First off I want to send a BIG THANK YOU to RD Scott Shine, the San Juan Mtn Runners, Black Canyon Nat'l Park, and the Montrose Community Foundation for their collaboration in putting together a fun and family oriented event in the BEAUTIFUL Black Canyon of the Gunnison! It is a rare gift to be able to put on a race in a Nat'l Park and I'm grateful for the partnership that has been established over the past 3 decades to make this race come to life.
2010 marked the 35th running of this classic 6 mile road race which boasts over 2000 ft of climbing as you ascend to the canyon's rim after starting at the Hwy 50 and Hwy 347 Junction. It was a fun ride as I carpooled with Liz and Scott Drum down to the race. After checking in we headed out for an easy 20 min warmup jog and saw "someone" warming up quite fast as we were returning to the starting area. Once we got closer we knew it had to be Timmy Parr. He had the bounce in his step as we extended our warm up and cajoled with each other for a few more minutes. Tim's past two races have not been run in Timmyesque style and I predicted he was due for a win and possible CR. Today was his redemption race!
At 8AM the "gun" went off. Tim looked forward and floated through the course with ease. A local Montrose runner tried to hang with him...briefly, followed by Masters legend Bernie Boettcher, US Mtn Running Team Member Brandy Erholtz, myself and Scott. It was amusing to find the pace I needed to run hard yet not blow up on a short uphill race. I settled in behind Brandy figuring she was running a good pace to gauge myself on. Initially my strategy was to break the race in thirds; with each third being slightly faster than the previous. Needless to say I chucked the strategy out the window and simply ran by intuitive feel. Coming into the race I figured I would run around 45 min or so- 7:30 pace going uphill.
At mile 4 AS I began to feel the strength from my training of running Signal Peak most M-F mornings which gives me about 1500 ft of vertical to the summit from my front door. At this point I passed Brandy and tried to calculate if I could reel in the local Montrose runner sitting in 3rd who began to sense my presence and began looking over his shoulder every few minutes. I also instinctively knew that Scott had also past Brandy and was not far behind me...the last 2 were going to be a shoot-out!
I picked it up and slowly gained on 3rd. However, it was not enough as he had enough in the tank to also have a strong finish. With 1/4 mile to go I looked back to check the status on Scott who was about 10 seconds back. Nothing to do but put the head down and charge to the finish! It's always fun to sprint into the finish no matter what the distance- that line always brings a smile to my face. Here's the "rough" results:
1. Timmy Parr- 41:10? About one minute behind Simon Gutierrez CR of 40:09
2. Bernie Boettcher- 43:30 ish...another SOLID peformance by the most consistent masters runner in the State of CO week in week out for races marathon and under.
3. Local Montrose runner- 45:0x. What I love about CO races is that there are so many great athletes that can show up under the radar and just crush it!
4. RWB- 45:40...right in line with my prediction...next time I race here I gotta go sub 45!
5. Dr. Drum- 45:50 ish...in August he turns 40...look out for him to claim many a Masters win!
6. Brandy Erholtz- 46?
Gunnison runners claim spots 1, 4, and 5! I'm truly thankful to run with Scott, Tim, and Duncan on a regular basis. Our training together motivates each of us to do more than we could alone. I could not have asked for better training partners and more importantly friends when Megan and I made the move in mid January. Here's to Gunnison Endurance!
After the race Scott, Timmy, and I ran a few cool down miles on one of the rim trails that had truly inspiring views of the canyon! Simply dramatic! The post race was first class with delicious breakfast burritos and healthy refueling options graciously provided by Natural Grocers. It is always a treat to run races that partner with sustainable causes and healthy living companies and practices. A mini theme of the day was my prediction accuracy...
1. Tim Parr would win and come close to the CR- yes!
2. RWB would run around :45 min- yes!
3. Scott Drum would win a pair of shoes at the raffle- heck yes!
As I forgot the camera once again I leave you with a parting shot of the "functional award" that was taken upon returning to la casa de burch...BTW functional awards are so much more appreciated by me than the ones that collect the dust...
I forgot to mention...next Sat. will be epic at Jemez! I'm really want Karl and Sr. Clark to be at full health for this one. It's going to be a burner with Dakota, Nick Lewis, and a number of dark horses to spice up the mix! I cannot wait, 50 miles of adventurous terrain with lots of climbing and FUN technical downhill sections! Besides, my back is up against the wall. I need the A game to continue the race series with Sr. Clark! If I beat him the drama will ascend at Pikes. If I go down 0-3 I'll be treating him and the fam to dinner in Los Alamos most likely....:) Until then I'll be watching Rocky movies and jammin out to Eye of the Tiger!