Race director James Varner told us "If you come upon a cow who doesn't want to move, just give it your best cowboy 'Hyah!'" Minutes later we were running down a dirt road. I chose to try out the Scott Kinabalu Trail Shoe for this race as a test to see if it could beat the Montrail Fluidflex for my Hardrock setup. Scott McCoubry was kind enough to send me a pair so I flew the Scott colors. The Kinabalu is, in my opinion, a great trail shoe, light yet stable, good tread without being over built. In my previous outings I noticed this shoe performed great on technical and soft trail but was stiff and awkward on road or hard pack trail. The first few miles of Sun Mt. was awkward until we hit a cattle fence.
The race was on and a guy in orange shot past me on the dirt road leading to the cow meadow at about mile 3. He hit the fence, the meadow and was met by about 100 black cows, calfs and bulls. I was 50 feet behind him when he "Hyahed" and the cows began to Moooove. They ran with us, they ran by us, we were in the middle of a black cow stampede. Dust, hooves, water bottles, a deafening chorus of angry mooing, Glenn Tachiyama taking pictures, more cows, more noise of legs and beef pounding the meadow, finally the trail rose above the melee leaving the front runners exhilarated and a bit weary as the lowing died off in the distance as the next gate opened and clanged shut.
I hit my 30 mile doldrums at about mile 25. I got cranky. I was doing loops of winding ski trails with no other purpose than to add milage. I got to mile 27 aid station and must have looked like I needed a diaper change and a nap. Instead I had watermelon (my happy food) and some PBJ's which I stuffed in a pocket for later. My mood started to change. I could feel the malaise peeling away and I hit a good rhythm. I rolled into the mile 35 aid station feeling good, motivated. They said I was the first person to visit. Wha? I said what about Orangeguy? They said no, I was the first. Hmm? He must have either dropped or gone off trail. I took off even more focused for the last 15 miles. It was still hot but my hydration felt right and my fuel of PBJ and WaterH20 was doing the trick. I felt light and fast. I picked it up, I wanted to suffer remember? The miles clipped by until the last aid station. They said all I had to do was ascend Pattterson Mt., descend and the finish was about a mile after that around the paved lake. I filled a bottle and hit it. The climb was immediate and slow. My race goals were: Finish, Test , Break 7 hour, Win. I had about 1 hour 10 minutes to cover the last 6 miles. Seemed doable to break 7 and win. I trudged on up that exposed, sage dotted, stupid mountain. It wouldn't end. I got to the first, second, false summit. There was a sign, go up to the top to the turnaround. Two more false summits and I got to the turnaround and did. I headed down. About half way to the sign I saw Colin Miller in second place coming up! Shit! He's a stout runner and he looked solid. He probably got a good look at his reflection in my dinner plate eyes as I sprinted by. The race was ON and there was 2 miles to the finish. I screamed down that trail. I blurred past Glenn T.
|photo by Glenn Tachiyama
My conclusions from Sun Mt. 50 were this: Scott Kinabalu is the shoe I'm going to wear at Hardrock this year. They are too good on tricky technical and supportive enough to make it the full 100. I may have the Montrails in a drop bag at mile 60 just in case. The Methow valley is amazing and worthy of a much longer visit. I'll take cows over cowbells at a race every time. My fitness is right on track. Winning my first 50 miler was celebrated with a jump in the lake and a long drive home before the I5 bridge fell into the drink. Thanks to Rainshadow Running for the fun race, to Scott McCoubrey for the excellent shoes, and to my beautiful wife and kids for allowing me the adventure.