|Notice the Woolly T-Shirt sported by Mullin, and the tandem beers, that guy was on FIRE Saturday!|
Here's our intrepid team at the end of the 11th annual Birkie Trail Run at Telemark. This was my first time doing this race, and I think it's something to circle on the calendar. To put it simply, it was a great day. But I've pretty much come to expect that every time I find myself huffing and puffing out on the Birkie Trail. As Eric Olson put it, the Birkie Trail is the 8th wonder of the world...no exaggeration. By the way, this race was marathon number 49 for Eric, and he's on his way to do the Tahoe Triple next Friday, Saturday, Sunday. That's three full length marathons in three days I'm looking forward to hearing the report on that death march!
Our adventure started at Two Lakes campground just north of Telemark. I'm almost hesitant to write about how awesome that campground was because I'd kind of like to keep it a secret. However, it's so far out there that I don't think it's ever going to be overrun with visitors. Folks, this campground has something like 90 sites and just about every one of them has a view of a lake. Driving through it, Mullin couldn't contain himself. The place was awesome and I'm thinking we might have to plan one last Cyclova weekend up in Cable for some camping, biking, and rollerskiing.
|Micah checks out the campsite, I kept hanging myself on that hook just to be funny|
Yes, we got to sleep in a camper and we woke in the morning to 45 degrees and a slight drizzle. Although we were kind of grumbling about it at the time, it turned out we'd have an absolutely perfect day for marathon running. Still, on the bus down there we thought that drizzle might turn into a downpour and wash us out...didn't happen (you always worry before an event...although I'm finding I'm worrying less about things lately, probably because I'm pretty much prepared for ANYTHING!).
Our game plan was to do the event slowly. We all felt we were under trained. We were going to walk the uphills (because they are too steep), walk the downhills (because you can fall and hurt yourself on those), and run the flats (but there aren't any flats on the Birke trail). It was an airtight plan. We were planning on six hours. Fortunately we'd brought Eric Olson along so that we'd have something to listen to for all that time. The starting gun went off:
|Photo courtesy of American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation|
Here's the point where Mullin took advantage of a quick backwards look on my part to sprint all the way to Telemark. Yes...that is the starting line flag in the background on the left. Rather than run it in 6 hours, Mullin finished in under 4, nearing his personal best on a marathon course that is not designed to give you a PR. In fact, Eric and I both finished with PW's (personal worsts), but hey, the miles didn't go fast but the time did and that's all you can hope for.
Well...unlike some OTHER people (Seth, Ben...I'm looking at you), Eric and I stuck to plan and walk/ran the whole thing. As a result we finished fresh as daisies and ready to go dancing (we didn't though...at least I didn't, Eric might have). Sure, we were over 6 hours, but 6 hours on the Birkie trail is like spending 6 hours in Narnia. The other cool thing is that you pretty much run right from summer into fall during the course of this marathon, it's downright BEAUTIFUL out there.
The positive side about having fast friends to do events with you is that they're waiting with beer for you at the end:
Words cannot describe the joy I felt as 10th overall finisher Tony Lushanko came running up to me with a Leinenkugel's to get me through the last 100 yards (next time meet me at mile 20 Tony). I was tempted to dump the thing over my head to wash the sweat from my eyes, but instead I drank it.
We then settled down to a massive feast. Seriously, the Birkie Trail run provides a great spread of barbecue chicken sandwiches, potato salad, pasta salad, and chocolate chip cookies. It was the best meal at the end of any marathon ever.
After that I went to pick up my Birkie Warrior jacket. Mine was the last one in the box. "I see you're the last Birkie Warrior to come in here, so you don't get a size choice, next time run a little harder," the lady handing out the jackets said. Fortunately the jacket was the right size. She seemed a little hard on a guy who had just earned a Birkie WARRIOR jacket. I mean they don't hand those out to Powder puffs now do they? They only reason I was slow during the run was because I stopped to do a thousand pull-ups.
|The beer is in focus and the medal isn't...you can see where my mind was|
All in all it was a great day. That course is challenging, but the purpose of it is to get out of the routine of your daily, stressful life and give your mind a break from worry (so you can think about survival instead). Mission accomplished! After a marathon you're physically exhausted but you're mentally rejuvenated and ready to face the future. Eric and I aren't good for each other's final times (we waste too much energy talking and laughing), but it makes for a great day that flies by! Next year we might just have to schedule four or five events like this...then again, the Birkie Trail marathon is in a class all its own, as with pretty much anything Birkie.
The course is hard, but if you go with friends with some good stories the Birkie Marathon can be the catalyst for a tremendous day. I hope to see a few more of you guys up there for this next year!