Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Better Late Than Never: A Bear Chase 50K Race Report

Three weeks ago the GeekGrl and I drove up to Colorado to run The Bear Chase 50K. Now that my race season is over in terms of actually having goal races it was time for the GeekGrl to choose races and she wanted to do “a bunch of 50Ks or 50-milers.” Well, there’s a dearth of 50-milers around here in the first place and even fewer this time of year so I started looking for 50Ks and marathons, which there are many more to choose from.

So, this was the GeekGrl’s race and I was just along for kicks. I was pretty sure that I was nowhere near well enough recovered from Wasatch to run well and my main goal was to run a new course and finish without injury. Fortunately I accomplished both. We headed up for the weekend and also was given an invitation to stay with Jennifer, a fellow ultrarunner we had met at Bighorn.

The Bear Chase is only in its second year this year but the race director has a lot of experience so it went off without a hitch. The course reminded me a lot of the Palo Duro Trail Runs in Palo Duro Texas. It reminded me of Palo Duro no so much because of the scenery, Palo Duro is in a red and gold walled canyon filled with scrub trees whereas The Bear Chase is in a large suburban green space complete with a stream, small lake grasslands and a small wooded area. No, it reminded me of Palo Duro because both races have a 50-miler, a 50K and a 10K going on at the same time and both 50-milers are made up of four loops while the 50K is 2 loops of the 50-mile course plus one loop of the 10K course. Both races are also hot and about equally difficult, or easy as the case may be. The Bear Chase also has a half-marathon that is one loop of the 50-mile course plus some more somewhere else, I’m not sure where.

I actually started out running pretty fast and was pretty much in the lead pack but that only lasted about 17 miles and then I felt the first twinge of pain in my groin, the same place that had been hurt most of my early to mid-season. That was it, my signal to take it easy so I shifted into a walk and just let people go. I walked almost the entire final 12.5 mile loop though I did get to break into a jog a few more times toward the end but every time I felt the slightest twinge I started walking. It wasn’t too bad, it was about what I had expected to do and I still got to finish mid pack and was able to run a few people down in the final mile. Best of all the GeekGrl set a new 50K PR and I got a few cool pics of me running through a stream so all in all it was a good time.

If you are considering this race at any distance I would recommend either the 10K or the 50K. The 10K loop, which you also run during the 50K, is the nicest part of the entire race and it is a fast loop as trail races go. The 50K gets the 10K loop and at least the long loop is only done twice. The first time it’s novel and the second time is the last lap. I can’t imagine doing that loop four times it would be unbelievably boring and there are plenty of faster 50-mile courses out there for a PR. The half-marathon would be ok if you happen to want that distance but again, it’s not a PR course and there are plenty more scenic half-marathons in Colorado.