|Left to right: Mike, Jon, Chuck and Steve crewing me|
Jon is a long time running friend and has coached my son's soccer teams for years. He is a 3:01 marathoner and seemed motivated to do this race mostly as a new adventure as an opportunity to take a break from marathon racing. He is the most consistent runner of this group and really latched on quickly to the important parts of training specifically and nutrition.
Chuck is a colleague of mine and the most naturally talented runner of our group (a 2:42 marathoner). He spent most of the Spring training to run the Boston Marathon with a goal of 2:35 before being derailed by injury. My sense is that he enjoys the freedom and camaraderie of trail running, particularly since he has no peer among this group when doing race specific road runs! I was a bit surprised when he made some conservative decisions to back out of the Boston Marathon, calling the Silver Rush his "A race for the year".
Steve has become a very good long distance friend. We maintain pretty constant amount of communication even though he lives in Arizona. In March, I went down and ran the Old Pueblo 50 to be a part of Steve's first ultra. Due to injury, Steve wasn't able to run as well at Old Pueblo as he would have hoped. Afterward, I pushed hard to convince him to join our crew at Leadville. He also boasts a pretty stout 3:05 as a marathon PR.
We all got lost in my bike race the day before, but it was down to business right afterward. Dinner was picked specifically to prepare for the race and there was very little beer consumed. Since I was pretty wiped out from the bike race, I didn't mind a relatively chill night and an early bed time. The house was stirring with anxious runners before 4 am the next morning and I could smell the fresh brewed coffee. I jumped up and went down stairs to see how everyone was feeling. It was just your typical pre-race anxiousness. Everyone fooled around with their gear and ate breakfast as they killed time, waiting for the departure to the start line. At 5:30-sharp, we drove over the start line and I wished them luck as they jumped out of the car. The rest of the crew continued to the top of Dutch Henry hill to watch them start their adventure.
|Watching the runners from the top of Dutch Henry|
|Chuck was all smiles before his epic day|
|Jon looking business like|
A few days before the race, Chuck and I discussed his pacing strategy and I told him that a relatively safe bet was to take his marathon PR and multiply that by three, which gave us a target of around 8 hours for him, but that he'd have to have guts to go for it since he hasn't been able to train the way he'd like up until the last six weeks. He made a pace "band" with several splits and, just like he always does, he came in on the aggressive side of his pace band. He was a little less than two hours to this station and running in fourth place. When I told him he was in fourth place, he seemed surprised and it stoked his already hot competitive fire. It was a relatively quick stop and he was off down into the forest. I wasn't too concerned with his fast-ish split until the defending champion of the event came in 5 minutes later.
|Savannah and I waiting for Chuck|
|Slim Shady barely breaking stride out of Printer Boy|
Somehow I remembered my 2011 split into Printer Boy being two and a half hours (it was actually 2:45) and I assumed the rest of the guys would better that time. Thus, I was expecting them around 2:15 or 2:20 and it was a long wait until they arrived in 2:30 (which turned out to be the perfect split for them). They came in holding hands to tease me and all in really good spirits.
|Crew rookie me dropping Mike's water bottle|
|All smiles as they rolled into together|
|Down into the forest they go|
|Crossing over and headed for the dreaded miles 16-18|
After we arrived we stood around and chatted, the sun had finally come out and it was becoming quite warm. The mosquitos were biting and we all applied sun screen and bug repellent. Thinking Chuck was going to be on pace for an even split 8 hour run, I expected him at about 10 am. Instead, he showed up at 9:30, only about 15 minutes behind the leader and still tied for fourth place. He ran up to the aid station and came back down to where we were. The first thing he did was complain, saying that "this is hard" and that he wasn't eating. I responded by telling him that he was going too fast and being irresponsible. I honestly felt he was going to blow up at some stage, particularly if he couldn't take in some calories. He basically refused all of our aid attempts but an energy drink and took off.
|Chuck looking a little gassed only half way done|
|A Bing energy drink, the only relief he'd take|
|Heading out to see what he has left in the tank|
|Steve polishing off his water as he arrived|
|Mountain man ready for a second half battle|
|Mike rolling into Stumptown|
|Mike had lots of support|
|Pouring cold water on Mike to cool him off|
|Jon trying to out run this Ford into Stumptown.|
|Looking toward Ball Mountain as we discussed Chuck's race|
|All in all in good spirits despite the cramps|
We arrived at Printer Boy just as the second place runner was coming through. He is a local Leadville guy and a Leadman participant. Unfortunately, he would eventually finish in 3rd place. Within ten minutes, we saw Chuck's bright yellow shirt coming up the forest. It was about 11:15 and I no longer wondered whether this was the right strategy -- he was killing this race and in prime position to go for it. He was in 6th place, where he would remain for the remainder of the day. I offered him sunscreen and food. He would accept only a few gels and some fluids, choosing to drop all of his solid food. As he took off, I reminded him that the next 4 miles were the only hard miles remaining and to grind hard.
|Returning uphill via the forest|
|Looking like a veteran as he emerged into Printer Boy|
|All smiles and running strong|
|I was so happy for Steve to be having such a good race|
|Go uphill young man....|
|Coming up to the aid station with his kids|
|Still smiles despite hurting a bit|
|Determined and improving|
|Continuing to assault his stomach with potassium|
|Crazy talented and gutsy runner taking 6th place in his first ultra|
|He waited 4 months for an opportunity to prove he was a good ultra runner|
|Finished strong after a "Calorie Hail Mary"|
|Persevered a tough last 10 miles to finish in solid sub-10 debut|