El Vaquero Loco 50K, Afton, WY  5.5
Start Elevation: 7100'    Elevation Gain:  9000'    High Point:  10,000+'   Results

August 11, 2012 - For those who no hablo espanol this was the Crazy
Cowboy 50K south of Jackson, Wyoming, in the Bridger Wilderness east
of the beautiful Star Valley.  After driving 28 hours to get here I rested
the day before the event, but one day is never enough.  Driving long
distances before a race may be the worst thing one can do, but it is still
absolutely worth doing it to do a race like this one.  I can't say enough
good about this one; I thoroughly enjoyed all of it.

After sleeping in the car at the start by Cottonwood Lake, east of Smoot,
I awoke dark early to pick up my number and ready myself for the day
ahead.  Temps were right at 46 degrees and didn't feel bad at all.  It
was comfortable standing around before the beginning at daybreak,
socializing a bit and breathing in the thinner mountain air.

The start took us UP nearly immediately on a jeep trail that quickly became
single track.  Runners more attuned to the altitude moved ahead of me
as we took on the first four miles to the ridge, climbing three thousand
feet quickly.  While I felt I was taking it relatively easy, as I watched others
move away from me up the climb, I still managed to climb 3000 feet over
four miles in an hour and five minutes - on my first day at altitude.  Not
bad at all, but my legs were obviously tired from the drive.


Rolling down the steep backside of the first ridge into the basin below I
backed off further to just enjoy the descent without falling.  Some people
continued to go by me over the next few miles as I maintained a steady pace up and down without slowing, at least. The scenery was worth slowing down to look up from the trail and appreciate. People were very friendly, even the cowboys we passed who were camped along the course taking care of range animals. I enjoyed seeing so many cowboys dressed in their western hats and chaps with fine mounts used to working every day in the mountains. I made an offer to trade some of my gel packets for one of their horses, but wasn't the negotiator that I thought I was, so continued to run on. Start at Cottonwood Lake Corral Creek Lake Continuing to the halfway turn-around point at about mile 16 at Intermittent Spring I finally worked out my travel bugs and began to find my sweet spot that would take me to the finish. Some races take 5 miles to find the right tempo; some you find it right away; for this one it took half the race, but once I found it I got into a good rhythm and charged. Retracing the route I had just come I picked up another fellow who had run similarly and we began to pull back runner after runner for the balance of the day. We picked up another guy of superior talent who raced ultras every weekend and the three of us charged the final ridge together before the final four mile descent of the 3000 feet we had originally climbed. That's where we separated as each of us rolled downhill at our own comfortable tempo, one ahead of me and one behind. The climb had taken me a quick hour and more; the descent over the same four miles would take only 35 minutes to finish the race. I had plenty of juice left as I hammered my quads straight down to finish the 9000 feet of climbing and descending in 32 miles in 7:56:10 for 26th place.
While the first half of the race seemed arduous at times the second half was an exhibition of racing skills that left me pleased with my overall performance. Falling only once, I sustained no injury other than sore quads for several days. Driving for eight hours after the event to meet Dan Bornholdt in Aspen was not the best recovery regimen, but by the next morning I was ready to begin the next phase of my vacation - climbing fourteeners in the Elk Range.