Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Mountain Warfare Challenge - 10k run

[Note: Race photos are not mine, they are just low resolution copies which are available from www.brightroom.com I hope they don't mind me using them here. If you want good copies you'll need to get them from Brightroom.]

On race day I awoke to a bright and sunny day, had a leisurely camp breakfast and then stowed my gear in the car. I took the long way out of Buckeye heading north to 395. This long way was actually shorter than returning to Bridgeport but was on dirt roads for some miles. A beautiful drive though, looking down into the valley and beyond to the snow capped peaks which are about 20 miles north of the entrance to Yosemite.

The race was the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare training challenge with its low point of 6,800ft, climbing swiftly to 7,800ft in the first mile or so. I hoped sleeping at 7,500ft would help but perhaps the fact that I live at 4,750ft was pretty beneficial too.

As I arrived I gradually got to meet all the folks from work. Libby, Brent, Tony, Ron and Dave. At the starting line I also met the oldest competitor, John, who was 72 (very impressive!). In the starting chute I decided to head towards the front with Dave, Ron and Tony because although I wasn't feeling overconfident I was well aware of the frustration of being held up by the pack at the start.

As the race started we headed out on the road downhill - this surprised me a bit since I knew we had a lot of uphill to do and wasn't keen for it to be longer than it had to be. The uphill trail soon started and the pack started to spread up. The first section is steep and pretty soon a lot of people were walking. Running slowly and taking small steps I was still able to make ground on the walkers so I continued on a bit. Before long I started to reflect on the laws of physicals, well of physical exercise anyway, relating to the conservation of energy. I figured some of these walkers were saving themselves, so I too decided to walk a bit on the steep stuff - though at times I didn't have a lot of choice, the going was very tough. After a while I got past Ron, who altough fabled to be not a runner was doing pretty well, though anyone who takes his circuit training classes knows not to underestimate him. I was most comforted as I climbed, to still see Dave Adams just a short way ahead. I run with Dave sometimes and he's extremely fit so I was very pleased to still have sight of him.


The second mile was my slowest (and Ron said similar later too). It wasn't as hard as the first mile but it was hard enough that you couldn't really recover but only continue to suffer from the first mile. Somewhere during this second mile was the supposed 5ft wall climb. It was perhaps the biggest 5ft I've ever seen, much more like 5ft 10, followed immediately by the need to step in tyres. After that, downhill for a while, back the way we'd come, and good to say hi to the folks on the way up.

The downhill ended with a water station and another pretty rough climb. Through a low tunnel crawl and on for another mile or so to a hay bale climb and a low crawl. Then downhill all the way to the finish. I noticed I was able to fly downhill faster than some others so I made up some ground here. Lots of people were wasting energy putting the brakes on, so I sailed past. Another low tunnel crawl and downhill to the finish.

One of the guys I had overtaken on a downhill stretch had wised up and I was failing to catch him much, but when we hit the tarmac I was surprised to find I had a sprint finish left in me, so the last 50 yards was a blur. It was very satisfying to sail past him and for him to realise too late that I was flying. He came back well but I pipped him to the line and then turned to apologise and shake hands.


Ron looking similarly serious...

My time was something like 54.30, which seemed ok. When the results were posted I was pretty thrilled to be 4th in my agegroup and 36th overall (out of around 250). Chatting to Ron later over a beer we were thinking about how the race had gone. I said I felt I had a bit more and regretted a bit my thoughts of conserving energy by walking on some of the hills.

The others did very well too. Libby was first in her age group, Dave 3rd (though Dave was the quickest of all of us), and Ron 2rd. Brent doesn't run much but got a good time and Tony was disappointed to only match his last year's time but on such a course, that is a feat in itself.





Team Shot...
Team shot - Left to right, Tony, Dave, Ron, Brent, Libby, Carl

And John, the 72 year old, finished around 1:25 or so (first in his age group!)...

Split times, from my GPS were:
9:40; 10:55; 8:31; 8:36; 7:59; 7:08

The 10:55 is very disappointing but to have the legs left at the end to run 7:08 down a steep hill was quite satisfying.

A very enjoyable race, and a nice beer.

I finished the afternoon by returning to bridgeport to seek out the legendary Travertine Hot Springs (not my photo).

At the springs were 4 lads from the race, notably the french guy who had allowed the organizers to declare this was now an international event! They soon left and I was left alone to soak in these amazing hot springs, looks a little stalegtites in places where the hot water bubbled out. There is not cold water here at all, no river in sight, just a few natural looking hot tubs covered with a thick layer of grey sludge (which you also sit in). What an amazing place to sit and watch the sun go down whilst reading Stephen King's Bag of Bones. Great relaxation for tired legs. I was pretty careful getting out of these hot tubs on my own, since I have a tendancy to get light headed when getting out of hot tubs, but all was fine. There is no camping near the springs since this sulphorous landscape is on Indian land I'm told, and it somehow doesn't seem like an inviting place to stay, very hot and dry. So I headed back to Buckeye to pitch my tent in the woods again, at the exact same spot as yesterday. I dined on high carb split pea soup, bread and cheese. Nice!


Post a Comment

<< Home