The Ultra Experience

Here's to the adventures of my life which are usually ultra marathon trail running or fly fishing but may include other trips, experiences, thoughts, opinions, or pretty much whatever I want. As co-founder of Altra Footwear my life and adventures seemingly revolve more around developing and promoting the best footwear in the world...and I love it!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Squaw Peak 50- 2013

7th attempt at Squaw.  My 4th-6th attempts had been rather painful and didn't match my expectations.  So for 2013 I didn't really plan much, didn't take a watch, and vowed to maximize my enjoyment by pushing the limits yet listening to my body.  Needless to say, it ended up being my favorite and best Squaw!

It started with Seth Wold bolting off the starting line.  I knew he was going for a sub-8 hour time and wished him luck.  I went out rather quick with Meghan, Erik, Ford, and Kameron.  At the Silvia turn-off, 4 miles in, I throttled it back, plugged in the tunes, and turned on cruise-control.  I enjoyed the climb watching the first light bounce off the mountains.  I knew it would be a good day as I smiled looking over the next few miles of trail at the Rock Canyon overlook 8 miles in.  It was the most Zen race I've ever had as I seemed to flow over the trail, taking in the scenery, and just loving the miles.  Even a small spill at mile 16 didn't even dampen my spirits.

Good friend Roger Smith had started an hour early and I caught up and chatted with him on the asphalt at mile 24.  He was going to catch our friend Darren who after 9 Squaw finishes and many other ultra's had seriously damaged his knees.  Darren wanted to get 10 Squaw finishes so he started at 9:30pm the night before planning on taking 24 hours if needed.  Squaw Peak 50 would sadly be Darren's last ultra.  Roger wanted to spend some time with Darren and the 2 friends ended up running the last 12 miles together.  When I passed Darren at mile 34 he had a smile on his face.  I got emotional seeing his admirable grit and determination.  Love you Darren!

At the big aid station at mile 26 I was in and out.  I never asked what time it was and had no idea what my split was or how long I had been running.  I felt great and I motored up Hobble Creek as well as Sheep Creek.  As I was dropping down into Little Valley I came across a runner sprawled out on was Seth.  His heroic attempt had come crashing down.  He smiled, urged me to go on, and I challenged him to rebound and finish strong (which he amazingly did finishing in 9 hrs and 54 minutes!).

The climb from Little Valley to Windy seemed fast.  I was feeling great and I started to push the throttle.  I began wondering what my finishing time would be and whether I was even close to running a sub 9 hour race.  The crew up on Windy Pass was awesome as always.  I asked "what time is it?" for the first time that day.  They said 12:33pm...  My fastest time down the mountain after 6 finishes was 1 hour 25 minutes and I would need to match that to break the elusive 9 hour barrier.

And so I departed with high spirits.  Within a mile I was flying!  A mile later my right leg suddenly cramped out of no-where.  I came to a grinding halt...  I quickly took my last 2 salt pills and drank most of my remaining water then began walking.  Within a minute I was cautiously jogging and then running.  I had to hope that I could make it 4 more miles to the next aid station.  I tried to keep it in check as all other faculties felt great.  Sure enough I made it with a greeting from my wife and boys!!  I drank a full bottle of water had a handful of potato chips and left the last aid station with a big smile and 3 1/2 miles to go.  I ended up running to a PR of 8 hrs and 53 min and 3rd place.  I was super happy with my performance and had an awesome day!

Special congrats to Erik Storheim on the win, Ford a 17 year kid for placing 4th in 8:59!, and Darren for finishing his 10th.  It was great seeing so many friends, so many Altra's on the trail, and another great year at Squaw Peak 50.


Nicholas Sourlos said...

Way to go!

Brian Beckstead said...

Thanks Nic. I thought of you this year when I passed that last shady tree at the base of Bozung Hill.

I smiled because this year I wasn't caught sitting under there!

Anonymous said...


Nice work! Loved reading your write up.