When I left off yesterday, my uncle had just finished his bike in 1:26, and we had a running clock time of approximately 2:28. I was surprised when I saw my grandparents manning the timing station at the bottom of the mountain, and of course my grandpa made some funny comment that had me laughing before the henious climb before me.
My original plan was to run the flats and walk the steep parts. I thought I knew the trail from skiing it. Skiing down a mountai trail covered in snow is much different than climing up a rocky mountainside. After running the first .5 miles, I was done running for a while.
Pictures can’t express how hard this was. No one was running, and many of us worked together to get to the top. I can easily say this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m not a hiker, the sun was blistering hot (although the air was cool), the air thinned towards the top, and it was so. so. steep. It also wasn’t like hiking at all. In my experience, hiking trails are typically worn down to have decent footing, and have a direct path. This was just giant rocks that weren’t covered in grass, used to service the top of the mountain in the summer (I assume). The first mile wasn’t bad, but the second mile was horrible. I stopped at an aid station for a couple of minutes to take a honey stinger and catch my breath, and after that I was stopping every 5 minutes or so, for about a minute, to catch my breath and reassure myself I could do it.
Every time I stopped, I turned around to enjoy the view. I was earning the view and while I’ve seen it a million times before, there’s nothing like thinking that I was in such a beautiful place, climbing a mountain. I felt reprieve that I knew where I was on the trail, but I still felt like it would never end. Surprisingly, the last “pitch” was the steepest, which surprised me because it always feels so flat when I ski it. After I reached the top of that incline, I found it in myself to run (at a 12:30 pace, nonetheless) the last .15 to the finish line.
The climb was 2.67 miles, and I averaged a 24:47 pace for 2,000 feet of elevation gain. I passed one person on the climb, while two or three passed me. There were times where I caught up with a group, but then fell behind. I can’t fathom how most of the people surrounding me had done the bike and the 10K before heading up the mountain!Our final time was 3:35:14, way off of my goal but I couldn’t care less because WE DID IT!
I was so happy to see my mom (manning the timing station), grandma, and uncle at the top waiting for me. Knowing they were up there is what kept me going. I had a few sips of gatorade and a slice of watermelon before cracking open a beer Mom brought to the top for me. It was perfect. We soon headed down the mountain on the gondola for the spaghetti luncheon and awards ceremony (of which we got none – obviously).
Immediately after finishing, Uncle Denis was all about getting ready to improve our times next year. I’ll take some time to think about it, I dread heading up that mountain again! I would definitely train differently for that – working in some hiking instead of hill repeats. I’m truly hoping they have the race again next year, even if I don’t participate. However, in it’s 27th year, there were few participants and there has been a shift in race directors to someone who isn’t nearly as experienced as the previous director. The Wildman is a truly incredible, unique event in a beautiful area. I really hope this wasn’t the last year, but if it is I’m glad I got to do it at least once!
10K run: 1:02:48. 13/13 team, 63/63 overall
22.3 mi bike: 1:26:02, 9/13 team, 35/63 overall
2.67 mi hillclimb: 1:06:25, 12/13 team, 50/63 overall
Overall: 3:35:14, 13/13 team, 53/63 overall