Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sawtooth Relay Race Report, 2011

(Sorry for the delay in this race report... it has been a busy week and I haven't really had much chance to work on it. Hope you enjoy this account of "Bazinga!'s Sawtooth Relay 2011)

Alright, another year of the Sawtooth Relay has came and went. For those of you who want the quick story, it basically unfolded like this... Our team ran very well and posted a time of around 7:40 for the 62 mile relay. This was good enough for around 6th overall (out of 300+ teams) and 1st outright in the men's open division. Check out the full results here. We got passed by a coed team in the last mile that had a potential olympian (we were told). Two high school teams ran to first and second overall, and a solo ultrarunner clocked an impressive 8:50 ish time by himself. The long story is as follows:
My brother-in-law and his wife got in late Wednesday from Ohio and by Thursday at lunch we were on the road for Stanley, Idaho. The drive from Nampa to Stanley takes about 3.5 hours, but after you get past Eagle, the scenery just doesn't stop. It was a great way to begin what turned out to be a great trip.

We headed up to Glacier View Campground and arrived shortly before 4 pm. On the way up, we decided that our best chance to nab a great hike was to go right away and so from about 4 to 6:15 pm we hiked and ran up the Alpine Way Trail from the Redfish Lake trailhead. It is a pretty gnarly trail that gains 900 feet or so in less than a half mile and then levels out along a beautiful ridgeline for quite a ways until it veers north towards Marshall Lake. We hoped to make it to Marshall lake but it really was too ambitious given the amount of snow still up high. In many places we were bushwacking along the trail because several feet of snow still covered the actual trail. Eventually we got to the point where the trail starts to turn North and decided that we should head back before it got to be too late. Before we headed down, we stopped for some photos. I could look up the names of these peaks, but for time sake I'll just let you know they are pretty awesome to see in person.

Aside from the snow, the short hike was pretty uneventful. It was just great to be in the mountains exploring a new place and hanging out with my hiking buddy Stoffer. Fortunately, back a camp we were able to start a fire quickly and eat some quick grub. A foil pack with beef, potatoes, tomatos, onions, and black beans gave us the carbs and protein we were craving after spending a couple hours out moving rather steadily up and down a decent vertical gain.

As the night settled in, the lack of any clouds whatsoever allowed the temperature to drop quickly and we decided to hit the sleeping bags early. My only regret of the trip was not getting up to see the stars that night, they were surely magnificient and I'm bummed that I missed them. That feeling was quickly dissipated by this awesome shot I got in the morning Friday.

The plan on Friday was to hang out and rest, but it wasn't long before we were out exploring near the camp and found some interesting sights, but most of them wouldn't really qualify for blog worthiness content, however, they served to entertain and more importantly, Stoffer and I got to have some of our favorite old contests; skipping stones (most and farthest categories), precision stone throwing (pick a target and hit as creatively as possible with a rock), log hopping across the lake outlet (only one wet foot for me).

Afternoon rolled around, and when the rest of the team showed up, we headed out on a run to explore the Fishhook Creek Trail. This is the reward for the 5 mile round trip. Best 5 miles all year so far to say the least.

(Sam in his element) (Team Bazinga! minus Cynthia and Joe; Sam, Stoffer, Me, Bill, and Mike)

You'll notice this character in the photo above, and of course doing his version of fire starting below. This is Sam Collier and he is the best possible person we could have had on our team for a volunteer. He is an ultrarunner and agreed to come up with us at the last minute and fill in. What a blessing it was to get to know him and have him on our team.

After we finished our run and Sam started the fire with his um... lighter, I decided to try and take a dip in Redfish lake. Let's just say that the water temperature was slightly warmer than the North Pole and I made it to my waist and decided to just soak the lower half for ten minutes rather than go completely under. I wished to be clean, but not to be hypothermic so an lower leg ice bath was an appropriate compromise.

Race morning came and we went to the start. It was a great morning and the weather looked to be fantastic again this year. Our team had a minor logistic concern when Bill left the wrist band in his sweats and then we dropped it as we jogged to our vechicle after the race began. Luckily, Stoffer was able to spot the band when we raced back to the start and we were able to proceed without any time being lost or the dreaded "DQ" that could have been the result.

By the end of the first exchange, I was super-stoked to see Michelle and the kids up on the course. Michelle was the real hero of the trip, she watched our kids, and also the Lapp's little girl while us runners were out inflicting pain on ourselves. She did a great job just managing three little ones (with the help of her sister, Stoffer's wife, Rebecca). I don't think our team could have raced without her up there, and she managed to find fun things for the kids to do in Sun Valley all day. There's a reason why I married this woman, she is amazing!

Everyone ran super strong all morning as we managed to stay in 3rd position all the way over the summit of Galena Pass. I was really excited to run the mountain this year, I felt strong as I ran up, but was definately limited by the altitude and managed to run 8:30/mile up the 1300'+ of vertical in about 5.3 miles. It was a challenge I would love to try again someday, but next time I run this race, I really want to run down the pass, it seems that would be a bit more fun...

By the time we were on the homestretch of the race, we managed to pick up a friendly rivalry with another team. They were out to get us, but we just managed to stay ahead until the last leg where I was chased down by a sub-15 minute 5k running chick with knee-high socks and not much else on. I ran sub-6:00/mile on the final stretch, but she just was too tough for me on that day. Everyone on the team ran strong all day and we managed to come home with 1st place in the Men's division. All the teams that beat us were younger, faster, and in some way were involved with an organized running team (high school or college). It felt awesome to come home with a first place award after taking second last year. Our time was 4 minutes slower than last year's, but we faced a stiff headwind for the last 3 legs that I think accounts for that difference in time. In conclusion, it was a race to remember, but the weekend itself was even more memorable. The team had great chemistry this year and we had no weak links. It will be fun to see how everyone does as they pursue their personal racing goals this fall. I am incredibly thankful and blessed to be able to share this race with the people I did.
(Chris Stoffer, Me, Bill Rupp, Mike Lapp [with baby Evie], Cynthia Lapp, and (not pictured) Joe Terrazas made up our team. Sam Collier was our amazing volunteer, and Michelle and Rebecca did the babysitting duties for all the little ones.)

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