This won't be your standard race report. I'm not going to talk about paces - or specific miles - or race segments. If your interested in all that you can just check Strava.
I suppose the best place to start is going back to 2015. 2015 from a racing perspective - I was at my peak. I was in the best shape of my life. 3rd place at Phunt50k, A trail PR at Way Too Cool 50k (4:12), 9th place at HAT 50k, 2nd place at Call of the Wilds Mountain Marathon, a 50 mile PR at Rock The Ridge (6:33), and then topping the year off with my first 100 mile race - finishing Superior 100.
And then - it felt like my world came crashing down. Stress fracture after stress fracture - my right foot said "ENOUGH ALREADY." When i lined up for Rock The Ridge 50M this year - it had been a year in a half since I had run more than 26 miles (once) and the first time in over 5 months I would dare try to run more than 20 miles.
For those of you that know me - and i suppose those of you that know anybody that is in to endurance sports theres something that drives us towards the "extremes". You can only imagine how hard it is when suddenly your addiction is taken away - and your left cold turkey with a walking boot strapped to your foot and a pain with each step you take.
Lining up for Rock The Ridge 2017 was probably the calmest i've ever been before a race - In all honesty I expected to run ~50%, walk ~50% and probably end up broken by the end. In the end I found myself running ~90% of the course. It wasn't my fastest race - but something interesting happened.
I found myself running - just running. There were no expectations - no worries about what my Ultra Signup score might say or how Instagram & Facebook might react. I was just running. Time faded into the foggy morning and I got lost in my own head - in my happy spot of just moving through nature. I suppose lost is the wrong word. I was back in my happy spot. All that mattered was the happiness of reconnecting with nature - moving through a beautiful landscape and becoming part of it.
I had forgotten what it was like to be by myself for 7+ hours. People often talk about how when they do endurance sports they work through things in their head - they come to realizations - they make plans - they finish in a better headspace than they started. I've always found the last point to be true - because who can't be in a better headspace after spending a day in motion through nature? But for me its not about working through things... its just about being in a moment that lasts both seconds and hours at the same time. And in that moment all that matters is the shuffle of my feet - and feeling alive.
As I approached the finish line I noticed that they were stretching out tape across the finish line. I had no idea that I was in first place. And at the end of the day, while it was a wonderful experience to break the tape, every single person that spent their day out on the trails, in the mountains.... we all were champions. We all won the day.
Until next time - Dylan "Papa"
PS: a very special thank you to
my Mom & Dad - for crewing me as always.
my girlfriend Emilyn - for letting me show you this part of me and being so supportive.
all of the volunteers - you make it possible for us to enjoy this wonderful day year after year.