Yesterday was the last in the series of 5 Peaks races. In the previous one at Whistler I had placed 3rd in my age category but I had to burn a couple of lungs to do it. Going from sea level to a fast 16k at 6500ft was a bit of a wake up. Add to that that my Salomon Flight Crew team mate, Tom Craik, started in the wave behind me, meant that even after crossing the line ahead of him I still couldn't be sure if I was ahead until the times were posted. I was expecting the weasel to beat me again ... but managed to eek out a little victory after finishing behind the whipper snapper all year.
Buntzen is lower down so I hoped to have some lungs. It's a nice technical course and it had been raining so it would be even more like a banana peel than usual. An advantage for me over the newer trail folks out there but also an advantage for the whipper snapper, Tom, who liked it even more than me.
Contrary to speculation, I did not pull an Usain Bolt at the start but tucked in right behind Craikie. I planned to take it easyish for the start but even where I was I felt I was going too fast but Craikie was there and I couldn't let him get away so early. I tried following him up the long climb but by the time we reached the saddle and started the second climb he was out of sight. Rats! But there was nothing I could do. My legs were feeling pretty lead-like and if I pushed harder I knew I'd go lactic and burn out. So I just had to swallow my pride and settle in to what I could do. I was right behind the second place guy in my age category all the way up the climb but when we topped out he took off like a shot and was gone. He passed Craikie too on the downhill, which says something cuz Craikie has some downhill wheels. Strangely enough we would both get this guy before the end though.
I still struggle for about half of the top of Diez Vista ... trying to find my legs and lungs. Finally it came back as I ran along the top by myself and down the steep trails to the north end of Buntzen. Then a little struggle for the next km as my legs recovered from the pounding. I wanted to have something left for the last 4k along the lake - which was nice rolly terrain on good trails. I wasn't sure if I could do it but when I hit the first downhill at the start of that section I could feel the turnover coming back and I pretty much hauled the last 4km hoping to catch the whipper snapper. Twas not to be. I missed him by about 2 1/2 minutes but managed to almost run down the guy who would place 2nd in my age group. Another 50m and I would've had him. Still - I felt good that I had been able to reel in this guy who had just disappeared completely out of sight since the top of the first big climb 4k into the race.
I felt even better after seeing that I had whittled out another 3rd place age category finish and that, combined with my two other 3rd place finishes and a 5th in the 5 Peaks series, was enough to put me 2nd overall for the series and a nice little plaque to go with it! Craikie managed a 3rd in his group too so overall the Salomon Flight Crew had made its presence felt.
Thanks to Mark and Kathryn Stanton for putting on a great series and to JP for putting us in some of Salomon's finest gear. I feel spoiled.