Run Rabbit Run 70 (20 + 50)


Nick after finishing 3rd in the 50!


Well that didn't exactly go as planned…Following two 100 milers earlier in the year (Massanutten and Hardrock) where I felt as though my runs were hampered by a calf injury, I was looking forward to finally getting in a good run at the inaugural Run Rabbit Run 100 in Steamboat Springs. Heading into the race my confidence was high after a solid month of training in August and a good race at the Breck Crest Marathon a few weeks ago.



After a leisurely morning filled with sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing, the 1pm start finally came and we were off charging up the ski slope. Heading up the initial climb I was on the tail end of the front group which began to split up as the climb progressed. Feeling as though the effort was a bit much for this early in the race, especially considering the heat of the day, I was happy to let the leaders forge ahead on the climb. On the out and back to the aid station at the top of Mount Werner, the gap was about 3-4 minutes to the lead group of three (Mike Wolfe, Timothy Olson, and Dennis Flannagan?) with another 5-6 guys spread in between.



On the rolling singletrack after the Mount Werneraid station no one was in sight. I was enjoying the nice trail and starting to get into the 100 mile zone of just cruising along at a steady effort. Things were feeling good at this point and I felt like a good day was in store. Before long I came to a Y-intersection, and took a hard left following an arrow and some flagging. I continued to enjoy the nice rolling downhill singletrack. As I rolled along I kept thinking that the next aid station must be right around the corner. It seemed to be taking a while to reach, and as time went on I started to question whether I had the distance correct between aid stations. Though I started to question if I was on the correct route, I kept seeing flagging so continued along the trail. Eventually I reached a trailhead and saw a few friendly faces. They seemed surprised to see me and said that I was leading the race. Knowing that I wasn't in the lead I stopped to try to figure out what was going on. After some discussion and looking at a map I realized that I was supposed to go right at the previously mentioned Y-intersection to do a short out and back to the aid station. Having skipped the out and back (and not really wanting to add an extra 7-8 miles and ~3000' of climb to get back on 'course') I decided that my race was over.



Waiting around for the actual leader's to come down the trail I was definitely disappointed to have to take a DNF for my inability to follow the course. In this time the thought came to me that I could perhaps salvage the weekend by still getting in a decent long run if Fred (the RD) would let me into the 50 mile race the following day. Soon Timothy Olson and Mike Wolfe came down the trail and I joined them for the few miles of road down into town where I would official drop out at the aid station. At the aid station I was able to get in touch with the RDs and they were kind enough to let me into the 50 mile race the following day.



The remainder of the day Friday was spent helping some friends out along the course. I had a great time hanging out at the Cow Creek (mile 29) aid station for most of the evening, and it was good to see plenty of friends come through the aid station looking strong and ready to take on the night. Eventually around 9:30 I made it back to our condo for a quick dinner. I figured I should also take the time to look over the 50 mile course so I could stay on track the next day. Eventually I was able to get in a few hours of sleep before an early wakeup for the 6am start of the 50 miler.



We headed over to the start plenty early so that I could check-in with Fred and make pick up my bib number. Here Fred mentioned something about whether I was trying to get a spot in the Western States 100 through the montrail ultra cup. My response was simply that it was a consideration. I had also mentioned the previous day to Bryon Powell of irunfar that I might go for a WS spot. Although getting a WS spot was certainly in the back of my mind, I knew that there were a handful of fast guys who would certainly make finishing in the top-three (assuming Zeke was in the top two) difficult. I figured I would just see how the day unfolded and hope I wasn't too tired from the 20 miles the previous afternoon.



From the start as we climbed up the ski hill I could tell that my legs were not quite 100 percent. They didn't necessarily feel bad. But I could tell that they did not feel quite as well rested as I would like at the start of a 50 mile race. Before long Zeke and Cameron Clayton, the eventual winner, were out of sight. Myself, Aaron Heidt, and Jesse Haynes were close together for the entire climb up to the top of Mount Werner. Aaron got a little bit of a gap in the final stretches of the climb and probably had a minute or so on Jesse and I as we hit the singletrack. On the more rolling terrain I was feeling good and soon passed Jesse and started putting in a bit of effort in hopes of catching up to Aaron. I soon came upon the infamous Y-intersection from the previous day. This time making sure to take a right to reach the Long Lakeaid station.



Shortly after the Long Lakeaid station there was a slightly confusing intersection. I was fairly certain we were to go right in the 50 mile race, but saw Aaron running back towards me from that direction. I assured him that this was correct and we continued this way. Eventually we saw some flagging that would confirm we were heading the right way. For the next several miles I just followed Aaron's pace. We would yo-yo a little as he seemed a little faster on the flats and downhill’s but I would catch up on the climbs. We came into the final aid station before the turn around together and he was a little quicker than I in the aid station so he had a bit of a gap heading up the climb to the turn around at the base of the rabbit ears.



Things started to fall apart for me on the climb and I started thinking that I might be in for a very long day. By the turn around Aaron had about a 5 minute gap. Based on how I was feeling at the moment I pretty much resigned the WS spot and was anticipating a rough run back to Steamboat. However, about half way back down to the aid station things started to turn around and I started to feel really good again. I went straight through the aid without stopping. For the next several miles I was feeling really good and started to think that I just might have a chance to catch Aaron if he started to slow down. Soon enough, in one of the open meadows I caught a glimpse of his blue shirt and estimated the gap to be around two minutes. Though I couldn't see him in the wooded sections, whenever I did get a view of him I could tell that I was slowly reeling him in.



Right as we were heading into the Long Lakeaid station I caught up to Aaron. Rather than passing him on the trail I figured a quick transition through the aid may be the best approach. In the aid station he mentioned that his legs were feeling pretty beat. I took that as a sign to get in and out as quick as possible to try to open up as much of a gap as I could when he was not feeling great. After a quick water refill and a cup of coke I pushed the next few miles fairly hard in order to put some space between us. With a WS spot on the line as motivation, I pushed pretty hard all the way back to the Mount Werner aid station. Coming off the out and back to the aid station Aaron was no where in sight so I knew I had at least several minutes gap. At this point I figured that barring a disaster on the road back down I would finish in third. After 45 minutes or so of downhill I reached the ski area where I was happy to be done and ready to enjoy the post race festivities.



Last, a big thanks to the folks at Viand Drymaxsocks for their support. Thanks as well to Ultimate Directionfor providing me with one of their new race vests to use throughout the summer. In the end the weekend was not exactly what I was hoping for. But I can not complain since the WS spot definitely made up for my disappointing DNF in the 100 miler. I look forward to the chance to toe the line at what is likely the most competitive and historic 100 miler in the USnext year. The Bear 100 is up next in a couple of weeks - hopefully I can put all that 100 mile training to good work!

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