I learned that you can have a bad race, yet it can still be an awesome experience. Speedgoat 50k is a mountain running race that falls into the category of skyrunning. This means it is extremely steep with a lot of elevation gain and generally very rugged. It often takes far longer than a traditional 50k. It is also a highly competitive and popular race in the U.S. The race is located in the mountains outside of Salt Lake City, specifically at Alta Ski Resort.
The adventure began when my family packed into our van (soon to be campervan) and started a camping trip that headed east from Reno. We stayed a night in Midas, which is a tiny old mining town that requires you to drive 1hr on dirt to get to it. Then we camped at Lamoille Canyon outside of Elko. The day before the race we made it to our campground just down the road from where the race started.
The race started just as the sky was getting light. The race pack was several hundred people so I was definitely didn’t want to get stuck behind anyone as it filtered onto singletrack. Luckily much of the first climb I felt pretty solid and was able to roll over the top in 8th place. I tried to drink a lot and just relax. I knew I was in for a long day and that it is wise to prepare for that. Getting caught up in trying to race too early on was what I was trying to avoid.
At the top of the first big climb there were lines of spectators who had ridden the cable car to the summit to cheer. The very last 1/4mi or so is a real steep service road. I noticed many of the runners hiking as they covered this section. As I approached it I thought hiking past this crowd sounded was probably boring for them so I ran it to a huge applause and cheer. It was fun and lifted my spirits a bit as I prepared for a very long and tough descent.
The descent was unusual as it was not just a straight mountain descent to the bottom. It had sections of short steep climbs throughout. This made it quite hard to get into any sort of rhythm. The trail was beautiful however. The entire mountain side was wildflowers. One tricky factor was that the vegetation was completely covering the trail in a lot of sections near the top so it was hard to see where my feet were landing.
Halfway through the descent my race essentially came to an end. I was running down a steep bouldery section that was off camber when my foot slid out and I dove head first through a rock garden. Immediately I knew I was pretty beat up. I had a chunk of skin gone from my hand with scrapes all over my body. My knee took the brunt of the crash and began to swell instantly. I could hear someone from the next aid station about a half mile away say “ooohh… someone went down hard” I was still in race mode and had adrenaline going so I jumped up and took off. As I went through the aid station they pulled me aside, looked in my eyes and asked me if I was okay. I told them I was fine, refilled my bottles and took off.
As I was running my knee began to ache more and more and eventually my IT band tightened up on that leg making running quite painful. Dropping out crossed my mind for a moment, but I thought about my wife and kids who came all the way here with me and that quitting halfway would simply dissapoint them. Since hiking and descending gingerly was not too painful that is how I would finish my race. I wouldn’t call it a race at that point but more of a long adventure nature run.
The second half was actually quite fun once I decided I was done racing. I joked with other runners, and simply enjoyed the beautiful mountains. The mountains in this region are amazing and something everyone should spend a little time in.