STRAVA Summary

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ghost Town

Now that I have had a few days to gather my thoughts, it's time to give you my report of the weekend in New Mexico.
Firstly my thanks to Susan Reynolds, the race director, who put on a great event. Not only the race, but everything leading up to it and since.
Our weekend started Thursday night when Jamie Nielsen picked me up in the freezing cold (-20C) for our drive down to Buffalo. Although we thought this maybe an adventure due to the snow in Buffalo, it was uneventful. We crossed the border easily got our room and got up at 5:30 to go to the airport across the road. Our flights took us to Chicago and then on to Albuquerque. After arriving in Albuquerque we checked out the Fleet Feet store, one of the sponsors of the race and met the owners Bobby Biles and Rona Van Willigen. Then we had our 2.5 hour drive to Truth or Consequences (yeah, that is the name of the town).
A short 45 minute drive down I-25 and 152 would bring us to Hillsboro and Susan's house for dinner Friday night. Here we met a number of runners, Kurt Rossow from Minnesota, Abi Meadows from Texas among others as well as Susan's family. After a great meal and registering for the race we headed off back to our hotel exhausted.
Saturday we did some touring around and got to see Elephant Butte Resevoir,
the Dam and area, and then we drove down to the Texas border to say we had actually been there. Checked out Las Cruces (nice place) and then part of the race course before going to the pasta dinner.
Race morning we were up at 4:15am, had a quick bite to eat and then off to the race. A "cool" 0C (luxury), greeted us at the start line and 6am we were off in the dark. 10k of running on the road on a slightly up hill grade was a good start to the race. Jamie had to keep reminding me to slow down and we took a few walk breaks to conserve. We pulled into the first aid station (the end of the paved section) in about 59 minutes feeling good and started the gentle climb to aid station 2. We pulled into station 2 in about 1:27 and took a bit of a breather again before tackling some more ominous climbs. At this point we were told there were only 6 runners ahead of us. But that quickly changed as we decided to walk some the hills and a few runners past us. It was starting to get tough and Jamie commented that he thought the altitude was getting to him. I was breathing heavy, but other than peeing way too much I didn't feel the altitdue much.
At the 12.7 mile mark we turned off the road to get into some real narly trail running, this was good, except when we came to a fork in the trail and with no one around we didn't know which way to go. We were just about to take the wrong trail when we heard some one coming down the hill from the top of the spur. So went up, 300feet up to the abandoned mine shaft turn around. At this point we stopped for pictures again and quite a few runners caught us at this point. By the time we reached Station 3 we were in 16th place and still doing alright, but walking the uphills seemed to be a necessity. After the Percha Creek crossing and some narly up hills we came to 2 cones on the right side of the road. Do we turn here? We thought. With no one in front or beyond, we made a decision (apparently the wrong one) and turned right, up the hill and climbed, climbed, climbed through hoof prints, but we couldn't see foot prints, or could we? It wasn't until we hit a patch of snow and NO foot prints did we confirm our fears. We turned around, I seemed to react with more urgency than Jamie, who I think had rightly decided we were just here for the fun of it anyway. From this point to the turn around I slowly started to drift away from Jamie. But at the turn around I waited for him. It was here we found out that we had dropped to 24th (wow, the 2-3k extra had done some damage to our position in the race). Jamie told me at this point to just go on, and this seemed to give me some energy. Although I was still walking the hills I dug down and picked up the pace on the flats (what few there were) and the downhills.
I passed a couple of guys right after the turn around, but from there to Station 6 I saw no one. It was coming into station 6 where I finally met 2 runners just coming out. Could I catch them, I thought? I stopped briefly to talk to the 2 volunteers before heading off. GI issues prevented me from taking in any food. So off I went and about 1 mile from the paved road I passed the first runner. On the road I could see the other runner, but didn't seem to gaining on him. I was running a good pace (when actually running, about 4:30/km), but it was about 3km to go when I rounded a corner and saw the runner only 30 meters in front and knew I would catch him soon. I passed him and cruised in to finish in 6:54. Not bad considering our detour. I had set a goal of 7 hours, so a fairly successful day although I still felt something lacking due to the wrong turn and the thought that I walked far too much.
After finishing Susan came up to me and said "I know you tired, but I have a story to tell you. Last year we had a runner from Quebec who was bound and determined to win the Martin Luther King award, but missed it by 1 spot." So I replied "So I missed it by one spot too?" "No, you won it", Susan said. Neat, I knew I might be close, but didn't think about too much. A new pair of shoes and some other swag, it was a good day. After I changed, I got back just in time to see Jamie come in at 7:21. I was afraid he may have been suffering more than I thought, but he came in strong for the finish.
A mountain of food and refreshments awaited us at the end, so we indulged a bit before saying our goodbyes. Overall a great event, small where you can get to know everyone. A tough course or maybe I should say a challenging course especially for us "low landers". Thanks Susan.

Race results links - Results

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great race Keith, especially after running off course, which I can certainly identify with. It was nice meeting you. Hope you have a great year.

Here's one of my favorite quotes about Canadians (from

"These crazy bastards have an underappreciated history of badassery, and nowadays we don't really respect the fact that Canadians can be hard-drinking, hard-fighting, lumber-jacking motherfuckers who destroy all who oppose them in a flurry of bare knuckles, bizarre accents, and the Metric System."