trail back up to the pass. The climb back up to the pass is brutal. It is very steep climbing 2300+ feet in 2.5 miles. I hiked almost all of it and stopped once to fill and treat water. I averaged 30 min/mile back up to the pass. This part is going to be tough on race day. I'm glad Kyle will be with me to keep me moving. I met up with J.P. and his pacers close to the top and Eric and Kate again. Mike came running up to the pass looking strong just a few minutes later and we all had a nice chat before starting the run back down.
I struggled some running down and Mike gave me some good pointers that helped some (keep feet pointed forward, trust the traction of the shoes). I wish I could work out m downhill running because this is an area I could make up some significant time. Mike hung back with me and we had a nice run down the hill. The running got easier as we continued down the trail and by the bottom mile, I felt like I was running fairly well. The last couple miles back to the car got tough, because I was feeling pretty spent from the day. Total for the day was 22 miles in six and a half hours including stops. The Garmin recorded 7000 feet of climbing which is pretty remarkable since the whole race has about 14,000 feet of climbing. So half of the total vertical of this course happens in these 20 miles over and back on Hope. The other 7000 feet is spread out over the other 80 miles.
It was a good day and I feel that knowing this part of the course will be very helpful on race day. This was my last long run before the race and I am confident that with a couple weeks of tapering, I will show up on race morning feeling fresh and ready to run.