Well the first 50 miler of the season is history. I wish the fatigue associated with it was as well. A friend of mine told me that every ultra is different, regardless of what the course is like. He claimed that this is because it's not a question of if, but when you will have "issues" that must be dealt with and every race will present different obstacles.
Issue number 1 presented itself at the start line. Peter and I had both forgot our headlamps. I thought, "it's just a 6am start and the sun will be up before we know it." Wrong. We immediately realized that following the light would be a good choice and took off with the lead group. We ran the first five miles with three others before we throttled back our pace and watched the sun come up over the Wasatch Mountains to the east it was an incredible sight. I turned on the tunes and fell into a nice groove until I hit the first climb. I had it in my head that this was a flat race with two climbs (the same one done twice) but in fact we were rolling up and down the shoreline of the island the whole time. After I reached the top of the climb for the first time I was feeling great and I took off on the section of singletrack at the top before bombing the descent. I ran a good pace all the way to the southern end of the island where the turnaround was located. Because of the out and back nature of the race I could see that I was about 15 minutes from Erik and Kevin (1st and 2nd) and four minutes back from Rich who was in third.
Issue number 2 came at the turnaround when I realized I had been running ever so slightly downhill and with a tailwind for the past 8 miles or so. It wasn't that big a deal, just a bit demoralizing. I focused on keeping a steady pace and trying to gain some ground on Rich. I finally caught up to Rich as we started the climb and I could tell immediately that I wasn't going to be running up this time around.
Issue number 3 happened at the top of the climb. I was approaching the aid station when all of the sudden everything that was in my stomach wanted out, now. After it was over I felt great but I knew I had just dug myself a hole. As I left the aid station I noticed Rich cresting the hill not that far behind me. I focused on making it to the next aid station at mile 37 and putting some fuel back in system. I made it to the Fielding Garr aid station, grabbed my drop bag then made my way to the tables full of food and beverage. The nice folks from Roosters were sponsoring the race and the aid station. They informed me that Kevin had to drop, so that meant I was now in 2nd. I was standing there trying to figure out what I was going to eat when one of the women offered me some soup they had made for the race. I don't know exactly what kind it was, some kind of beef barley, but it was about the best soup I had ever had. Rich came in as I was still finishing the soup and then we left together. It was nice to chat with somebody for a while and the next hour or so passed fairly quickly. After a few more miles Rich decided to ease back and eat some food, I should have done the same. At this point I was starting to have a hard time getting more gels down so I just tried to drink more. That plan worked until about a mile to go.
Issue number 4. There was no fuel left in the tank and I could smell the food at the finish line. I started to get a little disoriented and slowed to a walk. As Kelly came by me he encouraged to run with him but it wasn't happening. Eventually I made it to the final little uphill grade to the finish area and heard "come on Christian, run to the finish". I looked up to see it was Erik who had finished nearly an hour ahead of me. I managed to run the last few hundred meters in order to cross the finish line then I went straight for the food.
Special mention to my better half, Betsy who ran her first trail race. She participated in the 25k and had a great time. I am super proud of her since it was the farthest she has run to date. She had such a good time that only two days afterwards she was asking me to find her another trail race to try out. Good times!
Thanks must go to Jim Skaggs and the kind volunteers he assembled to put on such a great event. I'll definitely be back next year.