Speedgoat Mountain Trail Races 2015
The Speedgoat Mountain Trail Races were wild. Karl’s Speedgoat 50k has been on my to do list for a couple years. This year Karl added a Vertical Mile Race as well as a downhill race called the Quadbanger. It made sense to me to sign up for all three since it is a race at altitude and there would be a lot of climbing which we can’t simulate in Connecticut and that would mean no chance of a top five finish. Instead I chose to focus on my ability to be able to race, recover and race again; three days in a row.
Scott and I arrived in Salt Lake City on Thursday and after renting a car drive straight to Sage’s Vegetarian Cafe. It had been seven years since we had been there. We bumped into Sage Canaday (multiple Speeedgoat winner and fellow vegetarian) and his girlfriend Sandy Nypaver. We said hello, exchanged pleasantries and headed up the Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird. After a good nights sleep, a machine shop visit and lunch at the Vertical Cafe (another veg restaurant) we got ourselves to the start line of the Vertical Mile at 3pm. Scott took off ahead (he is a much stronger climber than me). After an initial sharp heart rate increase I felt more comfortable. We climbed steadily; winding and twisted mostly on dirt access roads. The time went by slowly. I made the incorrect assumption that the race totaled four miles and I knew there were two separate climbs, so I asked the guy next to me what was up. He confirmed that I was world the first climb would be four miles and the second two miles, totaling six miles. I had read the website incorrectly. I didn’t sweat it. I focused on the beauty. The sun was warm, the sky a brilliant blue and the huge mountains breathtaking. I made it to the chairlift, jumped on with a few other competitors and headed downhill for the second climb. Riding the chair lift was a fun break from the grueling uphill. It took longer than I thought it would, but when I reached the bottom, I promptly stepped off and was directed to the second part of the climb. I enjoyed this part much more. The first mile consisted of mostly overgrown single track.. I began to pass people and seemed to get stronger as I got higher. The trail turned into an amazing ridge climb that put a smile on my face for the rest of the race. As I traversed the ridge the finish was in sight….just on the opposite side of the tram. I completed the Vertical Mile as fifth female in 1:57:48.
We piled into the tram for the trip down. On the tram I finally meet, face to face, the makers of my favorite hydration pack; Bryce Thatcher and his lovely wife Melanie. I have been sponsored by Ultraspire for the past three years and feel it’s the best on the market. They are very smart and kind.
We slept okay in the Lodge at Snowbird and got up early to eat, get dressed and walk the 15 minutes to Creekside. The patio was buzzing with over 400 competitors; some with the hope of placing and most ith the hope of just finishing. The Speedgoat 50k brings out great talent because it is a true test of strength and placing top three means prize money. My goal was to run well, feel good and not finish trashed. I was secretly hoping for a top ten finish too but as soon as Karl shouted, “Go” at 6:30am and I watched everyone fly up the service road I knew it would be a bit of a dream but I did not let that deter me…..the longer I go the better I get. The climb turned into a windy single track which was fun but a little annoying because I was stuck in a congo line. I relaxed and went with the flow; I knew it would be a long day ahead anyways. My plan was to run all the slight inclines and downhills and hike all the steeper uphills. The only problem was that every time I slowed to a hike I got passed. I just could not keep up with the uphill speed of most. I know part of it is my lack of mountains near me to train on but I could also feel the altitude was affecting me. Luckily we own a Hypoxico altitude tent and I slept in it for eight weeks leading into the races. I would not want to know what it would feel like without that thing. After eight miles of mostly uphill I came to the top of Hidden Peak, it was time for a long downhill. On the way up I had already made some friends; a local named Amie and a fun girl originally from New Hampshire named Trish. Scott greeted me there and informed me there we about 25 woman ahead. Yikes! Really? I refilled my UltrAspire bladder, grabbed a couple more Vfuels and moved on. An awesome two+ mile downhill to Mineral Basin allowed me to move up a few spots. I ran right through Mineral Basin Aid Station and pushed on to Pacific Mine Aid Station. It was only a half mile further on the trail that I saw Sage Canaday coming toward us (there was a short overlap in the course). He was miles ahead! There was some climbing in that section but mostly a long rock-laden downhill road which again moved me up a few spots. People run cautiously on rocky areas, I like to go faster. I refilled at Pacific Mine and soaked my bandana in water knowing that what goes down must go up and it was heating up. The climb out of that aid station was miles long but I moved well and only lost a place or two but gained on one female. We went through an Aspen Forest and many fields of flowers. The trail got rockier until eventually we got to head downhill back into Mineral Basin. Scott was there to help me refill water and food. It was really hot now. I started to notice my skin on my arms were getting red. I added more sunscreen and Scott ran up the trail with me for a bit. In a short while it was too steep to run again. I slowed to a walk, Scott sat on a rock to take more photos and quickly tipped over. It was nice comic relief. This climb up Mount Baldy was exposed and steep (40- 50% grade), but this is where some of the best views and wild flowers were. When I reached the high point I ran across the ridge top, having a blast. This part of the trail was ruling and laden with rocks which I love. Scott was on top taking photo and cheering. As I passed he said he would see me at the finish. I danced across the top and went around the curve to drop slightly into Tunnel Aid Station. I had a full refill here and then was directed into the tunnel. This was so cool!! The course went through the mountain where skier stand on people movers in the winter to get from one side of the mountain to the other. It was NOT all downhill from there. Although we overlapped a favorite scree trail (that we took on the way up) where I passed another female. I was on a mission to finish. There was a lot of down, a few more ups and then a single track switchback that seemed to never end. I crossed the finish line in 8:51:54; good enough for 20th place female. Unfortunately, my stomach went south as soon as I finished. I felt fine the entire race…..I think it was from a couple of caffeinated salt tablets I swallowed with about seven hours in. Scott was there to help me recover. We eventually walked back to the hotel where I cleaned up, rested and settled my stomach.
The next day, to get to the start of the Quadbanger, we had to take a ride the tram. All runners and volunteers boarded the tram at 10:30am. The ride to the top took about 15 minutes. I met up with two super cool athletes while on the tram; Meredith and Paul Terenova. I had know them through friends and social media but we had never spent time together. We piled off on top, received instructions from Karl (letting us know to be careful because there is no dentist on staff) and at 11am we were off. The first two miles were switchback dirt road. I stayed right with Meredith. I knew she would be an awesome downhill runner. My quads were a little upset with me from the challenge of the 50k the day before, but I was able to put that aside and motor on. The course turned into a bit of single track, back on dirt road with a final switchback of single track where every time I was able to catch up with Meredith and pull ahead slightly. That was also where I hit the ground hard a couple times. My leg muscles were not able to keep my upright as they usually do with little missteps. Luckily, each time we ended up on the chairlift together. She was a hoot to ride with. Meredith is afraid of heights and clung onto the bars for dear life. We had great conversations and even saw some wildlife (a woodchuck, a deer and moose). The top of the chair lift was not as high as the tram, cutting off about a half mile for the next three runs down. Each time I got off the lift my legs were more and more stiff. On the final decent, Meredith took off down the dirt road switchbacks. I knew I needed to forget the pain and the worry that my legs would give out and just lean into it if I wanted any chance of a close race. I came all the was out here and got their far; I might as well go for it. Surprisingly, I keep up pretty well and passed Meredith in the single track switchbacks. I told her to out-sprint me on the last rolling section to the finish line. I wanted both of us to have a strong finish. She responded that that was unlikely. But I found my legs and pressed on the gas to cross the finish line first. Meredith crossed about 30 seconds later. The distance was about 11 miles and my time was 1:32:54. This was the most fun I think I ever had in a trail race. Karl gave me a high five and a cool trophy. It also did not hurt that there was prize money for this race as well as coming in first for all three events. I would have liked some competition in the three event category but I guess I am a little crazier than most!
Kudos to Karl and all his amazing volunteers. Thank you to Scott for supporting me, taking photos and caring for me. Thank you to Al Lyman, my fabulous coach, that guides me to strength and resiliency. Thank you to UltrAspire for hydration packs that never fail me. Thank you to Julbo for protecting me eyes. That Utah sun was powerful!
To see photos and Scott’s (more detailed) view of the Speedgoat Mountain Trail Races go here.