Race Report: Salomon Equinox 12 hour
I met Kirk in the early morning and we carpooled up to Frisco to tackle the Salomon Equinox. This is a fairly unique race in that you run by time instead of from a traditional start line to finish line. I was doing the 12 hour solo race – the one completing the most laps in that time period would win. There were 17 people in that event, in addition to teams running it as a relay. A 6 hour team/solo race was taking place on the same course.
Most timed running events are on much smaller course making it easier to squeeze in laps as time gets tight towards the end. This course was 6.6 miles, and there was a rule in place stating that only laps completed before time was up would count. That made for a bit of a strategic challenge, as you didn’t want to kill yourself and come up short, but you didn’t want to leave time on the table, either.
The race started with a large group as the 6 mile, 12 mile, 6 hour, and 12 hour races all took off at the same time. It made for a fairly crowded first lap. After the second lap, things thinned out dramatically and I spent the next 8 hours or so in no-mans-land running basically alone.
The course was more of a challenge than I was expecting. I thought it was going to follow the shoreline of Lake Dillon, but it ended up staying away from the shoreline and running along/over a ridgeline. There was plenty of singletrack, some of it quite rocky and rooty. A bit of dirt road, and a descent on wood chips left over from trees that had been ground up after dying from the bark beetle infestation.
I ended up doing a lot of math in my head during the race trying to figure out the best pace that I could sustain and still use up all of the 12 hours. Kirk executed a good plan pushing hard to finish his last lap with only 3 minutes to spare for an excellent 2nd place in the 6 hour solo.
I got to know the course very well as the day wore on, and had a few intermediate points that I used for splits to keep my overall laps on track. This helped me stay pretty consistent for the most part.
I really struggled on the 4th lap and thought I was going to bag the rest of the day. It was bad. My asthma symptoms were terrible and my mouth kept watering profusely like it does right before you throw up. Not fun. My new shoes were making my feet miserable, I was running all alone in slow 6 mile circles. Things were bleak.
I stopped for 10 minutes after the 4th lap, changed shoes and socks to the tried and true combination I should have used in the first place, got refuled and hydrated, then set out for my remaining laps. I slowly started feeling better and was able to put in some ok running after that. My last lap was an adventure with the weather turning bad in a hurry. I had my lights with me, but was trying to finish the lap before having to turn them on. It was getting pretty dark, but I knew the course so well by then that I still didn’t use the lights. The temperature dropped by several degrees and a huge wind and stinging rain set in. Lightning and thunder were all around – I was running faster than I had been for quite a while!
I finished my 8th lap, with 1:16 left on the clock – barely enough time for me to try and get another lap in. It wasn’t meant to be as the race director shut us down on account of the lightning. It was just as well, I was happy to be done! I shivered uncontrollably for about 20 minutes – even after drying off and changing into warm clothes.
I ‘won’ a pair of Salomon XT Wings so that was really a nice surprise. I ended up in 5th place – 8 laps, 52.8 miles, 5,000′ of climbing, 10:44. It was strange to come up on Jeff (the 4th place runner) with only a quarter of a mile to go after running totally alone for most of the day. My competetive instincts started to kick in, and I knew with the loud wind and darkness I could sprint right by and he would never hear me coming, but that wouldn’t be cool. He earned the place with a good, solid run. I was perfectly content to just follow him in to the finish.