Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Team Takes Knee Knacker

Aaron Heidt's Race Report

An Impressive day. Aaron Heidt set the course record, Ellie Greenwood won the women's race, and Gary Robbins finished 4th overall just a couple weeks after Western 100.

2009 Knee Knacker Race Report

Pre Race Jitters.
My race plans are usually simple. I like to start strong, push hard through the middle, and finish fast. Primary goal: course record. Secondary goal: win. That usually works well, but it certainly didn’t in the 2008 version of this race, where I bonked hard and slogged up Seymour Grind to finish 3rd in 4:59. As a result, the night before the race I couldn’t decide whether to go for the record or play it safe and sit back and see how the race played out. I knew I was fit but I had not tested myself over an ultra distance since Chuckanut in March. Not until midnight pre-race did I decide to go for it.

¼ of the Way There.
Usually I don’t know how an ultra is going to go until at least the half way point but this race was different. While I felt heavy and slow in the first few miles by 30 minutes into the race my legs began to respond and with each mile I felt stronger. By the time I got to the Cypress check point at 12km I was feeling relaxed and loose: This despite being 2 minutes under the record pace and 1200 meters of elevation gain. I was pretty confident that today was going to be a good day.

The Home Stretch.
It turned out to be my most uneventful and enjoyable ultra to-date. I focused on staying relaxed and running strong, my wife and son met me at all the check points proving to be my most reliable support crew yet, and I continued to consistently and rather effortlessly click away the miles at a decent pace over some beautiful single track. An ultra runners dream day.

One of my major goals this year was to feel strong up the Seymour Grind, which proved to be the nail in my coffin last year. While still an unrelenting climb at a cruelly late stage in the race I managed to run the entire climb and feel pretty good about the up coming plunge into Deep Cove. The last task was not tripping in the final few kilometers.

The Knee Knackers has one of the most spectacular finishing venues around. As I cruised into Panorama Park just slipping under 4 hours and 40 minutes the mountain and ocean views capped off a perfect day of racing for me.

Thanks to all the amazing race organizers and volunteers – everyone and everything was top notch. Congrats to fellow Montrail Team athletes Ellie Greenwood for her spectacular win in her first ever Knee Knacker and to Gary Robbins who managed to finish 4th despite completing the Western States 100 mile only 2 weeks prior – what a stubborn beast!

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