I had viewed the registered entrants in the days leading up to the race and noted such runner's as Darin Bentley, Aaron Pitt, and Americans Michael Sanders and defending champ Brian Morrison. My good buddy Aaron Heidt had told me that he intended to head down and attempt the last minute day of entry, and as I was to learn, he was not the only person with this plan in mind. Everyone who showed up for day of entry got in, and rightfully so as the drive to Port Moody and more specifically Sasamat Lake, is not exactly down the street for most people. As I was rushing around tending to last minute bathroom breaks, taking care of my drop bag, and then stressing over whether or not my shoes were tied to loosely I couldn't help but notice how many additional 'ringers' had decided to come out for the 50. Jason Loutitt was there along with Americans Matt Hart and Hal Koerner! This race had gone from being decently competitive to the most competitive ultra I was to have run on Canadian soil!
I had come into this race with a plan, and I was going to stick to it from start to finish, no matter how tough that might be to do! My plan was simple, I was going to start conservatively over the first climb, open up a bit on the first major downhill, concentrate on keeping a good tempo through the flatter mid section of the course, put in a solid but controlled effort on the last significant climb, and effectively safe myself for the final two huge descents into the finish. I knew that if I could just stay smart, and keep my legs fresh for this last stage of the race that I'd end up with a solid result out there.
After about 40k of running I was surprised, but knew I shouldn't have been, to see fellow Squmiash runner Aaron Heidt leading the way! I glanced at my watch to time myself back to that exact spot. I pretty much hit the turn around aid station together with Darin Bentley and Brian Morrison!! I was pumped...but also wondering where the hell some of the other competitors were? I would later learn that unfortunately Hal Koerner and Matt Hart had dropped due to injury, and Jason Loutitt dropped after taking a wrong turn.
Brian had stopped at the aid station just ahead of me and departed immediately before I tagged it and turned. He then lead it out over the climb back up towards the last big downhill and I timed off Aaron Heidt's lead at just over six minutes (I was later told it was as high as 9 min at one point, of course you can never be sure of exactly how precise this info actually is). I am guessing the distance from here to the finish to be about 8km maybe?? Could I make up six minutes in that time frame? Could I overtake and hold off Morrison? Were my legs gonna allow me to hammer the last section like I had been hoping for!?
As this was the out and back section we were also getting a feel for where the rest of the field was in comparison. I had put in a bit of a push to pass Morrison, managed a bit of a gap, and was now in 2nd place. As Aaron Pitt ran past he had a big smile on his face, as did I, and he simply said to me,
"Go get him dude!"
As I spotted the single track switch backs to my left I got excited, this was it, this was what I had been planning my race around, finishing up strong and letting loose over this portion. I popped back a few Thermolytes and leaned into the trail. As people climbed up the trail it only fueled me more to be getting the congrats from other runner's, as of course I shared right back with them.
At the bottom of this first big descent I glanced back to see that I had gained at least a minute over Morrison. I told myself that this was my race, this was my day, I was gonna make this happen, I was going to pull out this win. Right about that time Aaron's brother Kertis biked past. I had seen Kertis earlier in the race as well and he looked at me and said,
"I think you're gonna catch him! You're looking strong and he's hurting! He's only a couple of minutes ahead!"
Aaron's own brother was challenging me to take him down, it was priceless! To learn that I had taken back half of that six minutes in such a short period of time only helped to quicken my pace. I had saved my final two Thermolytes for the last climb of the entire race. My legs were feeling it and I was just hoping they would hold up for the last 5k or so to the finish. I power hiked up and over the last ascent and knew that all I had left was a big fast downhill strewn with decent sized rocks, which makes it somewhat technical, and about 1k of flat lakeside running...oh yeah, and about thirty stairs! What masochist puts the finish line on the upside of a set of freakin stairs!!
I hammered down the road and was constantly hoping to spot Aaron just up ahead. Towards the bottom there are two wide open sections where you can see a few hundred meters ahead, and I though for sure that I'd at least catch a glimpse of him here...but nothing. Aaron is an amazing runner and I knew he was digging deep to take the win on the day. For a fraction of a second I slowed, telling myself that he had me, there wasn't enough course left, then I internally yelled at myself to wake up and continued to leave it all out there. As I came into the final km of the race I was told that Aaron was 2m10s ahead. I knew he had me, but it didn't matter for this was one of the best races of my life. I had run the smartest race of my 'running career' and that in and of itself felt incredible. I continued as heavy a pace as I could sustain along the waterfront, cursed the race director as I climbed the final stairs, and sprinted across the finish line just 1m03s behind Aaron for second place!! I screamed out in elation as I crossed the line in 4h22m50s! Miwok here I come baby!
For my full race report you can hit up my personal blog here.
Congrats to Ellie who won yet again, and Aaron and Ryne for finishing 6th and 13th respectively. Full results here.