Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stage 4: Red Cliff Lows

I had high hopes for today – unfortunately, the podium was not meant to be…

With a profile resembling that of Stage 2 (steep up/fast down = 14miles), my goal was to pull back some time on the teams around us (Heathens +5min and Fluffy Bunnies Track Club +2min) and target our first podium. This was a realistic goal as both Salomon US teams lost one of their runners overnight to battered bodies; the two remaining runners from either team joined forces to create a new Salomon team. Although the new mix proved very strong (finishing 2nd today – sandwiched between Nike/Rogue Valley Runners and UK’s Saab/Salomon Team), they will be ranked as ‘unclassified’.

Despite my tender quads, I woke up feeling good, motivated and excited at the potential to move up in the standings. Dennis was quite tired yesterday afternoon and even this morning. We tried to pump each other up by staying positive, but even with the tow line in effect from the start, it was evident to me that Dennis was struggling. Fellow Albertans Fewster and Masters (Aerobic Power) were very strong today - pulling alongside us early in the climb and ended up leap frogging with us to the top. I pulled hard up to the summit, trying to gain as much time as possible but working for two, I could not break away. On a good note, we did manage to pass the Fluffy Bunnies halfway up, and closed in on the Heathens as we neared the top – but never managed to close the gap on the latter team as the trail flattened along a beautiful ridge run.

On the descent, we continued playing ‘frogger’ with Aerobic Power, blasting down the fun switchbacks trying to keep a high tempo. The game continued until the lower slopes where the course merged with a very cool creek, forcing us to get wet feet for a good 400m stretch. At CS2, we had finally managed to form a gap – A quick coke feed and off we went!As the final kms rolled by, I could hear AP charging hard from behind – closing the gap quickly with every stride. I hooked Dennis back on again for a final dash to the line, but there was nothing we could do…We settled for 6th overall on the stage, seconds behind AP (5th officially b/c Salomon US doesn’t count anymore), about 5min back of the Heathens, who will now lead us by close to 10min in the overall- The final results aren’t up yet (@ 1pm), but I believe we are back in 4th overall after 4 Stages.

So here we are in Red Cliff CO, a (very, very) small mountain town about 30-40km South of Vail off Hwy 24…I’m taking a ‘timeout’ from camp life and escaped down the road until a few bars appeared on my cell phone, firing up my air card to load this update. I’m overlooking a freaky little Ghost town, remnants of the Gold Rush days (I think). It’s a pretty cool neck of the woods – I’ll have to come back here and check out the local sights when I get a chance to play tourist. I heard that there’s a private ski resort that is moving in just around the corner, and Red Cliff is set to getting a fancy facelift over the next 10 years – I’m sure there’s mixed feeling about that development.

As far and Dennis and I are concerned – we’re good. I’m disappointed about today but in the big picture, we’re doing very well considering we hooked up less than 3 weeks ago. I’ve been in this position before and although it makes me a bit nervous, I know that Dennis’ toughness will make it to the end. I just have to be careful about how much I push him – a fine line. We still have two more big days ahead of us (actually, two more marathons!) and anything can happen…This game is far from over-

Canuck Update:

Kudos to Aerobic Power - you boys rocked today - good work!

Team Jeta (Tannis Forest and Jess Donoghue) are still rockin' it - ranked 3rd overall in the Open Women's category

Beaver Hunters are holding strong in the top ten...These guys are doing super good!

That's it for now...

The Canuck Crew relaxes in front of Nova Guides Lodge - A great TR venue in the middle of the Colorado Rockies- Nice socks Scott!
Mass frenzy on the Nova Guides' yard as runners grab as much Salomon swag as they can - Salomon dumped a truck load (really) of socks, visors, towels and other nik-naks to reward the participants for having reached the halfway mark of the event.

TR Nightlife - 'Munny' enjoys a bit of R&R, warming up in front of Salomon's nightly bonfire!


Anonymous said...

You are obviously a work horse. Keep pulling-you are the master after our race last year.....
Stay positive, stay real and have fun bro. Tell Dennis not to get down. Team comps are hard and there will always be one stronger. hang in there!!


Gary Robbins said...

Hey Phil, we haven't met but I'm a good friend of Dom and Munny's and I followed along last year as well. Hopefully I'll see you there in 09.
Thanks for the updates as the website is terrible for listing daily results. Nice work so far, like you said, still far from over!