US Mtn Championships Preview

There is going to be a heck of a race this weekend in Bend. The US Mtn Championships are coming to Mt Bachelor and with it most of the top trail runners in the country, vying for a spot on the US team. Preview the men’s field here.

The course consists of a 4k loop that ascends and descends 800+ feet on the ski trails and service roads of Mt Bachelor. Women race two loops for 8k, men 3 loops for 12k, following the World Championships format. Bottom elevation = 6400; top = 7300. Get ready to feel the burn.

Preparations

After coming back from a spring knee injury, I’ve been training for about 10 weeks and have gotten in some great work, not to mention new trails, events and mountains. In mid June I ran my first race since December, Bend’s locally famed Dirty Half, which helped scrape off the racing rust. There was a good crew to push the entire way, and I traded 4th through 8th places before the wheels sagged with two miles to go, finishing 7th in 1:19. Still not bad and with a little more fitness much better. The very same evening I drove to Trout Lake, WA to meet Annie for a climb of Mt Adams, and with more rest than the previous week on Mt Hood, the climb felt much better, affording tremendous views and some sibling bonding when altitude sickness struck. Annie proved to a be a real trooper.

Western States 100 weekend was another solid back to back effort; racing the Montrail 6k uphill challenge on Friday (39 minutes of intense climbing) and then pacing Seth the last 22 miles Saturday evening from the Rucky Chucky river crossing to the Placer track finish. WS is an incredible and humbling event; it takes a team to race 100 miles and I’m proud to be part of it. More on how Seth’s race unfolded here.

Into July I’ve been using long runs of 2-3 hours once a week to explore trails around town and in the nearby mountains. Claire and I found our way to the summit of another cascade peak, Mt Thielsen; Dirk and I ran a section of the PCT around Mt Washington I hadn’t trod since 2011; and the three of us made it above the din of Cultus Lake jet skis to Cultus Mt and back.

The the crew in Bend has turned Wednesday mornings into Bachelor sessions, previewing the course with Max King and readying the legs with repeats. This is probably the biggest advantage over my experience at the championships last year in New Hampshire. There I saw only a fraction of the course before racing it; here we’ve been able to pick every line and gauge every grade, visualizing how to best expend energy over three laps.

So is all this enough preparation? The reality is that races with tough courses and tougher competition always put you outside your comfort zone. Halfway through, no amount of preparation seems enough. And yet, it teaches you to dig down and keep going. I have no idea how I’ll finish this weekend, but hopefully I can put together the best effort possible on the day. It will definitely be fun.

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