Monday, July 22, 2013
Run Like a Big Horn
Most fun race ever.
First a little back story. There is this bighorn sheep nicknamed Bam Bam who used to live in Sinks Canyon, about a 15 minute drive from our house. He got his name because of his reputation for ramming into cars in the Sinks parking lots. Here is a video that helped make him famous.
Sadly, Bam Bam was moved from Sinks a few years ago onto a bighorn reserve somewhere North of here. He died this past fall of old age and the people around here are sad about it. He was famous in the community. So the Sinks Canyon Visitor Center is doing a lot of fundraising to bring Bam Bam back! Yes, they want mount him. ALL of him, in the visitor's center.
One of the fundraisers was this trail run. There are a lot of hiking trails up in Sinks. We go there a lot. I've run some of the trails. I thought it would be easy!
Saturday morning came, my friend came and picked me up and we signed up, got our awesome T-shirts and water bottles (green with a huge bighorn sheep!!) and waited for the race to start. There were about 40 of us. 5-10 serious-I'm-in-it-to-win-it types. 25ish we-just-think-this-is-going-to-be-awesome types and a few scragglers. Families hiking it with their kids, a 10 yr old who was just trying to be tough...
The start line was in between two Dodge RAMS and the race started like this 'On your mark, get set, go!!' And the man dropped his hat. That was our signal.
The route had us going basically straight up one rim of the canyon, back down, and up the other side, back down and up the first side again (up to a place called Killer Cave...what's the story there?) and back down running the last 3/4 of a mile going all downhill on the highway down to the visitors center.
When we crossed the finish line we were able to see where we placed right away bc we were being timed with a stop watch. No fancy timing chips for this race. It was low tech. And awesome.
Going up to the first peak we realized this was not really a run, more of a walk with a jump in our step. And while we were 'running' on a trail, it was a single file trail and I unfortunately had to let some people pass me. They were breathing SO LOUD. I couldn't handle it. So, 'please, go ahead just as long as I don't have to hear you breathing anymore'
We get most of our local news from County10. Every county in Wyoming has a number, we are 10. County10 is a bunch of journalist who roam the county looking for and covering the news and putting it online in real time. It's way better than the newspaper because that only comes out twice a week and the 'local' news covers the entire state so only rarely do the events of our little town come on the news.
County10 was there, strategically placed along the course taking pictures. We tried to look happy and like this was easy so maybe we'd get in the news. Turns out the only people in the news were the winners (which we were not) and a lot of group shots of people run/walk/jumping.
Coming down from the top of that first rim was tricky as I decided to wear my old running shoes. The ones I retired after I finished the half marathon because they have no tread left on them. I foolishly decided this because I did not want to get my new running shoes super dusty. Way to be super shallow. There was no trail coming down so we bushwacked our way down. sliding down big boulders and jumping over thorn bushes and falling about ten times because I kept slipping because my shoes have no tread. Fantastic decision to wear the old shoes.
But then we wear on the pavement for a 1/2 mile and that felt awesome. We got some water, and were encouraged to 'keep running like a bighorn!!' by a man with a bullhorn. We started running up the next rim, and decided we just needed to do a quick walk bc our legs were getting tired. It was beautiful and shady and smelled like pine. No one else around. Still early in the morning.
We crossed the river on a suspension bridge, which is not easy to run across when you are the number two. I felt like I was getting jumped on a trampoline. We crossed to the other side of the canyon again and decided before we got there that we were walking up to Killer Cave. My legs were totally feeling it by this point and if I had been a I'm-in-it-to-win-it type I would be so disappointed because I had not trained for THIS kind of trail run. Killer Cave is cool. It's a big black shallow cave in the side of the canyon wall. Climber's climb up it, I guess because we saw all their gear and post things stuck in the rock. They had us come down some switchbacks (trail!!) which I was so thankful for because it was a steep downhill even with them. I slid a few more times, no big deal. And then we ran through to the finish, almost passing the girls we let pass us in the beginning because of their breathing.
Turns out no one completed the race faster than a 12 minute mile. Even those super serious people. Next year we will all know what's coming.
But the real hero of all this is that 10 yr old kid trying to be tough. He came across the finish line with a bloody nose that had leaked all the way down his chin and a busted up hand. We were all pretty concerned about him (the five of us still at the finish line when he crossed) and asked how he had fallen. He said 'I think my nose just get a bit too dry'. Poor kid! But he finished anyway. Props to him...it was alot of intense quick elevation change.
From the visitor center we had to walk another 3/4 of a mile down to the car. And no one was there. No food for the runners, no families, no runners standing around talking about how they did. It was just...over.
But so much fun. And it was $10. Cheapest race ever.
Maybe next year Bam Bam will be in the visitor center to cheer us on.