Tough Running on Ester Dome Single Track Trail
So the organizers moved the venue from Moose Mountain to the next hill over, the Ester Dome. Rather than a hill climb, however, the race was on the new Ester Dome Single Track Trails
Although a hill climb would have had its merits, I'm glad to have had the opportunity to run on the bike trail. Upon hearing the news last week I did my Saturday run on the trails, and luckily chose the right direction. That was enough pre-race info to pick a good strategy, to avoid crashing an burning.
The course is a narrow and technical trail with dozens of switchbacks, 5 or 6 dips and humps (like 5 feet down and up), some fallen tree jumps (including a spruce with 3" spikes where branches had been broken off), and lots of hills (1,200' vertical).
Weather was about perfect, maybe 70 and partly cloudy, although a little buggy. I gave a cup of blood at least.
It brought out a lot of the good local runners on both men's and women's side, with Mike Kramer, Ben Nelson, Kevin Brinegar, Ray Sabo, Therssia Schnurr of UAF, Davya Flaharty, and Melissa Lewis all lining up.
I went out at a moderate pace, letting the lead runners go right away. I could feel several guys breathing down my neck so within a quarter mile I let them move up too. Theys soon dropped back and Brinegar pulled out. So by by 2 miles I was comfortably in 5th place with Wayne Peppler and Gary Holton not far back, and a young high school runner just ahead. I settled settled into as much of a flow as possible. Letting gravity do it's thing on the down hills, while keeping my momentum going on the countless transitions. I waited until the last third to start pushing on uphills. The a high school runner had run 10:30s for 3200 this spring, although I was hoping the endurance and wisdom of older age would prevail. However, he'd pull away whenever I got to within 10 or 15 seconds.
Ended up 5th overall (with Kramer [43:29], Nelson [44:40], Sabo [46:40], and Keegan Rankin [47:20s] taking 1st through 4th respectively), 47:40s for time. Peppler and Holton were about 1.5 minutes back and they were tailed by Melissa Lewis who finished in 49:40, Schnurr and Flaharty were not far behind.
No falls, no oxygen debt or asthma. Just a good solid run, and I'm not even sore today. Even though I'm in better shape than last year I can really feel that my oxygen uptake on the uphills just isn't what it was even two or three years ago. I can hold a hard effort (and it's actually more moderate than hard) for up to about 3 minutes and then have to back down.
I hope they make this part of the trail running circuit. It's a good course.