Monday, September 17, 2007
2007 Turkey and Taturs 50K Trail Race
This weekend I headed down to Oklahoma to do two things; watch some football and run a race. Well the football game wasn't really much of a game due to the 54 to 13 blowout as the OU Sooners spanked Utah State (Boomer Sooner!). The Turkey and Taturs 50K Race on the other hand was a different story with excitement all the way to the finish!
I ended up leaving Oklahoma City around 7:00 pm Saturday evening to head to Tulsa where Gabe was kind enough to let me crash in his hotel room with fellow KC Trail Nerd, John King. Originally the high on Sunday was supposed to be in the low 70's and since I've been running very fast lately I mentioned to my Mom last week that I was going to shoot for a sub 5 Hour finish (course record is 5:01) and hoped to place in the top 5. I was just going to keep this between the two of us but when I arrived at the hotel we started talking about the race and I of course threw it out there to Gabe and John but also added a disclaimer since the revised forecast was now a high of 85 degrees and I hadn't tapered. My 50K PR up to now was a 5:29 on a course much easier than this so I was making a bold statement; I guess we'd soon see if I could put my money where my mouth was!
I woke up around 5:15 am after lying there all night half asleep; I wasn't nervous but for some reason just never hit my sleep stride. I figured I'd be OK since it was "only" a 50K, quickly got my gear together and headed out the door. At the race I ran into KC Trail Nerd Rick Mayo (pictured in the header with me) and his wife, Kristi (thanks for the pics), and we chatted a bit about ultra "stuff" and the upcoming Arkansas Traveller 100 Mile Run. A few minutes later Gabe and John showed up and we all chatted with fellow SLUG, Mike Samuelson, and Kevin Dorsey. It was about 68 degrees for the start and at 7:08 am the race began with the signature TATUR potato exploding; I must say that was a first in my racing experiences.
Rick started at the front and I wasn't far behind as I didn't want to get stuck in a lot of traffic. For the first few miles I worked my way past other runners, skipped the first 2 aid stations and soon found myself running alone. Around the 7 mile mark I spotted Rick and we started running together. This trail was VERY TECHNICAL meaning extremely rocky and rooty; it required your full concentration at all times and was similar to running through a field of softballs. From this standpoint it was the toughest course I have run to date. Around mile 8 I let my mind wander and took a NASTY spill going head over heels; fortunately I tucked and rolled with the majority of the impact to my right shoulder blade so although it was very painful it wasn't a race ender. When I fell it distracted Rick and he took a bad fall and may have broken his right hand; of course we both jumped up, brushed ourselves off and continued on. Rick got away from me a little and was about a minute ahead of me at the 25K turn; I quickly refilled my bottles and started back out on the course.
By this point the day was heating up and I was getting tired. My goal was to keep my walking to a minimum (I didn't walk at all the first loop) and I was able to pretty much stick to that although my pace slowed quite a bit. I kept chanting in my head "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" and "Relentless Forward Motion" to motivate me to keep moving and it was working. About 4 hours into the race at the 25 mile mark I spotted Rick up ahead and he said, "About time, I was wondering where you were? Let's take this home for a sub 5 hour!" We knew we'd have to push and do 6 miles in that hour which would be difficult with the rising temperatures and the biggest hill on the course left to climb. He pulled away a bit with 3 miles left as I walked that last hill; I reached the aid station at the top and the volunteers told me I was in 4th place and this was where I made my mistake. My fueling strategy for the race was to use Gels exclusively and I was taking 2 about every hour and a half; this was definitely working as my stomach felt great but I should have been taking more. I felt a "bonk" coming on but instead of taking an extra 20 seconds to down some gels I figured I could gut out the last 2.4 miles. About a half mile out of the station that familiar wave washed over me; I was able to run the downhills but struggled with even the slightest climbs and was forced to walk. With a mile left I was passed by Kevin Dorsey who encouraged me and helped to light a fire for me to start running again. With my sore body and ankles I carefully jogged in the last mile. As I came out of the clearing Rick came running towards me telling me to hurry up because I was in 3rd place. What, I thought I was in 5th? As I crossed the finish line in 5:13 Rick told me that the first 2 finishers had gotten off course and had been disqualified; he won the race overall, Kevin Dorsey got 2nd place and I was in 3rd! I took a moment to sit down and gather myself then joined Rick and Kevin to recap the race and cheer in the other finishers. Gabe finished a bit after me with a great time of 5:31 and John King brought home a 6:11 finish only 2 weeks after completing his first 50 miler. Before heading back for the long drive home I sat around and talked to all of these guys about the upcoming Arkansas Traveller race; Rick, Mike Samuelson, Kevin Dorsey and Gabe are all running in the event. I'm really looking forward to seeing all of these guys again as it's like we're family; I love the ultra community and the friendships I have made through this sport!
I learned some great lessons in this race including my fueling strategy and how to keep myself running when my body just wants to walk. I am prepared physically and mentally and am running better than I ever have. At Arkansas Traveller I will be surrounded by friends on the course, at the aid stations and supported by my Dad, Andrew Karandjeff and Jeremy Gulley as my crew. I am excited to push myself through to the finish; my goal is to go under 24 hours and I feel confident that will happen.
Thanks to all of the volunteers and Race Director, Brian Hoover, for putting on such a great event. The aid stations were well stocked and the course was well marked; perhaps you guys can get out there and remove some of those rocks for next year. I'll definitely be back!
To see pictures from the race click HERE and for the full race results click HERE.