Author: Mike Bowen.
Arriving only 20 minutes early to KSF in icy, 14 degree conditions, my buddy Chris and I weren’t sure how the actual race would unfold. I decided to try and start out easy and see how I felt. After nearly busting my rear in the parking lot, I was glad to see the main road was slightly drier as we set off toward the big climb up to the ridge. Towards the top, I realized I was in 3rd and bridged up to Ian, running and chatting for about a mile. We laughed at how talented Jacob is, who was already long gone(this kid is as talented as they come, and his cross training should really separate him from his peers).Anyway, I got a short gap on Ian, only to have he and Brandon(I think) pass me on the first descent to the aid station. We were then passed on the next climb by Adam(I think), who was flying considering he was doing the 50K. I didn’t realize that at the time though. We commented on the fact that sasquatch wasn’t in his usual location. On the next descent to the campground, they really put it to me opening up about a 30 second gap. I was starting to realize how slow I was on the drops trying to stay upright(Ian later showed me the custom spike job he had prepared for the race- I was envious…)It was starting to snow pretty hard at this point and I was stomach cramping a bit when I noticed sasquatch up ahead by a firepit. I commented on his lack of toughness and he grunted something about staying warm. Sure couldn’t blame him on this day. I was contemplating waiting for Chris to catch up to me and just run the rest of the way with him. Bob L then caught up and mentioned that he hadn’t seen anyone behind him in a while. I stopped at “the M and M aid station”, fueled up a bit and the cramps subsided as I headed up Johnson. I caught back up the Bob and Ian, again realizing a trend was taking shape- catch runners on the climbs and then lose them on the drops. I’ll blame it on old age and tired knees-though some of these guys just absolutely crush it on the downhills. At about mile 13 I hit a bit of a wall and had to really rally my tired legs, beat up feet, freezing fingers and numb face to keep it together. I was basically alone again as they had dropped me once again on middle ridge. Approaching Teaberry I got a bit of a second wind knowing the end was near and actually thought a sub 2:20 was possible, only to realize the final descend was icy, slick and treacherous, and that getting down in one piece was the wise choice. I had to laugh as I finally got to the ice covered parking lot, which was a fitting symbol of a very tough day of trail running. The warm food and drinks were particularly pleasing this year and a big thanks to the Dolins and all the volunteers for all of the hard work that goes into these races. At some point in these races, I often find myself questioning my sanity, when I could be back in a warm bed, but then after I thaw out I start looking forward to next one.