Thursday, August 6, 2015

2015 Racing Season: Wulfman's CDT-14K, June 20, 2015, Butte, MT

Along the Continental Divide Trail.  Photo by Michael Chapman.

WOW!!!  The Wulfman's Continental Divide Trail 14K race is one I will never forget.  The build up to this odd distance event included probably 10 or more race e-mails with various specifics.  As they kept coming in and the date got closer to the event, I started getting a little anxious.  "Why are there so many e-mails?"  I figured, and it was confirmed on race day, it's because there simply are a lot of details that eveyone needs to know when you are doing a point-to-point, staggered start, limited field race on 14 kilometers of the Continental Divide.  Knowing those specifics is important so that everyone gets to the starting line at the right time, in the right order, to enjoy a great event where there is also limited parking and access to the course and later for the awards and after party.

The Wulfman's CDT is limited to a field of 240 runners that start one at a time in 10 second increments.  Your starting time is based upon your own predicted finishing time, with additional awards for those who finish closest to their predicted time.  The first runner starts at 9:00:00 AM. The next runner starts at 9:00:10 AM.  Your start time also determines which bus you take to the start in an odd numbered year like 2015.  Also, as it was an odd numbered year, the course ran from South to North, from Pipestone Pass to Homestake Pass in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest along the CDT.  (Even years the race is run North to South and finishers are bussed back to the start.)

The race start with our emcee relaxing and calling out the runners.  Note the start clock.  Photo by Bradford Zinnecker.

start time was 9:33:50.  As I got to the start and prepared to get in line, the emcee was calling out people's names, start times, and hometown/state.  I think I was probably the only Iowan!  He asked me how I came to be there and I told him I was out there with my family on sabbatical.  The lady who started behind me and I talked for a moment.  Then, as my time drew closer, I got in line and watched the clock.  As your time approached, a woman checked you off on a clipboard as present and a little device went from red to green and signalled you to start.

The course starts climbing fairly early on and really takes off around 4K to hit the high point around 6K as the course switchbacks several times.  Since I assume everyone started off doing a little bit of guess work on their predicted times, the race becomes one where you pass and get passed with regularity. That's not always easy on singletrack, especially as you are working hard uphill and flying down switchbacks on the other side.  However, everyone was quite friendly and open to moving over and appreciative of those who moved over for them.  I met quite a few people and had some fun snippets of conversation along the 14K route which included several hills.  It was really neat to watch others as they flew back down the other side of these hills, crushing the switchbacks.  What a fun experience to both hunt and be hunted as you raced the course.  (BTW, just about every K was marked along the course so you had a pretty good idea of where you were the entire race and how close your GPS watch was tracking.) There was only one aid station that I remember, but that was all I really needed to refill my bottle and keep going.  It was probably somewhere after halfway.

Also, somewhere after halfway I think, the lady who started behind me passed me, but told me I was doing a good job as a "Flatlander."  I met a guy whose brother is a policeman in a neighboring town to where I live, and I saw on the course and afterwards, quite a few female superheroines!

Some of the superheroines after the race!  Photo by Michael Chapman.

Frankly, eveyone seemed in a really good mood at this race and to be really enjoying themselves. People were cheering for each and every runner as they neared the pavement that marked the end of this section of the Continental Divide Trail and the finish line.  I was able to then pick up my schwag, get a quick snack, and also an initial print-out of my finishing time and placement.

Then, after walking across the overpass of Interstate 90, I got into my Jeep and drove about 4 miles down a narrow gravel road to the Homestake Lodge.  The lodge held the food and the owner's outdoor pavillion and lawn was set up to enjoy eating outdoors while awaiting the awards.  I enjoyed the beauty of the mountains God created while I ate and talked with a few of the friendly people I had met including folks from Montana and Idaho.

Enjoying lunch on the lawn of the Homestake Lodge.  Photo by Michael Chapman.

The lawn and pavilion at Homestake Lodge near Butte, MT.  Photo by Michael Chapman.

The emcee setting up a race supporter's sign before announcing the awards to the gathered runners at Homestake Lodge.  Photo by Michael Chapman.

The emcee for the event did a great job of keeping us entertained and going through the awards. He seemed like a nice guy who enjoyed doing his part for this great event.

The following is a quote from the website for the race and describes the purpose of the event and how it benefits the local trail community:

"The 14 Butte-iful kilometers along the CDT between Montana's Homestake and Pipestone passes in Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest are completed, and that section offers scenic vistas with majestic rock formations.  This race along that route celebrates the trail and the memory of one of its greatest local proponents -- the late John "the Wulfman" Wulf, who was the God Father of Butte's Piss & Moan Runners. The race is run on Summer Solstice Saturday, the anniversary of the Wulfman's last group run.  Race proceeds are used to help build and improve trails in southwest Montana." 

Six weeks have passed since I did this race and I can honestly say that I am tempted to go back next year, though it's over 1,000 miles away, just to do this great Montana race.  Friendly people, great volunteers, an awesome course, good food, beautiful vistas.  What more could you ask for in a race?

Around 12.4K in the Wulfman's CDT 14K on June 20, 2015 and still smiling!  Photo by Ed Braun.

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