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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When It's Too Hard to Choose, Do Both!

By Bernie Boettcher

Sometimes it's too hard to choose between great races, so you just have to do both.  This weekend was another one of those where there were two great events I didn't want to miss.  The 35th Annual Imogene Pass Run, one of my all-time favorite races was run on Saturday the 6th in the best weather conditions I have ever seen in the eight times I've run it.  It was PRISTINE!  From the gun, Tim Parr took the lead, and never looked back.  Zach Crandall tried to stay with him, but broke contact around mile 3.  I was sitting back behind Bryan Dayton for a while, but moved into a distant 3rd around the 3+ mile mark.  I managed to catch up to Zach around mile 5.5, and stayed on his heels to Upper Camp Bird, where I passed him right before the stream crossing, as he was reaching for GU or something.  I tried to catch a glimpse of Tim, but he was gone!  The volunteers asked Zach and I if he started the same time as us.  I had to laugh, even though I felt pretty pitiful.  By the time I reached the summit at 13,114 feet after 10 miles of climbing, they told me Tim was 5 minutes ahead of me.  I looked back and saw Zach a couple minutes back on the last push to the top.  No one else was in sight.  The downhill was as treacherous as usual, with the added danger of dry conditions, which made some sections feel like a ball bearing factory just exploded and littered the course with a variety of tumblers.  I tried to as careful as I was fast.  A glimmer of hope entered my thoughts when at about mile 12, a spectator told me I was going a lot faster than the guy ahead of me.  So I went even faster.  On one of the big horseshoe bends, I caught my first glimpse of Tim, but he was still about 3 minutes ahead.  I tried, and tried my best, but in the end knew I was out of time and luck when I saw Tim make the last turn into town on the pavement to the finish.  Though I managed to be able to see him finish, I knew it was too late to catch him.  My brief dissappointment disappeared though, when I got to the line and saw my time of 2:19:08!  This was about 3 minutes faster than I'd ever run the race before and a new Master's Record!!!  I never thought I'd be able to break 2:20 there...I mean never.  No one has broken 2:20 in a long, long time.  To do so was a real thrill.  I have Tim Parr to thank for it.  If it wasn't for having him to chase, it would've never happened.  Though I finished 2nd, it was my best race there ever. 

Jeanne and I had a hard time getting up to do another race on Sunday (yeah, Jeanne did the double too.)  But it was another bluebird day, and the last race in the Vail Mountain Trail Running Series.  The La Sportiva Evergold 10K Trail Run is another one of those great roller coaster races with all sorts of terrain changes.  And though the leaves hadn't changed yet, it was a beautiful day.  Bill Fanselow took the lead from the start and lead to the finish.  I was able to hang on for 2nd and hold off Mike Kloser (always a bonus.)  My second place finish allowed me to win the Overall and Masters age group for the whole series, so it turned out to be another really fun day.  At the awards, participants even sang "Happy Birthday" to me.  Though it was perhaps the most pitiful display of singing you might have ever heard, it really was music to my ears. 

In the past 6 years of racing (since I became a Masters runner) I was able to celebrate my birthday in the company of runners, many who have become good friends over the years.  I was able to celebrate my 45th race in 36 weeks (for 2008) with 21 Overall and 33 Masters wins.  I was able to celebrate my 327th race in 312 weeks (6 years) with 142 Overall and 255 Masters wins.  And, I was able to celebrate it with my girl, Jeanne, who's joined me on this incredible ride.

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