Race Report: 2010 Sageburner 25K
For the third year in a row I found myself packed up and on the road to Gunnison, making the trip to run in the Sageburner trail race. I ran the 50K in the previous two years (2008 report, 2009 report), but found myself facing some different circumstances this time around. With a heel that is being very slow to heal – I originally decided to just scrap the trip altogether a couple of weeks ago. The injury seems to be slowly on the mend, but is not to the point of being in race-shape.
Malcolm (my now 16 year old son) made the trip with me to the race in 2008 and waited around at the start/finish area while I ran for a little over five hours. He liked the area and indicated that he would like to come back and try racing there. That thought has stayed with me, and this year things lined up perfectly to make that happen. He hasn’t been doing any running or training at all to speak of, but has done a fair number of day hikes and backpacking excursions. I was most impressed with his making it through a tough 16 mile day with a full pack on his birthday.
With that in mind, I knew he was strong enough to complete this race. It would all come down to proper pacing and fueling. If we could dial that in, the plan should work. One week before the race, we did a 1:40 test run – trying our best to mimic the race course and conditions. Things went really well, so I signed him up and dropped my earlier 50K registration down to the 25K.
Lindsey and her friend Jennifer made the trip along with us, as a start-of-summer road trip. They were 100% enjoying being out of school.
We spent Friday afternoon out at the race venue (Hartman Rocks Recreation Area) and the kids played while I got in a two hour run on a one mile loop I made up near where we were parked.
After that it was time to make preparations for the race, and get our things organized and packed. I think one of the highlights of the trip for me was the look Malcolm gave me when I handed him two band-aids and told him where they should be applied. I had to reassure him this wasn’t some sort of trail runners trick-the-new-guy sort of prank, but I was laughing so hard I don’t think I was very convincing! He totally passed on the vaseline lube advice – and was probably one step away from calling home to Mom trying to figure out what kind of freak show I had taken him to.
We had a good night’s sleep at the KOA and were lined up and ready to go for the 07:30 start. The 25k and 50k started together so it made for a large group of between 200-250 people hitting the first climb together.
Our plan was to hang out in the back, hike the climbs, jog everything else, and see how it went. We maintained contact with the group for the first two miles, then started to tail off a little bit as we settled in to our pace. No worries, I knew that as long as we stayed steady, we’d be passing people as we got closer to the finish.
I had Malcolm take two shot bloks every 20 minutes, and was encouraging him to drink at regular intervals. The weather was hot and dry, and I knew keeping the fluid intake up would be critical.
The first two hours flew by, I couldn’t believe how fast the time seemed to go. Every time I asked if he was doing ok back there, the reply was always – yup! Good. Keep this up and we just might make it. I knew things would be ok as our conversation ranged from the geology of the area we were in, to how the tint of the sunglasses we were wearing enhanced some colors in the spectrum and not others. Never a mention of being tired or wanting to slow down.
During the third hour I started increasing the pace just ever so slightly. I could tell Malcolm was feeling the 8,000′ altitude a little, but he was hanging in there.
Once we had about an hour to go I started having him lead and pushing the pace quite a bit harder. Using some of that energy we had been saving up. I could tell things were getting tough, but he kept pushing the best that he could. The approach to the finish is tough – lots of little grinder climbs thrown at you when you are expecting a nice downhill cruise.
Before the race, I had told him we would shoot for a finish time of under four hours. At the 3:40 mark it was time to really crank up the effort and get this thing done. The energy we had been saving in reserve had all been spent over the previous hour, and I told Malcolm now was the time to pull out the credit card and go into debt for a while.
In most of our runs together, he tends to hold out on me – dogging along during the run and then busting out a huge finishing kick that I can barely hold onto. This time I was cracking the whip trying to get that kick to surface much sooner – I knew our time would be very close to four hours and wanted to see if we could make it. Not that it matters one bit in the grand scheme of things, but it sure is fun to shoot for a target like that.
He was hurting, but keeping on pace. Finally, the finishing kick was summoned as he dropped it down a gear and motored across the line. 3:59:37! Ha! 23 seconds to spare…. I’ll be smiling about that finish for a good long time.
This is a great race on a great course. I’ll keep coming back as long as I’m able. We had a super time sharing that experience together and hopefully I’ve sparked a little bit of interest for the future. If anything, Malcolm came away with a very positive experience and a huge confidence boost. I was very proud of how well he did and can’t wait to do it again.