Starting off 2017 racing in Southern Utah

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It has been a while since I stepped up to a starting line of a race. Wasatch 100 was the last instance, actually. I guess that experience rattled me enough that I haven’t attempted the racing scene for almost half a year.

I’ve got my race schedule set out for 2017, however, and the first event on the list was Red Mountain Run in Southern Utah near St. George. My bro-in-law Andrew found the race and it seemed like it fit in well with what we were training for.

I’ve been living back in Ogden for the last month or two and it’s been good for me to be around Weber’s cross country team and have motivated people to run with once again. There’s some awesome trail running around Ogden and Andrew and I have been hitting the mountain paths even if they are still covered in snow.

I’ve always found Southern Utah to be beautiful and unique and this trip reinforced that perception. We went down the day before the race and stayed with my grandparents who live in Sand Hollow, close to St. George. It’s always good seeing them and they took good care of us over the weekend.

The next morning we went to the start line and met up with some old friends from the Weber State Team. Braden Perry and Amber Henry Schultz joined Andrew and I as we waited in the cold, dark morning for the race to start. Braden and Amber were doing the half marathon and Andrew and I were doing the 30k. Hayden Hawks, an old competitor from college days from SUU was also there doing his long run in the 55k. He’s been doing well on the trail racing scene.

The race started and we all took off together. Right off the bat I felt that old spark that comes with racing that gets me all excited. I’m like a dog when it come to racing, and I just get all charged up when I get to be in the racing atmosphere. It was an interesting start because for the first 7.7 miles everybody ran together so we didn’t know who was doing the half marathon, 30k, 55k or what.

A group of five of us kind of pulled away from everyone else, including Braden and Andrew. We talked a while to the other two guys and got to know them a little more; they were both doing the 30k. It was rather casual as we covered the first seven miles, going a pretty quick pace over the trails, but not too much that we couldn’t have a conversation.

Then we got to the aid station and Braden went a different route that the half marathoners followed. At that point I was sitting pretty close behind the 30k leader, who I think was Hayden’s brother, and Andrew was not far behind me. Being close to half way through the race, I was feeling good and kind of got more into the racing mindset as I took the lead, pushing the pace a little more.

I had a ton of fun over the next six miles weaving through the trails. The scenery was beautiful and it was fun running on trails with not a ton of vertical. That made it so I could settle into a comfortable rhythm and keep a consistent pace.

I was wearing a new pair of trail racing shoes that I had gotten the day before: The Brooks Mazamas. This race was their test run; which it’s not a good idea to do an 18 mile race in a pair of shoes that are fresh out of the box but they felt comfortable and the only other trail shoes I had with me were a pair of Adidas Ravens which I didn’t know if I trusted as much. It turned out the Brooks Mazamas were fine and I only experienced a little bit of rubbing where the toe box just wasn’t quite big enough for my left foot. Other than that they had a great forefoot plate that worked well for my stride and I was thankful for their light weight.

I was having the time of my life on the trails, and passed right by the last aid station without stopping, which was a mistake. Sixteen miles into the race is where it hit me and I entered the pain cave. Suddenly this running thing wasn’t as euphoric anymore and I was really just waiting for the finish line to show up. I should’ve taken a gel at the last aid station but it was too late now.

I trudged along, waiting to hear the crowds of the finish line. Soon I began to hear noise like yelling and cheering coming from around the next corner! I picked up the pace, thinking it was the finish line. When I turned the corner, however, I saw it was just a small farm with roosters and sheep, and their bleats and crows sounded like people cheering to me. I muttered some names at them and soldiered on.

Finally I could see the finish line and started striding in. There was my sister and my grandparents cheering me on. It always makes these events so much more fun when family and friends join me for them.

I crossed the finish line in 2 hours and 9 minutes. 6:57 pace over trails for 18 miles. 1st place. I was pretty happy with it. Some people said I broke the course record, but I’m not sure. I looked up past results and it said that in 2010 someone ran it faster, but I’m not sure if the course was different or something.

Anyway, Andrew came in 2nd place not long after! It was good to see our weeks of training paying off. Andrew also wore a pair of sandals for the race; I’m not sure why, but he seemed to do well enough with them.

Braden and Amber won the Men’s and Women’s Half Marathon, and Hayden took the 55k, so everyone got some success.

It was a great morning and we spent the rest of the day exploring, hiking, climbing, swimming and barbecuing. The St. George area is stunning! Thanks to my Grandma and Grandpa Rollingson for having us!

Overall it was a great season opener and reminded me of how much I love racing on the trails. I’m looking forward to more races to come!

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