That was one hell of a race.
It started off with a climb, and I was surprised to be holding 1st place by the top of it - I could hear Hannes Gehring breathing behind me about 50 yards back. I hit a downhill and pulled ahead.
After a couple miles, thinking I was alone, the trail took a bend and I caught a glimpse of his bright orange hat bobbing behind me about 30 seconds away. A good motivator to start pushing.
This trend continued the for hours - he was pushing me, and I was pushing him, and he was never more than 30 sec - 1 min behind. He caught up to me around mile 15, and we hung together for the brief uphill, then I pulled ahead again on the next downhill.
At mile 25, my hamstrings started to cramp and I entered the pain cave a few minutes later. On the next climb I just couldn’t run uphill anymore so I had to power-hike the steep spots. I rolled into the last aid station, stopped for water and Hannes blew past.
On the next downhill I felt alright but on any bit of uphill it was excruciating to run. I knew in this moment I didn’t have a chance of catching him - but that only made me smile. I knew in that moment that I’d accomplished what I set out to do, which was run the best I possibly could. I then entered the final downhill, dug deep, and hammered out the final mile.
I finished in 2nd place with a time of 3:52:22, 7 minutes behind Hannes who made a big PR. I’m so incredibly grateful that I was able to race hard today and so thankful for Hannes to have pushed me even harder. Big congrats to him and a big thanks for making it a special one.