|These Salomon XA 3D Ultra 2's worked great at Zumbro.|
Race day was cool, starting out in the high 30's and expected to get maybe into the 60's. Much different than last year when rain and hail preceded the start and it stayed cool, damp, and in the 40's for the race. I looked all over for Kim and Jeff, but had a hard time finding them. She told me she'd have a pony tail and they'd both be wearing black. Do you know how many women runners have ponytails and/or wear black?!? We found each other just before the start and as John the RD gave out final instructions, we commented how the field had grown over the last year. (280 finishers in 2015 vs. 165 in 2014.) Since the field had grown so much, and there is quite a bit of single track shortly after the first 1/4 mile or so, they tweaked the course in the first half mile to include more doubletrack so that we didn't all bottleneck on top of one another. This led us right to the bottom of the first of the four biggest hills and Jeff, Kim, and I ran/hiked up this first bluff and paused quickly to take in the view which overlooks the whole parking lot of the horse campground that the race is directed out of just outside of Theilman, MN.
The next couple of miles as we made our way to aid station 1, Kim, Jeff and I went back and forth leading each other as we dealt with what would be the muddiest section of the course overall. We arrived at the aid station, got ourselves squared away and then headed on, crossing the old metal bridge we wouldn't see again until around mile 14.
|Here, Brad is in red, and Jeff is furthest to the left, (without the cap), with Kim next to him in the black cap as they make their way to aid station 1.|
|Aid station 2 & 3 at the Zumbro 100, 50, & 17 Mile Races.|
|Another view from one of the major bluffs on the Zumbro race course.|
After making it up the hill, I knew I still had the ability of making a PR over last year's time of 4:08:39, but even then, as I raced towards the finish line, I was still having to alternate walking and running. Mentally, while I wanted the PR and to hopefully break 4 hours, I was struggling a bit with pushing enough to feel like I could accomplish this goal. Instead, I felt like I was likely going to PR, but miss the 4 hour mark. I tried to push when I could and then knowing I was getting closer, I walked to where I knew was the last turn on the course before the final short stretch in the woods that would pop me out onto the campground to the finish line. I was able to run all of the rest of this and even noticed Kim and Jeff cheering me in as well as my wife and kids.
|Kim and Jeff cheer me in at the end of the Zumbro 17M.|
I got across the finish line and broke 4 hours with a 3:56:56, an 11 minute 43 second PR over 2014. It took me a few minutes to fully get my breath. But then I was able to see my family and also catch up with Kim and Jeff who had finished 4 minutes and 46 seconds ahead of me, running it in together as husband and wife! I asked them a few questions recently over social media and want to include them here as part of my race review.
Kimberly & Jeff Haines: We loved racing Zumbro together this year. We both think the beauty of the course is worth all the hard work. It was nice for me (Kim) not to be alone this year!! We both thought it was great to meet you in person and to run with you. We loved meeting your family too!
|From left to right: Brad Zinnecker, Kim Haines, & Jeff Haines, after their finishes at the Zumbro 17 Miler in Theilman, MN, April 11, 2015.|
Kim, you ran this year with your husband Jeff who hadn't run Zumbro before and I know as we talked in the days beforehand that you had a few concerns for him because this course is not easy with it's approximate total of 3100 feet of elevation gain and 3100 feet of elevation loss. How do you think he fared?
Kim: I think Jeff fared better than I thought he would. I know it was a struggle at times but I think he didn't want to hold me up too much. Jeff loved the race and was very proud he could do such a hard course. I think he did better than he thought possible.
Brad: Kim, you knocked off over 25 minutes compared to last year and over 7 1/2 minutes compared to your time in 2013. How'd that feel?
Kim: Compared to the last two years, the course was in great shape!!! That's why I think I got a PR.
Brad: Thanks Kim and Jeff for answering a few questions and thanks for letting me part of your raceday at Zumbro. It was great to meet both of you.
For myself, I am glad at hitting many of my goals overall at Zumbro, including knocking off over 11 minutes compared to last year.,,but, I have to admit, I feel that there's more time out there for me to drop. I feel I could do better. But, the Zumbro course is very deceptive. If the ascents of the four major bluffs don't get to you, then the descents might, or there's the sand, or all the other slightly shorter, but just as steep shorter hills and rollers out there, and often, MUD. I can be content for now, but I am planning on going back again to see what I can do. Thanks to John and all his many volunteers and kudos to all the finishers, especially the 50 mile and 100 mile finishers, you are all an inspiration.
Thanks also to my wife and kids for being there for me and coming out to cheer me in at the race. Praise also to God for the many answered prayers that day, including the ones during that hard stretch from miles 10-12. :)
|Taking a seat after the Zumbro 17M. Medals are handmade!|