Badger Mountain 100 Race Report: Rain, Wind, More Rain and Gusty Wind
Our new coach Geoff brings lots trail running experience. What follows was his latest 100 mile race, back in March, on a course with almost guaranteed bad weather. Ah, toughness training...thanks, Geoff, for sharing your experience.
Coming off the good vibes of my first 100 mile finish at Pine to Palm 100 miler back in September of 2016, I began itching to do another. I really wanted to get another buckle before summer struck, and didn't want to wait until the Cascade Crest 100 mile lottery to know if that was on the books or not for 2017, so the close-to-home Badger Mountain race was perfect for winter training motivation. Training went well given the rainy/snowy winter we had for Seattle and squeezing in the sale of our house, getting me to the starting line injury free and ready for 100 miles of fun in the Tri-city area.
I registered for Badger in January, after a cold, snowy, and windy early summit of Mailbox Peak with my training partner Joachim, who did his first 100 at Badger last year. We discussed going back together to better his finishing time and for me to get some miles on my legs early since I was crossing my fingers for Cascade Crest 100 in August. My training leading up to the race consisted of 20-50 mile/weeks with many three to six hour pushes involving 5,000-6,000 feet of gain. To escape the rainy Seattle winter, I added a fair amount of tempo treadmill climbs, intervals, and focused injury prevention work at the gym, and spent many weekends in the Methow Valley skiing while towing the kids for a killer strength workout.
While my overall volume of training was a little lower than in the past, I was more focused and consistent, which proved very helpful as my body recovered quickly, my motivation never waned, and I felt balanced and injury-free going into my taper, glad to know the work was done, because things were about to get really busy!
My wife and I had been discussing the possibility of someday moving to her family property in Winthrop. We had a few hurdles to overcome between, but after countless seasons together at her property and family close for connecting with the small community, we decided to move forward with our plan. In February, we chatted briefly with a real-estate friend of ours and were blown away by the housing market: we could do this! We wanted to raise our kids in a simpler way of life, so on our way out of town for Badger, we listed our house.
The sunny weather we arrived to turned overnigt to rain and blustering conidtions. Trying to remain positive, I thought at least I wouldn't have to worry about dehydration, but instead, maybe hypothermia? Joachim and I threw some additional socks, layers, gloves, and red bull (just in case) into our drop bags, which was a good thing as we ended up using nearly everything until the weather cleared up around 8:00pm. We were glad to know the course would go by the start/finish, so we could use my car as a gear cache and shelter when we finished the first loop.
The course starts with a series of climbs and descents over two mountains, Badger and Candy. While they aren't lung busting climbs, they are just long and steep enough to tax your legs. McBee ridge lies between the peaks which looks annocuous enough, until you get there, and realize why the aid station is plopped at the base. After scaling the steep pitch to the top, you run across rolling, rough terrain and up to the Chandler Butte AS. The exposed ridge meant we were blessed with pelting rain and wind the entire time on the ridge. From Chandler Butte, you work your way back across the ridge and down a super quick and nice single/double track to aid again. Joachim and I stuck together through this section and began the trip back to the start/finish to complete lap one.
We wanted to finish the first lap before the sun went down, and by my watch I got there in 11:30, a little quicker than expected, and about 15 minutes ahead of Joachim. I spent the next 20 minutes changing clothes, shoes, charging my headlamp, and making final nutritional adjustments for the night (slower pace=more eating!), chatted with Joachim as he came through, then wished him luck as we separated for the next loop to run our respective races, and I headed out with around 12 hours on my watch, a quesadilla in hand, and ear buds in for the ease back into running the final 50.
The next 15 miles went perfectly, as the sun went down, I stuck to my eating and drinking schedule, and my plan of running hte down hills, power hiking the ups, and shuffling the flats. I passed a few groups of runners after the Badger and Candy climbs, which gave me a bit boost (or was that the Red Bull? No matter). Now in the thick of night time, I paid special attention to each foot, traversing the rough jeep trail over the the McBee Ridge AS.
As I approached the ridge for the second time, the weather had cleared, but the wind picked up, creating much cooler temps. Alone on the mountain, the climb was a struggle, so I made a point to ascend to the AS as quickly as possible and was releived to be done and greeted with a Rainier beer. I continued on alone to the Chandler Butte aid where a handful of runners huddled under a tarp to escape the wind. It was cold and I didn't want to stick around long, so I ate half a grilled cheese, drank some coke, and left with a cup of hot cocoa.
On the return trip to get off the windy ridge and to warmer temps, I passed Joachim on his way up, with a quick hello and high five. The aid at the bottom had a fire to side beside while I ate food, filled bottles, and restocked my nutrition. I headed out with a quick thanks to the volunteers, excited to know I would be quicker than my 30 hour finishing goal with 20 miles to go.
The final 20 mile section involved some rolling terrain through wine vineyards and a few steep drainage ravines, that went quite well. The sun began to rise as I approached the last aid station before the final two climbs up Candy and Badger with less than ten miles to go before the finish. Some quick math showed that I could shoot for 26 hours if i could move well. I hit the last bit of road before Candy which was mentally the toughest; with toasted legs, I could barely hold a ten minute pace, but I focused on landmarks for walk/run breaks and started the Candy Mountain climb at 25:xx on the clock. Up and over Candy and one last AS and I would be done!
As part of the Badger Mountain Endurance Challenge, there are smaller races on Saturday, so I met a lot of runner traffic at this point. What at first was frustrating congestion became a welcome change after spending the last 14 hours mostly alone. Everyone was so supporive knowing I was in the 100 miler, which helped me pick up my pace as I started the climb. Unlike my last few times up the mountain, I power hiked to save my legs for the final descent. My legs felt good, the sun was up, and I pushed my downhill running a bit to finish strong. Rounding the final bend and down the final pitch of stairs to the finish, I glanced at my watch, happy to see my 26:45 finish.
While my training wasn't 100 percent perfect, I was able to put in a good effort and finish with a great result for my second 100 mile finish in a row. I transferred what I learned with fueling and hydration from Pine to Palm last summer to this race, which was huge. I had zero nutritional issues: I was able to maintain my appetite and looked forward to eating at aid stations. I was happy to reach my finishing goals of under 30 hours uninjured. Now with Sun Mountain 100k and Cascade Crest left for my race season, it's all systems go as I head back into training. Onward!
Congrats, Geoff, on a great race!