Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mount Washington Gutbuster

July 28, 2012

I decided to make the 3.5 hour one way trek up to Mount Washington so I could could get in this final Gutbuster race.  I have not done all the races in quite a few years so this was a nice oppertunity.  Luckily, I was able to catch a ride up with Larry Nylan and Valarie Bell which made the trip much more enjoyable.

Once we arrived I saw a few familiar faces with Shawn Nelson, Brad Crowe, Andrew Pape-Salmon, and Matt Ceill in attendance.   It is always great to see everyone both before and after the race so we can talk about more running....  I've done the Mount Washinton Gutbuster once before several years ago when it was an ascent only race.  I recall it being about 4 min of running followed by about 15 min of maxed out hiking with a tiny bit of running near the summit.  It was high intensity for sure!  This time, I expected similar on the way up, but the course now returns to the start line via some single track trails so it would be a bit different.  Who arrives at the top first may not be the winner depending on their downhill technical prowess.

I knew my high intensity climbing skills were probably not quite as honed as I have had them sometimes in the past, but I still thought I could put out a decent effort on the climb.  In the first few minutes of the race, I gained a small lead on the field with Matt settling in behind.  I tried to expand my lead, but was quite near my limit and could do more.  I wasn't gaining more, but at least I wasn't giving up ground either.  After 17:54 of this pain (and under 2k actually covered), I reached the top nearly 500m above.  I quickly got my legs back and headed back down.  

At first I felt I had a healthy lead, but after a few minutes, I heard someone behind me.  Whoever it was, was gaining for sure.  I responded, picking things up a bit, but it was all I could do to stay ahead.  It turned out it was Michael Ravensbergen, a young cross country skier with amazing downhill skills. I was able to just keep ahead for most of the decent. Then, near the bottom, the trail turned on a service road for a bit. The direction we needed to go wasn't clearly marked, I had failed to hear the instructions that were apparently announced at the start (kids let this be a lesson for you to pay attention!). I went the wrong way and Michael followed for a bit.  Soon though Matt came down and told us we were going the wrong way.  Now, all three of us were neck and neck and it with only a few hundred metres to go.  It was going to come down to a sprint.

Michael didn't had quite the leg speed that Matt and I could muster so fell back, but Matt and I were close right to the wire.  I managed to get a single stride on him and that alone got me the win by less than a second.  Indeed, our finished times were an identical 29:13.  Micheal come in 24s later with Shawn taking 4th, Andrew 5th, and Brad 6th.   Top woman was Shauna Connaughton.   Larry had solid race with a 31st placing.   Not my best ever race, but just good enough to get the job done that day.

Thanks to Nick Walker and Mark Nelson for another great year of Gutbuster races and to all the volunteers that help make it happen.


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