Sunday, August 4, 2013

Speedgoat 2013

Going into this year’s Speedgoat I felt well trained and ready to take on this beast of a course.  The final tally according to Strava was 11,318’ of elevation gain, 31.75 miles and just under 9:08 to complete.  My goal was to have a significantly improved finish time compared to last year which took me 10:08.  I am very happy to have trimmed a full hour off last year's effort.

Before the race with some great friends
photo courtesy Jo Weakly Agnew

The race started @ 6:30 am and included a field that was stacked with some of the greatest trail runners in the world.  The winner; Sage Canaday (on the right side with a big A on his shorts) , came in at an amazing 5:08 with Anton Krupicka (shirtless dude in the middle) finishing a close second.  Both of these runners beat the course record set last year.

photo courtesy Jo Weakly Agnew
 The race starts out with about an 8.5 mile climb to the hidden peak tram.  I got up there in a little over 2 1/2 hours and was feeling pretty good.  I said hello to some friends hit the aid station and descended down the other side toward Larry's Hole.  Along my way down the wildflower lined single track I kept thinking how ideal the conditions were.  Unlike last year which was HOT, this day was overcast and cool.  As a bonus we even got a few drizzles of rain throughout the day.

Coming into aid station 1 (Hidden Peak)

Getting into Larry's hole aid station, I decided to get my EFS liquid shot flask refilled ate some watermelon got my water bottle topped off and was on my way.  It was shortly after leaving Larry's hole and climbing the last portion before an extremely rocky descent to Pacific Mine that I saw a bolt of lightning.  Upon further examination it was actually the race leader and eventual winner Sage Canaday.  That dude was flying toward his second trip through Larry's Hole.

Witnessing one of the best trail runners in the world do his thing was pretty cool.  On the other hand, it was a stark reminder that I am an extremely average athlete in my sport of choice.  By my estimation, Sage was about 10 miles ahead of me already.  Oh well, I'm not here to win this thing so I just kept plodding along pretty uneventfully toward Pacific Mine aid station.

My goal throughout the day was to move in and out of aid stations quickly and eat what sounded good. On this day; Clif bars that I had brought along with me, along with fig newtons, orange slices and watermelon (from aid stations) would be all that I had to sustain myself.  For liquid I stuck with water and supplement electrolytes with S-Caps.

In theory, EFS liquid shot would have been the answer.  After all, we were all issued a 5 oz. flask and the knowledge that quart bottles would be available along the way for refills.  This sounded great to me until I had completed my first flask of mocha flavor and received a refill at Larry's Hole of raspberry.  This was still fine with me until I took my first swig.   IT WAS BAD, it tasted like it had fermented.  It was only a minor setback due to the fact that I had a back up plan with the Clif Bars and aid station food.

After heading out of Pacific Mine aid station I made the slow and steady climb toward Mt. Baldy.  I was feeling good so I kept plugging along.  I wasn't setting any land speed records and not much running was going on but I moved at a methodical and steady pace up the steep climb.

Then it happened, I was staring up at baldy.  No trail, just flags to follow up what I estimate to be a 78 degree slope.  I plodded my way up the 800' or so climb and found relief when I was able to start heading down toward the tunnel aid station.  I saw a few familiar faces, refilled my water bottles, chomped down some watermelon and got moving through the tunnel to descend another 1000' or so only to have to head right back up.

As I was heading downhill I remember thinking, "It feels good to feel good."  In many ultras I have done, fatigue kicks in and I don't feel like running.  Today was different, even though I knew I had a very punishing ridge line climb ahead of me I was running at a faster pace than any other point during the race.  Then it was one last grinder to the Hidden Peak aid station along the ridge line trail.

I kept my head down and just kept plodding along the seemingly endless ridge.  I enjoyed looking up once in a while to see silhouettes of people making progress toward the peak.  Upon arrival at the Hidden Peak aid station, Jim Skaggs informed me he had an ice cold PBR if I wanted it.  Without hesitation, I chugged about half the beer, thanked my friend and began heading toward the finish.

Tasted pretty good before the final 5 'ish miles of the course.

By now, I knew my day would soon be over.  All I had to do was get myself to the finish with the goal of a sub 9 hour finish.  I had about 51 minutes to make it.  About 1.5 miles out I realized that finishing under 9 hours was simply not going to happen but the possibility of shaving an hour off my time from last year was very doable.  I began to pick up the pace and passing a few people along the way.  Then the finish was in sight and I crossed the line at 9:07:50 vs my 2012 effort of 10:08.  Mission accomplished!

What I learned...
  • As much as like the convenience and access of wearing water bottles on the front of my vest, it simply doesn't work for me.  Forget about the annoying sloshing, I finished the race feeling like someone had been punching me in the chest for 9 hours straight.  My ribs ached after from the pounding dished out by front pocket bottles.
  • Never put things in pockets you never intend on getting into...As it turns out, I was carrying a quarter pound of jerky the entire day.  It would have been a tasty treat out there but it was in the back of my pack and I completely forgot about it.
  • Have a back-up plan...luckily I had some Clif Bars with me and made the best of the aid stations due to bad EFS liquid shot.
  • Keep moving...It is very easy to hang out in aid stations but it just adds extra time to the event.
What I listened ipod was going all day and I tend to listen to entire albums vs songs.  If you're (still) reading this, I'm sure you could care less.  This is just a reference for me when I look back at this a few years from now.
  • The Whole Love - Wilco
  • Sky Blue Sky - Wilco
  • Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco
  • A.M. - Wilco
  • Circuital - My Morning Jacket
  • At Dawn - My Morning Jacket
  • White Blood Cells - The White Stripes
  • Riot Act - Pearl Jam

I listened to the unedited version of this song 3 consecutive times heading to the finish
Save You - Pearl Jam

Ok, I guess that's about it for Speedgoat 2013 up next is a trip to beautiful Afton, WY.


  1. Great post and a great runner

  2. Nice work Curtis! An hour improvement is quite impressive. Solid music choices as always.