Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mount Doug Gutbuster Long Course

July 11, 2010

First of all I'd like to hand out a belated congrats to Gary Robbins, who placed an impressive 6th overall in the Western States 100 a couple of weeks back. Western states is the oldest and probably the most prestigious 100 Mile ultra in the world so placing this high puts Gary among some of the best ultra runners in the world. Some 50k and 50 Mile ultras are definitely in my future, but I've yet to convince myself that I want to do a 100 Miler. It just seems really really far - do I really want to run 4 back to back trail marathons? I will never say never though and the challenge does appeal to me.

The Mount Doug Gutbuster was just the 2nd and final Gutbuster that I was able to do this year with the other 3 coming on weekends where I was away or had other races. I didn't worry too much about this race, just resolving just to do what I could. My training has been progressing steadily so I'm feeling pretty confident about my fitness level. I knew Shawn Nelson was yet again racing so an overall victory would be a bit of a long shot even if there we no other top notch guys out, but I hoped to be a little closer to him than I was at Westwood.

Just before the race was about to begin we were informed that there would be a short delay as someone had been sabotaging the course markings. Nick Walker had to run out ahead to re-flag it so he needed a head start. This is not the first time this race has been sabotaged and it is really a shame that some individuals want to hinder other people's enjoyment of this public park. If they have a legitimate concern about the race they should deal with it though proper channels rather than resorting to vandalism. Nick did a good job of resetting the course though and I found it well marked. However, there were a number of racers who took wrong turns although it is unclear if this was due to a lack of flagging or not.

The day was quite hot so I made sure that I was well hydrated before the race began and stripped down to shorts and cap only. There are several exposed sections on the course and it can cook you pretty good when you are fully exerting yourself. Within about 5 min, Shawn and I pulled ourselves a little ahead from the rest of the field. We pushed up the first extended Irvine climb at a steady race pace. Overall, I felt pretty good although my legs felt a touch heavy. I was starting to feel it near the top of the climb and I let Shawn lead for the last 100 meters or so. I dumped a cup of water at the aid station at the top and headed down after Shawn. This decent is quite technical with a lot of loose rock and gravel, but I've done it many times before and knew exactly what to expect. I may no longer be able to match Shawn's overall speed, but I can still descend on the technical terrain a little faster and I was nipping at his heels the whole way down.

Soon enough we were climbing again up to Little Mount Doug. I didn't feel quite as good as I would have liked on this climb and fell a few seconds back. The southern route off this peak is the most technical portion of the whole course and a fall here could be very damaging to your body. I took a few risks that paid off and closed the gap to Shawn again. Unfortunately, as soon as the trail turned upward again, I could no longer match his speed and he bolted ahead and within a couple of minutes he was out of sight.

While the climbs hurt more than I would have liked, I felt pretty strong overall so despite there being no one in sight ahead or behind, I pushed pretty hard. I struggled up the final climb (which only went halfway up to the summit compared to a full climb last year) and was happy to know that there were no more significant uphill segments for the rest of the course. I passed a number of short course racers as I pushed toward the finish. I felt good on the final stretch and crossed the line in 40:44 solidly in 2nd place. I was about 1:30 behind Shawn and 1:15 ahead of the next runner, Nick Sunderland. I was satisfied with my performance although I could have had a bit more power in the legs for the climbs. Once I decide to focus on trails again, I will definitely work on my hill climbing more consistently.

Andrew Pape-Salmon ran an amazing race, placing 4th overall just over 2 min behind me and Care Wakely raced to an amazing 7th overall. In a month Care and Mark Nelson will be racing in the Trans Rockies Run stage race. I expect that they will do well.

Final Results.

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