I only ran in one competative trail running event this summer, and it was this past weekend at Grand Targhee. The area hosted a total of three events on Saturday and Sunday, including 50 and 100 mile ultra-marathons. I ran in the 50 miler last year, and came in fourth, just less than an hour off the winning time. I couldn’t run in that race this year cuz I wanted to attend Brian’s wedding, but the marathon was the following day, so I decided to enter.
Besides a few speed missions ‘running’ up and down the Grand Teton this summer, my training for this race has been pretty minimal and I’d say I’m doing it ‘off the couch’ so to speak. Running this summer has mostly consisted of what I call my ‘worker run’ here in town. I live by the new post office and it starts on the switchbacks up to Sink or Swim, over to Snow King, down the Hagen Highway, up Ferrin’s to the top of the King, and then across the ridge to the Kmart switchbacks back to my place. It takes just under an hour and a half, so I knew I would have to suffer a bit to do well in this 26 mile, four hour plus event. The field looks very competitive this year and I hope to finish in the top ten.
Steve Romeo gets some help filling his water bottle after running up
Ski Hill Road before descending into Mill Creek
My plan for the race was to go out hard and try to hold on to the finish. The race starts by going up to the top of the Grand Targhee Ski Resort and I was trying to be the first one to the top since I knew I wouldn’t be able to win the race outright. I only managed to be third at the summit, passing Zahan Billamoria about a quarter mile out, with Wray Langdon and Chris Lundberg ahead of me. My lead on Zahan didn’t last long as he pasted me rather quickly on the descent. I lost another position by the bottom of the area and the first aid station, putting me in fifth place overall before a little more uphill and the continued long descent into Teton Canyon.
The downhill running was starting to take it’s toll on my body and those in front of me started to pull away as we ran the three miles on pavement up Ski Hill Road on the way to the next downhill section into Mill Creek. I was feeling some serious pressure from a couple racers behind me as they were able to chew up the minute lead I had on them by the top of the road, and I was sure they would pass me at some point. There were some words of encouragement at the next aid station, rumors that one of the racers in front was falling apart, so I was energized to hear that. Somehow I held on to fifth place at the bottom of the Mill Creek section and started to pull away from those chasing me as the course began to climb back up to the base of the ski area. I passed Chris Lungberg, last years winner, who was now struggling and loosing serious time just before the trail turned to double-track, putting me in fourth place. I could tell the racer ahead of me (Shawn Langston) was starting to slow down a bit too and I thought there might be a chance to regain third place and a spot on the podium.
By now, my calves and groin muscles were really starting to cramp up. I was popping salt tables trying to fight it, but it only helped a little and I suffered for the second half of the race. Somehow i managed to pull away form those behind me but I began to lose time to those in front. Reality hit me and I knew I’d have to be happy with fourth place if I could just hold on. I was about a mile into the Ricks Basin section (the last five miles of the race) when I saw it happen. Zahan had caught Wray, the leader, about a mile or two from the finish, putting him in the lead and was looking strong.
A happy Zahan Billamoria exits Ricks Basin
after gaining the lead with only a mile left in the race.
In the end, the two guys from Driggs, Zahan and Wray came in 1st and 2nd, and Shawn Langston and myself, both from Jackson, came in 3rd and 4th. Click HERE for full results from all the races. Big congrats to Zahan for pulling out the win and beating his time from last year by over 20 minutes. Big thanks to Lisa, Jay, Zach and the whole race crew for putting on a great event and even bigger thanks to friend/massage therapist, Chris Butler, for putting my back ‘back’ together only days before the start. It was pretty wrecked a week ago today, but held up great for the race…I owe ya bro!!!!