|The Bangtail Divide Elevation Chart, image taken from http://www.bangtaildivide.com/course.html.|
|A marmot shares the trail with me!|
|Nice single track and beautiful flowers on the mountain along the Bangtail Divide Trail.|
Finally July 4th came. As the drive to the parking lot to catch the shuttle to the start of the race was about 45 minutes away, I got up sometime just after 4am to get ready and head out the door. At the check-in, awaiting the bus, on the bus, and before the start, I found the racers, volunteers, and race director all very friendly. In order to keep us all from jamming up the single track at the start of the race, the start was on the gravel road leading to the trail head and giving us about one mile to get ourselves sorted out before the climbing would really get started. It was during this first mile that I realized I had a potential problem...a nosebleed. Ugh...while not as big as I sometimes can get, I had to figure out how to stop this pretty quick before too much blood loss would affect me at all on a day when I would need all my faculties about me!
Eventually I got up that major section of the climb and made it to the first aid station where I had one of the volunteers just give a quick look to my nose and face to ascertain how it looked. She said it seemed good and since the nosebleed had stopped, that was about the last I thought of it.
|A little blurry again, but a pic of the Bridger Range from the Bangtail Divide Trail.|
The Bangtail Divide Trail is not too technical, there are some rocks on the ascents/descents, but most of the time it's fairly smooth and buttery. There are a few sections where the mountain bikes have carved ruts into the trail, but you can typically get thru those by carefully running along the top next to the rut. Once up top if it's a sunny day, as it was on race day, sunscreen is important as several portions of the trail are fairly exposed at over 7,000 feet.
|Another view of the Bridger Range from the Bangtail Divide Trail.|
As the day wore on, I started feeling the warmth of the sun a bit more in the second half of the run. Even though a lot of the major ascending was done and the course was more of rolling at this point, I still found myself hiking a lot. Eventually I made it into the final aid station with around 7-8 miles to go. Kudos to those at that aid station not only for being there, but for enduring what seemed like biting horse-flys! Those things hurt!
The race description led me to believe that the last several miles would be mostly downhill after that aid station, however, I and others had been warned that there was one last climb: Grassy Mountain. After dropping down into a nice wide, flat open grassy area, the climb started and ascended like a sting in the tail! Over 16-18 miles in, (I can't remember exactly), and with the sun out brightly, I went back and forth with a few mountain bikers also riding/hiking up this steep section of hill. I had to stop and get my breath once or twice on the way up as everything was starting to catch up to me a bit even though I was keeping to a pace that could deliver me at the end below 6 hours.
However, there was one thing that kept going on in my mind, the trail seemed to be a bit longer than I thought and if it continued to hold true, (based upon certain markers including aid station locations), then I might just miss 6 hours. Trail races as most of us know aren't necessarily measured exact like road races. Plus, GPS can be thrown off running through various parts of terrain, or so I'm told.
|Looking back after having crossed the finish line at the Bangtail Divide 38K.|
My legs were pretty tired and the race director helped direct me to the creek to cool them off while he went and got me a cold can of Coke. I sat in the creek for a few minutes before getting my drop bag and putting on a dry shirt. After a little time spent eating and resting, I hitched a ride with another runner back to the starting area and headed home, very tired, but very happy for having completed another great mountain race, even as a Flatlander! (And, I wasn't last! 105th out of 115 finishers, 5:57:10 for what my watch had as 24.09 miles w/3556 ft of ascent and 3171 ft of descent.)
As a P.S. The race director was very helpful over e-mail, in person, and had great volunteers. The race as far as I could tell went off without a hitch.
|The race director in blue consulting with one of the volunteers at the finish line.|
The schwag was pretty nice. It included a Salomon Tech shirt and Buff UV 1/2 Buff as well as this red Silipint soft pint cup. Sweet! :)
|Salomon Tech Tee, Buff UV 1/2 Buff, and a Silipint!|
In the end, all praise to God for the ability and opportunity to run and race a great event! Isaiah 40:31, "But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
(All pictures are from the June 25, 2015 training run except for the finish line photos. Here's a few more to enjoy!)