Thursday, December 29, 2016

Jay Aldous - Year in Review

“You don’t seem to running much anymore” more was the comment. When I replied, “not true,” the response was “Oh, I just haven’t seen many posts.” While the posts this year have been limited, the running has not. It’s been a remarkable year of running that has included being able to run in 18 different countries, trudges to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mt. Fuji, and four races ranging from 50K to 166k.

Crazy Desert 50K
My first race of the year was the Crazy Desert 50K in San Angelo, Texas. I was looking for an early season tune-up run with ambitions to go sub 4:00. I was pleased with the effort, which was good enough for first, but finished in an ‘o so close’ 4:01.

100 Miles of Istria - Motovan Aid Station
In April I returned to run the 100 miles of Istria trail race. This race, which crosses the Istrian peninsula in Croatia, is one of my favorites. The course, race organization and volunteers make this in my view one of the ‘must run’ 100 mile trail races. Two years ago I was able to win, last year I dropped at 85 miles, and this year I felt compelled to return both to redeem myself for last year’s drop as well as run with a number of Croatian and Italian runners that I have met since living in Italy. While it wasn’t my best day, I was able beat my previous time and place 3rd.

Mt. Kilimanjaro
In June I ran to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. I’ve wanted to do this for a number of years and when a work trip took me to Kenya I knew it was my opportunity. I had ambitions to break Simon Mtuy’s self-supported FKT of 9:21. It took me 9:22. Darn! Running at 16,000+ feet was an amazing experience. I‘ve always sensed I was good at altitude. This run validated it.

Start of UTMB
During June and July I prepared for UTMB. I traveled to Chamonix on a number of occasions and was able to complete two preview/training circuits on the UTMB course. I enjoyed the long days of running followed by good food, conversation and companionship in the refugi along the way. I had ambitions to complete the course in under 26 hours, but after wilting in the heat and running out of gas on the final two climbs I finished in 27:04. While my time was not what I had hoped for, I was still pleased to have placed first in the V2 category.

Mount Fuji
In early September work took me to Tokyo and I seized the opportunity to run to the top of Mt. Fuji. This is another run I have wanted to do for some time and thoroughly enjoyed this remarkable Japanese cultural experience.

My final race of the year was the Desert Solstice invitational event where I wanted to set a new world best 100 mile 55+ age performance. I went into the race confident I could easily beat the existing mark of 14:15, but the day did not come together for me. My time of 14:37 was good enough for a new American 55+ 100 mile mark and I was able to set a new 55+ American mark for 100k along the way. Cleary some unfinished business in 2017??

Desert Solstice
So what does 2017 bring? I went through the fall ritual of applying for Western States and Hardrock in the hopes that some day I will be able to run these races. But no luck for 2017. One of the reasons I enjoy racing in Europe is that I am largely exempt from participating in lotteries because of my ITRA cotation. Yet, I have not registered for any events given that my work will reassign me early in the year and do not yet know where I will be living. Possibilities range from Geneva, Switzerland (great for trail running) to Freetown, Sierra Leone (not so good), and several other possibilities in Africa and Asia. By the time I know my new terra firma, I will have missed the closing dates for most of the big European races such as UTMB and TDG. The upside is that I will be somewhere new and will be able to experience a new trail running scene and races. And, there is the 100-mile age group record that will require a trip to an IAU certified course sometime, somewhere during the year. No doubt 2017 will be another exciting year of running!