Saturday, July 14, 2012

Busted at Black Hills: The Non-Race Report

Holy hell that was a hot run!  My Gnarly Bandit quest for this year is no longer, and that's ok.  I've hit a bad patch of racing of late that not-so-strangely coincides with a similar bad patch of training and a ridiculously busy patch of life (all while pushing the boundaries of sleep deprivation).  I cooked at Black Hills, losing my stomach for the first time ever (seriously, emptied my stomach at mile 44 immediately after taking a gel--an experience I never want to have again).  By mile 58, I couldn't stay awake in the dark to save my life, and without a pacer, decided to call it.  Everything's been kind of "off" of late, and I'd like to get back to a somewhat normal patch of life, or as "normal" as it gets for an ultrarunner.

Of course I felt fine the next morning--barely sore at all, which is just insulting.  I prefer to be absolutely wrecked after a race--and especially after a DNF.  At least then I'd know I didn't have anything left to give.  I remember thinking, though, the day after the race, that maybe I needed to take some time off from racing.  I thought, "Voyageur in July? Nah.  Ragnar in August?  No way."  But now, a week later (and a trip up Hope Pass wiser), I desperately want to run.  I'm just not sure if this is a desire to race or just a desire to run--whatever it is, though, I'm excited about it.  The Voyageur course was basically washed away in a flood a few weeks ago, but thankfully it's back on, which is good, because Sawtooth seems SOOO FARRRRR AWAY.  Meh, a little anticipation may be a very, very good thing for me.  I need to kick that hundo's ass for a couple reasons.

So, looking back at the 2012 Black Hills 100.. it was.. interesting.  It was just plain hot out, though.  The race started at 6am and it was already near 80 degrees, and would do nothing but climb up, up, and up all day long.

The course is really beautiful.  For the most part the climbs are long and steady and the descents are forgiving.  A good portion of the miles are on nice, runnable singletrack, with the remainder on multi-use ATV/off-road trails (more on that in a bit).  Ninety percent of the race is on the Centennial Trail, "The 89", which is fantastically runnable.

Around mile 45, the course veers off onto a patch of tight singletrack that drops about a thousand feet into the turnaround at Silver City.  That patch was steep and just downright scary at some points, especially back up in the dark when your vision's a bit blurry.

The Black Hills race organization still has a ways to go with keeping track of runners, marking the course through the ATV bits (chaos), marking the course for navigation in the dark (double chaos--I had to just guess at some points), and communication between aid stations (currently none--and no cell service).  That being said, I'm going to come back sometime and finish this course.  I kind of like having races to avenge.

The good news, though, is that Jeremy made it through another one of these, and is now 3 for 3 at the 100-mile distance, which is pretty darn amazing.  There's 6 Gnarly candidates left: Aaron Buffington, John Taylor, Jeremy Lindquist, and Brian Woods all completed the hundred, and Arika Hage and Alan Holz worked the 100k.  Daryl, Wayne, Rick, and I are officially out.  However, there was a huuuuge bonus to my dropping: after calling it at mile 58, I got to hang out with ultra-legend Eric Clifton for a few hours on our way back along the course into Sturgis.  It was amazing hearing him talk about Barkley, Badwater, Western States, etc.  I mean, the guy's won just about every race out there and he's still running with reckless abandon.  Gotta respect the hell out of that.

In the meantime, Hardrock started TODAY!  After seeing Jordan Hanlon up at 13k above Hope Pass this weekend, maybe it's a good thing the waitlist only got to #32 this year (Hanlon was #37).