|Big Tesuque 2011, Hadji, Eric and Mike lead out the field|
Well, it was obvious from the time of the starter's instructions how this thing was going to play out. Bernard Langat had come up to run and was the de facto champion before the gun even sounded. Former champion and trail racing royalty Rachael Cuellar as well as three time Big Tesuque champ Mike Ehrmantraut were in the field so there were the likely women's champ and men's runner-up. Eric Peters was lined up, Joachim Marjon was there, mountain-runner Jacob Waltz, Antonio Lopez, the esteemed Dave Simpson, Matt Dreier, and my ghost from last year Andres Santiago of Flagstaff was back. I talked with ultra-runner Ruthanne Hamrick, Caldera marathon runner-up Whitney Dreier, Erin Sindewald, Mariam Browne, Liz Jaramillo-Lopez, and Erica Micander. Who else showed up to run? You never quite know who's lurking at the start of one of these things.
As for myself, I'd been off my feet a bit coming into the week but had my eyes on crushing the ascent. The downhill section would have to be a wait-and-see type of deal. A steep and technical downhill of pain and uncertain footing was not really going to help with the foot injury I'd been nursing. Last year the descent destroyed me, pretty much ending my running for several months. Ok, well with the gun, off we went. I eased on up the trail and found myself toward the front without much effort. I ran for a bit near Rachael and thought she might just be taking it easy over the first section, but we hit the first mile in 8:22 so it seemed we were both moving well. Feeling good, I just hammered away with my choppy little climbing stride at what felt like 200rpms. After the first couple miles Rachael had set up 50m ahead of me, Joachim was another 80m or so beyond her. The gaps didn't seem to move much the rest of the way up.
|Liz Jaramillo-Lopez and William Ek leading a pack of runners at mile 1 - photos by Max Mujynya|
|Here's one of myself on the escalator lined in gold - photos by Max Mujynya|
I was trying to get in a hard workout for the first time in several weeks and for that reason never did glance back to see what was behind me. I know that someone bridged a gap and ran up on my heels at around mile 3. It rankled that I was running slow enough to be caught so I boosted my turnover for a few minutes and the footfalls were gone. It probably took some work for whomever it was to move up onto my hip, and then when he arrived and could get a bit of rest I pressed ahead. That had to have sucked badly for him. However it made me feel like badass Clubber Lang handing out a beating. That happy thought carried me to the top and past the now descending front-runners. Bernard came jogging past near the chairlift. Mike came by at the steep hairpin. Joachim closer to the towers, then Rachel right up near the turn-around.
At the mountain edge my watch stopped at 55m30s, my best climb by 2min. Fantastic except that I didn't think I'd be ahead of so many people at this point. If I could help it I'd rather stay ahead of them all until the finish. Quite the dilemma I'd found myself in. It started to slip away from me fairly quickly though. I lost my legs around mile 8, they just didn't have the miles in them to control the fast decent and I wasn't very confident that they could prevent a stumble or fall. I had to focus pretty keenly on the footfalls and keeping my strides and pace under control. Soon after, Mike Rahmer out of Albuquerque came blazing by with a long powerful stride and just disappeared. I felt an unpleasant bonk coming on and stopped for several cups of gatorade at the water stop at mile 9.5. Jake Lawrence and Andres Santiago sped by together as I stood there like a rube. Back on the trail I closed the gap on those two over the next mile, and then Andres jetted away out of view. As the trail leveled out a bit in the last mile I was able to sprint a few of the flat sections without the worry of falling on my face. I closed pretty well on Jake but ran out of real estate, but so did the guy behind me which I figured had to be Waltz. It was Waltz.
|Bernard on the descent - photos by Max Mujynya|
|Rachael a few places back in fourth - photos by Max Mujynya|
|Whitney Dreier with the aptly named Aspen Peak in the distance - photos by Max Mujynya|
Ok, good showing. My foot seemed stable and wasn't all jacked-up. I hadn't fallen hard on a bunch of rocks which is a big plus, and I had climbed strongly and avoided a complete tank on the descent. That's a pretty good hand son, maybe a full house. Mile splits on the way up were something like: 1/ 8:22, 2/ 10:00, 3/ 10:00, 4/ 9:30, 5/ 9:20, 5.9/8:18, descent/ 37:00.
Seeing that Bernard finished in a fast - but not record fast - time of 1hr 21min I asked him if he had been running hard. "No, no," he said (he's been running the trail all summer and reportedly put up a 1hr13m run in that time). He was getting in a workout for upcoming pacing duties at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in two weeks. 81minutes on that trail is quick (the quickest time in the last 10yrs is 78min), and he took home some pottery and a certificate for a free pair of trail shoes from Alpine Sports. Joaquim Marjon moved into second on the downhill section, Mike Ehrmantraut finished third. Rachael ran away with her second women's title in roughly the same time she put up in 2009, 1hr 31min which is near the women's alltime record. The turn-around at the towers has moved a bit since the '09 race adding an extra minute to course times. She also received a trophy and free pair of trail shoes. Albuquerque's Stefanie Tierney held on for second, and Santa Fe's Whitney Dreier closed for third.
There were a number of falls in this year's race and the EMTs had their hands full. I know that Chris Chavez took a tumble, as did Kevin from Carlsbad, as did Vince Hesch, as did about a half a dozen others. No broken bones it seemed but possibly a few scrapes requiring stitches. Hope everyone was feeling a bit better the day after.
Pete Fant did another standout job directing the event, his 14th straight year, and our fine sponsors provided support, race donations, and awards: Alpine Sports, San Francisco St. Bar & Grill, Santa Fe Screen Printers, Souder Miller Engineering and Survey, Paseo Pottery, The Santa Fe Striders, The Running Hub, Java Joes, and the Santa Fe Baking Company. Race proceeds, as always, benefit WINGS of America running club. Hope to see you all again next year.
|Annie McCoy, Melissa Smith, & Mariam Johnston - photos by Max Mujynya|
Overall Results - Big Tesuque Trail Run 2011
|5.||Rachael Cuellar (W1)||1:31:21|
|21.||Stefanie Tierney (W2)||1:42:54|
|31.||Whitney Dreier (W3)||1:52:17|
Full results and Max's photo albums can be found here
Waltz has his race report up here:
2011 Big Tesuque Trail Run
Last year's race report can be found here:
Big Tesuque - 2010
View Aspen Vista Trail (Big Tesuque Trail), Santa Fe, NM in a larger map