September 20, 2010

Dances with Dirt recap

So last weekend I had the opportunity again to join several crews heading to Hell, Michigan for a 100K Extreme Trail Relay race called Dances with Dirt.  This is always a blast and while I first headed out and was placed on the "JV squad" in 2007, I was asked to be on the "stud team" this past year and it was a good thing.  (In 2008, I was doing IM Wisconsin and in 2009 I was too broken and banged up to race this)
Our team consisted of our the 5 good looking guys pictured above.  From left to right it was Brian Matthews, Jeff Beck, Dan Andrus, myself and Mort Nace.  This was a picture post race and after a few drinks so I apologize for the ridiculousness, but it was all in celebration of a fantastic effort this past year.  Now the last time I races, our team ended up finishing 61st overall and they awarded prizes to the top 60, so we were out of luck, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning. 

This race pulls crazy folks from all over the country and Canada in for a rocking good time. Trail runners are notably always known as that crazy goofy breed that doesn't rely on pace or mile markers and just kind of goes with the flow.  We fit right in.  This year 374 teams came out to play and each team had 5 runners on it which made for a lot of folks there throughout the day. (since this is a relay, just think of the logistics for parking and shuttling teams gets crazy)  But luckily, we really didn't have to deal with too much of that. (i'll explain soon...)

The gun went off and our runner Jeff blazed out of the gate.  His goal this year was to win the opening leg and boy did he not disappoint.   We came thru in numero uno and even though I wasn't racing until leg #4, I knew it was "game on!" and we were gonna have a horserace.  My first leg was a 10k that was called Potto and the trails looked pretty much like Mendon Ponds Park.  It was wide track and fast as it was pretty sandy and dry.  I took the handoff in 8th place and before I even got to the woods (like a quarter mile) I was in 5th.  I was running possessed and on a mission to pick up as many positions as possible.  My leg ended where the race started and I came thru and never saw another soul until I finished.  We hovered around that 5th place for most of the day.
We were running strong and at one point, the newbie on our team - Mr. Matthews, took a wrong turn and got lost for a few minutes down the wrong trail.  We were down a few positions a that point and I thought Mort was going to blow a gasket stomping around waiting for Brian to appear for him to take the hand off.  My next leg was the 8th leg or so called "Bat outta Hell" and I was off for a speedy 2.55 mile jaunt from the General Store in Hell.  I was ready to blaze and ready to take the hand off from the River Styx leg and doing windsprints to warm up and keep my heartrate up.  I took the handoff and flew and never saw anyone but ultra runners my entire leg.  Same thing happened for me for my final leg #11, Vertigo where I took the handoff from Brian (after his quad cramped majorly about 5 minutes before the start of his leg) and he ran phenomenally too.  My legs however got scraped and cut to sh*t on the Vertigo leg because I was running thru a field of soybeans and was about the 5th one or so thru it so there was no real visible trail yet. The only tricky part was that it started to rain on this leg for me an the downhills on slippery leaves were a little tricky. It ended in about a 0.5 mile section of goldenrod and I was bleeding pretty good by the time I got to the car. 

Now the real excitement came when Dan handed off to Mort and we were 50 seconds from 3rd place with two legs to go, Mort's and then Jeff's.  Jeff was running anchor for us and took the handoff 1:40 down from 3rd place. We got in the van and hightailed it to the finish line and narrowly beat Mr. Beck there.  He popped out of the woods and was cruising to the line pulling us from 5th overall to a very respectable 3rd place overall pre-handicap.  It was a grand day and we were ALL celebrating very hard post race in the rain. 
In the past teams have come away with some solid prizes such as embroidered sweatshirts, duffelbags with the race logo on it and some nice stuff.  3rd place overall netted us these beauties... awesome...(insert sarcasm here) but it was still a wonderful race and they did a great job organizing it too.  We all go hammered afterwards and as the saying goes, "you work hard, then play hard" and we definitely all did.  This was the last big race for me before Chicago Marathon which is less than 3 weeks away now and I'm itching to drop a solid race there.  Should be a fun time.  But until then friends, race hard, train harder and see you out on the roads and trails.  Cheers.


Tim said...

Nice Staples giveaway. Even my team won one of those "Major Awards". I guess we drank enough Ovaltine or something. Anyways, in case you didn't get the memo, nice work at the race, Scab.

Cusetri said...

nice work.

good luck in chicago....tear it up!