Peterson Ridge Rumble is currently the only race I have been to on three separate occasions since moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2009. I guess that says something about the event put on by Sean Meissner and his crew! All three times the weather has been phenomenal and I have had pretty good success in running the soft trails in and around Sisters, Oregon.
This year I made a last minute plan to run the 20-miler; but 2012 was more about supporting a few runners that I've been coaching that are getting into prime shape. Kevin Smith was running his first ever ultra and has transformed into a running machine, Stephen Petretto also running the 40-miler has been extremely consistent and was coming off a solid Gorge Waterfalls 50k. Rebecca Williams and Arron Deiter, both coming off strong races at Hagg Lake, were toeing the line w/ me in the 20-miler as they're both building for marathons coming up soon.
(The Three Sisters--Photo: Ellie Baumgartner)
I saw many friends before the race including Tonya Olson who offered an idea for me to run w/ her awesome dog Journey...a rescued German Shepherd. This threw a new "twist" in to the run for me and I was excited to share the news to everyone especially defending dog champion Roxy and her owner Gary Robbins. I could see the terror in Roxy's eyes when she found out that Journey would be running w/ me....even though she is 6 lbs. lighter than last year and appeared to be in stellar racing shape. Her master Gary has been in equally impressive shape coming of his broken foot and the stage was set for a showdown in Sisters!
(Journey and me giving Gary and Roxy the staredown---- gettin' ready to rumble!--- Photo: Cheryl Willson)
The dogs were so anxious and finally Sean gave us the countdown and we were off! I had Journey on her leash and it was a lot of energy set free in the first few hundred feet. I noticed Gary and Roxy darted off out front with a couple other non-dog-runners. Then all of the sudden Journey decides to run back to the start line and make a complete 180 degree turn into a sea of runners! All 144 lbs of me gets yanked back into oncoming traffic and I knock into some runners, some hurdling the dog, a few dogs snarling and barking at Journey intensely! It was chaos!!!!!
Then Journey backed her way and pulled her way out of the leash and scurried back towards the parking lot. I ran after her frantically yelling her name but quickly remembered orders from her mom. Apparently she is trained to run back to the car and that is exactly what she did. I stashed the leash in the bushes and then started running (with traffic this time!). Trying to fight my way around people was a lot of work zig zagging all over, but once we hit the road I was able to reel in the leaders. It took me a couple miles of surging but eventually found myself with Gary, Roxy, and Pete Christoff (a fast roadie from Bend).
This group would run together for pretty much the rest of the race and were joined by some "pointer" dog that insisted at running right into our legs. I even tripped one time because of the dog and cut my hand, and Gary went down as well. Around mile 10 I was able to put about 10-20 seconds on Gary and Pete and led the race despite feeling major fatigue only halfway done.
I was definitely still feeling the Wildwood 60-miler on my legs and joints from the prior Sunday but continued to motor on as we enjoyed beautiful views of surrounding snow capped mountains. At one point I tripped again hard and as I was lying on the ground grimacing with dirt in my mouth Pete took over the lead. I picked myself up and dug really deep and caught up to him.
(Around mile 13 leading the pack feeling the burn!--- Photo: Cheryl Willson)
It was really cool seeing Stephen out there (sporting his Animal Athletics shirt) at an aid station and we offered each other some words of encouragement...He had been running an hour longer than us but was looking fresh and focused. I wondered how Kevin was faring in his first ultra and started thinking about that first time I wandered into uncharted territory. It helped to take the focus off of my own self-inflicted pain.
Before I knew it I was at mile 18 and I gave a quick glance back on the road section to see Pete only about 45 seconds or so back. I knew if I made one faulty move he would scoop me up much like Dan Olmstead did in the 40-miler in 2011. I pushed onward and by the time I hit the track I had nothing left but an 8-minute pace jog and envisioned coming around that track at Western States 100 in a couple short months. As I turned the last corner on the track I see Gary and Roxy enter the track with Pete right behind him. The top three on the track at the same time!
I was able to get the win in 2 hours 15 minutes with Gary in second place and Pete just behind him. Roxy defended her title and was looking really good out there. Apparently Journey got cold feet and found her mom shortly after the start. I waited around a bit and was so excited to see Rebecca come in to the finish, and then Arron who finished about 30-minutes faster than we anticipated--- truly a breakthrough run.
We thoroughly enjoyed the warmth and sunshine out there and then it wasn't long before the King (Max King) came in for the 40-mile win in amazing time and fashion jumping the highest hurdle (after re-adjusting it and raising it himself!). Next it was Stephen who also smashed his expectations regarding time and Willie overcame a recent injury to finish just after Stephen. Then it was Kevin and I hoped he wasn't experiencing too many difficulties out there. Before long I see his bright green shirt round the corner into the track area and he was so pumped! He clapped his hands together and it gave me chills to see him so happy! His first ultra was magical and it was an amazing experience all the way around and it was so nice to see his family and friends there supporting him.
Rumble is such a great vibe out there and it was so nice to see so many friends. Thank you Sean Meissner and to all the volunteers out there...The race is definitely an Oregon classic and I have say that it feels good to keep the streak going and to have Rumbled once again!
(20 mile winner, 40-mile winner, doggie winner- Photo: Gary Robbins)