I’m a bit ashamed to admit, I’ve never watched an ultra or volunteered at a race. Today at the Speedgoat 50K at Snowbird, UT, I got to do both.
My first assignment of the day was handing out socks at registration with Brian Kamm. I must admit, a task that was rather well suited for my groggy state at 5:30 am – pretty simple, “small, medium or large for you?”
At 6:30 the racers were off. From the starting line I could see Luke Nelson pulling the lead group of runners up the Gad access road. I wasn’t yet sure what my volunteer assignment would be, and was told I would be assigned as needed at the top of the tram. While most of the volunteers took the 7:00 am tram up to Hidden Peak, I wanted to run up to the top. So I set off for Hidden Peak via a more direct route than the runners were taking so I could watch the race unfold from the top.
About 100 family, friends and running enthusiasts were at the top waiting for the lead runners. As I reached the summit an eager aid station volunteer congratulated me on being in first place. Yeah – I wish… First to the top was Luke Nelson, passing Nick Clark in the final yards, with Kevin Schilling close behind. As I ran with Kevin to the top he remarked about Luke, “he’s bustin it…”
There was a considerable gap before the other lead runners started coming in. It was great fun watching my MRC friends and other favorite runners come up the Little Cloud traverse and on up to the tram; Erik Storheim, Greg Norrander, Rich McDonald, Jared Campbell, Jared Inouye (who has finally decided he looks good in plaid) Glen Merrill, Pat McMurtry (who by the way – looks great in tie-dye), Chuck Konopa, and Jeff Bertot.
It was then suggested that the Larry’s Hole aid station might be in need of assistance. So I ran backwards down the course to Larry’s Hole. There I met Kevin Lawlor who was captain of the station and put me to work. At Larry’s Hole I got to see and meet many of the middle of the pack runners. I was surprised at how many were already somewhat wrecked at mile 10?? Yeah – Speedgoat 50K is a definitely a tough course. And Kevin – good luck at Katcina Mosa next weekend!
Almost as much fun as watching the race was listening to Karl Meltzer and Missy Berkel on the radio. Can I just say – the Speedgoat 50K is not enough race for the both of you. And, I’m glad the two of you are good friends – but anything more than that would be DISATEROUS!
Once volunteer reinforcements arrived I ran up to the tunnel so I could watch the runners climb out of Mineral Basin. What a treat watching the distance between Kevin and Nick ebb and flow from a few feet to 50 or so yards. Both looked strong on the climb and looked good at the tunnel aid station. By this time, Luke was about 15 minutes behind. I was impressed to see how Greg Norrander had climbed the hill. He was now in 6th place. He had moved up approximately 20 places since I had seen him at Larry’s Hole. When I asked him how he was feeling he simply replied, “I feel great. This is the race I wanted to run.”
I then ran up to the top of the tram hoping to see the lead runners summit Hidden Peak a second time. Just as I got to the ridge I saw Kevin coming up the trail and ran with him to the aid station. He looked great and said that he was feeling strong. When I inquired if he felt he could keep his lead on the downhill, he said, “I think so.”
After watching Nick go through the aid station I knew I needed to get scooting if I wanted to see the finish. I began following Kevin and Nick down Little Cloud absolutely amazed at how easy they made the descent look and how quickly they gapped me. Good thing I was able to cut the course and make a beeline for the finish in time to see Kevin cross the line.
Kevin finished in a record time of 5:43. Nick was just four minutes behind. As a comparison, last year’s winning time by Erik Storheim was 6:12 (although people who ran both this year and last year, felt that last year’s course route and conditions were more difficult). Luke finished in third place. Greg Norrander finished 5th in 6:28 and Erik Storheim and Rich McDonald fished in 8:38
So watch for Speedgoat the long version at Wasatch – where Kevin, Nick and Luke will be duking it out again. I think the goats will be racing...