Two years ago I had some pretty good race fitness heading into the Bosho and I came out of it with a PR of 4:12 and a distant 2nd place to Karl Meltzer (note that a number of strong runners went off course early that year). Ever since then I’ve really wanted to break the 4 hour mark at the Bosho and with even better fitness this time around I thought it might be possible.
After a few words of advice from our faithful RD’s we were sent on our way. The pace was really nice and easy to start, just rolling along the double track and talking with friends. Then we hit the first climb and Karl made a quick pass in front of me. I tucked in behind him as my breathing rate increased and we immediately had a gap to the rest of the field. Up and over the first significant climb I was feeling good and didn’t really feel stressed at all. Descending down into Georges Hollow I noticed how quickly Karl was moving and I had to push to keep up. About that same time my toe hooked a rock and I went flying into dirt. Mid-flight I was already angry with myself and by the time I touched down I was over it as I watched Karl run down the drainage (his headphones were on and he didn’t hear me fall). By the time we reached the road crossing I had caught back up and realized my sunglasses were missing from head. My heart rate monitor strap also came loose so I tore it off and dropped it at the start/finish area as we passed through in 37 minutes.
The next obstacle was Dry Creek and Dry Fork with the long climb up Unkle (or Black Mtn Ridge if you prefer) and the drainages were anything but dry this year. We made no effort to try and tiptoe around the stream crossings in the beginning as we knew that we would soon be trudging through an icy stream in Dry Fork. I certainly don’t mind running with wet feet, but frozen feet are a different story and I was happy when we hit dry land for the final ascent up to the ridge. Karl made a quick pit stop and I assumed the lead as I crested the ridge and started the long descent. Slowly the blood flow returned to my feet and I looked back down the climb to see a large pack of runners on the last pitch of the climb only a few minutes back. Karl easily caught back up before we hit the aid station at mile 9 and by the time we hit Morris Meadow at 9.5 we were at 1:29. My pre-race pacing plan had the meadow at 1:20, so I became a little concerned about breaking 4 hours at this point and picked up the pace as we crossed the meadow.
Back in 2009 I had done this northern loop in 1:40, but that’s when it was the beginning, not 10 miles in. This year the plan was to cover it in 1:50 since I figured fatigue would have an effect on pace by this point. I continued to press the pace all the way to the radio towers where I had opened a small gap to Karl. Up and over the crest I spotted Le Car with it’s fabulous new paint job and picked up a rock. My aim was perfect for once but the rock fell short by a few feet and I was actually happy about not hitting it this time around. By the time we hit the North Salt Lake bench Karl had easily closed the gap as we started the long descent up to Meridian Peak. I could tell the extra climbing I’ve been doing this year was paying off as I assumed the lead and felt strong. Karl would have none of it though and took the lead shortly before the long descent back into the canyon.
Toward the bottom we had a quick exchange and I let him know my intentions about breaking 4 hours. His reaction was awesome, because from that point on it seemed like Karl’s mission was to help me get my goal. The pace he set was steady and fast as we hit the climb back up to the meadow. At the top I glanced at my watch and was astonished to see we had covered the loop in 1:38. My confidence was restored as I had my bottle re-filled by Olaf at the aid station and started the climb up to 5 points with Karl right behind me.
By the time we hit 5 points I was ready to just roll a nice and steady pace along the BST back to the finish. I knew I had a bit of a buffer on the 4 hour goal at this point, with 35 mins left to cover the remainder of the course, but that wasn’t good enough as Karl encouraged me to run harder. I pressed harder than I had all day, hitting my absolute limit and feeling everything start to hurt. It was awesome. Back in Dry (wet) creek I could feel my hamstring on the verge of cramping but I wouldn’t give up as Karl was right behind me, pushing me to go faster. We started the last little climb to the upper BST and I was in survival mode as Karl assumed the lead. I gamely held on as the last descent started but I couldn’t go any faster as Karl opened up his stride and put about 10 seconds on me. I was slightly bummed at first, but as I looked up I noticed Karl had stopped short of the finish line and was looking back for me. He waited until I approached and we crossed the line together, stopping the clock just a few seconds before 3:56. Between the weather, the trail conditions and the company on the trail I couldn’t have asked for more.
Erik was next to cross the line a few minutes back, followed by a few other guys heading to Hardrock in July, including David Hayes and Ben Corrales. Jason Berry, Bryon Powell and Jeff Gerke were in the top 10 along with Peter and Greg but I don’t know the order off the top of my head. Roger snuck in ahead of Jill to even the score for this year, followed a short time later by Cheryl. That’s when I started to grow a little anxious as I knew Betsy wouldn’t be too much later, unless of course the wheels had completely come off. She was hoping to go under 7 hours but I thought 6:30 was more feasible. Next thing I knew I saw her flying down the hill and stopping the clock just under 6 hours. I’m so proud of her.
Thanks again to those that make this possible, it’s one of the true gems on the calendar.