Dare Mighty Things

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Sunday River, MAINE--Today's 2nd Annual MNT EPIC had it all: thirty degree temps, hellish climbs, wicked descents, wind, rain, sun, and even snow on the summits! My last race of 2009 was my first attempt at this really new race and it definitely lived up to the billing. A very strong aR showing included Tim Cox, Justin Snair, Ryan Welts, Brent & Amy Tkaczyk, Steve Sprague, and yours truly. This Trail Monsters designed course (see video below) was pretty straightforward with two climbs (3361') and two descents (3346') over 12 rugged miles summiting 8 peaks. My "strategy" (if you could call it that in a race where I had zero idea how long such an adventure would take) was to run as much of the first 1300' climb as possible placing myself as far up in the field as I could figuring eventually everyone would be walking. I carried a small hydration bottle pack with a Hammer Gel and some Endurolytes but left the bottle empty for the first climb to aid station #1 where I would fill up with their fluids. My early tactics worked well as I was running in 6th place behind teammates Tim, Justin, and Ryan. My first descent to the base of Jordan Bowl was a harbinger of things to come as I lost a spot to the overall female winner who FLEW by me down the hill. I caught her briefly on the ensuing climb but she slowly pulled away from me and never looked back. Near the summit of Spruce Peak it actually started spitting snow...and it's freakin' October! It's a darn good thing I had my new Moeben arm sleeves on as I was sporting the new aR sleeveless racing shirt. I basically ran alone for the next 30 minutes to the turnaround at Oz where I saw a group of six runners, racing together, as I doubled back against them. We exchanged words of encouragement and I implored them to catch me so I'd have someone to run with at the end (RETROSPECT: that probably wasn't a wise idea). From the high point at Oz there were roughly 4 miles to the finish and they were all downhill. Easy right? Apparently descending mountains is my Kryponite. In less than a mile the entire group of six had passed me and were quickly out of sight. In the blink of an eye I went from a very solid top 10 finish to a slightly disappointing 13th overall. Perhaps the hardest thing to swallow was racing so strong for 3300' of climbing and 8 miles only to give it all away running downhill. With under 2 miles to go we hit a section of singletrack that ordinarily would have been the most fun part of the course for me but my woeful hydration (including Gatorade..ughhh) resulted in both sets of adductors cramping as I made a quick 90 degree cut on a muddy switchback. Slowing to a walk I took another 2 Endurolytes (my 5th & 6th of the day) and finished the little bit of Gatorade/water I had left. Once again the Endurolytes saved me and I was running again in less than 2 minutes. The last 50 meters of the race was run on the wife carry course with the log hurdle and water pit as "optional" obstacles. With a healthy dose of 'crowd pressure' I managed to negotiate them both and finished unofficially in 2:09. Although my effort wasn't an '09 highlight, the efforts of Tim (2nd), Justin (5th), Ryan (6th), and Amy (2nd female) absolutely were! The Pumpkinhead Ale, BBQ, and live band seemed to sooth my wounds and before long the bitter disappointment of that final 4 miles was just a memory. The combination of fall foliage, beautifully cool weather, epic course, and great friends made this race a "must do" for 2010. I just need to work on getting better running downhill. Can you believe that, downhill?!

NEXT UP: 6 weeks of rest before I start preparing for the 2010 snowshoe racing season!

[Photo cred: me, Brent, Amy, Tim; 8-peak elevation profile; the start; a view from North Peak]

From the folks at Trail Monster:

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