Monday, June 18, 2012

US Mountain Running Championships

I ran at US Mountain Running Championships at the Mount Washington Road Race this past Saturday (June 16).  The race coincided with Sturgis or some other motorcycle rally in the White Mountains for no particular reason.  I think both events probably got in each others' way.  At very least, there were a great many motorcycles waiting to travel up the Mount Washington Auto Road when they reopened it after the racers came down.

Now that I've gotten the nonsequitor ramblings out of the way, I'll tell you what happened.  The race went out fast.  Within 20 seconds, half of my PowerBar PowerGels had fallen out of the pocket on my racing top.  Luckily, I had brought extras in case something like that happened.  I ran at or near the front of the pack and didn't look back, so I'm not sure how big the group actually was, but it felt big.  Eventually, Joe Gray and Sage Canaday broke away from the pack.  I caught a few glimpses of Sage but never got another good look at him until the race was over.  I ran against him a lot during college, so I suppose it's fitting that he's been in my last two races.

Eventually, Eric Blake and Tommy Manning got a small gap.  This put me in 5th place, and the 5th American.  The top 6 Americans qualified for World Mountain Running Championships, so I didn't have much margin of error.  To add to that, Max King, Simon Gutierrez, Tim Chichester, and Italian Marco de Gesperi kept passing me and battling for position.  I passed the halfway point in the realm of 29:20, so a little mental math made me believe that a sub 1 hour race may be needed just to qualify for the team.  About a minute later, at timberline, I decided that if I didn't make a very solid move very soon, I wasn't going to World Championships.

I caught the Blake/Manning group and kept surging.  Apparently I dropped Manning but Blake stayed with me.  I could see Joe Gray up the road, and decided that I had a chance of catching him if he faltered at all.  He didn't.  However, my surge did put Blake and I pretty far ahead of 5th place, and top 6 was really all that mattered.  In the end, Eric Blake out kicked me in sight of the finish line.  I held on for 4th.  de Gesperi was 5th, and Manning and Chichester rounded out the team for Worlds.  Also, Team Colorado beat the team record by 5 minutes.  This means that our entire top 5 averaged a minute faster than the previous record holding team's average.

The end result of all of this is that I will represent the United States at World Mountain Running Championships in Ponte di Legno, Italy on September 2.  I also have Sierre-Zinal coming up on August 12, but Mt. Washington had no effect on my start there.

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