Steamboat is a great town for summer fun, and the growing ultramarathon community there has created a vibrant race scene in the past few years. I managed to get a few days off of work and headed up there last weekend for the Mt. Werner Classic, a 50K held in the mountains around the ski resort.
The race started at the base of the gondola which afforded a look straight up the first big climb, a 3500 ft grunt up the to top of Storm Peak.
I was doing this race as a tune up for the upcoming Run Rabbit Run 100 miler so I had put in a few miles of “warm up” earlier that morning prior to the race and was really trying to focus on running my race, i.e. keeping a reasonable pace early on as I worked out some of the fatigue from the past few higher mileage weeks I had put in training in the Indian Peaks.
My Suunto Quest was a huge asset for keeping things in check as I was able to pair how my body felt with an actual pace, ascent and knew exactly where I was on course at all times.
A few guys in the lead group were chomping at the bit as we hit the climb and pulled away from me, although one was intermittently dropping his electrolyte tabs so I had a trail to follow. My legs felt a little tight for the first several miles, but by the time I hit the last thousand feet of the climb I started to feel pretty good.
I topped out in 3rd place, about 5 minutes back, and headed onto the out and back section of the course, rolling along at 9000 ft to Long Lake. This section has some fun and technical trail and I came into the turnaround just as the second place runner was leaving and a few minutes behind the lead. On the way back, you get to see everyone else in the race and it’s pretty fun to be giving and receiving high fives for several miles.
The trees apparently like to move around and reach out and grab you, so I did take a tree to the face at one point and ended up with a bloody nose. After running for several minutes while giving myself pressure on the nose, the bleeding stopped. Although I lost a few minutes, I was pretty happy that I had chosen the Montrail Bajadas for the race as their color matched the dried blood on them.
I took the lead as we hit Storm Peak for the second time and began winding up for the downhill finish. I felt pretty good from there on in to the finish, and ended up winning the race by around 5 minutes. At the last aid station (2.2 miles to the finish) they told me I had 12 minutes to finish to get the course record so I tried to recreate those days of running cross country with my brother Andy, the Edmonds brothers and Jamie Gifford… but ended up missing the record by 13 seconds. I can almost hear Larry Hale yelling in my head…
All in all, it was a well-organized race and a fun morning in the mountains. In about 6 weeks I’ll head back and wind it up with a stacked field at the Run Rabbit Run 100. Thanks to the race director, all the volunteers and fellow runners for the great day, and thanks to Rock/Creek for the continued support.
Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts 5”
Patagonia Air Flow top
Drymax LW trail socks
First Endurance nutrition