Saturday, March 28, 2009

Buffalo Run 50 Miler, Salt Lake City UT

Having business in Salt Lake City on Friday, on Saturday I did the Buffalo Run on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake in Utah. This great race was started three years by my friend Jim Skaggs. I did the first one that year and fell in love with the race and its venue on Antelope Island amidst the dramatic Wahsatch range. I'm not alone in liking and recommending the race. After under 150 people participated the first year, the race has grown to over 460 participants. Nikki Kimball (probably America's fastest woman ultrarunner at least at shorter distances) showed up for the 50K.

This year I thought that I would just do the 50K, given that American River was the next week. But the race venue is so great that I woke up in the middle of the night and decided to step up and do the whole 50 mile, but just take it easy. I would have been happy with any time under 9 hours, after winning masters in 8:38 last year. We got to the start just at 6am and saw over a hundred people gathered at the starting line - a big increas from previous years. Shortly afterwards Jim sent us out. I was carrying a flashlight but it really wasn't quite necessary with all the other runners. I once again (incredibly) missed that first turnoff as did several other runners and had to double back (not very far this year). We were then on flat singletrack heading south towards Elephant Head. We eventually made the climb towards Lone Tree (with no aid station set up there this year). I fell in with Cory Johnson and got to hear about his many successful 100 milers including five successful completions of the Hard Rock 100.

On the out and back to the edge of Elephant Head I stopped to take some pictures of buffalos. I continued running out to the edge to pick up a kids sticker to prove my presence: "Super!". We bombed back down the fire road and eventually picked up some single track that climbed up the islands central ridge. It then descends back to close to the starting area at mile 19. Then there's quite a grind up a hill up to mile 20 and the main eastside road. This year this was an aid station, and to my surprise Judith was there waiting in her beloved Red Hummer with a welcoming kiss. This was a great surprise and boosted my spirits immensely. She told me I was 18th at the time, but I wasn't really keeping track.

I continued on without getting any aid and hit the single track near the east shore of the island. We turned north to head up to mile 21's turnaround, where there was no aid this year. There was also no course marshall. How do they make sure people do it? Utah people don't cheat I guess? (they all seem quite nice)

Then there's all mostly flat, slightly rolling single track down that east shore down to mile 33 and the turnaround. I hit the halfway point at four hours. Hmm... too fast, given that the race finishes with technical hilly terrain? I don't know - it felt like I was running easily, efficient and strong. During this stretch I passed several runners and even more on the way back up to turnoff back to the start at mile 44. Judith was there again with good cheer and encouragement. The guy in front of me that I had been chasing down took a chair there and I think dropped. I reached it at 7:13, possibly within reach of 8 hours if I really wanted to crank it the last six miles. But my goal for the day was just to run easy and finish strong.

I ran back down the fireroad along the fence feeling good and took a right onto the exposed single track which led out to a short stretch of road. Then another right onto the nicest most scenic singletrack of the day. Near mile 46 it lets out onto another aid station and the entrance to the rocky, rolling, technical single track that encircles the northwest peninsula of the island. Last year I felt bad here but felt great this year the whole time. Around mile 47 I had to do a small bushwhack to avoid a buffalo blocking the trail and munching on a bush. I knocked up out some consistent 9 minute miles and finished in 8:07, good for first master again and tenth overall.

After saying hi to Jim we headed back across the causeway to Layton, looking forward to a day of boarding at Snowbasin on Sunday.