My fifth time running the CDR. Why? Like many things, I don’t know. A big reason was I had three runners that I had coached in the race. I knew they were all well prepared and I wanted to be there on their day. With so much time invested personally in them and in training, I was focusing on the details. Much of ultra running is minimizing the variables and there are so many fewer now.
For the Death Race, I break the golden rule – I fast pace the start. This is not a good idea but at the CDR, you are intermixed with relay runners and with only a few kilometers to hit the single track trail you want to be ahead of them so not to bottleneck. As always, my ridiculous head was thinking get ahead – beat the other guy. About 9 km into leg 1, I settled in. Calum Neff and I ran together in the lead. About 15 km into Leg 1, Aaron Heidt caught us. Aaron is such a good guy – we chatted for a while about all things ultra. It was great to chat with a fellow who has so similar thoughts on the sport.
I basically skipped the 19 km leg 1 transition. Rhonda took my tossed bottles and handed my my pack. I didn’t break stride. This put me in the lead by a few minutes. Aaron caught me again about 10 km into leg 2. We ran and chatted. I admired his easy uphill running style as I switched to a power hike. As we transitioned into the alpine, I wished him luck. I knew I wouldn’t likely see him again. I wanted him to win and break the course record.
Eventually, Calum caught me and we leapfrogged a bit on the downhill into the end of leg 2. I transitioned very fast again and encouraged him out of the aid station. I had made the switch. I wanted him to beat me. This is what I love about ultra running. The race was my race to run.To run the best that I could run. It didn’t matter if that meant 1st of 100th and I truly did not care about placement. Only effort. When I feel this way, I want the other runners to beat me. To run as best as they can. It’s easy to get caught up in how well you place but the great thing about the ultra is it always ends up being about how well you do. I willed Calum ahead. Soon enough he caught me anyway due to some severe cramping. This gave us the opportunity to chat bit.
I moved ahead near the end of leg 3 only to here Joe Huising give me a ‘Hey Jeff’ from behind. We ran together for a while and chatted catching up on things since last year at Sinister 7. Joe pulled ahead. He’s fast on the flat that Joe. I made up some ground across the bridge and we were back together at the highway crossing and ran into the transition to Leg 4 together. I transitioned very fast and doubled poled up Hamel. I ran hard and near the summit there is an out and back. He was about 8 minutes behind me. I hoped he would catch me. Calum wasn’t far behind either.
I downhilled off Hamel pretty fast and finishing Ambler Loop, Calum was just starting – about 25 minutes back. Joe was about 5 minutes behind. Run faster Joe, I thought. You can catch me!
A fast transition through the fourth aid led me to winding single track. I cooled my hands on the wet brush and soon I exchanged my coin for a ride across the river. For the first time in five years at the Death Race, I entered the town of Grande Cache and crossed the finish line in the light of day.
I made 2nd place of 371 soloists in a time of 13:25:25. Out of the 242 relay teams, only six were ahead of me. Two of which were less than a minute. Aaron Heidt ran first for 12:31:44. An incredible time.
It worked out. It was a good day. Things came together.
The best part was yet to come. I waited for ‘my’ runners to cross the line. And I didn’t wait long. Reid Roberts crossed in 8th place with a 15:03:21. Reid ran an incredible pace, especially for a first time at the Death Race.
Aaron Bond followed in 17th place with a 16:18:36 Aaron had only been training with me since late January but he stuck to the plan and he beat his goals.
At 19:23:14, in 37th place Steve Staves crossed the finish line. Steve was relatively new to running and this is a tremendous time for this level of experience.
Like always., I had high expectations for these runners. All three of them exceeded them. I couldn’t be happier!