Season Recap (and it’s not April)

The leaves are yellow, the rains have arrived, and the snow line has crept below 3000 ft. It must mean it is fall the end of summer racing. By summer racing, I mean trail and mountain running races. Those roller ski time trials and race simulations don’t count. Also I haven’t exactly been one for the road, bike, triathlon, or any of the other multitudes of races there are. Mountain and trail or I might as well just go for an epic adventure without having to pay for it.

The races and results for those that don’t really want to read and get the juicy details.

  • Knoya Ridge – 2nd
  • Bird Ridge – 5th
  • Crow Pass Crossing – 1st
  • Alyeska Classic – 3rd
  • Lost Lake Run – 3rd
  • Kesugi Traverse – 1st, Course Record

Mountain running races are fun fitness markers. I was feeling fit and decided to go for a marker in racing Knoya. Supposedly 8.5k and 4300’ vertical, Knoya is a solid hour long race. I raced well for about 50 minutes and then quite spectacularly blew up letting Jim Shine begin his summer record streak. First lessons of summer racing learned, I vowed to return better educated for Bird Ridge. Unfortunately, disaster struck the next day. While out on an easy roller ski, I shoved a pole in a cement crack and broke the pole. However, in the process I was thrown to the ground and landed squarely on my ribs. Hello to three bruised, sprained, cracked, broken, injured in some way ribs.

So on to Bird Ridge with three injured ribs. Not the most fun, but I managed to grit it out and grimace my way to an ok result. I think it was the only race that I wasn’t leading at some point.

Racing bird ridge in the clouds with 3 injured ribs. Photo: Sanctuary Photography Alaska
Racing bird ridge in the clouds with 3 injured ribs. Photo: Sanctuary Photography Alaska

Next up, Crow Pass Crossing. Now this is the race I was really looking forward to for the summer. After missing it in 2014 due to an inconveniently timed Eagle Glacier Camp (yes, I did consider trying to exit the glacier early to race, but decided against it), 2015 was going to be my year to go for that record again. Geoff Roes set the record in 2010, the same year in which he won the prestigious Western States 100 in the course record time (since broken). In 2013 running all by myself, I had become the third fastest person behind Roes and Eric Strabel. 2015 I thought was my year to go break it. About two minutes into the race, I had put a gap on the rest of the field; a gap that I would not relinquish for the next three hours. However, running all by myself I came up 1:30 short of the record but set the second fastest time in course history. At least I still have a very good excuse to keep coming back.

An early lead in Crow Pass.  Photo: Todd List
An early lead in Crow Pass. Photo: Todd List
Nearing the finish for my first sub 3 hour time.  Photo: Sanctuary Photography Alaska
Nearing the finish for my first sub 3 hour time. Photo: Sanctuary Photography Alaska

Alyeska was a quick race. We got a larger portion of the APU team out to compete with David Norris taking the win. For a few minutes in the middle it seemed that and APU sweep might be possible, but Jim Shine came on strong passing Lex Treinen and me late in the race to bump us back into 3rd for me and 4th for Lex.

Start of the Alyeska Classic. Photo: Girdwood Nordic Ski Club
Start of the Alyeska Classic. Photo: Girdwood Nordic Ski Club
Higher up in Alyeska Classic. Photo: Girdwood Nordic Ski Club
Higher up in Alyeska Classic. Photo: Girdwood Nordic Ski Club

A later addition to my summer calendar, Lost Lake has been a race that I have wanted to do for quite some time; however, most of the time I have been away at school. This year Ryan Cox invited me to join his team with the goal to unseat the favored Skinny Raven Sports team that had won for the past 8 years. Lost lake is an amazing trail, but a little too smooth and fast for my liking. It was pretty evident from the start that this was slightly different from the mountain running crowd when the road runners and jersey start popping out. With a typical summer strategy, I pegged the uphill in the beautiful sunny weather and was first to the halfway. That fast downhill clocking around 5 minutes per mile took it out of me and I was reeled in by two others. I didn’t feel quite so bad when one of them was my teammate.

Chasing Matt Shyrock after the rolling section. Photo: Being a Mayflower
Chasing Matt Shryock after the rolling section. Photo: Being a Mayflower
Post race team photo with left to right: Jake Moe, Me, Ryan Cox, Jacob Kirk.
Post race team photo with left to right: Jake Moe, Me, Ryan Cox, Jacob Kirk.

Kesugi wrapped up my racing season for this summer this past weekend. I think it took about 10 steps from the start line before our feet were soaked. From there it was one battle after another from snowy boulder fields, invisible trail due to the snow, icy creek crossing, beavers building ponds across the trail, scenic extra trips to overlooks, to just the constant struggle with wind, cold, and rain. After 4:38 minutes of racing, I was extremely ready to stop using my legs when I emerged from the wilderness into across the finish line. Best of all, after not glancing at my GPS watch once during the race, I emerged with a course record.

Post Kesugi bliss. Photo: Willow Running Company
Post Kesugi bliss. Photo: Willow Running Company
Kesugi Podium.  Photo: Amber Walker
Kesugi Podium. Photo: Amber Walker

So that’s summer racing.  Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers who make these races awesome: Alaska Mountain Runners, Girdwood Nordic Ski Club, UAA, Willow Running Company and many others.

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