Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Crazy Legs 10k Preview

Da' Bone

So there's a sweet little trail race occurring this Sunday on the Devil's Backbone trail system in Loveland. While these trails are not directly in my backyard, they come a (not so) close second to the trails at Horsetooth. I know every twist & turn, rock, root and hill intimately, and feel that local knowledge will be to my advantage. That said, these trails are pretty popular with local runners so I'm sure most starters are equally, if not more, familiar with the lay of the land on the Crazy Legs 10k+ course.

Keyhole at Devil's Backbone

The course starts and ends with a mile of fast (read non-technical) singletrack. On the way out, via the Keyhole trail on the Wild loop, there is a slight climb followed by a short but steep climb up to the Hunter loop, which, outbound, is rolling and fast. A short connector leads to the third loop (Laughing Horse), which offers a chance for more seasoned trail runners to make up some ground on speedy road runners.

The Laughing Horse loop is covered in stratified slick rock, which leans at really uncomfortable 45 degree slants, while the trail cuts a 45 degree angle across the rock (if that makes any sense), which makes for really awkward footing when trying to move fast. Loose scree and rock add to the fun. On the climb side of this loop it is important to pick a good route to the far right of the trail, allowing for a slightly more comfortable ride. The return portion of Laughing Horse is plain nasty and involves a bit of scrambling and some really unpredictable rock angles. Fortunately, this section is less than a mile, but could be worth minutes for more aggressive technical runners.

Once through Laughing Horse and the return section of Hunter, it's a short climb before the short sharp drop to the Devil's Backbone and an all out sprint through the last mile and a half of moderately undulating, non-technical singletrack on Wild. If there is a pack through this final section, it should make for some fun racing.

Er, Wild Loop

So who's racing? From what I can make out, this should be a fairly competitive race, despite the 80-runner cap. Last year's winner, Chris Repka, is signed up to defend. I think he's more a road runner (34-35 min 10k speed) than trail runner, although he was at Collegiate Peaks running the 25-mile race. Not sure he'll be a factor as I beat him to the turn at Collegiate, despite having an extra 25 miles to cover. Dan Goding is signed up. He's had a rough last few months with injury, but if fit will definitely be in the running. Dan excels in shorter trail races up to marathon distance. The favorite, however, would have to be Steve Folkerts who spanked me by close to a minute in a road 5k recently, and also ran second at the Colorado Marathon (Fort Collins), finishing in the low 2:30s a couple weeks back. I figure the technical sections will work in my favor, but doubt I'll have enough to make up for the speed differential. I'm predicting that I'll continue my recent string of second-place finishes. There are also some strong local trail runners starting who should all have a good race. Pete Stevenson, also running Big Horn in June, has been logging some serious miles, so could be a factor, as could Eric Lee who finished second last year.

Been front loading the miles this week, so I can take a couple of easier days Friday and Saturday to hopefully be somewhat rested come Sunday morning. Should be fun.

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