The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Tim McDonald
For The LOG 

Ruminations on running the race

Race Commentary


LOG File Photo

Tim McDonald watches the finishers after his 2013 race.

What a 4th of July! Weather almost perfect for the Mount Marathon Race. Records smashed, the bar has been raised.

Many veterans (10 races or more) are disqualified after this year's race due to the new rule requiring veterans to get top 10 in their age group or top 225 finishers of two waves of men and women starting five minutes apart.

Jornet showed us what is possible, shattering the men's record on his debut race. He will undoubtably get faster if and when he returns to defend his crown.

His girlfriend also rocks. Forsberg the Swede shattered the 50-minute barrier (I wonder that it was not broken years ago with all the improving local talent we have) and set the standard for Allie or other local contenders to recoup the crown for Alaska women. At 18 on her debut and well under 100 pounds, her chances are good in the years to come. I like Aubrey Smith who came in sixth – local girl and perennial top 10 contender for over a decade. She has the power to move up a notch.

Let's face it, people who are built like birds and light, win the Mount Marathon – Jornet 5 foot 7 and 127 pounds. Also Bill Spencer, tall and skinny with large lung capacity sure does help.

No slide this year at the top descent. The slide is important, it can help you or hurt you on the downhill, big time. I've been frozen stiff by sliding on my butt in a ice snow slide trough at 65 degree grade, the longest steep grade on the course I believe. A hundred yards or so, depending on the snow pack left by race day, with your hands stuck in the side of the near vertical chute as brakes and they are frozen solid by the bottom. The trick is to ski on your feet sitting down, shoot out the bottom standing up and keep running so you don't lock up! Twenty seconds plus rest time while you ride the chute and it's faster than running down that portion of the downhill. Seems we have a snow pack slide about 50 percent of the time. That could be less in the future.

I guess my race performance was rather poor this year. I had fun though – lost five pounds during the race, running at 193 pounds. I was about 175 when I ran my personal best of 58.43 about 25 years ago.

Worked late, late on the third helping campers. Anyway, got squared away and headed for town a little late. Shoes, stretch, half mile jog to the starting line warm up. Still got 10 minutes, retrieved an excellent double shot espresso, no water at the Sea Bean down the street. So I'm wandering up the street finishing my espresso at the starting line I turn to the next guy in the crowd, "This is the first wave right?" Wierd look, "Uh no, its the second wave." "You're kidding, right, it's the first wave?" "Nope, it's the second wave." Bam, there they go. I holler, throw down my shirt and charge through the crowd into the street 50 yards behind the last guy. "[Expletive]!" after 28 races in 36 years I must be getting lax – darn first wave, second wave. Back in the 1980s we ran the men and women together in one wave. I know, I know, safety first.

So I'm running my race in last place. No use getting excited now, so might as well have some fun. I do a couple of shoulder rolls in the street in front of the Methodist Church – for Mom, her church for 40 years.

Keep running my race, 7 or 8 minutes to the mountain. Slow for some, yet that 2-minute difference between 5 or 7 minutes can cost you 20 minutes difference if you hit the wall on that mountain and have to crawl to the top. Better to keep the steady pace no matter how slow all the way to the top, no stopping.

So up the base of the mountain I go, pass a couple and up the cliffs. I like the cliffs, everybody else comes down the cliffs, I do both. You miss the early traffic jam on the ridge climb to the right, gain altitude faster, as you climb the cliffs by hand hold. Then cut into the ridge trail in the lower chute above the cliffs. Good pace, no pausing till halfway timekeeper, (my stopwatch messed up at the start, pushed the wrong button). "Hey what's my time?" "Around 40 minutes." "What you don't know what my halfway time is?" "Well, no. They will tell you at the top." Thanks for nothing, halfway time is important, somebody should be in charge of pushing a stop watch up there at the start so they have accurate time for us.

So anyway, no hitting the wall but feeling the drag at three quarters way. Slow on the turnaround, only passed 10 people on the way down – usually pass 18 to 25 racers on the downhill, my strong suit.

Last week in training pulled a 9:24 from turnaround point to base of mountain, another 5 minutes to finish line. No 9:24 downhill today Hesitating on cliffs, a little slick, after I chewed out the safety man for trying to make me take the childrens trail – 28 times on the cliffs, not about to change now.

Pulled a couple more shoulder rolls for the crowd at the base – one right hand, one left hand – well received.

So I'm slogging on down the hill to the finish line passing the hospital, pretty out of it, this nice lady, can't remember what she looks like, she starts running along side me. "I don't know who you are but I'll pace you," she says. "No talking," I mutter as a condition.

I'm making good time and two blocks from the finish line, I pull a couple more shoulder rolls for Mom in front of the Methodist Church. First left hand roll goes good, come up running. Second right hand roll, I hook a foot and stumble, grabbing my running shadow momentarily to keep from running into her and the crowd and keep on going. I didn't quite catch what she said as I sped off and she faded into the crowd. Something like, "If I had known you were crazy, I wouldn't have got so close!" LOL.


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