Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tour de Flatirons, Stage 4: Third Flatiron

The course!

Well, that was fun, in the usual painful way that Minion masochists seem to enjoy. Once again the camaraderie and competition from Buzz and Willie, and even Homie this time, made the race much more interesting for me. The field was huge - 20+ scrambers - and quickly separated into the haves and the have-nots. The haves having superior lung power! I didn't in last place, but Buzz did.
Bijon just after getting off rappel

As we suffered up the Mesa Trail, I found myself well behind the giant Bijon Mustard, who looks like he should be playing tight end in the NFL, Tony Bubb, and a newcomer wearing a pack bigger than the ones Mark and I carried on our two-day Canyonlands adventure. Yet, I wasn't worried about going out too slow, since Buzz was still behind me. I knew he'd be coming by eventually, and I wanted to tack onto his train, but when he did come by, he towed Willie as well and now I was definitely at the tail end of this race. The one saving grace was that Homie was behind me. He's a fit and fast dude, even when he isn't fit or fast, so I knew I was okay. I was pacing myself. I was hurting, but prepared to suffer for 40+ minutes.

I lost sight of my sometime-competitors Dan and Jon on the run up and never saw them again. Alas, Willie has always been by my side, or just in front or just in back, at every stage. Our fitness getting to the rock is nearly identical. Buzz got to the Third probably 15-20 seconds ahead of me and Willie about 10 seconds behind me. In between us was newly-minted Minion Darren. He stuck on my heels for the half the climb until I finally gapped him. Buzz was off to my right and I gained ground on his initially, but he gained it back at the top, with his more direct route. He doesn't cross to the left side of the big gash, like the Regular route does, but instead just makes a beeline for the top. This is a good strategy, but I think the Regular route is a bit faster, despite being a bit longer, because of the easier scrambling.

Halfway up the face I could see the green shirt of Homie closing on me. I tried to raise my game and keep ahead of him. I wanted to beat him to the top and hoped to gain some advantage with the queue for the rappel lines. On top, expertly rigged by Chris George and company (thanks, riggers!), were three rappel lines. The first three obviously raced over the top with no delay. Most everyone else probably had to wait a bit. I was surprised and flattered to see Anton Krupicka (one of the best mountain runners in the world and the record holder for climbing all five numbered Flatirons) on top, cheering me on, along with everyone else. I was hoping he'd be scrambling with us, but having him on top allowed me to actually see him during the event, so that worked out.

On top with me and the riggers were Scott Bennett (currently holder of the Naked Edge speed record) and Buzz. Before I got on the rappel lines Homie arrived and then Willie. Once I got on a rope, I zipped down it at high speed, catching Buzz at the bottom, who descended at a more prudent pace. This was only possible for me because I wore biking gloves to protect my hands from 200 feet of rope speeding through it. As I hit the trail, I think Jeff Valliere and maybe another person were there spectating.
Homie being chased by Willie

Once on the ground, Buzz bid me good luck on the descent and settled into a more knee-saving pace. I descended, recklessly for me, which doesn't mean fast, as I'm pretty reckless at any speed on steep, loose talus. Still, I pushed myself trying to stay ahead of the more agile runners behind me, mainly Homie and Willie.

A couple of running friends were in the talus taking some photos and they encouraged me as well. A couple of hikers gave me track and I sped by. Down by the bouldering, the boulders gave me some props as I stumbled past, breathing like a warthog with stuffed up sinuses. I risked a glance over my shoulder a couple of times. I knew if I saw anyone, I was done, as that would mean they were gaining on me. I didn't. Once I hit the smoother trail I still worked hard, suffering at my limit, nearly hurling, as I feared the finishing kick of Homie and Willie so much. If they have passed me up in the boulders, good for them, but now, so close to the finish, no one wants to get passed, least of all me.

I pounded down the last finishing straight and crossed in 42:55. It was nearly a minute before I had caught my breath enough to ask who had won. It was Stefan with a blistering time of 33:44, his second fastest time ever. He's one of only three scramblers to break 34 minutes (Dave Mackey is still the record holder and Anton is currently third fastest). Ryan took second and Mattias third. These three have battled the entire Tour and occupied the top three spots in every stage so far. Apparently Matthias had a bit of an issue with the rappelling. That's unfortunate, but, hey, it's all part of the game.
Most of the field
Full Results:

1. Stefan Griebel, 33:44
2. Ryan Franz, 34:24
3. Matthias Messner, 34:40
4. Dave Mackey, 37:02
5. Dylan Cousins, 37:27
6. Dan Mottinger, 40:05
7. David Glennon, 40:17
8. Jon Sargent, 41:28
9. Scott Bennett
10. Bill Wright, 42:55
11. Willie Mein, 44:00
12. John "Homie" Prater, 44:12
13. Darren Smith 45:11
14. Buzz Burrell, 46:03
15. Tony Bubb, 49:55
16. Bijon "Mustard" Tuysserkani, 50:39
17. Peter Hamel, 52:04
18. Kendrick Callaway, 55:59
19. Adam Massey, 56:55
20. Alan Doak, 1:04:50
21. Stuart Paul, 1:17:12

1 comment:

Bijan Tuysserkani said...

Awesome stage and company as usual :) I came in at 50:39 and blame my couch for not getting me sub 50 :P Bijan