Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wahsatch Steeplechase: Dude Peak

Race report for the Wahsatch Steeplechase on June 11th

Up at 4:30 after going to bed at 1:00 am. It took 20 minutes for my head to stop reeling. I don’t use Caffeine as a wake-me-up in the morning. Once you start, you are committed for life. Bagel with peanut butter and honey for breakfast. Out by 5:00 am. The start was inside Memory Grove Park in SLC, next to the capital building. I’ve never been before. There are trails that lead up into the mountains above the city.

The Wahsatch Steeplechase is normally a 17 mile race that makes runners climb over “The Crags” at the top of Black Mountain. This year, due to the heavy snow, we had to run an alternate course, said to be 13 miles. Perhaps I’ll run it again to see these infamous Crags. The race is limited to 300 runners. Everyone looked pretty hearty to me.

I didn’t have any race goals other than to finish without breaking anything. Easier said than done. There’s been 2 rescues in the last 3 years, and a life flight helicopter was standing by. Group start at 6:00 am. Some fantastic views as we climbed out of the valley. I carried my hydration pack today with 2 bottles of Gatorade.  I figured I was somewhere in the middle of the pack, but getting passed constantly.

Mile 1 9:04
Mile 2 11:13

The trails up 3 successive hills with radio towers were really steep. The first aid station was after the third hill. I crammed a handful of shot blocs into my mouth and washed them down with water and some electrolyte drink. From there we continued to the top of Dude Peak (7200’) The top runners were already heading back at this point, and I started counting to see where I was at, as well as to keep my mind occupied. My Garmin read 7 ½ miles at the turnaround point. By my count, I was sitting in 132nd place. New goal—to try and get into the top 100.

Mile 3 14:31
Mile 4 18:54
Mile 5 12:06
Mile 6 13:53
Mile 7 21:14

We ran back to the aid station and then broke off onto the pipeline trail to get back to City Creek. Almost non-stop downhill, something I normally love. But the trail was so incredibly steep that it was nearly impossible to pick up any speed. To do so would be suicide. Instead it was quad and knee destroying grades that were covered in loose rocks. You have to continually put on the brakes to keep from tumbling downhill. My quads were screaming from all the jarring foot falls.

Mile 8 12:28
Mile 9 10:05
Mile 10 9:55
Mile 11 10:21
Mile 12 9:18
Mile 13 7:51
.92 Miles 7:43

Once we got into the City Creek trail it leveled out some and I was able to get some full strides in as I made my way to the finish. I came in 103rd overall, 90th out of the men. And it was just shy of 14 miles, not 13. My time was 2:48:01. 249 runners. 247 finishers. My average pace was 12:04. Calories burned: 1425.

I hung around for the awards ceremony even though I was way out of the running. I soaked my legs in city creek for as long as I could stand it—less than a minute. The snow runoff is FREEZING cold. The river is running insanely fast and high. I was nervous about getting sucked in.

Thanks to Butch and all the volunteers for putting on a fun race!

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