This was my 7th finish at Bighorn. I was amazed how more competitive the field is now compared to my first time there in 2006. I started slow, felt really slow, but I was just about 5 minutes slower on the first huge climb compared to my best year in 2010.
What is nice is that with my recent training, I could run on demand throughout the entire race. My stomach generally behaved and I had a great time. I had a bad sore foot (sesamoids) throughout much of the race that really slowed me down at times until it got wet and cold during the night. After that I discovered that it felt fine if I kept soaking it in passing streams clear to the finish. I also spent way too much time enjoying the aid stations and talking to other runners.
My finish time was OK, about two hours slower than my best time on the standard course. But, there were several split times along the way that were my best ever. I loved running up the hills and could do that in sections where the other runners around me were walking. And on the downhills, I had my best time ever running the long 18-mile downhill from the turnaround, passing a ton of runners during the night.
But my proudest moment, and funnest time was running miles 87.5 to 92.5, a tough climb followed by huge 3,000+ three-mile descent. I crushed it in 1:05, just three minutes slower than my best in 2010 when I used a front-running 50K runner to pace me. This time I did it by myself but stayed ahead of front-running 50-mile runners. I was pleased to finally have my downhill speed back.
So, I finished strong. No, I didn’t crush it, didn’t really try to, but it was a good solid race on a tough course. I finished in 28:29:55 in 48th place.