Thursday, September 2, 2010

2010 Continental Divide Trail Race report

Shannon and I spent all of last week out in the NC mountains, capping it off with the a run in the Continental Divide Trail Race / USATF 10K Trail Championship, in Laurel Springs.

The course
Since we were in the area, we went to check out the course a few days before. The race is held in the Laurel Ridge camp center, which has maze of trails running up and down a big hill.
With a map and 3 dogs, we tried to run course which was not marked yet. It took us over an hour to cover just 4 miles. The single track sections are very tight, with tricky footing. Some of the inclines left us breathless just trying to walk up them.

Any thoughts of doing this fast were extinguished.

Pasta Dinner

Tim VanOrden, the "raw food" guy
We attended the pasta dinner the night before. I don't think carbo-loading for 10K is necessary, but we thought it would be nice to socialize.
We didn't recognize anyone there, so we sat down at a table with three guys and one woman.
The woman coincidently turned out be Cathy, a fellow member of the Godiva Track Club from Durham who we had never met before, but she was on our team.

The three guys were from out of state, coming in because it was the trail 10K US championship.

One of them was chopping and shredding vegetables, filling a huge mixing bowl. I assumed he was part of the kitchen help making a salad for the buffet table. But when he was done, he poured dressing it, and started eating. His name was Tim VanOrden, and we learned that he was a minor celebrity, known for his salad eating, RunningRaw website, being insanely fast.

Also at the table was Dave Dunham, a national class trail runner whose blog I had read before, and had run a 2:19 marathon in his younger days.

The 3rd guy was Andy Ames from Colorado. I asked if he had ever run Pikes Peek, arguably the toughest marathon on the planet. He had done the ascent a few times, which rises 7800 feet in 13 miles. "So what does the winner run that in?"  I laughed, "Amusing of course it wasn't you"
"Like 2:09. And no, I came in second place"

In races back in Cary, I can compete for age group awards, but these guys were in a whole different world.

Race Day
I usually try to warm up before a 10K, but this one I didn't have to. Just walking up the hill to registration table left me sweating and exhausted.

Shannon was snapping pictures with her big Canon as usual, and the race directors asked her if she would take pictures for them. Apparently the official race photographer couldn't make it.
Since the mens and womens races were run separately, Shannon could take pictures of the men's race, and I agreed to take pictures of the women's race.

Since we were running as part of the Godiva team, they wanted us to wear a Godiva jersey.
So when the rest of the team showed up, I went down the cars to borrow a jersey from Carolyn who had brought a box of them. It was warm and humid, and I wanted something cool, so I picked out an old-school mesh tank top that looked like it had been around 30 years.

I went back to the start where they were announcing the elites...
"from Boulder Colorado, Andy 'The Assassin' Ames!"
"and from Bennington Vermont, Tim 'The-Salad-Chopper' Van Orden!"

There were about 100 guys lined up at the start. I placed myself a few rows deep behind Ken and Jim, who are faster than me, but I thought I would try to keep up with them as long as I could.

At the gun, we raced down a grass field, turned left, and started to plummet downhill on a wide gravel fire road.
I am a decent downhill runner, but pretty pathetic going uphill. Since I knew I would be walking up the steep ascents, I decided to run when I could. So I took off, passing Ken, Jim and a lot of other guys.

In less than a mile, we turned and went straight back up hill, and then into the first single track section.
Heading down again, I wanted to run this part fast but was stuck behind a guy. The trail was very narrow, cutting across a steep slope and very difficult to pass.

After mile 2, we hit the first big incline and I stopped running started trudging. I stepped aside for someone behind me, and it was Ken, who was running up the hills like he was weightless. He passed another guy and disappeared out of sight.

The hill rose 300 feet in a quarter mile. It felt odd applying my ultra marathon run-walk strategy in 10K, but I had to if I was going to finish. A couple guys passed me, who I then passed on the subsequent downhill. It continued that way until the last monster climb, the "rock wall".

At this point I was hyperventilating, literally crawling up the trail with my hands at some parts. This picture Shannon took captures it nicely.

Finally I trotted across the finish line. My splits from the race are kind of funny, matching the elevation profile above.

1 - 6:30
2 - 8:36
3 - 11:27
4 - 7:12
5 - 8:26
6 - 11:09

Women's Race
I took the camera from Shannon to get pictures of the women's race while she ran. My pictures didn't turn out as well. Shannon is fearless, and will get up close to get the good shots. After getting a few of the start, I went down to the single track to catch them coming downhill.

Team mates Cathy and Carolyn 

Next I headed to the top of the first hill, then up to the "rock wall". I got some good shots there. I wish I knew how to work the camera, cause they came out a little blurry.

Women's winner Gina Lucrezi

Afterwards we hung out for awards and the Godiva teams did quite well. The women took 1st in the Open and Masters division. The men took 2nd in the open, and 1st masters. To be honest, there were not many teams there, but showing up is what counts, right?

Most incredible was the 70+ group. Just running at all is amazing, but on that course? Are you kidding?
John Eliot, age 72, finished in 1:13. He came in 65th place out of 98 runners, beating 11 guys in their 20's and 30's. Wow.

There were 3 guys in the 70+ group who completed the course.

Joyce Hodges-Hite, 73, and Jim Hite, 76 completed the course for the second year.
Joyce took 15 minutes off of her time from last year.
Bottom Line
A great race. Highly recommend it, if you can make the trip out there. Though it might be the slowest 10K you even run.

As I said in the last post,Here is the edited album of 560 high-res photos.

If you ran the race, and are looking for pictures of yourself, there is another album with all 763 pictures we took here. In this album however, photos for the women's race are low res because they all would not fit.

If there is a picture of yourself you really like, let me know and we would be happy to get you the original print quality photo.

Yesterday we were unpacking.
"You got two medals?" Shannon was surprised and jealous.
"One for the open team and one for masters. You didn't get two?" I asked
"No I got one"
"Oh that's right, your not masters yet", I held them up to my ear, "I like the sound they make when they clank together"
"Oh yeah?!", she protested, "Well mine is for first..."

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