This morning I did my first trail race: the Logan Peak Trail Run. It is a 25-mile semi-loop up in the Bear River Range in Logan. Actually, it was more like 26.5 miles, but whatever. Start elevatoin is about 5000'. Max elevation (Logan Peak) is about 9700'. Total elevation gain/loss is around 7200'. Course map is here. Course profile is here.
The race started at 6:30AM from a park up in the Logan Cliffside neighborhood. I have never been to this park because I am not rich enough. There were 27 runners, which was a good turnout, because the race director's goal was only 20 for this first year. But several of the participants were seasoned, decorated trail runners, so I knew stealing a win would be out of the question, especially since I wanted this race to be a "fun run". Cody and I were planning on running the entire race together, and I was looking forward to the trail, the scenery, and the company.
Start to Mile 4.5 -The first part of the course leaves the park and hits the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. There were some immediate rolling hills. Cody and I found ourselves in 4th or 5th place by the time we departed the BST at the mouth of Dry Canyon, around Mile 1. At Dry Canyon, the race really begins, as there is non-stop climbing to Mile 4.5 on rocky single-track.
We started ascending Dry Canyon and caught a few people. However, we would get passed whenever I stopped to take pictures. It was a slow grinding climb (3000' in 3.5 miles), and we were glad to see the first aid station. Mmmm...trail mix and pretzels. Mile splits were first 4 miles were 9:45, 12:31, 14:41, 16:02. This includes stops, as I wouldn't stop my watch when we took breaks.
Mile 4.5 to Mile 11 - After departing the aid station, the course turned off of Dry Canyon and onto the south portion of the Syncline Trail. Finally, we got some relief from the constant uphill. Terrain was variable - flat, up, down. But in general, this portion of the race was really nice. I had never been on this trail, and was treated to some good views of the Cache Valley and Providence Canyon. We were holding steady somewhere near the Top 5 for position. After a couple miles of single-track, we got on the Welches Flat jeep trail, which wraps around the north side of Providence Canyon. Around Mile 10 we were spat out at the top of Providence Canyon, above the old rock quarry. Terrain was still quite variable, but there was a lot of uphill that we were walking. Once again, we were quite glad to see the second aid station, near Mile 11. This station had even better food, and we took a 5-minute siesta where we focused on cramming food down our mouths.
Mile splits for this stretch were 16:50 (includes stop at first aid station), 9:05, 7:59, 13:55, 10:09, 14:23, 16:45 (includes stop at second aid station). I accidently stopped my watch at the first aid station and didn't realize it until 0.6 miles into this segment, so that threw things off a little.
Mile 11 to Mile 16 - This segment was an out-and-back to the namesake of the race: Logan Peak. We faced a 1000 overall vertical ft climb in 2.5 miles to reach our destination, which for all intents and purposes served as the halfway point of the race. As usual, we were walking the uphills, and running the best we could on the flat and downhill parts. The hardest thing was that we could see Logan Peak the entire time (big radio towers), we had to circumvent a ridge to get up on it first. I was planning on doing the Rocky thing at the very top of Logan Peak, but after the final quarter mile shuffle up to it, I didn't have the energy to jump around, make jabbing motions, and yell "Yeah! Yeah!". Instead I just filled up my water, ate a Gu, and talked to the volunteers. Several people passed Cody and I up here, since we were once again eating, chatting, and taking pictures. Everyone else seemed focused on running or something.
Finally, we started back down Logan Peak, back to aid station #2. We passed back several people, and also got to see the people behind us, who were going up on the out-and-back. It was nice to see the whole field and give them encouragement. Trail races are laid-back events, and it's cool to give and receive smiles from your competitors. We noticed that the first woman (Sarah Evans, a Wasatch Running Center teammate) was about 10 minutes behind us. The downhill was very good to have after the long climb, and we made it back pretty quick to the aid station at the junction. Once again we stopped for trail mix, cookies, drinks, etc, etc. Several people passed us back. I took their picture.
Mile splits for this segment were 14:36, 19:53, 8:07, 8:52, 14:02 (includes aid stop).
Mile 16 to Mile 22 - We turned right at the aid junction this time and continued on the jeep trail. Terrain was undulating (a pattern for this race). Walk, run. Walk, run. I was still feeling pretty good, thanks to the frequent and long aid stops. Around Mile 18, we turned left onto the north segment of the Syncline Trail, and started traversing the south rim of Logan Canyon. Views were fantastic, and I had never been on the stretch before. US-89 was about 4000' below us.
After a couple miles on the Syncline Trail (on which we were moving pretty good), we caught up to runner ahead of us, who had come to a stop at a junction in the trail. We soon saw the dilemma. There was a race sign pointing right, and some flagging on the right junction, but all common sense told us "go left". We decided that someone was playing a mean trick and that going right would take us off a cliff, so the three of us agreed to go left. We soon saw flagging again on our chosen course, and were 99.9% sure we made the correct choice. We found out later that some random jerk turned the sign around and messed with the flagging to be a wise guy. Ah, Cache Valley.
Cody and I ran with the other runner for several miles and chatted a little bit. He was from Salt Lake, that's all I remember. This stretch of single-track dragged on and on, and I kept expecting to see Dry Canyon again "any time", but it never came. Cody and I passed the other runner, who had decided to walk more than we wanted to. Finally, we came to the nose of the ridge and started winding back down to Dry Canyon. Hurrah, no more uphills! On this stretch we passed a guy that I'm pretty sure was in the Top 3 earlier in the race. That was satisfying; we were tired but not slowing down at all. We soon made it to the Dry Canyon aid station, the same station that was our first stop nearly 4.5 hours earlier.
Mile splits for this segment were 12:01, 9:58, 11:37, 13:41, 12:04, 14:24 (includes aid stop).
Miles 22 to 26.5 (finish) - I wasn't intending to spend much time at this aid station, since all we had left was 4.5 miles of sheer downhill, but then we got incentive to take off even faster: the top woman (Sarah Evans) came into the aid station while we were still eating. I didn't say anything, but gave Cody the universal telepathic signal of "We can't get chicked." I don't care that it was a "fun run", it just wasn't going to happen, especially on my home course. I was actually quite impressed with Sarah, though; she must have been hauling over the last 8 miles. Myself, Cody, and Sarah started down the trail, beginning our 3000', 4.5-mile descent. We just pointed ourselves downhill and went. We soon lost her within a mile or so. Crisis averted.
With about 2 miles to go, I was really smelling the barn, but momentum was halted when I hit a big rock at 7:00/mile pace. Gravity + steep downhill + lots of rocks is a bad combination, and I took quite a tumble. I think I absorbed most of the fall with both shoulders, as they really hurt afterward. My left palm got bloodied pretty good, and my right calf cramped up at same time. I peeled myself off the rocks and took a quick assessment: scraped hand with a flat of skin hanging, but nothing deep. Shoulder hurts, but not dislocated. Calf is starting to unlock. Nothing to do but start running again. We found our groove again within a few minutes. I was happy to draw a little blood in my first trail race.
Somewhere in there we passed a runner who had been quite a ways ahead of us. Always a good thing. Some hiker at the botton of the canyon yelled at us we were 4th and 5th. We didn't believe him. We exited Dry Canyon with a mile to go, and climbed up onto the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. The rolling hills of the BST were most unwelcome, but we were almost there, and my legs still had some pop. We made the turn off of the BST, back onto the grass leading back down to the park. I missed the flagging for a turn and Cody corrected me, but got out in front in the process. There was one last very steep downhill going into the park, and Cody looked back and told me he wanted to beat me while I was still stumbling down the grade. I told him he better start sprinting if that was the case. Cody started sprinting. He finished a couple seconds ahead; Cody was indeed 4th overall and I was 5th. The random dude was right. The winner (Leland Barker) was a little more a half hour ahead. Third place was only 5 minutes ahead, and 6th place (the top woman) was two minutes behind. According to my Garmin (SportTracks) we spent about 42 minutes stopped. I suppose if we hadn't have taken so many breaks we could have placed higher...or we might have run slower. In any case, I think I'll recover pretty well due to all the breaks, food, and water I took during the race.
Mile splits for this segment were 9:01, 7:33, 8:30 (with tumble), 7:56, 3:06 (11:08-pace).
This blog entry turned into a book, but it was my first real trail race, and was memorable to me. I enjoyed the vast majority of it, and had a lot of fun running with Cody. It definitely beat doing chores. The race organization was quite good, the course was well-marked (except for vandalized areas), and the aid/food/voluteers were all awesome. Shirts were very cool too. And Cody won a huge vat of HammerGel. Good times. Again, I must say that our Cache Valley trails rock, and I encourage people to come up and run them.
(Cascadia: 196 miles)
Some pictures are below (in chronological order). They are reduced to fit the blog, but you can see full resolution by right-clicking and selecting "view".