Monday, October 7, 2013

Weaver Basin 50K Race Report

I found the Weaver Basin 50K on ultra sign up when I was browsing around nearby races and figured it would be a good race to throw into my training block for TNFEC 50 mile. It looked fairly runnable (Ryan Ghelfi's winning time the previous year was 03:38. What an animal!) and Weaverville is only a 3 hour drive from Ashland so it seemed right.
The drive may have been the most grueling part. I'm a waiter so I'm usually not in bed until 1a.m. and don't get up until 10a.m. But I tried to go to sleep early and peeled myself out of bed for the 3 hour commute south, which would prove to be much more majestic during the day.
The Start/Finish is at Trinity High School in Weaverville, a small little town in the Trinity Alps I had never heard of before signing up for the race. Mike Stadnisky was there from Ashland with his wife. I had met Mike a few times; he's a great runner and judging by his results I knew he was going to be my competition.
The race started around 8.a.m. We headed down the High School parking lot and off to a "lollipop" loop with some gradual climbing and rollers. Mike set a good pace right out of the gate. We didn't say much for the first 20 minutes except when he would yell out "Right!" or "Left!" as the directional arrows on the trail markers were easy to miss if you weren't paying attention. In fact during this lollipop loop a group of other runners came running at us in the opposite direction. It didn't matter, because it would all end up being the same distance, but it's a prime example of missing the directional arrows.
After a while we started chatting about racing, training and everything in between. Mike is good company. I believe we blew through the first couple aid stations, but they looked well stocked. The course meanders through old mining trails, through creeks, and through the forest with varying flora. It's a very beautiful course and the views only get better later on.
Around mile 14/15 there is a substantial climb with multiple switchbacks. I felt pretty prepared for it because the climb was Ashland in a nutshell (you can't really get to any nice trails in Ashland without going up). About halfway through the climb Mike started to hike. I said "It got warm quick out here huh?" He didn't respond and that's when I knew he was having a rough patch. Totally understandable considering he won Flagline just two weeks prior, but I was feeling good. I took the lead and continued to climb. After the climb it was flat for a good 2-3 miles and I just kept running. I ran by an old abandoned mining hole with a warning sign. Down through a a beautiful creek bed. Up on a ridge and on and on. I even saw some large Bear prints in the mud at one point.
I started to hit my rough patch around 24-25 which is pretty normal for me. I still haven't quite figured out how to get around it. Every time I would stop for a breather I would make myself move again immediately. I had this feeling that Mike was going to rally. I was running scared.
The rest of the course was pretty much down hill besides some rollers and one little climb, so it was easy running, though the stretch between aid station 4 and 5 felt like forever. The ridgeline seemed to go on and on and the sun was getting hotter. When I got there the volunteers filled my water bottle, I chugged a glass of water and then had some coke out of a plastic champagne glass. One of the volunteers said "cheers! to the finish!" I grabbed a slice of watermelon and headed out.
The home stretch, again, was fairly flat. It was mostly a challenge to keep myself moving at a decent pace. My left foot and shin were hurting as I had tied my shoe lace too tight, but I didn't want to stop and fix it for fear Mike would close the gap on me. The last 4 miles were a blur and before I knew I popped out on the fire road inbound for the high school. Down a grassy knoll and onto the high school track for the finish.
I finished first in 04:24. Mike was less than 6 minutes behind me in 04:29:22, followed by Skyler Mills in 04:57:20. First female was Victoria Saitta in 06:22:56, respectively.
Early in the race they had taken pictures of each runner and upon finishing each runner received a photo of themselves in a wooden frame that the high school shop class had made. Such an awesome idea! There was lots of swag from Smartwool and Teva as well as delicious post race chicken quesadillas and snacks galore. Not to mention great company.
Thanks to Gus Kormeier and all of the great volunteers and supportive sponsors that made this race possible.
I had a blast out there!

Trailing Mike early on


Justin's almond butter and jelly sandwich with Dave's Killer Bread and 1 banana 2 hours before
Clif Shots (Vanilla, Chocolate, Mocha) every 30 minutes during
Coke and watermelon later in the race

Gear used:

Pearl Izumi EM trail N2
Pearl Izumi Thermal glove
Drymax socks
Mountain hardware ultra refueler short
Patagonia T
Nathan handheld
Suunto Core

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