Two FAST and TOO Old
My guess beforehand, was Werner 51:00 +/- for the rolling terrain and trails on leg 1, David 1:00:30 +/- for the rugged climb up the Ester Dome and gnarly out and back on leg 2, and I was hoping for 55:00 +/- for the steep descent and pounding roads on leg 3. So a 2:46 give or take.
Werner took it out fast alright, blasting right off into the lead at the start and up the UAF sledding hill. All his splits were FAST, and he never backed down, running 50:25 just 3 seconds shy of the all time record for leg 1. In the process, his leg left some older more experienced runners of the past in the virtual dust.
I barely got to see David, but he also took off like a rocket. We were always a step behind at Henderson and again at the top of the Dome and didn't get to see him run. While warming up I checked my watch frequently and counted down and couldn't believe it when I saw him shooting down the leeward side of the 2nd summit well ahead of record pace, a streak of white and black winding through the cranberry and past the Com towers.
David's split was an amazing 58:20 two minutes faster than NCAA ski champ Marius Korthauer's record last year and national class runners Moses Waweru's time from 2004. He's just 18 and running isn't even his number one sport. He was going so FAST that he almost ran me over in the exchange zone.
I was elated and thinking the record would be possible, and doing some quick math knew that it would take a low 54 to be close. Any euphoria was short lived, however, because I had to take it quite easy down The Chute, and through the first mile because the terrain was slippery and treacherous, not to mention the steepest of the descent.
After navigating that first mile (only 6:27) I got to work. I never felt that great on Saturday although miles 19 to 21 (3 and 4 on the relay) and 24 (mile 7) were solid.
In the big clearing (gravel pit) at mile 19.5 on Henderson I did the most bizarre things ever at the Equinox. It was quite cold on the top of the Dome and I wore gloves and half tights the new Team FAST long sleeve shirts that Bill and Heini so kindly provided. Into the trees I was overheating early, and knew it was only going to get warmer. Among the people in clearing were Mark Lindberg and his wife Maggie. So I stopped and pulled my tights off in front of everybody. There were gasps.
Hah, I had regular shorts underneath--but the thought did cross my mind momentarily--what if I forgot to put on my those on this morning? That cost a few seconds, but I wanted to keep cool for the rest of the way.
The last mile was brutal, up those climbs at the UAF ski trails, but I did have enough for a decent kick at the end. 2:44:13, just 1:19 off the record. My split of 55:26--meh, within that plus or minus range, but a minus would have been better.
Still it was nice (no it was Great!) to win and to be on the second fastest Equinox Relay ever. And I have to admit to being quite surprised that my split was the 5th fastest on record. Hey at 51 you take what you can get.
Werner and David will get that record next year and no doubt will have many other opportunities in the future. In fact, if you're wondering about future Equinox Marathon stars--and quite possibly someone to challenge Stan Justice's amazing 2:41:20--look no further than those two young men--just give them a few years and maybe a low key ski season ahead of them.