November 09, 2009

Canadian's Invade Virginia!

I'll do my absolute best to keep this to a readable length here...

I was shooting for a sub 7hr run time which would have been a near 23 minute improvement over my 08 run time. The 08 race was my first ever fifty miler as I'd only started to fully concentrate on running, verses multi-sport, four months prior. The 09 version ended up being my second ever 50 miler and a much better race for me.

I obviously had to go out harder off the start verses last year but I was definitely surprised to find myself alternating the lead with Montrail U.S. runner Geoff 'The Alaskan Assassin' Roes (if no one else has referred to him by this name yet then I get to claim it when it sticks!) through the first 20 miles of the race. Lon Freeman was never more than a few steps behind and Valmir Nunes was always visible when we hit an exposed switchback area.

(Goeff Roes leading, me in second, RD Clark Zealand poaching the course!)

At the half way point of the race I was nine minutes ahead of my 08 pace and right on target for a sub 7hr effort. Geoff had managed to distance himself from me over the previous climb and he hit the mid-way aid just three minutes up. As I departed I could see Lon coming in just a minute back.

After departed the mid-way aid you venture into the longest climb of the fifty miles. In 08 I had to walk most of the climbs, this year I'd trained myself to be better on the climbs and faster on the runnable terrain. The course is 90% fire roads so I actually did some road mileage and my first road race in over 5yrs while preparing for the course. Although I did manage to run the entire course, save one section of about 200 meters, both Geoff and Lon had proved to be better up-hill runners than myself. Knowing this I had prepared for Lon to catch and pass me, which he did within about ten minutes. He managed a larger gap than I anticipated though and eventually he gained five full minutes on me. Little did we then know, Geoff was on a constant acceleration and while the rest of us just struggled to hang on Geoff simply ran the second half of the course faster than anyone had ever dreamed was even possible.

At about the 33m mark (55km) you hit the first real singletrack terrain of the course. Last year I nearly died through here, so this year I made sure to have something left in the tank for it. Once you complete this 5m/8k loop the course is predominately downhill to the finish line...which has always been my strength. I wasn't even two miles into the loop when I heard a runner from behind. Valmir was still lingering and with foot speed the likes of which I will simply never possess, he scared me enough to push my through the undulations of this loop. Thankfully and surprisingly I would not see him again until he crossed the finish line.

I exited the loop and was told Lon was four minutes up on me. I was feeling way stronger than I thought I would this late in the race and I vocalized that I thought I might still be able to close that gap over the final 10m/16k of the race. The next few aid stations told a different story though as the splits coming my way were growing, not shrinking.

As I hit the final aid station of the day, and with but 3.5 miles to go to the finish line, I was given one more split,

"Lon left here...exactly...two minutes ago."

I chugged a cup of fluid and rocketed outta there. It was almost all down till the final 1m section of road to the line. In the end this information was not accurate, as Lon had a closer to 4min lead at that point, but it was the perfect fuel to allow me to go with an all or nothing approach to end the race. Whether I cramped up and had to walk didn't matter at that point, only top two went straight into Western States and that was my primary goal at the starting line. My final km split times, gravity assisted of course but none the less my legs still had to turn over and absorb the punishment, were:

-4m17s /6.54mile
-4m27s /7.10m
-4m12s /6.45m
-3m37s /5.49m
-3m42s /5.57m
-2m44s (700m of flat road to the line) (3m48s pace /6.07m)

I crossed the line in 7h00m28s...missed out on a sub seven by under thirty seconds and an auto WS entry by two minutes...both tough pills to swallow, but by far and away this was my best performance south of the border, and my first major race that I'm truly happy with the time I laid down. Clark Zealand, David Horton, and the hundreds of others who make this race possible and can somehow convert a 50m fire road run into an incredible trail racing experience, THANK YOU SO MUCH yet again!! I might just have to return again next year and claim those missing 29 seconds.

In the women's race, the girl I've been flattered to call my girlfriend, Tamsin Anstey, in her first EVER 50 miler and just third attempt at running an ultra, laid down the 5th fastest woman's time in the 27 year history of the event!! She has promised me that she'll do a race report that I'll proudly post on here for her...till we get her up and going on her own blog in the near future.

Fellow North Vancouver runner and close friend Nicola Gildersleeve was also there to represent the Red and White. Even though she'd been battling the flu and ended up with a bloody nose and even puking on herself a few times, she really toughed it out to cross the line as the second place female finisher and claim the coveted auto entry into Western States!! I'm super proud of both of the girls and as a group who all live within a very short distance of each other I feel we did ourselves and our North Vancouver running scene proud. It was a great thing to be a part of!

Other Canadian's in top ten men were Adam Hill and Glen Redpath tied for 7th/8th!

-Special thanks to my amazing friend Hays Poole who drove 2.5hr from Raleigh, North Carolina to help support me during the race. He was a ROCK STAR who I can't thank enough!!


-Montrail Mountain Masochist shoes, rocking out their name sake race!

-Princeton Tec Eos headlamp for the first five miles in the darkness

-Carbo-Pro 1200 and Thermolytes as my primary fuel source during the race

Full results here, oh yeah, and I forgot to mention, Geoff 'The Alaskan Assassin' Roes...well he kinda destroyed the course like no one thought possible and ended up with a new course record of 6h27m!!! That's over 21min faster than the legendary Dave Mackay's run time, and in my humble opinion, solidifies Geoff as the outright U.S. Ultra Runner Of The Year for 2009...congrats Geoff, it was a pleasure and an honor to meet you this weekend!



Derrick said...

Congrats on a great race! 2010 is looking like it's going to be an incredible year for you .

Good to see such a strong Canadian representation with you west coast folks and Adam and Glen as well.

Devon said...

Congrats on a great race. And you and Tamsin are so cute! Quite the dynamic duo! Yeah!

Joel Toews said...

Well done on the race, and super race report. It was great to check out different blogs throughout the weekend and see how people did.
Certainly as another Canadian runner, you've done us proud.

Todd Nowack said...

That is a sick time that you put out there. Great job. I know you wanted the top 2 but you can't be put down with that performance. Great to see you kicking ass at a higher level :)

aka Moogy said...

Awesome job Canuckles!! 8)
You could also try at the Bandera 100k down in Texas. Great course, great RDs. Couple of sections that aren't very runnable but other than that a sweet course. I just moved from down near the area and have run there a bunch of times. Don't know what the field is like though...

Jason Eads said...

Brilliant GR, simply BRILLIANT!

mrC said...

nice work monsewer robbins. you're one stubborn doode who keeps on gettin' it done. impressive.

Hone said...

Sorry dude. The Alaskan Assassin name was taken a while back. Geoff is my bud and he will vouch for that one.

Anyways congrats on the solid race and it will be good to meet you at the HURT in a couple of months.

Hassan Lotfi-Pour said...

Congrats Gary and Tamsin, just Awesome!!


Wow, you just get better and better! You 'kicked your own ass" in that race-so much faster in 1 yr! Bummer diddn't make WS, grrrr. Congrats to Tamsin too. Nice to see a girl show some of them guys who's boss!

garobbins said...

Thanks for the comments all! Definitely a lot of positives to take away from this race and super stoked that the girls are both off to WS next year...uhh to the official 'Alaskan Assassin' sorry, haha, too funny! Looking forward to meeting you down in Hawaii for sure!


Darin said...

Wow Gary that was an amazing performance. You should be very happy about the whole day. Good luck in the WS draw.

Geoff said...

great run Gary. it was nice meeting you, tamsin, and nicola. hope your recovery is going well. have fun at HURT.

garobbins said...

Congrats right back at ya Darin! Nice work at H2H!!

Geoff I forget where you said that short cut was at HURT, can you e-mail me that again!!


Matt Hart said...

solid G-Rob..

you got me to read this by starting with "I'll do my absolute best to keep this to a readable length here..."

it was worth it.

saschasdad said...

Very strong race, Gary. You threw down a great effort and time. I know you're a bit disappointed with the 3rd place, but just know that you gave it all you had. Very impressive, my friend.

Clynton Taylor said...

Some very sweet running, man. You should be proud indeed. I enjoyed reading the details of your race. Feel for you missing WS auto qualifying by 2 mins! You'll have another shot at it qualifying, won't you?

garobbins said...

Thanks Clynton!
Yeah I'm hoping to get into and hit up Miwok 100k in May. Been there once and now know exactly how to train for it to knock down a top two finish. Should be fun to pursue it!!