|25k races begin to gather. The 50k began one hour earlier.|
It was an overcast and cool morning at Elk City Lake; a great day for racing. I started out fast, knowing there was a climb at the beginning of the trail that could have some congestion. The trail weaves in and out of massive limestone rock formations along the lake and the Elk River that feeds it. There are no huge climbs on the course, it's just relentlessly up and down; from one creek bed to the flat volcanic top back down to the next. The views of the Lake from the top are extraordinary.
There's not much to report in terms of the nuts and bolts of getting this race done. Good stories seem to come from races that don't go as well. Two or three runners passed me in the first mile and I passed two runners after the turn around. I was able to keep my pace fairly consistent throughout and avoided hitting any walls. I stayed hydrated and took two shot blocks every ten minutes after the first hour. It definitely helped to have my own fuel rather than relying on the aid stations (although the aid stations were well stocked).
This is one rocky trail! I kept up my target pace for the last three miles, but it took everything to stay focused on the rocks to avoid a face plant. Before I knew it, I was back where we started, finishing in 7th with a time of 2:32.
A big thanks to the German Shepherd who appeared out of nowhere to pace me between miles four and five. Not sure of his real name or who he belonged to, but I dubbed him "Kip" due to his penchant for cutting corners and disappearing into the woods, only to reappear further down the trail.
The race director, Eric Steele, puts on a great event. The trail was well marked (of course it helps that there is only one trail!). He had a team ringing cowbells and cheering all the finishers as they came through. Somebody was very nice to me as I fell the ground in dramatic fashion (having my ever so predictable post- finish line leg cramps), saying all the right things and responding sympathetically to my incoherent babbling about how tough the course was.
One day I will be back for the 50k.
|From the Table Mound Overlook. The trail follows the opposite shoreline.|