The following report is by Rock/Creek Race Team member John Anderson. Great job, John!
Three hours of driving, four hours of running, six hours of sleep and twenty hours of work. Thatʼs pretty much the brief summary of last weekend when I headed up to the Colorado trail to race in the North Fork 50k fueled by my two primary sponsors, Rock/Creek and caffeine.
I had two busy trauma shifts in the emergency department in Denver scheduled on Friday and Saturday, but the race on Saturday was close to the Front Range and I was itching to get in a race to break up a long training block in preparation for the Leadville 100.
My legs felt a little heavy as I was running up the first climb, probably somewhat due to a pretty hard stint of training that week as well as a little sleep deprivation, and my bed seemed a more appealing place than the trails. I was content to let a few other runners push the pace on the first few miles and I just tried to relax and coax the sleep out of my legs.
I settled in and really began to enjoy being out as we crested the first ascent, slowly I moved out front and didnʼt see any other 50k runners for the rest of the day. There was a 50 mile race also going on, and I did cross paths with a few of those runners and exchanged a few words, but the majority of my day was spent listening to my footfalls on the packed dirt or sometimes by me asking why it was so freaking hot (technically I was not talking to myself because I was talking to the sun).
The course is stellar and deceptively tough. Entirely on single track, the trail is fairly smooth and not super technical. It sits at 8000 feet and climbs somewhere between 4000-5000 feet throughout the race. There are some longer climbs but not too steep which makes it a little tougher because you are compelled to run every step.
Perhaps the most challenging part is the heat at this altitude. We have had a hot summer in Colorado with temps in the 100s for week long stretches. Maybe Iʼve grown soft since my childhood days in the Chattanooga summer but this heat at this altitude makes you feel like you are flying a little too close to the sun. The gear I was racing in (Patagonia Air Flow top and Stridor shorts) was super light and kept me pretty cool — the only lighter and cooler option would get me arrested everywhere except Vegas.
Anyway, my body felt pretty good throughout the race and I was able to stay on top of my hydration and nutrition. I came down the last two mile descent to the finish and ended up winning the race and setting a new course record in 4:21. I had a quick burger at the finish and jumped in the river to cool off (the start/finish area is at the takeout for the Bailey run, a Class 4ish stretch on the North Fork for all my boater friends back in Chatt-town).
Then it was time to hop in the truck and drive back to Denver and go to work. Thanks to all the volunteers and everyone who helped put on the race. It was an
exceptionally well organized race, the trail was well marked and really a beautiful course.
Thanks to Rock/Creek again for all the support. My gear for the race: