Despite the worst weather in weeks, Sunday’s 2nd Annual Leadville Silver Rush 50 miler will go in the books as another “good day” for Christy and Kathy Fry.
Rain at the start thankfully passed as the gun went off and things were pretty dry for the first half of the race. Taking the morning to reorganize, the weather returned seven hours later in the form of a potent hail/lightning/thunder combo. Everyone and everything was soaked. After that passed and just in time for things to dry out a bit, a third dousing– of the more steady rain variety– settled in on the course and hung around for more than an hour, right up to the finish. It was definitely a wet one out there.
Judging by the results their spirits weren’t dampened too much because they not only turned in great finishes but also set various PR’s for the course and/or distance. Christy pulled in at 9:16 for 27th place and 4th woman overall, cutting 38 minutes off her time from last year. I’ll do the math for you, that’s an average 11 minute, 7 second mile for the duration of the race. That’s pretty fast and quite an improvement.
As for Kathy, with this being her first go at the high altitude course you could technically call her time a personal record for the course as well, but more significantly, as only her second time at this distance she took several hours off her other 50 mile finish, last June at Bighorn, crossing the line in 9:36 for 33rd place. There were 142 finishers.
Huge congrats to the both of them. Having finished here last year in 9:29 myself(damn the heat!), Christy now holds bragging rights for the near future, at least until the 100 miler here next month. Any bets on that one?
What about me? Sitting this one out under the excuse of “recovery” from Hardrock, I think I might have had the most fun. I cruised the course on a mountain bike with my big camera in my pack, following the progress of the girls, crewing when needed, trying to give back to Christy for the efforts she gave me in all of the years of crewing for me. It was nice to be on the other side for a change. I don’t if I made good though– as I hid out of the rain in the truck at the finish, a wet and shivering Christy had to call me on a borrowed cell phone to ask where I was– I expected her a bit later and missed her whole finish! Oops.
On an editorial note, it was my impression that pacers were not allowed for this race. When pacers are allowed at an event, it is always made very clear in the written rules and pre-race briefing materials exactly how and when they can be employed. I’ve always assumed that absent any specific instructions, and there was no mention anywhere in the available info for this race to suggest otherwise, they aren’t allowed.
Why is this relevant? Because I would have loved to go along with Christy for the last stretch and help her finish, as she has done for me so many times now, but I thought it was against the rules. Because of this, she pressed on in the rain alone, and closed a near 8 minute gap that existed at the last aid station between her and the 3rd place woman in front of her. She ended up finishing within sight of and a mere 22 seconds behind #3, unfortunately noting that the woman had a group of friends running with her, one of whom seemed dedicated to keeping a constant eye on any threats from behind, i.e. Christy. And unbeknownst to Christy at the time, I first observed a pacer alongside the same soon-to-be podium finisher at the Printer Boy Aid station, mile 34.5, who pulled her along for close to a third of the race.
Pacers help. Don’t just take my word for it, ask #3 because I’m sure she would concur. And as I talked to a few of the other girls at the front end of the women’s race afterwards, everyone was in agreement. No one thought pacers were permitted. So were we all incorrect in thinking they weren’t allowed or did this girl innocently assume they were OK because she didn’t read anywhere that they weren’t? It’s unlikely #3 knowingly used a pacer against the rules because she would risk disqualification. It’s more likely that it was an honest mistake. Then again, maybe I’m wrong and they’re allowed. Which brings me to the point.
I think the organizers need to be more clear with the rules and shouldn’t leave room for people to make assumptions. I would have loved to help Christy reel in the party in front of her, and given the final outcome I think there was a really good chance we would have. I’m sure a few of the other girls nearby would have loved to have someone to pull on as well. Unfortunately, due to a lack of clarity on the part of the organizers, the playing field wasn’t really level at the end of Sunday’s race. In the future they should take steps to keep this type of thing from happening again. And if someone can telling me the official rule, I’d greatly appreciate it. Not surprisingly and in true Leadville fashion, my email inquiry to the RD remains unanswered. I’m sure they’ll get to it sometime this summer.
Christy- good work reelin’ em in.