Wasatch 100

Wasatch 100

Sunday, September 1, 2013

2013 Speedgoat 50K Race Report

For a few years Kelly and I have been hearing about the Speedgoat 50K.  It has  been said to be the hardest 50K in the US built from the mind of trail legend - Karl Meltzer.  The July 27 race took place at Snowbird Ski Area starting at 6:00am just after sunrise.  

During the race briefing, it was clear by looking at the talent, there would be zero chance that I would have an age-group place at the finish.  Despite the talented field, my goal was to push myself especially on the non-technical sections and use this as a training race for September's the Run Rabbit Run 100. 

 Above is Phil Snyder from the Roost Mtn Team
(Below is Karl at the Pre-race briefing)

The first eight miles of the race was a zig-zagging climb up the ski area with four down hills on the way up - can't make a simple quick climb to the top. The first two miles was mainly single-track that separated the rabbits from everyone else.  I felt good pushing myself with a fast pace on the single track, which was necessary due the pack field. There were also a few miles of running on the ski roads, as seen in the four pics below.  To keep the race interesting, Karl managed to create some of his own trails to add excitement for the runners.

The last mile before reaching the top of the tram was a scenic yet rocky switchback climb up the face of a mountain.  To see some of the runners click on the photos to enlarge.

At mile eight, I made it to the top of Hidden Peak which is also the top of the tram and the aid-station (Mile 8 and 26).  I quickly grabbed a little food, refilled my bladder and took off to avoid a chill. 

(Below is the view towards Salt Lake City)
Leaving Hidden Peak, the race began a long descent starting in Mineral Basin which was covered in wild flowers.

In this section for the first time in my ultra-running career, I ran into a rude runner.  Myself and another girl caught up with a lady and I asked her to look for a safe spot for us to pass and she said, "I do not move over for other runners - you will have find your own way to get by me"  That forced me sprint up the side of the hill which caused me  to also tweak my ankle. Thanks lady - maybe you should try road biking with that attitude.
Below is the Larry's Hole Aid-station (mile 10.6 and  21) at the bottom of the Mineral Basin Express Lift.  This was the 2nd of the three strategically placed stops in the race.  

Leaving Larry's, the race went about 1/2 mile and then it had a quick 400ft climb before rejoining a long rocky road.  This was my least favorite section of the race.  If it wasn't so rocky, I would have zipped down but being conservative with some ankle tenderness - I walked while being passed by many of the runners I passed earlier on the climb.
After descending 3,500ft, I made it to the Pacific Mine aid-station (Mile 15.5) to then quickly begin the long march back up. Like the other two aid-stations, it was well stocked and organized.
 (Looking at the climb to come)
Miles 14.5-17 was the best runnable section of the race but a long climb loomed ahead.  The climb was on long jeep road to Miller Hill.  It was too steep for me to run yet with my poles I had a good pace and managed to pass many of the runners who passed me earlier on the rocky downhill.

Again Karl managed to find an extra climb to the top of an unnamed peak before descending down to Larry's.  The view below is looking towards Mineral Basin and Larry's and the next picture is one of Karl's self-made flagged trails.

Looking back
At the aid-station, I made a critical mental mistake - I asked a volunteer about the next ten miles (unless they have done the race they usually have no idea).  He said, "You have this next climb and then another quick one."  So mentally, I was nearly done with long downhill back to the base of the ski area.

Leaving Larry's at mile 21, I had a runnable uphill for about 1/2 mile and then a solid climb to reach the ridge separating Snowbird and Alta.  Once I reached the ridge, it got back on a quick moving ski road going down about 100ft then we were flagged to turn right on another Karl creation.

This time we had very steep 400ft climb going up another flagged trail.  This was the hardest climb of the race and it was clear many runners knew it too.  Runners were scattered on the sides gasping for air and cursing Karl.  This is when I love my trekking poles.  Again as we reached the ridge, we turned to the left to climb another quick climb to the top of Mt. Baldy at 11,086 ft., the high point of the race.

(Next two pics are looking up and back on the climb - enlarge to see the runners)

(Top of Mt. Baldy below)
(A got the volunteer to take my picture)
Quickly after the summit, the race went down some single-track and on to a ski road that went the ski tunnel.  In the winter there is a conveyer belt that move skiers to the other side of the mountain.

After leaving the tunnel there was a 2.25 mile fast downhill on the ski road dropping 1,000ft and then it was time for the last climb.  Back to the guy at the aid-station - I was not expecting this.  Knowing this was  Karl's race, I showed up mentally prepared for the next 1,200ft.  At least it was not too steep. It had a few switchbacks and a traverse back to the top Hidden Peak.
At the top of hidden peak, I quickly refilled my bladder to begin the 5 mile descent.  It went back and across the rock field shown earlier in the race and then to some steep ski roads.  Just after the rock-field, I was running with another guy as we came to some people who knew him.  They gave him some encouragement and stated how impressed they were that he was on pace for a sub-nine finish.  

At first, I thought a sub-nine was bad yet there was nearly 13,000ft of climbing in this monster.  After thinking about it, I was excited and also determined to kick-it-in.  I really picked up my pace passing a bunch of runners and even as I saw a few trying to push themselves too, I pushed even harder.  All this time, I was looking at my watch thinking sub-nine, sub-nine.

Finally, I made it to the finish area in 8:54:38 in 167th place.  In the end there was 350 starters and 275 finishers in the race.

To put this race into perspective, I was talking to one runner and he said his sister-in-law who is an  accomplished Ironman competitor came across the finish line swearing this would be her last ultra!
(Below - Kelly finishing and with some face time with race director - Karl Meltzer

In conclusion, we had a great time at Speedgoat and in Salt Lake City.  This is definitely the hardest 50K we have ever run and the scenery was incredible.  Besides the race we enjoyed visiting the local breweries, hanging out in Park City, and having the best mole in the US at the Red Iguana.

I would highly recommend this race to any mountain runner!

No comments:

Post a Comment