Tuesday, 09 November 2010

Lithia Loop Trail Marathon Race Report

Lithia Loop Trail Marathon Race Report

Before heading to Ashland, Oregon for The Lithia Loop Trail Marathon this past weekend I declared to friends and family that this would indeed and definitely be my last race of the long 2010 season.  This was my first trip to Ashland despite having registered for the 2009 race, and the inaugural Pine to Palm 100 this year that took place in the same general area.  Finally, I was making the hajj to one of the ultra running meccas in the west!

I scooped up William Emerson and jumped on I-5 south on Friday afternoon and the weather was looking tame for the race weekend....(thankfully we didn't get the same weather as Pine to Palm!).  About 4.5 hours and numerous ultra stories later we sailed into Ashland, Oregon and The Rogue Valley Runners Club Store.

(Owner/ultra runner Hal Koerner owns and operates this really sweet store)

Erik Skaggs checked us in, gave us our race packet, and we wandered around the store "geekin' out" and gawking at all the gear.  We met a bunch of runners and recognized some familiar faces as well before heading down to the Co-op for our pre-race feed.  Timothy Olson (who has exploded on to the scene) and his wife Christa graciously opened their beautiful home to William and I, and it was very enjoyable getting to know them better.  Thanks!

OK...race morning... we drove over to the beautiful park and on our way there... right in the middle of a neighborhood (B street I believe) we see an 8-point buck just chillin' and eating someone's lawn!  We took a quick look, parked, and warmed up a little before checking in at the Pioneer Hall.  I bumped into Jeff Browning just before "go time" and noticed that there were some really fit looking runners assembling.  Finally Hal got us together, gave us his spiel, and sent us off for the USATF Trail Marathon Championships.

I ran with Max King for the first 30 seconds and then he pulled away.  Then about five other guys tried going with him.  I knew that I had no business even attempting that and played it conservatively on our initial climb.  The first 8 miles didn't really give us much of a reprieve in terms of steepness.  There were parts that were less steep but when you're racing hard it doesn't take much to get the heart rate up there.  I was doing some of my usual huffin' and gruntin' like a locomotive steam train up the mountain as a bunch of runners moved ahead of me and out of sight.  Mile 8 Skaggs filled my water bottle and sent me on my way and I knew that it was time to start hammering as the big climb was behind us.  It was pretty helpful because this was a rare trail run in that mile markers were set up at almost every mile.

I hit 10 miles in 1:18:40 probably in about 14th place overall. It was now time to start trying to pick some people off.  As I picked up the pace on the rolling downhills I started seeing people off in the distance.  First I passed Paul and then eventually Dave Dunham.  Then I came across Tim and then Greg McMillan who was having some hip issues.  As you can see in the mile splits below I was really opening up my stride and going for broke especially since it was my last race of the season.

Mile 11:  6:11                             Mile 17:  6:55                   
Mile 12:  6:36                             Mile 18:  6:05
Mile 13:  5:54                             Mile 19:  6:01  
Mile 14:  5:59                             Mile 20:  6:08
Mile 15:  5:50                             Mile 21:  5:30
Mile 16:  6:05                             Mile 22:  5:58

The last four miles I didn't get any mile splits as I was trying to focus on the technical steep downhills which turned out to be really difficult but also pretty fun!  Once I hit that section I knew that my goal time of 2:55 was ruined but I still wanted to sneak under 3 hours.

I finally hit the road and tried to push as much as possible thinking that I may be able to pick somebody else off.  No dice!  There were some really fast guys at this race and I came into the finish line area to see the clock.................... 2:58:42

I didn't really need to ask who won and congratulated Max and met some of the other runners at the finish.  It was a really great vibe down there.  I wore the new Inov-8 F-Lite 195's and boy were they light and fast.  I really like this shoe as it hugs the ground more and is a little lighter than it's predecessor 230.  Plus I like the stealth looking jet black color!

(Dave Dunham and I...this guy has run a sub 7-hour White River in the past! photo: Richard Bolt)

(Timothy Olson, me, Neil Olsen, Dave Dunham...photo: Richard Bolt)

We all hung out had some of the post race food and had a great time just lounging around talking about the race and season.  Many of us speculated about possible race plans for the upcoming new year while staying warm in Pioneer Hall.  Hal Koerner and Richard Bolt facilitated the awards ceremony and thanked us all for coming.  Thank You Hal and volunteers....You guys did an outstanding job and made the event very enjoyable.  Ashland is a super cool town and I really love the trail running scene....although I must say....I'm happy to be taking an extended break from running to rest and repair a tired body and mind! :-)

(Proud of my 8th place USATF medal!  Photo: Shahid Ali)

Official Results can be found by clicking HERE


From the time I could stand upright I was chasing soccer balls around with older children at the fields where my father...

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