Yesterday I had the opportunity to race in the Menan Butte Challenge for the second time. I really enjoy this race because it starts off with a very steep climb up the north side of the Butte. Right from the start it gets you to redline. Last years race was a very exciting with Pat Bragassa, Wray Landon, and myself going back and forth for the lead, and with a little luck at the end I was able to win.
I have been anticipating this race for quite sometime, it was going to be the first race I would be a defending winner. I expected Pat to be at the race, as well as Tom Borschel (fellow Sportiva teammate and all around wicked fast runner) and many other fit and fast local athletes. Saturday morning came around and things were really falling in place for me, I felt rested, healthy, and ready to rock. Pat and Tom were both at the start and quite a few other fit looking folks.
When the race started I headed out at a solid clip, that I felt was sustainable for the entire climb, the pace was fast enough to quickly pull me into the lead. I hit the top of the crater (the top of the 1350' climb) in right around 8 minutes and glanced over my shoulder- nobody right on my tail. My lungs were burning but felt pretty good, my legs felt great so I opened up my pace until the bottom of the crater. From this point I really tried to keep my cadence high, just as a started up the far side of the crater I glanced back again- this time I could see Pat about 200 meters back, I turned it up a notch up the slickrock climb to try to put more ground between me and Pat. The course is a figure 8 so I made the turn back into the crater and started to pass alot of racers who were on their first trip into the crater. Having someone in front always helps me to turn the pace up and I quickly passed 8-9 racers on the short descent and the path through the center of the crater. I then turned up the climb that led to the maze, again I peaked back- this time I didn't see Pat, but I didn't let that fool me into slowing down. I picked my way through the maze as quickly as possible. It was much better marked this year than last which made it much easier to follow a quick path. I again found myself amongst other racers as I descended back down the front of the Butte towards the finish, all of which were very gracious to give the space I needed to keep moving quick. I finished the 5.5 mile course, 1350' gain/descent in 35:32. Pat finished 2nd about 1:30 back and Tom 3rd a few minutes behind Pat. Full results here.
It really was a great day for me, legs felt solid and fitness was were it needs to be. I had the chance to meet several very wonderful runners from SE Idaho and Wyoming, it was a super fun race and post-race. I am really grateful for all the work that Michael and the folks at Personal Best Performance did to make the race go so well. After the awards finished and people started to head out I climbed the Butted again and did 4 more figure 8's on the course. There I met two different scout troops, a couple of large groups of college kids and a few small families all hiking on the butte. I must have seemed crazy to them, just running around and around on top of this old lava dome, but at least they were friendly, sometimes cheering for me as I passed them for the 4th or 5th time. I put in a total of 23 miles w/ 4,500' of gain on saturday, the legs felt good, I am very happy with how the day turned out!