I've been looking forward to running this race since last April. I moved here in June and frequently heard about what a big event it was and the quality of competition that showed up each year. I knew some amazing runners would be lined up, specifically:
-Max King: 4 time winner and course record holder in 49:29. King went to high school @ Crater and the guy is amazing. 2 weeks ago he ran for the US Cross Country team in Amman, Jordan where he took 40th overall and 3rd for the Americans. He was 2 spots away from going to Beijing in the Steeplechase after a 5th place finish @ the Trials last year and last weekend he won a 50 mile race in California in 6:04:44. Yikes.
-Damian Baldovino: 2002 Champion and frequent runner-up to King. Last year, at 41 years old, Baldovino took 3rd and set an age group record when he crossed the line in 52:01. Smoking fast.
-Erik Skaggs: I swear, this guy is part mountain goat (I mean that as a total compliment). I ran against him in March 2007 @ Ashland's Tar & Trail 6 mile race. We stayed together through 2-3 miles but as soon as we hit the hills, he left me in the dust. He was ranked as the 11th best Ultrarunner of the year in 2008 by Ultrarunner Magazine. BTW, his brother Kyle was ranked as the 2nd best ultrarunner in 2008 after, among other things, he destroyed the course record @ Hardrock 100 in Colorado.
-JJ Moses: Don't know much about him other than former SOU runner and he ran a 1:13 half in February, virtually by himself as he beat 2nd place by roughly 7 minutes.
-Probably others that I haven't met or heard of yet. Last years champion was John Lucas from Eugene (50:06) but he decided to stay home and continue to train for the Eugene marathon in 3 weeks. Past people involved have been Bill Bowerman, Frank Shorter, Billy Mills, Mary Decker Slaney, etc. Needless to say, this is a big race/ weekend for Medford.
Anyway, to the morning events......
Perfect weather for a race: 45 degrees, a few clouds and no wind. I ran 3 miles to loosen up and made it to the starting line with a couple minutes to spare. Course was out-and-back 5 miles and pancake flat from start to 4, then an uphill and downhill to 5. Turn around and back up the hill, down the hill and flat to the finish.
The gun went off and King immediately took the lead. I think I stuck with him for about 300 meters. :) After 1 mile he had about 10 seconds on myself and the other 4 runners I was with. The guy is amazing. So.....baring some major catastrophe, the rest of us are running for 2nd place, just as I'd figured. By mile 4 the pack behind King was down to myself and 2 others; 1 guy I don't know and another named Trevor (JJ's running partner). Trevor and I broke the 3rd guy going up the hill before the turnaround and Trevor pulled away slightly between 5 and 6. I stayed 2-3 seconds behind Trevor and caught him right at mile 7 and tried to blow past him to break his confidence. Didn't work. The guy hung with my surge and passed me back withing 20 seconds. I figured I was toast and would have to settle for 3rd as Trevor put 5-6 seconds between us. I was hurting something fierce and didn't feel like I could push much harder, but the good thing was Trevor wasn't putting anymore distance between us and by 8.5 I slowly started to catch up. Right at mile 9 I surged again, caught Trevor and really tried to blow past him. This time it worked and I held on for a 2nd place finish. The last mile was a straight shot and it was rough seeing the finish line so far out. I'd look at my watch and tell myself 'just 4 more minutes of pain.....just 2 more minutes of pain...' Either way, it worked and I was shocked when I crossed the finish-line sub-52. I was shooting for anywhere between 53:00-55:00.
| Mile|| Split|| Total Time|
I'm pleased with the even pacing and the quick final mile when I was feeling less than good. Also happy with the negative split. In fact, as I look at my splits, I would have set PR's in the 5k, 5 mile, and 10k distances today. I'm pumped for Eugene
in 3 weeks. Oh yeah, and Max King broke his own course record by 8 seconds when he won in 49:21.
Y2 (191), White (518)