A steady rain fell on Friday night as Maddie and I sat in the Runner's Roost and gave out t-shirts and parking passes for Fort Collins' first ultra. There was a quiet excitement in the air as the trail running community from the Front Range and beyond prepared to run the inaugural Quad Rock 25 and 50 mile races, organized by our very own trail running super stars, Nick Clark and Pete Stevenson.
On Saturday morning, I woke at 3:00 am after a restful night's sleep, ate a bowl of oatmeal, drank a cup of coffee and then drove over to pick up Cat and Brian and head to the start. We were greeted at the entrance to Lory State Park at 4:20 am by the second place finisher at last Sunday's Colorado Marathon, Sarah Hansen, who wished us well and pointed us towards a place to park. There is something wonderful about standing around in the predawn darkness with all of your friends getting ready for an amazing adventure on the trails. After we picked up our race numbers from Mary and took off our warm clothes, we walked to the start line to hear Nick give final race instructions. It was pretty cold so I went with long sleeves over my Fort Collins Trail Runner shirt and then I saw Sam in just a singlet and made a last second decision to toss the long sleeves and commit to some suffering. I also forwent a headlamp figuring I could get by with the light of the other 200 headlamps on the trail for 20 minutes until dawn broke. Both of these decisions ended up being good since the 7 minute pace we went out at warmed me up quickly and lighting was fine. A few minutes in, we turned off the park road on to the winding East Valley single track and I took a look back to see the surreal sight of of hundreds of headlamps moving in a single file line steadily along the trail.
I ran with Kyle and Justin and we clipped along the Valley and across the border into Horsetooth Mountain Park. We hit the turn on to Sawmill and I joked with the runners around me saying, "Here's where the fun begins," knowing that the 21+ miles ahead were all straight up or straight down. I ran the Sawmill, Stout, Towers climb pretty well and arrived at Towers aid station in 1:08. Aid station captain Chris Hinds and his crew filled my water bottle, gave me some encouragement and sent me on my way down Spring Creek.
Kyle was just ahead of me through here and Scott passed me going down hill looking very strong on the first lap of his 50 mile adventure. We ran past the falls and came into the Horsetooth aid station (mile 10.4) in 1:38. This was another wonderful aid station captained by Rob and staffed by good friends. Pete was there telling me to keep pushing for a sub 4 hour finish. Betsy helped me fill my water bottle and gave me a chunk of peeled banana and some gummy bears. Mike (running the 50) appeared as I was heading out and he also seemed to be having a great day. I left the aid station heading up towards the rock thinking, "I really only have 15 miles left?"
The climb up the rock trail was fun and I hit the beginning of Westridge with Mike and Kyle and a couple others. Westridge has been difficult for me in the past with some steep uphill sections and lots of semi technical downs. Today it felt easy and I ran it comfortably with Mike and before I knew it, we were back out on Towers Road heading back through the Towers aid station. From here we went down Mill Creek, another technical down hill that I have struggled with before, but I knew that today this descent was mine so I let it go and enjoyed the ride.
I felt good all the way down to the Arthur's Rock trail and my last aid station of the day. I was glad to see Mindy and Lindsay and others dressed in tu-tus and helping tired runners. I gave Mindy my gloves, filled my water bottle and mixed in the Gu Brew powder that I had been carrying to get some electrolytes in me for the final climb up the Howard Trail and then the descent of Timber to the finish line. I was a little tired, but there was only 7 miles to go. I headed up the trail just behind Mike and we traded positions a few times as we zig-zagged back and forth up the Howard switch backs.
|photo by Erin Bibeau|
|photo by Marie|
|Me and Scott photo by Cat|
|Laura, Jen and Cat showing off their post race fashion|
|SAM working the finish line with a smile|
|TNC giving out the 25 mile awards|
|Cat took 1st place masters and 5th overall . . .again!|
|Leah, Maddie and Sarah enjoying the finish line fun|
|50 mile winner and course record holder, Ryan Burch with a smile just after his finish|
|Kyle ran an amazing 25 mile race with a 4:05 and 2nd place masters finish, |
but got crushed in the half mile kids race. Maybe he's not a short course specialist afterall.
|Sam, Brian, Maddie, Cat, Jen and Ryan|
|Hinterberg coming in strong in the last 100 yards of the 50|
|8:49 and 10th place overall. I think that equals a 17:30 and top 10 finish next month at WS.|
|Lindsay, always with a smile at the Tu-tu aid station|
|Steph, with 2.2 miles to go to her 2nd place finish|
|Steph trying hard to get some fluids and calories down|
|Brian29 had an outstanding race in the 50 with a blazing last 2 miles and a 10:19 finish|
|Cat, Mindy and Lindsay cheering runners and trying to stay warm|
|Katie, after 48 miles, still had some spring in her step on her way to an 11:11 finish for 11th place! Wow|
|RD is a tough job, especially if you also mark the course, run an aid station and sweep the course|
|Eric put in 50K worth of sweeping, cheering, taking photos, all in his lovely pink tu-tu|
|Quad Rock's official cake baker|