|...and that's elevation at the START!|
There were a handful of Marathon Maniacs at this race, including a friend from Running Club North in Fairbanks. I had a race strategy session/dinner with Erika, who I described as "late 30s, 40 at the most" prior to this trip, and her husband Peter the night before. Turns out she's 50. And fast. We were able to share the first 2 miles, my fastest of the day at 8:20 pace, before she blew past me and hustled her way to 2nd overall- just behind a very talented 20-something. It goes without saying, but I want to be Erika in 20 years- a gorgeous, talented athlete with a willingness to share earned knowledge with others.
At the 5K mark, we had already gained 1000’ and spent much of the next few miles on rolling hills at 5-6 % grades between 7300 and 7500’. Going into this race, I was all sorts of concerned about my breathing...but that didn't turn out to be the challenge at all. The most painful part of dealing with the elevation? Ears popping, followed by a dull headache, and minor nosebleed around mile 10. The most interesting part? When my brand new, very full tube of lip gloss expanded and EXPLODED. Inside my sports bra.
A slower pace gave me the ability to enjoy the beauty of the course. We were running across the White Mountains, high enough to overlook some of the most breathtaking canyons I've ever seen (sorry, Arizona). There is never really any guarantee the area's wild horses, namesake of the race, will be out- this year they were everywhere. I saw the first herd around mile 5 and almost every mile or so thereafter until mile 18. It was awesome to see them grazing and even running across the plains and past the rock formations along the canyon. I'm still kicking myself for not taking a camera.