Sunday, October 14, 2012

MST - Horse Gap to Bare Creek Rd (sect 16.1 & .2)

Sect. 16 screenshot from Art's Hiking Maps
I just got a new pair of trail shoes from The Clymb and was anxious to try them out on some trails.  I got the Montrail Rockridge and although the Mountain Masochists (not just because I was running that race soon) were my first choice, I was happy to get new shoes for ~$50 including shipping!

Unintentionally I started covering the Mountain to Sea Trail (MST) in this part of the state by going on some longer fun runs in the past year or two.  With a couple long runs I had all 40+ miles of trail covered from Grandfather Mountain (sect 13.3) to Deep Gap (end of sect 14).  And with an 11+ mile birthday run this year I had a good portion of section 17 (Brinegar Cabin to start of 17.1) covered as well.  Suddenly the thought of linking up Stone Mountain to Grandfather Mountain seemed possible and like something I could do without inconveniencing the family too much with long drives or waiting for me to finish a run.  I haven't been on sections 15 (Deep Gap to Horse Gap - 15.8mi) or 16 (Horse Gap to Laurel Springs - 15.2mi) and with the close proximity to my in-laws cabin I set out for one of these portions.  Not being able to coordinate rides and realizing I should be taking it easy to see how my legs had recovered from yesterdays race, I decided an out and back would be the smart move and headed for Horse Gap to check out the first portion of section 16.

I've probably said it somewhere in this blog before but if you plan to spend any time on the MST then you have to check out Art's Hiking Maps.  Although not officially endorsed by the MST (probably something political) these maps are amazing and give great detail and have proved to be a lifesaver more than once (luckily only figuratively).

I found a place to park just across the road from the trailhead (by the Horse Gap sign) and looked for the familiar and (to me) welcoming trail marker with the white dot above a hiker.  This portion started climbing quickly and I smartly proceeded to power hike on instead of running and testing the legs right away.  I really did little research on this portion so I didn't know what to expect.  I have one rule when out on these runs on the MST and its to take my time and enjoy God's creation.  I usually try to bring a camera and if I see a side trail, as long as it looks like it might lead somewhere 'cool', I'll take it.  Around one half mile into the run I saw one of these trails and was gifted with one of the best surprise views I've had on a run like this.  I didn't know it but I had found 'Jumping Off Rock' and its amazing view of the the surrounding mountains to the East.  I'll let pictures (and video if I get it uploaded) show what my words wouldn't be able to justice.

This portion would prove to be the high point literally (nearby trail ~3,200') and figuratively as the rest of the trail didn't have nearly the same views.  The MST loosely followed the BRP (Blue Ridge Parkway) with some portions running on the actual parkway through this section.  Farms, fields and some forested sections dominated this trail and the only other place of note was the Northwest Trading Post about 3 miles in (BRP MP258).  The surfaces ranged from soft dirt trail, gravel road, paved BRP, some technical rocky portions and soft fields/meadows.  I felt pretty good and could have kept going but because of time constraints I pushed it as long as I could and turned back just after Bare Creek Rd a little over 5 miles in.  Because I'm not generally a big fan of running on roads (especially with my new trail shoes) I was happy to find one segment where the trail actually was worn into the field just below the road instead of running along the road (as I did on the way out).  Partly due to trying to get back quicker and partly because I get bored at one speed I decided to pickup the pace a bit on the way back and ran the final mile (minus another stop at Jumping Off Rock) in low 7 minute pace.

My new shoes performed well but I definitely feel like they have a lot more cushioning (and protection?) than I was used to.  I purposefully tried to step on random rocks on the gravel road portions instead of running in the smooth tread patterns and maybe it was the rockplate but I didn't notice the rocks much and certainly didn't feel them poking through.  I don't know what it is but these do feel like they run a little bigger than my usual shoe (Adidas Kanadia TRs) but the fit upon further review the fit seems to be very similar.  There is just something about these shoes that feel kind of like boats in comparison.  I look forward to breaking these shoes in a little and hopefully taking them with me on my journey through the mountains of VA in a few weeks!

On the Parkway somewhere around MP257
Overall this was a great shakeout run and I had some expected soreness but felt good overall.  I'm really excited more than anything that I found a really cool, and easily accessible, spot (Jumping Off Rock) for me to share with the family.  Note... the MST passes through the overlook with a marked trail to Jumping Off Rock coming from the other way so you don't have to park on the side of the road at Horse Gap.  They are both about .5mi in and the hike from the overlook probably has a bit less elevation gain.  Now 'only' about 10 more miles on section 16 and I can cross that one off my list.

Jumping Off Rock panoramic photo

This woolly worm predicts a mild winter?
Start of Section 16 (trail is just across BRP to left of picture)

Mt. Jefferson Challenge 2012

Mt. Jefferson Challenge - 7.2mi - 1500' gain - West Jefferson, NC

My goal race is still MMTR but in the meantime I need to get in miles, more specifically miles with some elevation so a repeat of this race from last year made sense.  The main goal of course being (broken record from other posts)... DO NOT GET INJURED!

I finished third at this race last year so I knew the course and what it could do to (or for) me.  It could potentially hurt me with the 3+ miles of knee jarring, quad busting over-speed on the downhill but it also was a good way to get in some good hill work.  Not to mention it was a great excuse to visit with the in-laws and be in the Blue Ridge Mountains around peak fall leaf season.

Last year when I ran this race I ran with a bit of a cold/sickness (race report) so this year would have to be better even if I was only using it as a training run of sorts and trying to not really race it.  Ashley asked my plans/expectations on our drive up and I told her that I knew I could potentially find myself where I was last year and be in the hunt for a top three spot but that I honestly wouldn't mind if a bunch of speedsters showed up and I found myself sitting around 6th with no real reason to push myself too hard.  I just planned on running to not get hurt and get a good workout in and honestly thought I was going to have a hard time doing that and maintaining my 3rd from last year anyway.  If I could finish 3rd it would be great to win a wreath again this year but I wasn't holding my breath for an outcome like that.

Elevation profile - straight up and straight down
Because of the training run nature I wanted to try and get in some bonus miles and do more of a w/u this year and possibly (timing/body permitting) run back to the top and get a ride back down.  After a 2 mile w/u I was on the line with a handful more runners than last year and I didn't see the top two guys from last year.  There absence didn't mean much since the top two from 2010 weren't there in 2011 yet I still had two fast guys ahead of me last year.  I reminded myself to stick to my plan of running most of the uphill but maybe walk a couple times to keep my pulse from being too crazy and simply cruise on the way back down while maybe maintaining my position yet being fine with letting someone pass if they were flying.  The race started very casually like you would expect a smaller country race and we all headed toward the forested peak looming overhead.  A little over a half mile into the race you start to really climb and I was running not far behind the two leaders with a couple other runners close behind.  I didn't care much as I saw two guys slowly start to pull away and really go at the increasing grade of the road.

Running 3rd & smiling with an 'I'm just happy to be here' attitude ~1mi
Nevertheless, my 'training run' plan slowly inched me toward the lead runners and by the park gate I caught up with and shared some words of encouragement with current number two.  All he could get out was 'its really cold' and I parted ways by apologizing in advance in case my planned Gallowalking had me playing leap frog with this runner the rest of the way up the mountain.  Ashley passes and gives words of encouragement about the time I hit my planned walk (thankfully no race walking photos were taken) and after about 30 seconds I started running again.  The walking ended up being just enough time for the 'cold kid' to catch up as I started running and left him behind again. I kept plugging away at the hill never really red-lining but not slowing too much as well.  Just sticking to plan I tried not to get too excited because you never know what will happen in a race like this and how many might be passing me soon as I wonder if I may have started a little fast.

Running in 2nd/3rd with the leader ahead in white and Ashley (in car) in front of him
Something started to switch in my mind as I went into hunt mode.  I honestly haven't had much competitive desire, nothing like I used to when I was younger at least, so it was intriguing to think about racing this one and giving this 'young buck' a run for his money.  This sounded like a good plan for the race to the top at least, I still had no real desire to race the downhill.

On the 'hunt' around mile 2
Ashley was waiting (with Alekzander in the car) at the first overlook around mile two taking pictures and cheering.  I felt bad doing it but I quickly hushed her with a finger to my lips and pointed to the guy in first in hopes of slowly hunting him down until the second overlook (~.25mi from the top/turn).  Ashley understood but the damage was done and the 'young buck' looked back and soon knew he was being hunted... the chase was on.  I slowly chipped away until I caught up before the second overlook and pulled even with him for a few.  I gave him the same 'Gallowalking warning' as I knew if I wanted to make a good push in the final uphill quarter mile that I would want to bank a little reserves int the gas tank.  I soon pulled ahead and gaped him by a little bit leading into the incline before the second overlook.

As I neared the apex of the climb I thought about a friend named Phyllis who is a beast of a trail runner.  She is doing the West Virginia Trilogy (50k, 50mi & 1/2 marathon 3 days in a row) while I'm here running this little hill.  I prayed for her multiple times on the run and sent her positive thoughts of 'flying on wings like eagles, running and not growing weary, walking and not failing' (from Isaiah 40:31, one of my favorite running verses).  She should be somewhere in the beginning of her 50 miler after running a 50k the day before and probably dealing with just as much elevation but on gnarly trails instead of smooth (albeit steep) roads.  Phyllis goes to our church, and from what I've seen, lives one of the best examples of servant-hood out of anyone I know personally.  Along those lines, she is doing her race(s) to help raise funds for Ethiopa to build a community.  I knew finishing these races would be no easy task and as much as I liked to think it helped her to pray for her during the run I know that it probably helped me put things into perspective to remind me of how Blessed I am and how this race pales in comparison to hers and even more so in the grand scheme of things.

Mind back in the race at hand... with a slight lead on second place.  Here is where I would take my final planned walk break knowing that the turn wasn't far up but the final incline was some of the steepest.  I switched to a walk for about 40 seconds and as soon as I felt him off my shoulder I began to run again and I wasn't hammering it but I definitely put on a little surge for a bit to let him know that I planned to take off.  I ditched the hat & gloves which gave me a mental boost and switching into race mode.  The plan was to hopefully get in front by enough to dash his hopes and leave him not wanting to chase me.  In this ideal world scenario I would be able to cruise the downhill without pounding too hard.  He didn't answer my surge and a quick glance before the final turn into the parking lot turn around revealed a decent lead for such a short distance.

Running in the lead just before the turn with second place in view.

A low five and 'good job' given to current second place...
competitive spirit doesn't have to change one's character right?

I reached the turnaround a bit faster than I thought I would be (30:58) and after veering a bit out of my tangent to low five the second place runner I started cruising the downhill... not flying (yet)... just cruising.  For training runs and most races I hate out and back runs.  I like to see new territory and point to point or even loop races usually provide this but a race like this doesn't have that luxury but I didn't mind all that much.  I liked the out and back nature because as soon as I left the parking lot heading downhill I got to see every runner in the race on their way up.  With the top 5-6 men I started sharing word of encouragement and Blessings with every one and shouted exactly how far they had to the turn to provide the hope that many faces showed they needed.  I was in my element and for some brief moments I honestly forgot my new role... I turned from hunter to the hunted.  I now set myself to have a 'young buck' chasing me down a mountain on legs almost half my age with no worries of bad knees and a fast turnover that I enjoyed in my youth.  A quick glance as I neared the upper overlook reminded me that I was being chased and a look at the watch showed me that he had already closed the gap to around 20 seconds.

I'm the grey figure on the left looking over my shoulder
I laughed because I so carefully hunted him on the way up and now I found myself being the hunted as I cranked it up a notch.  I started timing every sort of straight away I could (not easy on a curvy mountain road) to see if he was gaining.  After the overlook he had closed just a little more but I slowly started to increase the gap to where it stayed constant around 30-40 seconds.  I continued to encourage other runners on their way up but my comments were usually shortened to 'good job' or 'God  Bless' (for the church group wearing the purple shirts) and sometimes even head nods and hand waves (if they were wearing headphones and wouldn't hear me anyway.  Checking the garmin pace I saw it constantly in the mid to low 5 minute mile pace and even saw a number starting with 4 briefly.  I was going so fast that one time a glance over the shoulder found me almost stumbling as I ran off the edge of the road and onto the shoulder before pulling the wheel back onto the pavement.

Happily on the way back down with ~1.5 miles to go
The last time I saw him on a straight section was with just over a 1.5 miles to go and he was still about 45 seconds back so I decided to relax the pace just a little bit thinking I would still have another gear or two if I started seeing him again.  Some quick race math also told me he would have to be running low or sub 5s (after we just ran low 5's most of the way down) if he wanted to close the gap enough to challenge.  I never saw him again and cruised until I was less than 1/4mi out and realized I potentially had a shot at sub 50 minute finish but I couldn't talk myself into really cranking it home.  I finished to a screaming 'Go Daddy' (from an almost 3 year old Alekzander and my wife) in 50:12 as the winner with a downhill split of 19:14.

Coming into the finish of Mt Jefferson 2012 in first place!

I cheered in the next most of the top ten with Ashley and Alekzander and temporarily said good by as they took off to finish breakfast and I took off back up the mountain for more punishment training.  Along the way up I cut through the woods to the cabin to grab something warmer to wear and a snack and head back up the mountain.  I now know that a cold slice of bacon and breakfast sausage do not make a great recovery snack... at least not without water to chase it with.  I didn't make it as far as hoped and since it looked like a ride back down from the top was less than likely I turned around a little over a mile in to head back toward the finish for the award ceremony.  Again, I had fun on the way out and in cheering on the other runners and giving them updates on how little of this self inflicted punishment they had left.

The awards ceremony came and I got nervous as they awarded the ladies first (6 deep) and I didn't hear any mention of the wreaths they gave last year... until the winning female.  When the guys turn came I (very happily) received the same prize and even said a quick plug for West End Wreaths since our family had fun going to the tree farm last year.  Call me silly but I think I was happiest about the win because of the wreath and the fact that if I finished third or even second I wouldn't have won one (a nice Mizuno running hat or visor was given to 2nd-6th).

One of the coolest things was overhearing two women (who were some of the last to come in) talking about the run and how tough & excruciating it was for them.  Amid the lamenting one of them suddenly got a real big smile on her face... pointed straight up to the forested summit and said... 'We just ran up that'.  Seeing the mountain before them surely put everything into perspective.  With smiles on their faces their outlook was changed as they now seemed empowered and capable of many other things once thought impossible (or at least unlikely) for them.  I was able to relive my experience thinking the exact same thing last year... for anyone who has finished this race (or many others like it) you can not run another step in your life yet drive by 50 years from now and point to the sky and say... I ran up that.  That's better than any finishers medal or award that I know of and surely will last longer.

Some of the top six males & females (me in orange of course)

Some stats from the race:
-Paces by race distance (7.2 miles) :           Overall - 6:58/mi, Up - 8:37/mi, Down - 5:21/mi
-Paces by 'corrected distance'* (6.6 miles):   Overall - 7:36/mi, Up - 9:23/mi, Down - 5:49/mi
*The website lists distance as 7.2 miles (3.6 up & back) but my garmin (and others) as well as mapmyrun seem to have it closer to 6.6 miles.
-Improvements over last year: Overall - 3:18 faster, Up - 2:29 faster, Down - 0:49 faster
-Temps ~40 were cold but wore gloves and stocking cap and kept sufficiently warm (ditching them near the top).
-Hydration/Nutrition: Carried amphipod filled with Vitargo S2 Grape and drank ~1/2 before tossing it near the top.  Worked on a chia gel (didn't think I needed it) before the top.
-Shoes: Brooks Green Silence (same as last year and the same shoe I've worn for all road running for the last few years).

**All race photos courtesy of MOJE facebook page

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2012 UROC - DNF

Ultra Race of Champions 100k (50k & 1/2 as well) - 9.29.12 - Wintergreen Resort, VA

This 'race' essentially went just as planned:  have fun, get in a long fully supported training run (25-30mi), watch some elite level ultra racing in action, help out friends at iRunFar (if possible) and most importantly... do all of that injury free.  In short... MISSION ACCOMPLISHED (and then some)!
Friday's Elite Advisory Panel - Fun times again this year

The calm before the storm... <10 mins until the elite start @ 7a

Elite's are off...

...15 minutes later the rest of the 100k field was given the call to the trails/roads!  I put myself near the back of the start in an attempt to not get sucked into the leaders of the chase pack and within the first 1/2 mile I was able to follow my plan as I walked some of the first hill.  The plans going forward were to walk lots of the hills, take my time, and enjoy the scenery (took lots of terrible pictures from my phone), work on hydration/nutrition plan, drop around the AS (aid station) after mile 25 or mile 29... and again NOT GET HURT!  Obligatory ultra blog post warning... This is rather long, read at your own risk or not.  I write these primarily for me to look back on so there is usually more info than others might care for.

This course got to business right away with some loooong steep downhill that you run as an out and back meaning you have to run back up it (and then some).  Traveling up, you drive along the Wintergreen Resort roads going up and up higher then down the roads leaving the resort then up the road toward the BRP (Blue Ridge Parkway) and Reed's Gap about 15 miles in.  Anytime I said UP or DOWN you can assume the ascent/descent were pretty stout!

UROC 100k Elevation Profile (first 29mi w/ 6,000'+ gain)

Somewhere around mile 8 I found myself running alongside one of the top females in the non-elite field and once I realized we were on a similar pace and pattern I decided to strike up a conversation.  After a few attempts to try and learn how to say it properly, I learned her name was Ayano.  One of the things I love in an ultra is chatting with people and learning about them as you share the miles.  Some people you might only share enough trail with to get in a quick 'good job,' but you never know when you might end up spending hours with a person running along (even if unintentionally).  Ayano is from Japan but has lived here in the states for ~12 years and her husband ran last year and he will be running MMTR (Mountain Masochist) just like me.  Her English wasn't the best (but of course better than my non-existent Japanese) so it almost became a game for us to try and communicate back and forth (usually with hand gestures and long explanations).  I was happy to help when I gapped her a little bit early on before an aid station with just enough space to alert her family that she was coming by pointing backwards and saying 'Oh I Know' (I didn't know if this was entirely correct pronunciation but they got the message).  Husband, kids, and grandparents began to pile out their mini van engulfed in window painted Japanese symbols that I can only imagine said things similar to the 'Great Job Mom!' and the likes that you would see on her English speaking counterparts family vehicles.  We ended up sharing most of the miles between mile 8 to mile 15 when the course took a turn from the BRP to some sweet (and very much missed) single track (White Rock Creek Trails) and I took off like a kid that just arrived at an amusement park.

White Rock Falls (picture doesn't do it justice)

I had a lot of fun on this portion since I had just spent a lot more time on the roads than I normally would care to.  It was great just being on the trail, and I was trying hard to pretend like I didn't know that there was some serious climbing coming up just past the White Rock Falls.  Not long after the falls, part way up the climb (~20 miles), was the first sign of any sort of trouble for me.  My quads had started to cramp and I was feeling pretty gassed but not a huge deal at this point.  I honestly hadn't been keeping up with my nutrition as best as I should (hoping to get in a gel every 30-45 minutes but being closer to 45-60), but that wasn't as bad as the fact that I evidently hadn't gotten enough salts in and had done without any S-caps or salt pills.  For hydration I was experimenting by going almost solely on Gu Brew in my Nathan handheld.  I was wearing a hydration pack but really was barely sipping from it from time to time and more using it to rinse the gel off my hands to keep from sticking to my gear.

Overlook view above White Rock Falls

The wheels started falling off after crossing BRP near Slack's Overlook (mile 22).  I took 3 S-Caps but it was probably too little too late as I was cramping pretty bad.  I didn't think it was anything that would lead to injury but since I had to keep one of my top goals (NOT GET INJURED) in sight, I really took it easy on the climb through this portion. 

Technical trail leading up before Bald AS

Looking back down the 'trail' before getting 
to the smooth road leading to Bald Mt AS

I did a lot of massaging my quads and found myself squeezing my hands tightly on my quads on each steep step to try and help.  It seemed like it might have helped, and I got excited as the rocky/technical ascent leveled off onto a relatively smooth dirt road that marked about one mile of downhill to the 25mi AS at Bald Mountain.  The excitement and anticipation of actually running some decent speed ended abruptly as intense cramps soon took control over both of my quads and right calf instantaneously.  My legs went stick straight and I fell sideways off the trail in slow motion onto a fortuitous soft patch of moss/leaves.  I laid there for a second in a great bit of pain and soon started laughing out loud.  I laughed so hard I had tears running down my cheeks that I'm almost certain were just from the laughing.  I laughed because after slugging it out for the last 3mi climb, I was so looking forward to this runnable portion and here I lay, I laughed because I'm laying on the trail around mile 24 where I wouldn't even be to the halfway mark in the race I'm training for, I laughed because of the entire situation and the thought of just laying there by the side of the trail not entirely sure that I could get my legs un-cramped and even if I did, I was unsure how far down the trail I could get before moving them again.  I massaged and even started punching my quads to try and bring back life (which of course led me to laughing at myself even more).  Luckily nobody was around to hear or see me because I probably looked like a lunatic.  After what felt like an eternity (but my watch tells me was ~3-4 minutes) I was back on my feet and painfully moving again.

Bald Mountain AS (25.3 miles) eventually came into view from the trail.  I could drop here and be perfectly content with my training run if I wanted.  I had loaned my car to Bryon & Meghan of iRunFar and one of them would be meeting me to pick me up when the leaders came back through on the out and back course.  We had planned that they could grab me anywhere between this AS to the next one (Spy Run Gap ~29 miles).  This AS was manned and had a nice spread of food with friendly folks to talk with and Spy Run was simply a water jug with nobody manning the station.  After a quick self assessment (cramps had eased some and legs could bend) and an update on where the elite leaders were, I decided to press on for a bit more.  I started eating anything with salt... potato chips, pretzels and even sprinkled salt from a shaker into my mouth.  A small pack of runners came into the AS (including Ayano) and we all headed out together.

The final 4 miles (for me) were filled with minor cramps but were enjoyable as I had a group of new running friends to chat with and I was glad to see Ayano still running well (she ended up finishing top female from the non-elite group).  It also probably helped to know that I would be quitting soon.  I shared this with our small group to save confusion for when I pulled up and stopped and tried to lend as much encouragement as I could (as I did with every runner I shared paces with).  I got to talk Czech (literally & figuratively) with a runner living here in the states from a small town outside of Prague.  If anyone knows me, I love to talk about all things Czech and Eastern European so it was fun to talk foods, phrases, and about some small towns Ashley and I had visited in the Czech Republic.  Whatever passes the time/miles while running always helps.

iRan(kinda)Far as I encountered my iRunFar savior driving my car... I was finished!  No injuries... sore/cramping legs but no injuries!  Mission 'Get in a fully supported long run without any injuries' Accomplished!  I had fun hanging out as the top elites started to pass by on their return trip and getting caught up on what had happened in the race so far.  Being behind the scenes watching iRunFar cover a race is exciting and boring all at the same time.  Those that follow the online coverage probably have no idea what Bryon and Meghan go through to try and get as much info out to their readers as possible.  I think I was still a little hyper (pulse going from the run) so for me it was hard to sit around waiting for runners to pass when all you want to do is drive along the course and see as many of the runners as possible (I'm sure I probably was annoying since I was still going 1000 miles a minute in my head).  This is the nature of their coverage though.  They have to drive along the course to find the best areas with signal to send out tweets/updates/pics then camp there to get as much info as possible to the web.  For those that have followed coverage and complained that there 'wasn't enough coverage of the women' or things like that... they have no clue what it would be like to cover things like this where the 2nd and 3rd place women are spread out over 1/2 to 1 hour apart and the top men are hours up on that.... they do the best they can to bring as much coverage as possible.  If you haven't followed iRunFar for ultras and trail running in general, then you definitely should.  They give selflessly to this sport and I don't know that anyone could come close to doing what they do (nor would anyone want to).

iRunFar Crew for UROC (Bryon, AJWs son Carson, Me, Meghan)
Image courtesy of iRunFar

The race ended, Max King (men's winner) and Ellie Greenwood (women's winner) absolutely flew (as did many other top elites).  I was lucky enough to be sitting near the finish line hanging out and chatting as I looked around to find myself surrounded by ultra royalty (Bryon Powell-iRunFar, Dave Mackey, Nick Clark, AJW, & UROC Champion Max King).  It was great to be a fly on the wall but also participate in the discussion from time to time.  The awards ceremony came and went and a huge group of us all went to dinner at the Devil's Backbone Brewing Co.  We couldn't talk Max or Ellie into bringing in their 'Happy Gilmore checks,' but a fun time was had where I again found myself in a game of 'one of these things is not like the other' surrounded by top names of the sport.  Topics of discussion ranged from the course today, continued talk of when Max will run a 100 miler (he toed the line at WS100 once but didn't finish), all of the top ultra runners showing up (flash mob style) to a race in costume and who would dress as what, etc.  Among the group was Max, Ellie, Jorge Maravilla, Nick Clark, Scott Jaime, Ian Sharman, Dave James, Bryon & Meghan, AJW & his family, Sage Canaday, Dave Mackey, and I'm sure I'm probably forgetting someone, but we had a large group.

Best Finish Photos Ever... Ellie Greenwood

...or Jorge Maravilla?
Finish photos courtesy of iRunFar

I planned to drive back that night, but it was getting late and since I had to drive Ellie, Dave & Nick back to the resort after dinner, Dave & Nick let me crash @ their condo.  This was much appreciated because I know I would have had a hard time staying awake for the 5hr drive home to Charlotte.  I woke up in the morning and turned down an easy run with AJW & Bryon to hit the road so I could get home a little earlier to see the family.  That was my reasoning on the outside... internally I think I knew my legs didn't want to have anything to do with running for at least a day or so.  I had a great trip filled with good miles and good times.  I'm sad that UROC is leaving us (the East Coast) next year but excited to see how it can grow with the planned route traveling from Breckenridge to Vail.