Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On 8/21/2010 I ran in the Quest for Kings marathon. This is a race started by my friend Craig lloyd and it would be the second time this summer that I attempted to run to the summit and back (car to car) in one day. Here is my trip report:

I had a really fun day running in the second annual Quest for Kings Marathon. The distance of the race is the same as a typical marathon, but the route to the top isn't even close to typical. The object of the race is basically getting to the summit of Kings Peak (Utah's highest point) and back as fast as you can, regardless of the route taken. There were 4 of us running in this race and I knew there wasn't much of a chance of winning, but my main goal was to get a personal PR for the course, and have a great time in the process.

This would be my eighth time to the summit. The first 4 times I climbed it on multi-day backpacking trips. In 2008 Jun and another friend and I did it for the first time in a day and we thought we were pretty cool, but our time was almost 14 hours. We didn't run at all, but we hiked pretty fast the whole way. In 2009 I did it again and shaved about 30 minutes off of our 2008 time by hiking a little faster. Last month was the first time I have ever tried to run to the top and my time was 10:40. I knew I could run it faster, but I was having some knee pain on the way down so I didn't push it. My goal for the day would be 8 hours. I knew it would be tough, but if things went well I knew it was doable.

I arrived much later than I had planned to the trailhead and I didn't get to sleep until about 2:30 am. With a 6:00 am start time I figured I would get a few hours of sleep. I woke up at 5:30 and I didn't see any signs of life in Jun's camp, so I went over there to make sure they hadn't left. He said they were going to leave a little later, so I went back to my car to get ready. I was listening to some nut job on AM radio while I ate a banana and a boiled egg and then I forced down a Powerbar gel for the 2X caffeine. I finally got ready by 6:30 and went over to see that Jun and Aaron were just waking up. We chatted for a few minutes and then I rang the cowbell and I was off.

I started running right from the start and everything was feeling good. I had plenty of energy and I got into a really good groove. My goal was to beat the other two guys to Elk Horn Crossing (5.3 miles). They looked like they would be about 10 minutes behind me and I knew they would be faster than I was, but it gave me something to push myself. I also wanted to shave time off of my run from last month and I hit Elk Horn at 1:05, which was 15 minutes faster. I was really happy about that and the other guys hadn't caught me yet. Instead of stopping for a break like I usually do at Elk Horn, I got a gel an S-Cap out of my pack while I walked and ate it on the move. I passed a few hikers while I gulped it down, and then started running again as soon as I was finished.

When I came out into the meadow I saw a few moose off of the trail, so I shot some video and took a few pictures and then kept running. I passed 4 hikers that I saw start at 5:30 and they told me nice job. Running through the meadow I kept looking back, but I didn't see Aaron and Jun. I was still feeling really good and I was definitely moving faster than I had been last month. Around Dollar Lake I finally spotted Jun and Aaron and I kept running instead of waiting for them. I finally stopped after the lake to take some pictured and shoot some video, and they finally caught up to me. I noticed that Jun didn't look like his typical happy self, so I knew something wasn't right. Usually you can't wipe the smile off of his face.

I stayed with the guys until just before Gunsight Pass. We passed several groups of hikers from the lake to the pass. Aaron pushed ahead and I stopped to get water at the spring because I wasn't sure what I would find beyond it. Jun kept going and I didn't see them again until just before the summit. Several of the hikers passed me while I was getting water, so I made a goal of passing all of them on the switchbacks and I passed all but one guy that was going pretty fast. The pass was windy, so I didn't stay long. I passed the fast hiker and two other groups on my way over to the plateau, but while I was scrambling through some boulders I slipped and fell and dropped my water bottle, which rolled off of a cliff and kept going for about 100 feet. I wasn't happy and I had to climb down over some loose boulders to retrieve it. I wasn't happy about that, but quickly got back to where I had fallen and made my way up to the plateau. From this point to Anderson Pass I didn't run much because it is really hard on your knees and legs. There are boulders everywhere and the ground is not very level at all and there isn't a trail. I hiked fast across it though.

Just before Anderson Pass I saw a familiar face. Faceless Ghost was coming down from the summit and it was really good to see him. We chatted for a few minutes and then he headed back down. Even though I didn't spend much time on the trail with the other guys, when I saw them it always lifted my spirits.

I made pretty good time from Anderson Pass to the summit. This section is basically a few million + boulders stacked in a huge pile. I know the route well, and I moved fast scrambling up the boulders to the summit. I passed everyone I saw and about 15 minutes from the top I passed Aaron as he was coming down from the summit. He looked really strong and we chatted for a minute and then he headed down. It was just a few minutes and Jun passed me on the way down as well. He still didn't look like he was enjoying himself and I was worried maybe he was sick. I pushed on to the top and made the summit in 3:50, over an hour faster than my time from last month.

It was so windy on top that my hat nearly blew off into Painter Basin. I tried to take some pictures with my timer, but the wind blew my camera over every time, so I finally just snapped a few shots and went down. I made pretty good time on the way down and didn't stop at all until I reached the pass. There I pulled some food out of my pack and snacked all the way across the plateau.

Back at Gunsight Pass I was still feeling really good, but I needed to make some gear adjustments, so I got into my tank top and put on some sunscreen. I was stopped for about 10 minutes (my longest break of the day) and when I finally got going I was feeling really good. There is some nice downhill trail back to Dollar Lake and I seemed to be making pretty good time, but as soon as I hit the lake and the trail leveled off I lost my energy. It seemed like the run back to Elk Horn from there took forever! I just couldn't find the gear I needed to crank it up. I think it would have helped to be chasing someone or have someone on my tail, but since I was by myself it was tough.

When I finally reached Elk Horn I was at 7:00, so I knew that I would have to push pretty hard to come in under 8:00. I had to stop and purify some water, and for the first mile I was trying to push the pace, but the trail was so annoying with all of the boulders and I never could get into a groove. I found myself hiking a lot more than I had been on the way in and it was tough to make myself run and run fast. With about 3 miles to go I knew I wasn't going to hit my goal of 8 hours, so I set a new goal of finishing in less than 8:30. It kept me going and I even pushed really hard the last mile to hit it. I think the last mile was probably my fastest mile of the day. Everything was feeling really good, but I was just tired. When I finally reached the gate I had just barely made it under 8:30 and I was pretty happy that I had a new PR for the course by over 2 hours.
I know that I can do this faster, but I am not going to worry about that until next year. There are several things that I know I can do better. It was still a fun race and I'll be back every year for it. I was really tired and had a tough time staying awake on the drive home, so I stopped in Wanship and took a two hour nap in a church parking lot.

Congrats to Aaron Kennard who took first place. His time really blows me away. Anyone that has run this course knows how insane that time really is.

No comments:

Post a Comment