Course Description: Stage 5 is basically Stage 4 stretched over 23miles vs 14miles. You climb for about 10miles. The grade gradually increases as you get closer to the summit. Then you run for several miles along the ridge at an altitude of just under 12k. Then you drop down some single track and forest service roads into the town of
What Happened: At the end of Stage 4, Mike and I felt really solid. I am starting to feel better on Day 4 and 5 than I did on day 1, 2, or 3. So we are pretty fired up.
To assist in the motivation department, during the ceremonies for Stage 4, there was a brief moment of silence as they set up some equipment. At that point, someone in the crowd yelled, “
is going down!!!” We are not sure who yelled it.. or why, but we definitely deposited that in the “motivation bank” and planned to use it during Stage 5. Flagstaff
As we line up in Red Ciff for the start of Stage 5, we were fired up. Adding more fuel, I see Max King is wearing his “skort”. Honestly, I am not a big fan of this. He did this last year on Stage 5 and beat my partner and I. It’s just not a good feeling getting beat that way. I looked over at Mike and words were not necessary… we were going to run hard all day long.
The gun went off and as with every day, several teams set the pace. We were cruising along at about 6:30/mile for the first 3miles. Eventually, the field spread out and it was once again Team Run Flagstaff vs. Team Bend.
Around Mile 4, the grade got a little bit steeper, so Mike and I decided to push the pace. Over the next few miles, we were unable to shake the guys from
, but we just kept applying pressure. Before we knew it, the trail was getting steeper, and at that point, we started putting chunks of time on the field. By the time we hit the summit, we couldn’t see who was in second place. Bend
Not wanting to get caught, we decided to run even harder along the top. As we got to the start of the descent, we still couldn’t see 2nd place. We decided to continue cranking until we were at least a few miles out.
Hitting the single track downhill portion, our focus shifted on trying to stay on course. Our pace slowed quite drastically as we scanned the course for yellow ribbons. This hadn’t been an issue over the first 4 days, but today it seemed as if the markings were not adequate. We closed out the downhill very cautiously, and before we knew it, we could hear the music coming from the finish. At that point, we took a deep breath, pulled back and cruised in not knowing what was going on behind us.
We finished in a time of 2hrs 55min 25sec. Team Salomon finished in 3hrs 8min 52sec (they got off course and lost a few minutes)… while Team Bend finished 3rd in 3hrs 9min 50sec.
Doing the math, we figured out that we increased our lead over 2nd place by nearly 15min. Though it felt good to have a bit of cushion, we still had a long, hard Stage 6 to get through. As soon as we finished, we had a brief chat… there would be no letting up.. and we would run stage 6 as if it were stage 1. Finish it up.