July 20, 2014

Speedgoat, Slowgoat, Stellargoat

'Welcome to Karl's party' was the call over the loud speakers as racers started to assemble at the start line of Speedgoat 50km at 6.30am yesterday.  And that for sure set the tone of the day; this was a race where there was so much energy and excitement, so much positivity and help from the aid station volunteers that it might threaten to overwhelm the breathtaking natural beauty of the race course if the course but not so amazingly stunning itself.  I've been lucky enough to run in many places but this course in the Wasatch mountains of Snowbird is definitely high up on the list of just plain pretty courses; whether it was the rocky and still slightly snowy scree slopes, or the meadows of wild flowers, or the fun technical scrambles, there was always something making a very good effort to distract you from the fact that you were ploughing your way up some long and steady climb to the course high point of over 3300m.

Seven weeks ago I ran Comrades 89km in 6h18, and I knew that coming into Speedgoat that it would take an amazing effort to run this course, some 39km shorter, in the same amount of time.  At the end of the day I posted 6h53 for what turned out to be a little over 52kms and I'm very happy with my 3rd place finish.  Speedgoat was always going to be a test of (1) how I would perform at altitude and (2) how I would perform on a true mountain course.  I don't like to be pigeon holed into doing only one type of running as that would mean missing out on many amazing races, but I know that my strengths are in more runnable courses.  I had to have a chuckle when I looked at the profile of the Speedgoat course and figured that there was about 2.5kms on flattish runnable terrain on the entire course!

Overall, the race panned out pretty much as I expected - after the first 9 miles and approx 800m of climbing I was in 8th place.  As I had feared, I was struggling with the altitude and my general weakness on uphills on the runnable climbs, plus it always takes me a while to warm up.  But as soon as we hit the descents I picked off a couple of places, despite being careful to not hammer hard, as I knew there was still an equally big climb, in addition to many smaller climbs, to come that I would need solid quads for.  The later climbs I found myself keeping apace with the runners around me, despite hiking practically all of them, and found the steeper climbs, although very tough, was were my decent ability to powerhike paid off.  And then once we were over Hidden Peak (approx km43) for the final time it was time to hammer hard down the final big descent (which also had a new mini climb in it!) to enjoy the finish and ensure I wasn't caught by Hilary who was just 2 minutes back of me at the top.

All in all, it was great to mix it up and do a race that was different from a lot of the runnable stuff I tend to do.  I now know what I can work on to improve on, and I also know that although the altitude likely slowed me down, I still managed to run well enough that I would race again up high - which is a good thing as I'm excited to be heading to Montana for The Rut 50km, another Skyrunning World Series race, in September!

Click here for my post-race interview with iRunFar.com

Thank you as always to my sponsors: Montrail, Mountain Hardwear, Clif, Nuun, Udos Oil the Machine, Drymax socks, Sundog Eyewear, CEP Compression Canada.

Gear I used on race day included:

Montrail Bajada shoes
Drymax Max Trail Pro socks (during race)
CEP Compression socks (post race)
8 x Clif gels, 1 x pack of Clif Shot Bloks, Clif hydration drink.
Mountain Hardwear Mighty Power Cooler Sports Bra, Wicked Lite Tank and Cool Runner Shorts
Sundog Dialed mela-lens sunglasses
Nuun (post-race hydration)

Approaching Hidden Peak after 1st climb.  Photo: iRunFar

Glad to have almost made it to top of first climb! Photo: Paul Nelson Photography

Hello Meghan! Photo: iRunFar

Heading down to Mineral Basin.

Congratulation Anna who won for 2nd time! Photo: Paul Nelson Photography

Speedgoat top 3 ladies: myself (3), Anna Frost (1), Kasie Enman (2).  Photo: iRunFar

With the Speedgoat himself, pre race.  Thanks for an amazing race Karl!  Photo: iRunFar

Towards Ridge Trail

End of Ridge Trail