Today was the race I have been looking forward to all year- the Logan Peak Trail Race. It is a 28 mile race with 7200 ft ascent and 7200 descent- more elevation and distance than Pikes Peak marathon. Cody and Paul did it last year for fun and placed 4th and 5th. Even though I have run trails for years, this was my official trail race. My main goal was to finish and to place top 3. A win and course record was doable a secondary goal.
Race started at 6 am- Paul and Cody saw me off. It was a warm morning- 60 deg, with no clouds. The race starts off through a neighborhood and trail for a mile, then gets down to business with almost 3000 ft of climbing in 3 miles up Dry Canyon. Times were 9:52, 11:21, 15:17, 15:23- lots of walking as we were just conserving energy (plus walking is as fast as running with the avg 18% grade). At the first aid station (mile 4.7) there was still a good group of 6 guys. The trail levels out and circles south around the peak towards Providence canyon on the Sincline trail, eventually reaching the backside of Mt. Logan. Levels out is also a somewhat relative term, as there is still over 1000 ft of ascent and decent on this 6.5 mile stretch, including some rather steep snow field crossings and a few streams running down the trail. Times were 17:41 (including aid station- lots of food!), 10:38, 8:29, 7:55, 12:45, 10;01, 13:09. We had paired our group down to just 3 guys- Leland Barker (last year's winner and ultramarathoner extrordinaire) and Brian Beckstead, a trail runner/Runner's Corner guy from Orem.
By the second aid station at mile 11, the temperature was really heating up. I grabbed snow whenever I could and kept sticking it under my hat- instant cooling! After Aid 2, we start a very steep climb to the peak of Mt. Logan, winding our way up a ridge. 80% of this portion was snowpacked, including the final climb to the top. Very difficult footing, often slipping back with each step. Times were 12:01, 15:35, 13:22. I hit the top (~mile 13.8) in 2:51:50 or so- a whopping 12:27 pace for the first half of the race. After a brief pause to tighten my shoes, I was off.
After the top, the fun really started. I love running down steep snow- I just lean back, overstride, and fly down the mountain, no rocks to trip me. Times back to the Aid 2 station (now renamed Aid 3) were 7:59, 8:16, 11:29 (some uphill). Still a pack of 3.
After Aid 3, the course follows a jeep trail for 1.5 miles with a steady climb. I finally pulled away from the other guys at this point. Then it dives onto a technical singletrack to circle the north side of the mountain. Generally downhill, though some flats and ups. I had to stop once at mile 19 for a potty break (number 2) and was surprised no one caught me- I must have really put some distance on the other guys. Eventually the trail decends back to the top of Dry Canyon to Aid 1 (now Aid 4, around mile 23). Times were 10:16, 8:52, 8:34, 12:54, 10:42, 9:39 (includes aid station and another potty break- again, no footsteps from other runners).
After a very quick stop at Aid 4, it was time to see what my legs had left with the screaming downhill. The trail is steep and very rocky, so falling is always a concern (see Paul's report from last year). Nevertheless, my times were 7:04, 6:58, 6:42 down the canyon. I was very happy to be doing sub-7:00 miles after 26 miles and 7000 feet. Finally hit the deerfence trail and the neighborhood (with yet another potty break- ridiculous! But my intestines were insistent, so who was I to argue). I got a few long stretches to look back- no one in sight. Last full mile was 7:36 (with potty break), then kicked it home at 6:31 pace. Finished in first place overall, 4:51:30- 1:25 minute course record. The runners from last year agreed this year was slower/harder due to the snow, and the course was .6 miles longer due to a route change, so I was thrilled to set a new record. Brian came in 2 minute behind me, beating Leland by a mere 10 seconds. Leland was trying so hard to catch up that he practically collapsed at the finish line, cramping up.
I was absolutely amazed how good I felt after running 28 miles- one big blister under a toe, plus I am going to lose both my big toenails and one other. Ugly, ugly toes- purple nails. A bit of knee soreness and one tight achilles, but that is all. Oh, and an apparently pretty nasty case of running-induced gastrointestinal bleeding, resulting in a trip to the bathroom every 30 minutes since the race. DOMS tomorrow, I am sure. But I don't feel near as bad as after a road marathon. And can I say that I LOVE TRAIL RACES!!! (plus I am undefeated, seeing as this is my first!)
Overall, this is an outstanding race. The Race Director calls it the toughest 28 mile run anywhere. Probably true. The volunteers are amazing- they have to mule haul the drinks/food to Aid 1/4, and do some gnarly jeeping to Aid 2/3 (where they had to camp out last night). I even won some dang awesome $200 sunglasses (I'm too cheap to spend more than $5 when I pay) plus prize money.
I highly recommend this race to anyone! Amazing views, great people, great (tough) course. It gets me excited for my 2 other trail runs later this summer!