Yesterday was the Corner Canyon 50k, which is a beautifully administered race over some really great terrain above Draper, UT. I had never run in Corner Canyon but have heard much about it from mountain bike enthusiasts. Their praise typically seems to equate to smooth runnable trails that are never very steep. Those were definitely in abundance but the race organizers had just a little sickness in the head too and these smooth trails were punctuated by multiple short but heinous climbs for a total of 6600 vertical ascent.
This is a special race for more than just the course. It has served as a platform for supporting those battling cancer and has developed a really cool tradition of selecting one person each year as the beneficiary of any funds generated. More than the monetary support for those dealing with insane medical bills, the strength of the running community to support one of the "family" who can no longer run freely as we love is really inspiring.
This year, my sister-in-law was chosen and it was great to see her before the race giving a short speech in which she gave simple advice. Be grateful. Enjoy health. Enjoy running. More on her story here.
With a significant portion of SLC's trail running talent competing at the Steeplechase across the valley, we all looked around and tried to size up our competitors on the line. I don't have a ton of miles on the legs just yet and was sort of hoping for a pleasant long run rather than a vicious pace from the start. Unfortunately, there were some fast guys in the field like Matt Stewart, brother Jason, Jared Inouye and Seth Wold. Fortunately, they are nice guys and the first few miles we enjoyed some laughs as we warmed up.
The lead pack, consisting of the above mention guys and a fellow named Joe, rolled through the first aid station all together. Some spicy Thai food the night before mandated a quick stop but I was able to catch up to the other guys after a few miles.
Ultimately, Seth withdrew from the race after probably racing too much recently and Jared and Joe fell back just a touch but were always threatening in the distance. Matt won the race at the last minute, Jason cramped his way to second, and I maintained third. We finished within a minute of each other but ran drastically different races.
Jason ran easy for ten miles or so and then put in a strong move for the next ten. At the top of the course there is a short out and back section where I saw him running gingerly. He kept it together for the last six miles but had to stop and stretch out multiple times. Just 200 meters from the finish line, Stewie passed by, sheepishly offering to carry Jason to the finish. Jason probably tried to kick him and then probably cramped up again but was able to walk it in just seconds behind Matt.
Matt ran a very even race, and after running well in control with me through the first half, seemed to speed up through the second. He deserved to win and is my dark horse for a spectacular Wasatch 100 later this year.
My day went as well as I could have hoped other than some GI issues that hobbled me throughout the middle section of the race. Once I was able to straighten out and run smoothly, I feel like I was able to finish strongly, gaining around 5 minutes on the other guys over the last 6 miles and finishing around a minute back. This was a relief as I tend to go out too hard and blow up and because I was worried about Jared and Joe. I don't like to lose to Jared.
Here's a clip of my closing speed...
Full results here.
Jason's account here.