The race in a Chuckanutshell

March 21, 2009

Some notes on today’s Chuckanut Mountain 50K:

* A Confession. I’m ashamed to admit that I recently started using a performance-enhancing drug. It’s called diphenhydramine, although some of you may know it as Benadryl. I use it to fall asleep the night before races I’m nervous about. I hope my competitors don’t mind.

* Retired? No, Not Yet. During the pre-race milling around, more than one person said to me, “I thought you had retired from ultras!” Well, no, I wouldn’t put it that way. I realize I’ve been rather quiet about my running lately, but GEEZ….

* Attack of the Road Guy (Part 1). Having never done this race before, my understanding of the course was that the first and last 6.3 miles were on a mostly flat gravel path, with 18.5 miles of hilly, muddy, sometimes technical trails in between. I figured I should use my road speed to get a lead before the tricky trail stuff began, so that’s what I did. But my split of ~41:30 into Aid Station #1 put me less than a minute ahead of my closest pursuer, Aaron Heidt of British Columbia.

* Shades of White River. I came into this race wary of Aaron because he had snuck up on me during the 50th mile of the White River 50 last summer, forcing me to outkick him. This time things turned out a bit differently. He caught me during the 10th mile, pulled ahead after a polite chat, and pretty much dominated the race after that, finishing in 3:53. Still, the race did remind me of White River in another way: I was basically satisfied with my effort, yet somewhat disappointed to have wound up so far behind the winner.

* The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. Although I struggled pretty badly over the more technical sections of the course, I saw no other runners for much of the morning. I guess once Aaron and Hal Koerner pulled away during mile 14, I was far enough ahead of everybody else that only one guy (Keegan Rathcamp) caught me on the ridge trail despite my usual gracelessness in avoiding rocks and roots. I have to say that it was nice to be alone. Running slowly isn’t so bad when there’s nobody whizzing by you and making you feel even slower.

* Attack of the Road Guy (Part 2). When I arrived at Aid Station #5 (same as Aid Station #1), I was told that I was in 3rd place, about a minute behind Hal. This was EXACTLY what I needed to hear for motivational purposes. Hal is a strong all-around runner; nevertheless, it was almost lunchtime, and the Moeben-clad Oregonian was suddenly on my menu. He held me off for a couple of miles, but by running my last 6.3 miles in almost exactly the same time as my first 6.3, I ultimately pulled away and finished in 4:01:05, about 70 seconds ahead of Hal.

* Most Improved? Among the top male finishers, the one who surprised me the most was Michael Havrda (6th place in 4:09), who (as far as I know) is not accustomed to finishing ahead of people like Brian Morrison. Way to go, Michael! The first three female finishers (Ellie Greenwood in 4:34, Shawna Wilskey in 4:42, and Lisa Polizzi in 4:46) are not at all familiar to me, but this probably says more about me than it does about them.

* Beating the Odds. I carpooled to the race with Tom Ederer and Jeff Phillips. In a car of three random runners, you might figure that, on any given day, one guy might race well, one OK, and one poorly. But all three of us came away satisfied; the results show that Tom (4:36) and Jeff (5:17) easily beat their previous Chuckanut times.


  1. Thanks Greg, that made my day. It's not often I get a compliment like that, especially from such an accomplished runner like yourself. You had a great race too- 4:01 is blazing on that course. Sheesh, who could even think you'd "retired" when you run like that?

  2. Congrats Greg! Nice job out there! I didn't think you were retired..and I loves me some bennies when I can't sleep (which is a lot these days). Beats Ambien hands down!Wondering if the cold weather and decrease in full service aid stations played a part in more PRs? As for the gals – Ellie is having a VERY good year thus far! She kicked butt at Orcas. Can't wait to see what she's got in her hat down the trail.

  3. Congrats on a great, "post-retirement" race, Greg!Chuckanut is fairly friendly to us road runners, but that ridge trail sure can be hairy at times with all its rocks and roots and cliffs and such. Nice job on the last stretch back! To run basically the same time both directions is awesome. Most trail runners hate that part, but that's where folks like us can make up/put some ground on those who are more technically proficient.What's next on your race agenda?

  4. Nice race Greg! I am glad you were that carrot in front of my nose going up chinscraper! even though you dusted me going down cleator road! Good to see a nice deep field this year!

  5. I thought for sure you had moved to Phoenix, bought an RV, and got all your exercise from riding around on a golf cart.

  6. Well done, Doogie. You sound like you're enjoying racing again.Do you think the solid result is at least partially down to weight loss?

  7. Anonymous: I'm not sure, but White River might be my next ultra.Jem: Nope — I haven't managed to lose any weight yet!

  8. I am "anonymous." Odd my name wasn't listed since I typed it in the "name" section of the comment. Sorry it came up with no name.No road races or anything between now and WR?Trisha …just in case

  9. Greg you smoked this run.Great job!

  10. Hey Greg,Thanks for making me run way faster than I wanted to for the first ten km by going out so hard and for making me run scared for the last 10km… I was looking over my shoulder every couple of minutes along that endless stretch.Great race!Aaron

  11. Great race Greg, not bad for a 'retired' guy!GR

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