Yesterday morning around 5:45am, about 45 or so runners gathered at Gibbons Park in western Logan, UT at the base of Dry Canyon for the start of the 2nd Annual Logan Peak Trail Run – a 28 mile trek from the base of Dry Canyon at 4847ft to the top of Mt. Logan at 9710. The morning brought cool temperatures and no clouds – a beautiful day to run.
In the days leading up to Logan Peak, many thoughts about the race went through my mind.
- First off, I was excited to go into an event with a racing attitude. Despite running several marathons and shorter races in the months leading up to Logan Peak Trail Run, I feel like I haven’t tested out my race legs since Mountain Mist 50K in late January.
- Second, this will be my first race out west, and my first race at elevation. I have been putting in some very quality miles since I moved out here, and I think I am about ready to go (despite being no higher than 9K feet in my training).
- Finally, and contrary to my second thought, in the back of my mind I kept thinking that I haven’t done any long runs as I usually have in training for such an event. I have done weekends where I have run, 3, 4, and 5 times in the span of 36-48 hours, with each run between 5-12 miles in distance, but I haven’t put in that many long runs over 18 miles. I’ll be curious to see how I perform after we hit the 3 hour mark.
I looked down at my watch – 5:50am. With the race starting in about 10 minutes, I gather up my last minute belongings (watch, gels, hat) and decide to chow down on half of a mojo bar. Now I’ll have you know that I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself, especially in a race that I expect to do well in. I’ll be honest, approaching this race, I had full intentions on being competitive, definitely thinking about top ten, and hopefully coming within 45 minutes of the leaders. With my stomach already filled with butterflies, the mojo bar clashed. I took two bites that did me in – for whatever reason, I felt like vomiting. I had already eaten a large pre-race breakfast and a few gels 25 minutes before, and I knew throwing up wasn’t a good option as I would have lost all my race energy.
From this point to the finish, that is the main plot of the race – just nauesa the entire time. I have run 24 ultras/marathons now and this race was the hardest race on my stomach and head. Regardless, the start came at exactly 6:00am, and we were off!
The first 4-5 miles were all about hiking… up, up, and away to the first aid station up Dry Canyon. I ran as much as I could, but there wasn’t a whole lot of running going on. I was feeling pretty good at this point – the sickness in my stomach subsided and I was taken away by the forests and the occasional views through the trees. Around 7:22, I hit the aid station, feeling pretty good, but admittedly a little tired. The climb to the first aid station was a good one as shown by the elevation profile of the race:
As soon as I hit the aid station, I felt a little low on energy, so it was GU time! I shot a GU and like deja-vu, my stomach hit rock bottom. I came close to throwing it up again and decided to stick around the aid station for another few minutes to walk off the nausea. My ultimate plan was to walk up the first climb to the first aid station and then kick it into gear, running a good amount of the remainder of the race. Keeping that in mind, but with some lingering nausea, I decided to move on, and ran a good portion of the next few miles, passing about 4 runners and feeling pretty good. By the way, the views of the surrounding mountains and the valley down below was beyond description. Just incredible!
In between these next aid stations, I found a little waist belt bottle in the middle of the course filled with gel. I decided to be a good citizen and pick it up and return it to the folks at the next aid station. The jeep roads and trails lead me to the next aid station in good time; still feeling a little sick, but enjoying myself. As I entered the aid station (by the way, the volunteers in the race were awesome!), I flash them the gel bottle that I picked up.
“Oh! The runner in front of you was looking for that! He said he dropped it somewhere on the trail. He is probably about 4 minutes in front of you!”
With a simple mile and a half to the next aid station, I decided to kick it into gear and run a good amount to see if I could catch him. I knew whoever dropped it would probably like their energy before stomping up Logan Peak. I took off at a good pace, and actually caught him relatively quickly, maybe within 10 minutes. Thankful I had picked it up, we chatted a little bit on an uphill section, and then he took off as the trail leveled out as I decided to walk and catch my breath a little.
Hitting the next aid station, I chowed down on some fruit (mainly grapes and watermelon) as my stomach was still not craving any solid food, like cookies, chips, and sandwiches. Because of this, with a big climb to come, I knew I was in trouble. I did have some GUs, some Clif Shot Blox, and some fruit in my pocket to assist me with the out and back section up Logan Peak, but I knew I was in for a good climb. As I left the aid station, I joked with the aid station folks “I’ll see you in 15 minutes!” The climb ahead was a 6 mile out and back, marching up to the radio tower at the peak at 9710 feet elevation.
This section was fun, and also very tough. About 80% of the course from here was covered in several feet of snow leftover from the record-breaking winter Utah enjoyed. The runners in the lead were on their way back down, which was fun watching them play fox and hound, chasing each other down the snow. What a performance! The climb up was a tough one, getting steeper and steeper, but finally, after a good hour and a slow 3 miles, the tower was only several hundred yards away.
I wish I had pictures from this point in the race. You could see forever when you hit the top. Rather than being in an airplane or in a car, I had never been at this high elevation before. I definitely felt dizzy walking up the last 1/4 mile of the peak. The trail was a dirt road underneath the snow, so there was plenty of room to hike up the slope without worrying of falling off the side, but man it was steep on each side! I got up to the top and walked around the tower to take the views in from all directions. Just awesome! The following video isn’t mine, but it’s the view that we all witnessed from the top:
There were 3 reasons why I decided to push on:
- I have never DNFed from a race and wasn’t about ready to start today
- I am considering running a hundred miler by the end of the season, and if I couldn’t push through this, that would have a poor affect on my confidence
- I kept coming back to Karl Meltzer’s AT speed attempt coming up in a few months – if he is able to average 45+ miles a day for 47 days straight, surely I can push through one bad day of 28 miles right? It’s all about the ups and downs in a race of this nature, and I was just in a rut.
I pushed on with very little energy towards the next aid station, which was quoted to be 5.5 to 6 miles away. Man it felt like an eternity! There was a good amount of downhills in this section, and I tried to run as much as I could without collapsing It was starting to warm up, and there was about 3 miles of this section that were completely unshaded. It was a death march to say the least. The trail however, was unbelievably beautiful. The views into the canyons, the views back up towards Logan Peak, the valley down below, I could go on and on. The views helped with the hike towards the next aid station. Just one foot in front of the other right?
Finally after a long 1:35, I hit the next aid station, completely zombified. I was so happy to see people with food, and even more happy to see a chair. I sat down immediately. I know you aren’t supposed to sit down in a chair in an ultra as chairs usually mean the end of the race, but I was in a good position depending on how you look at it as it was impossible to drop of at this point. The aid station folks had hiked to this section and there was no transportation down the mountain without hiking out.
I have volunteered at about 10 aid stations in the past, and I felt bad for the volunteers putting up with me. They were very helpful, retrieving food requests and asking if I needed anything. I felt like I was a crab. I was thinking to myself, “man, talk about a crash and burn victim at mile 24″. Usually when I run into the last aid station, I have the finish line in my sight, thinking about how many people I can pass before I hit the tape. All I was thinking about here was trying not to completely burn out.
Despite the last four miles being downhill, I don’t think I could have made it without taking in any sugar. I was fed shot blocks, some coke, and a full bottle of gatorade, just enough to get me off the mountain. I probably spent 10-15 minutes at that last aid station, “regaining conscientiousness”. Finally, I got off my butt and made a move towards the trail. Thanking the volunteers, I was off towards the finish.
The next section towards the finish was actually great. Like some folks said, it was tough not to run this section as it was just constant downhill. I probably put in 9 minute miles down the canyon, and after a quick stop at a cooler for a drink at the trail head, I hit the finish line in 7h15m and change. I was told I came in 26th place but I was just happy to finish, and for the first time in the race, feeling pretty good.
I learned a lot from the race. I learned what to eat before the race, what not to eat, and never to underestimate a race. Being my first ultra out west, I am not all that disappointed with the finish as I can hopefully take away some aspects of racing out here and apply it to future mountain ultras. I was comparing this race a lot to my last 50K that I had run in January, and was hoping to have results similar to that race and finish in the top 15%. I put together an elevation comparison chart to the two races, and realized maybe comparing these two races was flawed thinking:
Probably not the best way to compare a mountain course to a “hilly course” and it’s probably not fair to compare the two courses, but I thought matching one elevation chart to the next tells a good story. Finally, with the Speedgoat 50K coming up in exactly a month, I know how to train better. I have been training pretty hard in comparison to how I used to back in Atlanta, but if I want to do well, I will really have to put in some quality miles. I am not talking increase the mileage necessarily, but put in a lot of miles with climbs and elevation change and run at higher elevation. Thankfully I have The Canyons in my backyard, which will help me in the next months training.
Because of my nausea yesterday, the Logan Peak Trail Run was more like a hike to me. With that being said, I am still tired, but my legs aren’t sore. Usually after running a hard ultra, I am knocked out for a good 5 days, but I feel good enough to go for a run right now. Maybe I will do just that.
Thanks for reading!
Pictures of the event can be found here thanks to Greg Norrander: http://norrandertrailshots.blogspot.com/
Logan Peak Trail Run results Runners M/F Age Finish Time Overall Place Jonathan Allen M 29 4:51:30 1 (new course record by 1:25) Brain Beckstead M 26 4:53:38 2 leland barker M 50 4:53:52 3 Wade McFarland M 52 4:57:35 4 Jon Wheelwright M 28 5:37:05 5 Drew Michener M 28 5:39:02 6 Sarah Evans F 35 5:42:25 7 (1st female) ryan brueggman M 32 5:47:15 8 Jami Smith F 31 5:49:52 9 (2nd female) Brandon Haddick M 43 5:52:41 10 Jamie Williams F 38 6:04:44 11 (3rd female) Jim Skaggs M 49 6:12:34 12 Jen Clancy F 29 6:15:00 13 (4th female) Davy Crockett M 6:25:57 14 Mark Ellison M 43 6:29:53 15 Aric manning M 36 6:30:10 16 Dave Evans M 31 6:30:14 17 Matt Lloyd M 38 6:33:00 18 Daniel Bray M 49 6:41:19 19 Jared Storrs M 33 6:45:00 20 Jill Bohney F 43 6:48:33 21 (5th female) Terry Williams M 51 6:49:05 22 Cody Blackett M 34 6:49:05 23 Steve Cracroft M 29 6:49:44 24 Bill Emmett M 56 7:07:07 24 Brita moe F 31 7:10:34 26 (6th female) Greg Goodson M 24 7:15:19 27 Larry Mangum M 54 7:29:31 28 Jake Stephens M 26 7:57:06 29 james mcgregor M 65 7:59:03 30 (7th female) Caroline LuckettF 41 8:11:00 31 Tony DeArcos M 55 8:32:00 32 Dave Isom M 43 8:36:55 33 Lisa McMillan F 45 8:38:32 34 (8th female) Celeste Collman F 54 8:43:03 35 (9th female) Marc Collman M 51 8:44:33 36 Bruce Burnham M 9:05:30 37 paul cracroft M 52 4:26:45 1st syncline loop joseph macavintaM 33 7:57:53 2nd syncline loop phillip maestas M 33 7:58:43 3rd syncline loop