Salomon 5 Peaks Rattlesnake Point
This race was a last-minute decision after learning I'd been picked for the 2012 Salomon Flight Crew. We are encouraged to help out at some events so I asked if I could work at the Salomon demo tent today. Yes, I sure could - and I could get an entry into the sold-out race too. It seemed like a good opportunity to acquire another excuse for why tomorrow's Rotary 10K will be a lot slower than last year's!
It's probably because I don't do it in real life but I love talking about trail footwear with the 5 Peaks crowd - a mix of experienced trail racers and excited first-timers in white road shoes. Racers who stop by the booth can try on the different shoe models and even race in them if they want. (A surprising number of people do that!) Naturally, I couldn't resist trying on all the shoes too. Note to self: Get the new Fellcross shoes in men's size 7.5.
Another Salomon-related note... If you want to meet new people, just put on a Skin Pack and stand around a race start line. Every time I wear my pack in public, strangers come up to ask about it. Instead of advertising, Salomon should just get a bunch of us to put them on and mingle at cocktail parties!
Oh, and then there was the race. Alas, I can now join the ranks of experienced navigators who have taken a wrong turn on a marked course. Super even tried to warn me about course markings as he came back toward me in a 2-way section. It was around the 5K mark where the trail turns into a "gnarly limestone jungle", to quote Pat-hetic's lyrical prose. I was watching my footing and following a crowd of people in front of me. None of us saw a left turn so a train of racers ended up going the wrong way around a 1.7 km loop. There were people coming toward us but there were just as many of us going the other way, and I hadn't studied the map closely enough to know which parts of the race course were 2-way.
When we finally got to the far end of the loop, there was a "turn right" sign pointed in the other direction so I realized our error. I knew the only way to ensure that we did the full race distance was to continue around the loop the wrong way so I kept going. When I looked back, people were milling around the junction. It didn't seem that they came after me, and if they went back the way we came, it would have saved them some time.
After that, I didn't know if I was still racing or if I was going to DQ myself, so my mental focus was off. It was a super fun race course though - a nice mix of double track with a few rocks and roots, rocky single track, several decent hills and a few kms of leap-from-rock-to-rock trail. It would have been a tough first trail race for a road runner.
For the final 200 m, we ran a big loop around a grassy area - like a track with spectators. Super was on the phone when he saw me emerge from the woods, and thankfully he hung up and paced me to the finish. It was an eye opener because I had no problem speeding up to keep up with him at an average 4:30/km, which normally I believe I can't do. It showed me what a lazy racer I am!
As soon as I crossed the line, I checked my friends' Garmins and saw that I'd measured a little more distance than they had. A debrief with Super confirmed that I'd done one of the loops backwards. Maybe a volunteer placed at that junction would help, as I hear this has happened in other years. Another racer who made the same error spoke to race officials and they said not to worry about it. No one in my age group was close behind me (although a couple were ahead) so I decided to let it go.
The best thing about the day was that Solo and FunRun had the great idea of putting together Team Attackpoint AR, consisting of adventure racers and orienteers including Gally, Hansel, Double_Down, Pat-hetic, Super, Funderstorm, Aggosst, Solo, FunRun and me. We raced as individuals, then the top 6 team members based on category points counted toward our total. Also, Solo and Aggosst contributed three volunteer shifts for additional points. The extra social/competitive element was fun and gave us an excuse to hang around longer and chat. We placed 2nd to some running club with matching shirts. We could have made sure our shirts matched. Grrr. ;)
Hansel (who introduced us to his sweet dog Bunk) was our team's top runner in the race overall but Double_Down won the Clydesdale category and brought us the most points. Pathetic won the Most Photogenic Award.