Race Report: 2015 Bear Chase 50 Mile
“You know what we get to do today, Brooks? We get to play baseball.”
That quote from The Rookie is a good one to reflect on when times get tough in an ultramarathon. Prior to this scene in the movie Jim Morris, the aging main character, has been on the road with a minor league team facing struggles and doubts about his chances of ever making it to the big show. He has a revelation of sorts as he wanders towards the lights of a baseball field and finds a little league game in progress. As he takes in the scene, the viewer gets a sense that this is what it’s all about. He remembers that through it all, his love of the game is what will carry him through the tough times. Energized, he makes the declaration to one of his teammates before their next game with a big goofy grin on his face.
At mile 35 of The Bear Chase 50 mile race I was telling myself, “You know what I get to do? I get to run trails all day!” I’ll admit, the big goofy grin might have been missing by that point of the race. After running for the past six hours, I was starting to overheat and slow down. I was fighting the disappointment that my hard-fought training was not being put to good use.
Why do you keep going in a race even when it’s not going well?
Because you get something out of doing it that is bigger than anything you’d get by not doing it. Because you paid good money for this, dang it. Because if you weren’t here, for better or worse, you’d wish that you were. Because it doesn’t always suck. For the love of the game.
How can a course this easy be so hard?!?
That was the question playing over and over in my head as I struggled to the finish line to find an end to my suffering. On paper, the course looks like an easy setup for running a Personal Best time, and for many runners it works out that way. I am not one of those people. For the second year in a row I was alternating shuffling and walking on terrain perfectly suited for running, dragging my sorry butt to the finish. As an added bonus, this year I stopped dead in my tracks 50 meters from the finish line and doubled over in dry heaves before finally puking in the grass.
I have been involved with the Bear Chase event as a photographer, crew member, pacer, or runner for the past four years. There is something special about the race that keeps me coming back. In a word, quality. Every person involved with the event gets it. Race Director David Manthey, Ben Reeves, and everyone all the way down to the last volunteer are there for the love of the ultrarunning game. It shows in how they care for the runners, and in everything they do for us.
The Bear Chase Trail Race is a special and unique event that has something for everyone. Veterans will be challenged to run fast, and new runners can find a supportive atmosphere to push themselves farther than they have ever gone before. What the course lacks in high mountain passes and alpine meadows, it makes up for with an accessible yet isolated environment. Singletrack, stream crossings, climbs, and descents all within view of the downtown Denver skyline makes for a truly uniqe and beautiful setting. Put this one on your calendar and you won’t be disappointed!
[This report was also published on page 60 of the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of Ultrarunning magazine]