Clip from the Boulder Running Company, Greenwood Village
On a whim last week I decided to race the Highlands Ranch "Backcountry Wilderness"Half Marathon. I wanted to race something before the North Face 50, and I reckoned a half would be the perfect distance to get the legs tuned up a bit before starting a slow taper for TNF in 3 weeks. I am definitely one to choose quality over quantity what with the number of miles in my legs over the years.
I had no expectation as to the course and didnt , check out course map online and was actually looking forward to surprises along the way to keep it adventurous. I also knew nothing about the race series except that my pal Mark Bockmann at Racerite would be taking over the timing from my other pals, Darrin and Jill Eismann at Racingunderground.
The title of the race is a mild oxymoron, but nevertheless I came away pleasantly surprised at the high quality trails and race series they have down there, wedged between Denver and the Springs surrounded by thousands of homes. The course was a combo double and single track, and about 2 miles concrete path, with a sneaky 1800 total climb over the course. The race started out at a quick sub six minute pace, and my goal was to stick in about 6th through 10th place and then just wait and see how things unfolded and how my body reponded to speed. I felt comfortable on the inital mile and was in 7th place, and as the rollers hit one guy in green, Danny Mooch, pulled ahead. I picked guys off and Danny pulled about 30 seconds ahead, knowing that if he kept extending the lead I wouldn't even bother and battle it out for second. His lead stayed at thirty seconds until we got through some sweet single/double track around mile 6 that let my imagination play games to forget the pain and pictured being on my mountain bike on the nice, man-made dirt rollers every 10-100 feet apart. As things got more rolly and technical, I started reeling in Danny before the short turnaround section. I never lulled in my pace as Danny flagged a bit and I was able to out a couple minutes on him before the finish. (Turns out he had made the unfortunate mistake of running Green mt with Tony K the day before)
Overall, loved the race (not just because of winning) and found new respect for the suburban trails hidden just south of Denver. The HRRA puts on a fine tight, race, well-marked and race schwag, and good homey vibe. I was pleased with my performance given a lack of summer racing and training. I am hoping that I am near some sort of "peak" given this fact. Good to catch up with Scott Jaime, JT (Brownie), Kevin Dieghan (met him at the Italian SkyGames in 2000, and Scott Swaney (my old adventure race teammate).