Orcas Island 50km Race Report 2010 – Flying as Close to the Sun as Possible

photo by glenn tachiyama

sean attempting to pre-fatigue my abdominal with smack talk on the ferry to orcas island

i consider the pacific northwest my other home town, after portsmouth, new hamphire of course.  i moved here to work for microsoft in 1999.  i moved to salt lake city in december, but there is no other town that has my heart like seattle.  great friends, great trails, great races.

i have a wonderful group of local seattle athletes that i coach.  my clients miriam and her husband darryl came out to crew me.  which at a 50km just means they pulled my bottles out of my drop bag and handed them to me hopefully as i run by.  they both professed to loving the spectacle of it all and i see more ultrarunning events in their future.  thank you both soo much for being there!!  

so two years ago i race the orcas island 50km. that year we were forced to run a snow coarse that was about 1,000ft less vertical gain than the course we ran saturday.  the snow coarse had about 6,500ft of gain and suunto said this course was over 50km and about 7,600ft of elevation gain.

thanks alvin crain for this sweet map

as you can read here and here my friend and montrail teammate sean meissner decided that since we were racing against each other twice this year he would publically challenge me.  i think we are landing on the 6 month porn mustash as the penalty for defeat.. although with a 23min lead going into pocatello 50 miler i’m leaning toward the tramp stamp real tatoo of my name on sean’s lower back.

we’re off! photo by glenn tachiyama

ok so the race.  this course is rugged beautiful single track.  mostly runnable and oh so fun.  as the gun went off yassine pulled ahead and the adrenaline of not having raced for over a year and a half pushed me to the front.  at which point sean, who is tucked in right behind me says ” “you better savor this moment hart, because it’s the last time you will be in front of me this whole race!”.

in the first 30 minutes yassine slowly pulled away and my place in the lead pack faded.  from leading it, to barely being able to hold on.  i was seeing numbers on my heart rate monitor i haven’t seen in years.  2:26 marathoner dan olmstead would pull ahead on the climbs, me and b.c. would pass on the descents.  that didn’t last too long however, at some point before the mile 11 aid station they all ran away from me.  i was worried i had gone out too hard.  there was a short out and back at the aid station that allowed me to see just how much time they put on me… 2mins – not bad.

on my way out i saw sean for the first time.  he looked concerned.  i did some more math and figured i had 5mins on him.  montrail runner ellie greenwood was less than a minute on his heals looking super strong and positive as always. 

from there we climbed up a game path that is a knee pushing grunt.  i caught the eventual 2nd place runner from british columbia.  this dood was running downhills with reckless abandon, and seemingly no concern for his well being.  i guess it’s something in the water up there because gary robbins puts it down too (see 2010 HURT race report).

b.c. dood then decided to crush the powerline climb.  bye bye.  i was moving very well and watching my heart rate.  i just couldn’t keep up.  ultra awesome photog glenn tachiyama was at the view point to take some shots as we approached the high point of the course on top of mount constitution.

la sportiva’s own ellen parker ran a great 5hr 26min for 2nd place 50km

me right before the wheels came off. photo by glenn tachiyama

miriam and darryl were at the top with all my bottles laid out to chose from. again, thanks guys! the descent from mt constitution was great, however my bottle choice was not.  heed and nuun don’t mix.  there was just one 600ft climb up and over then down to the lake, around the lake to the finish.  right as i started the climb i bonked hard!  i saw my buddy bill huggins who had taken a wrong turn.  he said “come on hart, use me as a rabbit!”.  next time i looked up he must have been 100 meters down the trail.  it was then i realized i was walking.  i believe the best description of this is “wheels coming off”.  i had neglected to eat enough on the constitution climb and the bottle of calories i had was conspiring to make me throw up (again, heed and nuun don’t mix).  i ate 3 gels in 1 minute and had to shuffle along as i waited for the simple sugar to kick in.  as i descended to the lake for the last 4 miles or so it did, and i was back on track.  i even hammered the last 2 miles at near breaking point, flying as close to the sun as i could.  i wanted a real test, and i got one.  turns out the 2:20ish marathoners got off course.  that sucks sooo bad, but as we all know it happens at trail races.  i was really happy to run 4hr 47min for 3rd place overall. 

1st thing i consumed was two oreos. i’m getting a bad rap for being obnoxiously healthy and everyone is now going out of there way to get me to eat junk! photo by bryon powell

sean’s quick recap post is here and he said, “Yes, Matt kicked my butt. 4:47 to 5:10. And no, I didn’t take a wrong turn. Matt rocked it. I got rocked. I’m sporting the loser’s vest in my new profile pic.”  so now going into the pocatello 50 miler i have a 23 minute cushion in our “grudge match”.  thank you orcas volunteers and james for an awesome race and even better post race party.  i am an old man and haven’t stayed up that late laughing in a long long time. full 50km results here.. and a ‘grudge match’ video bryon powell from iRunFar.com put together – too funny.

sean did kinda make this look good. photo by bryan powell

my gear