Musk Ox Trail Run - Pipped at the Finish, Again!
I've been waiting to get back ever since they cancelled it, but haven't been able to because of other things going (training for other races, coaching, or injury).
This time the scheduling worked out well and it was more or less worth the wait. The turnout wasn't big, somewhere between 60 and 70 runners maybe, but as is often the case around here, a good quality field.
Lining up were Chris Eversman, on a roll with a record breaking Gold Discovery Run and a stellar 1:13 half marathon just two week later; Matias Saari, the Equinox defending champion, and past winner of Crow Pass Crossing and Mt Marathon; Devin McDowell former state high school 3200 m champion and past varsity runner for Montana State University; and Ben Nelson who has been a steady/strong presence at the races this summer.
For masters competition, I had Simon who at 45 is still running strong and leading the masters division of the trail series.
This 11 mile evening trail race starts and finishes at UAFs large mammal research center, where they keep musk ox and reindeer. It follows the Equinox Trail (in reverse) for about 2 miles before taking the historic Skaarland trail onto Skyline Ridge to KUAC towers and back down. Eleven gnarly miles over roller coaster single track trails, with over 1000 ft net climb on the way out, and enough climbing on the way back to keep a runner honest.
I quickly settled into a pace--seemed okay but fast--about 15 sec behind Simon who trailed just behind the lead pack. Twisted my foot off a root at 1.5 miles--something sort of popped--but kept going. Now it hurts like hell.
The leaders pulled out of sight and Simon made a wrong turn just before Ballaine. We were all confused for a bit. There were no marker flags for at least a half mile. We ran together for the rest of the way.
I threw in some strong surges at about 5 miles and 7 miles but couldn't drop him. Not like the old days. So we just cruised with the terrain, picking it up on the flats and downhills, but easing a bit on the ups. I could really feel my legs turn to rubber with each climb, long or short. But Simon wasn't passing me either.
Put on my best kick of the year with about 300 to go and he fell back a few meters with just 50 to the finish. But he responded and got just half step ahead barely before the line. AAAARRRRRGGGG!!! It happened again.
We finished 4th and 5th in 1:16:46 (turns out one of the lead pack ran off course just after halfway).
I'm making a habit of getting outkicked. Not liking it! But Simon's a good guy and a good runner and I can't complain.
I can walk but my plantar fascia and ankle are sore. Time to restock those anti-inflammatories for a week or so.