Hey, time for another race report, because I don't write enough race reports.
So last weekend, I went to Afton, WY (where the heck is that?) to run Ty Draney's little race. Ty is an awesome ultrarunner, high school teacher, and track coach. His race helps to raise some funds for his track team. He's been doing this race for the past nine years and there's a threat that next year might be the last. He said something about doing it ten years, then evaluating whether to keep doing it or not.
The race itself is fairly small, I'm not sure what his runner limit is, but I think it's around 100 for each distance, 25K and 50K.
Warning, I didn't take any pictures during the race. Sorry, but there's plenty of pictures out there of the fantastic scenery along the course. Here's a course GPS at least.
I went up with several friends Friday morning so we could get a campsite for everyone else that was with us. I think a good majority of the HUMR's (Happy Utah Mountain Runners) ended up making the trek to Afton. We (our HUMR crew) ended up having a pretty good potluck dinner, good conversation, then bed time. I should mention that we were camping at the start/finish, right on Cottonwood Lake (there's no cottonwood trees around, so why it's called that is a mystery to me). Anyway, in a word, gorgeous.
I slept really lousy, and 5am came way too soon. I was pleasantly surprised that the temperature was warmer than I thought it would be. I'm not a big fan of cold temps, but with the warmer temps, I decided to opt for just a short sleeve t, no beanie, light gloves, and that's it (oh, shorts and shoes as well).
Ty started us right at 6am and we started up the first big climb of the day. This four mile climb took us from the start at 7600' to just over 10,000'. By the time we got to the top, the sun was up and the views were stunning. We then headed down some switchbacks to the first aid station, manned by some of Ty's high school students.
After the first aid station, we had a pretty good climb again, up to the first of two beautiful alpine lakes. At this point I was running with Curtis. Shortly after the first aid, he pulled ahead and . Before the next aid at one of the alpine lakes (did I mention they were stunning?) I managed to catch up to a few other friends, chat for a bit, then take off.
The second aid station was right next to the larger of the two alpine lakes we ran past and what a location for an aid station. Stunning! Anyway, after that aid station we had another couple of shorter, yet steep climbs before a seven mile descent to the turnaround. Just before that long descent, we went through the third aid station. This one had all of their supplies packed in on horseback. It was pretty cool to see the horses out in the meadow just grazing. A good chunk of that seven mile descent had us running along a river that was so inviting. With the day warming up, it looked so clear and refreshing I wanted to go jump in, get a drink, etc., not to mention that we were running down this gorge with cliffs on either side of us.
When I got to the turn around, not only was the official aid station there, but there was an unofficial HUMR aid station setup by Lane and Steve, significant others of a couple of HUMR runners on the course.
After the turn, now I had to make the seven mile climb back up to 10,000'. Thank goodness much of it was either runnable or at least a good quick power hike.
By now the day was warming up nicely and I started to drink more. I was running with Aric and we made a couple of stops at these clear, rushing mountain streams to get a drink. That cold clear water tasted far better than the getting-warm water in our hydration packs. Splash some on your head, soak your feet for a couple minutes, refreshing.
The climb up was pretty uneventful and eventually we made it back to the horsey aid station. After tha, a bit more climbing, then the first steep descent to the first, and smaller alpine lake. Trot a bit along side that lake, then back up, then a longer steeper descent into the larger alpine lake.
I was still feeling really good and figured I should try to push it a bit just to see if I could. Yep, I could, so I did. I tried to run as much of the uphills as I could, and found out I could indeed run uphill at 10,000' without dying. Who knew?
I started trying to catch people that I could see in front of me. Sometimes I'll make a game of this as it forces me to try a bit harder rather than just mosey down the trail like I do a lot of the time.
I got to the last aid station, drank some Coke and headed out for the last serious climb of the day. 1,000' of switchbacks up the side of the mountain. It was a grind, but I knew the reward (besides the views) was a 4.5 mile descent into the finish. I managed to catch 3-4 runners going up this climb, then I started bombing down the final descent. I tried to open it up going down. My goal was to not get passed by anyone and to catch as many as I could. Mission accomplished.
The last 100 yards or so take you through the campground and as I came off the trail and on to the road, all of the HUMR's that were already finished were there cheering everyone on. It was pretty cool to see all of them there, beers in hand, having a good time.
So, I finished. My time was nothing to write home about. 8:04. I had hoped for a sub 8, but I'll take this one.
Bottom line was that I felt great the entire day. Strong, everything under control. Not only that, but I had a really good time out there. There was no suffering by me this time.
This is a great race that flies under the radar. Awesome scenery and course, fairly small field, great volunteers and race director. Yep, I'll be back and you should go run it too.