Trail Runners

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Grand Teton Trail Marathon Report (Read 363 times)

    Grand Teton Trail Marathon September 31, 2008 Grand Targhee Ski Resort, Wyoming near Alta, WY Official website here:http://www.dreamchaserevents.com/gtr/ Background: This was my 7th marathon/50k distance, and my 4th long trail run (race). I train almost 100% on trails. I had trained specifically for this race, completing an 18 mile, 20 mile and 21 mile in the several weeks leading up to it at elevations ranging from 6000 to 9000 feet, since the altitude was my biggest concern. Incidentally - this was the first big race that my husband and I were doing “together”. We were driving from California, and barely made it to Alta, Wyoming and the Grand Targhee Ski Resort Friday evening before the race packet pick-up shut down for the day. On Saturday, while 100 milers and 50 milers were already out on the course (the Marathon didn’t start until Sunday morning), we spent touring Jackson, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone, and we didn’t get back to the lodge until 10 or 11 PM. For the first time I slept very well the night before a race. As we got ready at 5:30 AM a storm cell moved over and poured rain on the area. Worried about the weather, which was calling for 60% chance of thunderstorms and rain, I changed my top 3 different times – from long sleeve tech shirt, to short sleeve over my tank, to just my tank, with my wind/rain vest on. The kids woke up just before we left the room, and they came to the briefing and start line with us, since it was just a few hundred feet from our room. It was a small group of runners for the marathon - only about 50. We were advised that there were about 25 runners were still out there on the course completing the 100-miler. My husband and me before the race started Map: Grand Teton Map The route is a 3 looped clover-leaf, coming to the start/finish area (which I’ll call Base Station) at the end of 3 different segments of the run. Loop A goes 1800 feet up to the top of a hill and back. Loop B heads mostly down 1500 feet, then back up. Loop C was a little gentler up-and-down loop. My Garmin profile and pace for the run: Grand Teton Profile and Pace Loop A: I climbed slowly, the last of all the runners all the way to the top. When I was almost to the top, my husband came toward me coming back down, and I was able to take a picture of him. At the top, the enthusiastic AS volunteers offered to take my picture, and then I started back down, thankful for gravity now. I quickly passed 3 people. I like running downhill, and normally keep my feet from getting in the way of each other - but somehow I tripped and fell on a steep rocky section - my legs and hands bruised and bloodied. I got up, and kept going, a little more cautiously, to the Base Station. I fetched my drop bag, shed my vest, grabbed a few replacement gels, refilled my water pack, and headed out onto the next section. He was coming down and I was almost at the top of Fred's Mountain on Loop AMe at the top aid station Loop B: Started with another uphill, but we eventually headed down. Just after passing 4 more runners on a narrow section of trail I lost my concentration again, slightly rolled my ankle (on which I had a neoprene wrap since I had sprained it the month before in training), and got up muddy and more bruised. The trail was softer here, so I didn’t get as cut up this time. I was taking a gel every half hour, salt tabs every 1 ½ hour, and sipping my water. Eventually, after what seemed a long downhill stretch, I reached a gravel road, stopped briefly at an AS, and headed up the 3 mile paved road to the next AS. PhotobucketMy husband just after he finished The climb on the road wasn’t as bad as I had expected it to be - maybe since the initial climb on Loop A had been so much steeper and higher in elevation, this hill seemed easier. During this section I realized that I hadn’t grabbed enough gels for this longer Loop, and I would run out if I didn’t get some from the next AS. I refilled my water, but they were out of gels, so I had only 1 gel to make it up a 5 mile climb back to the Base Station. After climbing and climbing, I finally reached an exposed ridge/road where I could see the thunder clouds to my left, and heard them roaring a few times, even though I was in the warm sun. I worried a few minutes about getting sunburned, since I hadn’t applied sunscreen and I was exposed in my tank top – but then I realized I had a bigger worry – those thunder clouds. As I ran into the Base Station I saw my boys along the path, stopped and hugged them, and they told me my husband had just finished. I saw him, gave him a hug, and took his picture. The RD took my water pack and filled it for me, while my husband grabbed my drop bag and I finally got more energy gels. The breeze from the storm was picking up, and I was anxious to finish the last 5 miles as fast as possible now. Loop C: This loop starts out like the other two - uphill. But not as much, thank goodness - this time it’s only rolling roads and single track around a field called Rick’s Basin. About half way around the loop, the small hail and rain drops, and some sleetish-snowy looking blobs started falling. I remember looking over the basin (see photo – which doesn’t do it justice), thinking how beautiful it was with sooooo many colors - it was a place I would have loved to have stopped to just enjoy for awhile. But the storm was blowing in. Photobucket The trail went in and out of trees, somewhat protected, until it headed back across the basin to the final AS (non-manned with coolers of water). At first the rain was really coming down, but it was gentler, and smaller drops, really beautiful. I remember holding my arms out to my sides, catching the rain drops, loving the exhilaration of it all, and being so thankful for this experience and being able to get to places like this. Within a few minutes, as I headed up to the high point in the basin, the thunder started overhead, with more hail pounding down on me. I was terrified, knowing I was the tallest thing around. I crouched down, trying to remember lightning safety tips I’d only read about and had never needed. For the next umpteen minutes, I would crouch on the trail on my toes making minimal contact with the ground. After a thunder burst, I would make a mad dash uphill, but running bent over to be as low profile as possible. I ran only a short distance – maybe 30 feet, until I got scared that another thunder burst was imminent, when I would crouch down again on my toes. I did this over and over – my reasoning, maybe not correct, was it was unlikely that there would be 2 thunder bursts close together, and I needed to keep moving to get out of the open area. Well, I finally made it to a point in the trail where a ski lift crossed overhead, with, unfortunately, a huge (metal) support pole about 10-feet from the trail. I sat couched on the trail for a long time here, not wanting to go near the ski lift support. Finally, the rain intensity let up. I hadn’t heard a thunder burst for a while, so I made a mad dash under that ski lift. The trail was slightly downhill here, and I slipped, slided, and nearly fell on my butt several times. I was scared, and knew I was mentally a little wigged out from the whole situation, but I had believed I had to get to safety, which to me was the tree lined road/trail section up ahead. Once within the trees protection, I stopped to walk , gather my wits and bring my heart-rate down. After a bit, I realized I only had a short ways to go, and with a burst of leftover adrenaline, I ran (I think) the final mile to the finish. My family was waiting for me, and I was wrapped in a blanket. When asked my bib number to record the finish time, I couldn’t remember it! We headed quickly to our room so I could warm up, get my chocolate milk , and dry off. Oh yea – and I got my medal – whooot! Strategies that seemed to work in this run: Gel every half hour, except when I ran out on Loop B S!Cap every 1 (as it warmed up) to 1 ½ hour Water – approximately 250 oz over nearly 8 hours Nothing else to eat except a few cups of soda at aid stations Race review: Race Organization and Support: 5/5 (well-marked trail, great goody-bag and shirts) Course Difficulty: 5/5 (over 6000 feet gain) Scenery: 4/5 ( nice views of Grand Tetons, wildflowers, aspens) Trail surface/condition: 4/5 (not much rock – very run-able) Would I do it again? If I lived close to it, yes. What's next? Goblin Valley 50k in Utah on October 25
    Next up: A 50k in ? Done: California-Oregon-Arizona-Nevada (x2)-Wisconsin-Wyoming-Utah-Michigan-Colorado


    Finder of good newts

      Fantastic Run Report and beautiful photos! Wow!

      It's hard to look down if you don't go up


      dork.major dork.

        Sounds like a great course and effort! Yikes to the lightning though! Beautiful pics.

        Reaching 1,243 in 2008 -- one day, one week, one mile at a time.

          Great report and pix. That one with the trail leading off toward one of the Tetons is especially beautiful, and you guys both look like you're having a great time out there!
            Landy Nice race report. I see you like to fall a lot (like me) Big grin Thanks for sharing your adventure. Dan http://breakhearttrailrunning.blogspot.com/
            Only the lead dog has a different view. My Blog http://breakhearttrailrunning.blogspot.com/
              Thanks everyone! oldguysrule - yeah, i seem to fall more frequently than I'd like to - but then again, it just adds adventure to the runs! As long as I can keep on running. or trudging, in some cases Blush
              Next up: A 50k in ? Done: California-Oregon-Arizona-Nevada (x2)-Wisconsin-Wyoming-Utah-Michigan-Colorado


              Cat in a Pot

                Great report! Lots of excitement with the thunder storm, eh? Wink You guys drove from CA to WY? How was the trip, and how long did it take?

                Leslie
                Living and Running Behind the Redwood Curtain
                -------------

                2014: May - MDW 70-Miles (w/Trail Factor 50k) - Cascade Crest, WA/Astoria, OR/Portland, OR

                June 7 - Grasshopper Peak Redwoods Run 30k - Humboldt Redwoods State Park, CA

                July 12 - Mt. Hood 50 - Mt. Hood, OR

                Oct 11 - Firetrails 50 - Lake Chabot, CA


                "The farther you go outside, the farther you go inside." (Unknown)
                Ultrarunnerpodcast

                Trail Runner Nation

                Fatozzig's Place

                  Great report! Lots of excitement with the thunder storm, eh? Wink You guys drove from CA to WY? How was the trip, and how long did it take?
                  Yes, it was exciting! I was glad to be done - not because of the distance, but because the experiencewas so intense. The drive home, which we did in one day, should have been about 13-14 hours (not counting food stops), but we had a bit of car trouble (a punctured gas tank from a road hazard we drove over) and had a delay of many hours near Reno (being towed, getting a rental car,etc.). You thinking of heading that way?
                  Next up: A 50k in ? Done: California-Oregon-Arizona-Nevada (x2)-Wisconsin-Wyoming-Utah-Michigan-Colorado


                  Cat in a Pot

                    You thinking of heading that way?
                    We've always talked about going there, but for some reason I thought to drive it would be a lot longer. We're talking about going to Montana next year for vacation, now I'm wondering if we'll drive instead of fly. Who knows.

                    Leslie
                    Living and Running Behind the Redwood Curtain
                    -------------

                    2014: May - MDW 70-Miles (w/Trail Factor 50k) - Cascade Crest, WA/Astoria, OR/Portland, OR

                    June 7 - Grasshopper Peak Redwoods Run 30k - Humboldt Redwoods State Park, CA

                    July 12 - Mt. Hood 50 - Mt. Hood, OR

                    Oct 11 - Firetrails 50 - Lake Chabot, CA


                    "The farther you go outside, the farther you go inside." (Unknown)
                    Ultrarunnerpodcast

                    Trail Runner Nation

                    Fatozzig's Place