Saturday, July 2, 2016

Logan Peak trail marathon

A couple of years ago I did the Logan Peak trail marathon on a bit of a whim as I was getting prepped to run the really-hard Wasatch Speedgoat 50k and had a nice time; those folks in Logan do a good job putting on fun races.  With this summer shaping up to be one where I will unlikely to have the training miles or the dates to do any trail races I saw an opportunity to do one race that wasn’t too brutal, which was of some importance since I haven’t been able to “train” very much (realistically, I almost never “train” per se; I just like to get out and charge around a lot, which when added up it generates some fitness.  So when I realized there was a good window to redo a fun race I decided to jump through it on yet another whim (race whims are hard to come by in these days of needing to sign up for races months in advance)

here is the profile and map, fwiw....
it was actually 26 miles and 6200' of vert.....not sure how they came up with this...

just doing the loop without the 4-5 mi addition to the peak  - on a service road-  is a great, mostly-singletrack outing

  When I wrote up the race a coupla years ago I mentioned that success in local events is always a function of who shows up; there are lots of phast pholks in Utah and if they all showed up at any one event it would be a deep, fast field, but now there are so many events and summertime schedules preclude some and encourage others, so not everyone shows at any given event. However, many times there’s That One Guy (or Girl) who does show who reminds everyone what really fast folks can do.   As we were gathered at the start listening to the race director give the final instructions I scanned the crowd and saw That One Guy.  Young, super lean, too-short shorts (so he’s a got a road background, not some skier-or-cyclist turned runner), tiny water bottle in his hand, too-expensive roadie-style shades already on at dawn….this guy was going to crush it.  As we started out up a steep road climb to get to the Shoreline trail a few of us were chugging easily at the front chatting, and when we hit the trail that kid turned on the jets and was almost instantly gone; not very interested in our conversation!   2 years ago the same thing happened, only the guy who did that eventually blew up badly, but I was fairly certain that this kid was for real. 

So a “chase” group of 4 of us chugged up the 4.5 mile, 3000’ climb together at a pretty reasonable pace.  Erik Syrstad is a Loganite who has come into the endurance world late, first as a skimo guy and now as a runner, Cody Draper had won this race a couple of times, and Nathan was another skinny kid who let on that not only was this by far his longest run ever, but he was only 17!  Soon enough we got into some flats and roly terrain and I quickly realized that all three of those guys had some good leg speed; my lack of race-specific training was very obvious.  So as the course turned uphill again towards our high point of Logan Peak I exercised the only strategy I could muster:  chug uphill a little harder.  It kinda worked as the kid and Cody started to drop back, but Erik had no problem staying with me.  In the meantime, we saw the Wunderkinder leader on his way back down from the out and back to the peak, and even as I was expecting him to be pretty far up and going fast on the descent, I was still surprised to see that at 2.5 hours in he already had 18 minutes on us, and was blasting downhill like a gazelle!  And speaking of gazelles….I was definitely not one, and watched Erik pull away as I felt my quads already starting to complain about the first sub-7 minute miles I’ve run since last summer. 

The north side of Logan peak has a great traversing trail that goes across many great-looking ski lines, but I couldn’t really gaze at them much because I figured I still might be able to hold off Cody and Nathan and didn’t want to crash – as I already had earlier.  Rounding down to the last aid station we were heading back down that same 3000 feet in 4.5 mile section, and while I still felt a bit lumbery, I thought I might yet podium. 

We had been gotten a bit of a respite from the heat that day; instead of the mid-90’s of earlier in the week a dry cold front had come through and it was only in the low 80’s in Logan that day, but despite that and what I thought was copious drinking I still felt the first twinge in my calf that indicated a cramp might be be too far away; again a function of no-race specific training of going fast.  Sure enough, my calf cramped and my ankle was pretty much fused in place, but a little stretching, some salt tabs, and a bit more water enabled me to keep rolling, but not before the young kid sprinted past me, and then I was surprised by another guy who was moving well; I let him by as my calf was loosening and then stayed with him, marveling at the odd grunts and groans he was letting out; clearly he was suffering.  With a mile to go he stubbed his toe and went down in front of me with an awful cry of agony; I of course stopped because I figured he’d broken his leg or somesuch, but then realized that his rigid-looking foot meant that he was in the same boat as I had been with a calf cramp.  He seemed to be fine and told me to go on, so off I went, and rolled in about a minute faster than two years ago and in 4th place. 

Turns out the guy who crashed with the cramp at the end was skier Ben Peters, who also hadn’t really trained much, having been up on Denali skiing for a couple of weeks with Noah Howell in early June, and this was his first race.  Really impressive for a first go; Ben will be a strong runner if/when he decides to actually run!   I didn’t have the heart to tell him that since the 17 year old kid was going into a collegiate program he couldn’t accept the $50 for third place, so they gave it to the jaded old guy in 4th…..who probably should have given it to the impressive rookie in 5th! 

A big added bonus for me was seeing one Christina Lund from Santa Barbara on the list of entrants; Christina and I have been friends since high school but haven’t been able to get together for a long time, and it was just a coincidence that she had a family vacation in Utah and decided to look for a race to get some wind in her hair and signed up for this one.  We had a lot of catching up to do.

Thanks again to the Loganites for putting on yet another great event, and of course to the many volunteers who had a really long day handing out cups and gorp and did so with tons of enthusiasm and big smiles. 

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