Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 Frozen Sasquatch 50k Race Report

Once again, the Frozen Sasquatch lived up to its illustrious name as the early morning brought 3-4 fresh inches of snow to the Kanawha State Forest in West Virginia.  Similar to last year, this was going to be a cold, snowy, slick, fun race.  

I woke up at 3:30 to make the very early morning drive through the whiteouts on I-64, arriving an hour early, unlike my fashionably late arrival last year.  I sloshed my car through the white parking lot and walked into the building to grab my packet.  There was hardly anyone there, but by the time I came back from the restroom and a short warm-up, the building was full of anxious runners bound to make the trek through the woods.  After chatting with some of the people I remembered from last year and met, we all headed back to the parking lot for the start of the race.

I started out casually behind a chunk of 50k/25ker's but by the time I was at the top of the first hill, I was running with Gancho Slavov and Adam Casseday.  Alaxander Wepsala, who I thought was in the 25k, was way up on everyone.  Later, when Gancho and I caught him, we found out he was actually in the 50k.  It was nice talking with Adam for the time we ran together and with Gancho for nearly 20 miles of this race.

At the end of the first lap (1 of 2 25k loops) I had to make a quick bathroom break and thaw-out my frozen water bottle.  I was quickly 4 minutes behind Gancho and Alex actually caught back up to me.  I spent the next 5 miles reeling back Gancho and when I caught him it was right before the second of three large climbs on the course.  I had been gaping everyone on the uphills all day and it was no different at this point in the race.

By no means a wildly elevated course, but the frequent uphills is what I felt the best on all day.  I jumped past Gancho as he started up the beginning of the hill and continued to push hard until the finish.  As I dashed down the final hill I could hear the people at the finish line some 100 ft. below cheering for me.  This was a good feeling because in only my second ultra, I was the winner!

Now, some more details about the race.  Honestly, I did not feel great at many points during these 31 miles.  The only times I did feel good, was on all the uphills.  I was able to power up all of them and felt more traction then I did on the downhills and straights.  I ran inconsistently, pulling away for a while, then being caught again by Gancho.  I was antsy to take the lead, but needed to just wait.

Another big problem was my lack of fuel during this race.  I mistakenly forgot to purchase any gels beforehand and all I was able to gather up was a packet of 8 PowerBar Gel Blasts, a total of only 190 calories, not nearly enough I would imagine.  Without any stores, besides Krogers that sells PowerBar products, I was not able to buy any Hammer Gel or GU Chomps, which is what I prefer.  I also brought three S!Caps that I stashed in my water bottle pocket, but was unable to use as my zipper froze shut.  I stayed hydrated enough throughout the race, the only positive thing about this aspect of the race.....

Although I tried to make up for the lack of energy supplements by grabbing handfuls of whatever at the aid stations, I did not prepare well enough; not nearly as much as I prepared for TNF 50.  With all that said, I still won the race and did not feel completely empty.

My first 25k loop was 2:23:30 (counting the bathroom break) and my second 25k loop was 2:14:07.  The fact that I negative split the race by over nine minutes really pleases me, especially since I didn't feel too fresh.  Once I got into the lead, my confidence really went up and I pressed harder than I pressed early in the race.  My final time was 4:37:37.

Finishing the Frozen Sasquatch on a Frozen day
With the slick, cold, and snowy conditions, the times were very much slower.  I would like to see what someone could run if the ground was dry for once.  Maybe next year?  I have ran a few runs now since the race and already feel recovered.  Unlike after the 50 miler, where I could barely run 3 miles, I am getting right back into the swing of things with my weekly mileage.  This was just another experience race before some bigger ones later this year.  



  1. Great job Michael. . . I can't wait to see what you're capable of this year and beyond!
    Keep it up!
    - Adam

  2. Great race Michael! You ran super fast, despite your nutrition problems. That amazes me! Congratulations!

    I hope to see you next year.