Sunday, October 16, 2011

Untidy endings- Mt Spokane 50k

DSQ.WTF? I was ready to finish my season with my last ultra of the year, the Mt. Spokane 50k on Oct. 8th. This was the inaugural running of the race on Spokane's highest mountain amidst it's many alpine and nordic ski trails. I was ready, rested from Cascade Crest, trained, fueled, I was eager to win this race and call it a season. Camped the night before with Allen Skytta and Jim Norton, woke up to clear and icy. The sun was breaking the frost as James Varner gave us the course briefing and sent us off. I felt good, I took the lead and kept the pace lively for the front group of 5 which included teammate Jon Robinson and friend Kevin Douglas plus two other guys we didn't yet know. The trails were cold but rolling, the course was a maze of hairpin trails bending back on themselves like intestines. The course was marked in yellow ribbon, the leaves were changing, the combination made us stop at intersections and look around until someone would shout, "That way!", then we'd go on. We hit the 9 mile Aid station #1 fast, the 10 mile parking lot at 1 hour 15 minutes and then headed downhill where unknown guy in red made his move to the front, fine, we let him go. After a while, we started to separate a bit and I began to reel Mr. Red in. We hit aid station #2 and chaos ensued. The volunteers were at a loss as to A. what they had at the table to offer and B. where the 50k course went. They sent Mr. Red up the wrong trail, Jon and I went up the right trail and shouted for him to follow us, he did but was obviously shaken by the mix up and we soon dropped him. Jon and I settled into a strong run up a lovely road which climbed and climbed. We knew the course was supposed to lead back to aid station #2 which would become aid #3 before climbing Mt. Spokane. We talked and ran and came to an orange cone by the road leading to a trail marked with yellow ribbon. Follow the ribbon is the name of the game, we did and soon found a few 25k runners heading up Mt. Spokane?? This didn't seem right. We kept on keeping on and eventually came out on top of Mt. Spokane and Aid station #4. Not good! We had missed #3. Somewhere on the road was yellow ribbon in the fall foliage leading to the trail down and we had missed it. We skipped 5 maybe 6 miles of the course. We took in the view from the mountain and headed down the ski slopes. 1 mile from the finish I ventured off course again but Jon corrected my path and we came into the finish tied for first place in the disqualified division at 3:36. The sun was out, there was food and drink, friends and dry clothes. It is always a gift to be able to run strong through the woods, to race and be part of an awesome community of athletes. These are the things which keep us coming back to test ourselves. I felt FINE about the race, the DSQ. The part I haven't been able to reconcile is the unfinished business. I can't finish the season on such a blah note. I would have won or tied for first without doubt but just knowing that doesn't do it justice. I haven't allowed myself recovery time after the race because I only ran 25ish miles. My body is done with ultras for 2011 but my mind is still reeling, wanting a tidy ending. In two weeks is the Cougar Mt. 50k and or the Carkeek 12hour. Both are traps waiting for me to set my little paw on their cheeses but oh, they smell so good.

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