It has been a busy couple of weeks for racing in western Montana. A week and a half ago, there was the Riverbank Run in downtown Missoula on the same day as the Don’t Fence Me In trail run over in Helena. Last weekend, between the PEAK Triathlon and Eleven Miles to Paradise, local racers got a good taste of competition.
I stayed in town for the Riverbank Run on May 9th, finding some good friendly competition in a very fun local event. The Riverbank Run is actually three running races, run in rapid succession. At 9am, runners toe the line for a 10k. An hour and a half later, at 10:30, the gun sounds for the 5k. And exactly 55 minutes after that, at 11:25, there is a one-mile showdown for final bragging rights. Runners can choose to just participate in one event, or triple up to be counted in the “trifecta” results.
In the 10k, I went out at a strong pace behind Tim Caramore, who was doing his only race of the day. Coming through the first mile in 5:40, I felt confident I could hold on for a decent 10k, then see what would happen in the other two races. That feeling didn’t last long. Soon, I watched as Justin Drucker, Elliot Bassett and Cory Soulliard pranced lightly away from me, and I fell off the pace several seconds per mile. By the time we hit the halfway point, it was very clear that I was racing no one but myself. I tried to focus on my form and bring it home at a good pace. I still had two races left to run, after all. I finished the 10k 5th overall in 36:31. Certainly not my best, but considering the mental space I was in for the majority of the race, it could have been a whole lot worse.
The 5k went a little more as planned. With Tim and Elliot out of the picture (they both raced only the 10k), I was left to do battle with Justin and Cory. We ran somewhat tactically, going through the mile only one second faster than we did in the 10k. I picked up the pace in a few key spots to make up some time I had lost in the 10k, and around mile 2, Cory started to fall off the pace. Justin and I fed off each other in a fast last mile, and it came down to a final sprint in the last 100 meters, in which I was able to take the win in 17:49. Cory was 16 seconds back.
The mile consists of a gradual rise over the Higgins Street bridge, followed by a quick descent down Fourth Avenue and a flat sprint on the river trail. Since results are based on total finish time, I had a lot of time to make up if I wanted to beat either Cory or Justin in the overall standings. I stayed on Justin’s shoulder over the bridge, and we put a small gap on Cory. When we turned on to Fourth, I opened it up a little to try and get a gap on the descent, but Justin stuck with me, passing me after we made the 180 degree turn onto the river trail. I knew I couldn’t make up the time on him at this point, but if I fed off his speed, I might be able to put enough time into Cory to make up for the 10k. I turned on the afterburners with about 300 meters to go and dropped Justin, trying to bring it home as fast as I could. There wasn’t much left in the tank, but I held on through the finish in 5:14 with my second win of the day. I counted the seconds until Cory crossed the line, but it was too close to call. We had to wait for the printed results to see who came out in second place.
Turned out my efforts in the 5k and the mile weren’t quite enough, as Cory beat me in the overall standings by all of 6 seconds. Justin took the win rather handily after performing solidly in all three events. What a fun day of racing it was! Reminded me a little of high school track…
Last weekend, I switched it up by leaving town. My dad recently moved to Port Townsend, WA, so Kailee and I made a trip over to visit him and, oh hey, there happened to be the 12k Rhody Run, held during the town’s annual Rhody festival, a celebration of Washington’s state flower:
Anyway, turns out the Rhody Run is historically a pretty competitive race, with several thousand people turning out in past years. This year, numbers were down a little. There were somewhere around 1,600 finishers. It was a very difficult course, covered with demoralizing climbs and descents that were just steep enough to turn your legs into jello. I managed a tenth place finish in a tough field, and cheered my dad in. It was big finish for him, as knee problems have kept him from running for approximately the last decade.
Kailee was unable to run due to a stubborn hamstring, but she ran yesterday and seems to be just about recovered. Bring on the Pengelly Double Dip!
Stay tuned soon for what are bound to be some breathtaking photos from
Glacier National Park. Looking forward to a fun ride up there in a week and a half.