Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2013 Buena Vista Burro Race. Did a dude in Sandals really win the damn thing?

All dressed up and nowhere to run.
The Leadville Burro race was over and the Leadville 100 mile trail race was just two weeks away but it had sold out while I was in mexico There I was a shit out of luck a runner who had just lost two races over the weekend.
Woe is me
PFFT!!!
  Time to  manifest my own Mother F'N destiny and have some fun!

 I had twelve days to figure a way into Leadville.  In the mean time I should become pretty acclimated with the mountain air. 
(or lack there of)
8/5/13
Monday afternoon I gave my buddy Tyler a ride back to Winter Park.  I decided to stay the night and check out the the local frisbee golf courses.  When my running was at my best I played a lot of  disc golf, around 10 to 20 rounds a week but now I am lucky to play twice a month.
That evening I played one of the worst courses ever although it was still spectacularly beautiful.
Followed the next morning by one the best courses I have ever played  which was "surprise" even more beautiful.
I even played the best game Jenga ever.
(Maybe a set made of T-rex femur bones would be cooler but those are pretty hard to come by.)

It was great a couple days but I couldn't stop thinking about Burro Races and there was still that to desire to run  the Leadville 100 haunting the back of my brain.

The upcoming Sunday was the Beuna Vista Burro race held about 45 mins down the road from Leadville
Samaritan my burro from my first race was on his way back to his home in Wisconsin but Tyler thought he could score me a burro through the the same dude he got his.
8/7/13
Back in Leadville the weather was auspicious.  While snow blanketed the local peaks I spent my days running around the 2 mile high disc golf course shirtless in my board shorts.
If I ran hard I could finish the course in under 15 mins.  
(my fastest time was about 14:40 with a score of -3)

On Wednesday evening (i think it was Wednesday) I got an email from a friend at New Balance with a code for a sponsorship exemption into the Leadville 100.
"SWEET"
"I get to run 100 miles"
"F*%K"
Wait a second that means I have to run 100 miles in less than 10 days.  Most people train for these type of events.
Was this a blessing or a curse?
 Training? I think I'll just stick to playing frisbee.

The fact that I was now in the Leadville 100 took a bit of stress away.  No longer did I have to wonder if I were running or not. I am getting way ahead of myself.  

Let's get back to 

Burro Racing 
Tyler's guy Brad had come through for us and we had two Burro's lined up for to race on Sunday.
8/8/13
I had gone for what was meant too be an 8 mile run to see the first few miles of the Leadville course.  I left the house shirtless under beautiful sun shiney skies, about 18 miles later I returned after running the last hour in pouring rain
 I went to bed with a sore throat and friday I woke up sick as a dog. and had a very lathargic day
I had agreed to Pick up Tyler on Saturday
That morning I got up 5:30 I went from sick as dog to feeling like the excrement from that sick dog  to go watch gazillion Lycra clad Yahoo's start the Leadville 100 bike ride. The temperature outside was in the high 30's  
Not the smartest idea but smart ideas are boring.
On the way back from picking Tyler up we stopped by 
"Guess what?"
 another Disc golf Course
Because?
Better to feel like dog crap having fun than sitting on your ass feeling sorry for yourself. 

By evening time however, I told Tyler that there was a chance I would not be able to race the next morning. But once again the whole smart ideas are boring theme came into play.

That night Tyler and I found out out the Burro's we would be racing.   Tyler had wanted to race "Willy" the burro he had raced in Leadville and felt a bond with near the end of the race.
But he was getting a big time upgrade who went by the name of
"Jack"
a burro whom had won Leadville in 2012,2011 and came in second in 2010.

As for me, I would be racing 
"Scratch"
a perennial middle of the pack finisher.

One cool thing about Burro racing is that they list the name of each Burro in the past results and nearly all of the burros have a history in the sport that can easily be traced back five or  six years.
I had heard somewhere (or I might just be making this up) that Scratch was owned by the Master Brewer at the Tommy Knocker Brewery. If has beard like the dude on the logo then maybe Scratch and I will have a good thing going.

That night I got a call from Roger Pedretti (Owner of Samaritan)
"Hey Pat I'm so happy to heat you got Jack."
"No Rodger, I got Scratch, Tyler got Jack."
(Rodger's tone immediately lost it's enthusiasm)
"I'm sure you'll do great."
"Thanks Roger."

An hour later I got a second call from Rodger.
"You don't have to race Scratch, my friend Barb might let you race her burro "Smokey" whom is a proven champion"
"Thanks Rodger but I think Scratch is already being saved for me and I'll do my best to make you proud."

Race Day or should I say Races Day?

Once again I woke up feeling like crap. Exuberance outweighed my sickness and both Tyler and I were super excited to be racing burro's once again.
But
The race didn't start till 10 a.m. We rolled up into Buena Vista at roughly 8:15 where we were supposed to meet our Burro's around 8:30.
As we pulled into our parking spot I noticed a dude pinning a number to his pants
??????
I wonder what that's for?
Could there be a 5k before the burro race?
Delusions of grandeur danced through my head as the little spaghetti monster on my shoulder whispered in my ear the words I needed to hear.

I asked the dude what the number was for and sure enough there was a 5k about to start in 15 mins.  The cost was only $20 and the starting line was a block away.

"Yo Tyler you mind signing me up for the Burro race?
I'm gonna go for a little jog"
8 days earlier  I had raced a 5k in Leadville and finished a disappointing second.  After only being acclimated to the mountain air for about 12 hours I sat at the finish line gasping for air long after the race was over.  But now that I a had a few days to acclimate I felt more confident plus Beuna Vista is only at about 8,000 feet instead of 10,000 this should be a piece of cake. 
(That makes no sense I don't like cake.)
Correction
This shall be a drunk dancing Avocado.
(just an excuse to insert a pic that I love)

The only sandals I had brought with me were my Luna Oso's. Which are great for trails but heavier than I would prefer for a short race.  I thought about going barefoot since it looked like the course was paved but at the last second I decided to error on the side of caution.

Sizing up my competition it felt like it was my race to lose. There was this one Dude in a USTAF Unitard thing that might be able to kick my ass?
 Sporting my new fancy shirt given to me by the kind people at Ink N Burn and my Luna Sandals I immediately took the the lead.

In my haste to get ready I didn't properly tighten my Lunas.  After running only a few block's I had to stop to tighten my right sandal.  When I race longer distances I tend keep my sandals on pretty loose but If I'm running fast I need them tight.  It only took a few seconds but I went from first to fifth and was extremely frustrated at myself.

I pushed hard and made up the time I had just lost rather quickly. But I had only half-assed fixed my sandal hoping it would do the trick.
"UGGG"
I had to stop again this time for about 5-10 seconds (it seemed like an hour) and made sure the sandal was on my foot for good. We were not even a mile into the race and I was now over a block behind the leaders.
(including USTAF Unitard guy whom had just passed me)  channeling  my frustration to help spin my legs I got myself back into contention.

At about the halfway mark  I moved into 2nd place and was closing in on first as the course moved from asphalt to trail.  At this point I was thankful for my sandals.  I could sense the leaders was fading and I seized the opportunity to take the lead. Unitard guy was breathing down my neck and I didn't like it.

Instead of waiting around wondering when he was gonna make his move I increased the tempo beyond my comfort zone to see if I could break him. On the second to last turn with about 1/2 mile to go I caught a glimpse behind  me and my plan had worked.  I  maintained a fast pace down the home stretch and  through the finish line
Check out the fancy ribbon I won
How did they know the winner was gonna wear sandals?
:)
They were out of shirts by the time I signed up but were kind enough to send me one in the mail.
Too bad I don't wear a ladies medium

Yes I am finally getting to the Burro Race I Promise.
Good to meet you Scratch.
 Before the race Scratch payed almost no attention to me all Scratch wanted to do was eat every piece grass in sight.  I was cool with that.  Hopefully he would get his fill before the race started.
Both Tyler and I were pretty pumped up about the race.
At Buena Vista they had two different races going on at once an 12 mile short course and an 18 mile long course but you wouldn't have to choose until about 5 miles into the race.  The short course payed 11 spots in lower denominations of cash while the long course payed 7 but had a larger purse.
I really wanted to win some money even it were last place cash, hell if they were giving out frozen yogurt gift certificates I would want to win that too.  Going into the race I had planned on running the short course, while Tyler had planned on doing the long.
Lining up at the start there were a lot of familiar faces from the week before plus a few cute new ones.
begin we had to endure the blessing of the burro's. I was a bit concerned that if the holy water touched my skin I may spontaneously combust.
But it only burned a little bit.
Let's Do It!
The race started and finished with a about 1/2 mile run down the center of town. Some burro's won't run at the start but lucky for me Scratch was ready to go.
That was the last I saw of Tyler.
We took off at a comfortable pace crossed a bridge out of town and onto a single track trail.

This experience was totally different than the one I had experienced  at Leadville.  During the next three miles we ran on single track trail.  We were in the lead group of about 9 burro's myself in 8th place.  Behind nipping on my heels literally was "Smokey" the burro I had almost gotten at the last second.  As much as I wanted to pass the runners in front of me, there simply was not room for it.
I ran with one arm on the rope and my other arm fully extended behind me to block Smokey from stepping on my feet.

Eventually the course opened up onto some fire road Scratch was running great.  With an occasional pat on the ass and a
"Hep Hep Heyah"
I felt like on was on my way to collecting a paycheck.

I had moved up a couple spots by the time we reached where the short and the long course split around mile 5.  Out of the 9 of us only 2 people in front of me me and one behind took off on long course.  As for myself I was too sick, lazy and tired to be that brave.
The main reason I was doing so well was because of the expert burro racers in front of me for Scratch to follow but that didn't mean I wasn't going to try my luck at taking the lead.  I thought passing would be easy on the fire road but as soon as burro in front of started walking so would Scratch.  Passing as well as positioning your burro so that others can't pass is skill I have yet to learn.

After moving at a snails pace behind some lady for number of minutes I finally got Scratch to make a charge.
"Hep Hep HeYaah"
"Hep Hep HeYaah"
"Hep Hep HeYaah"
(Burro talk for hip hip hurrah)

 I was able to pass everyone except for the leader who practically cussed me out when I got to her.
unbeknownst to me you're only supposed to yell out your burro when needed.

It turned out the the leader of the race was Barb owner of Smokey, a lady whom has won the Leadville 100 and whom I have a lot of respect for.  I acknowledged  that I was the rookie I wanted to know what I had done wrong? I explained that my
"Hep Hep Heyaah"
was working to get Scratch moving
I was very apologetic and Bard in turn was kind in her response.

I wasn't wearing a GPS nor were there any mile markers on the course but I knew that last years winners took about 95 mins to complete the race.
At about the 1 hour mark I decided it was time to take the lead.

I jumped out in front of Barb as we ran down hill. Now with no burro's to follow it was up to me to dictate the tempo and most importantly keep Scratch on the trail.  I was doing great for all of about three minutes. That's when Scratch decided he wanted to go off into the bushes and scratch his back on some trees.
(I wonder if that's how he got his name?)

Lucky for me Scratch was a much smaller Burro than Samaritan  and I was able to spin him back onto the trail.  We did this dance about three times until I was in third place with fourth, fifth and sixth right behind me.

At this point another racer named Steve had taken the lead and Barb was in second.  Cautious of how loud I could yell at Scratch I wanted to pass but was having a hard time doing so.

Both Steve and Barb are 100 times better Burro racers than I am but judging by their body language they were both tired.  As for me I had plenty of gas in my tank and was ready to start running much faster if given the oppertunity.

We were coming up on the single track trail with just a few miles left.  I desperately wanted to take the lead knowing that once we reached that stretch passing we be very difficult until we reached town.
At the very top of the of the switchback I made a move and passed Barb.

Now I only had Steve in front of me.  He was running in front of his Burro trying to keep his down hill speed under control so that he wouldn't get dragged.  I was running behind Scratch yelling trying to both make him and Steve's burro run a little faster so we could put some distance on Barb.  It was working for awhile and I really wished I could have passed Steve but I didn't know how to do it.

At the end of the single track there was tiny little up hill where Barb caught us before crossing the bridge back into town.

Right after the bridge Steve's burro veered off in the wrong direction and so did Scratch while Barb took the lead.
I quickly got Scratch to spin around back on course.  I knew if I could get him run straight I could out run Barb to the finish line.

"Hep Hep HeYaah"
I screamed as I "Pat" patted the ass's ass.
(interesting sentence don't you think?)
 after about 100 yards were running Ass to Ass before I broke away into the lead.
I was running at full speed  towards a group of people about a block away from where we started
"Where's the finishline?"
(I was freaking out a little bit)
Answer from the crowd:
"You just crossed it, Congrats on the win!"
Thank you Scratch I couldn't have "Ass"ked for a better Burro.
 Let's go celebrate

Last week Tyler became the first person ever to finish a Burro race in Sandals.  This week I became the first person ever to win one.

Post race interview
 I heard somewhere that you can lead a horse to water but when you got burro who is owned by a master brewer he has nose for somthing else.
2 wins in one morning and a giant beer before noon!
 Life is good.
:)
About an hour later in came our friend Jill  in 16th place Hauling ass.

Then here came Tyler in what I thought was third place of the long course
But it turned out he ended up doing the short course instead finishing a respectable 18th out of 38.  A  huge improvement over last week.
"Well done buddy"
 It is time for another beer already
While we waited for the awards Tyler and Stumbled over to the beer garden a few blocks away.  Before the race we were given 2 ticket for free beer which we assumed were to be used there? Even though we were in the wrong spot they took out ticket and gave us free beer and it turned out to be the best CO beer I had had all trip.
Can life get any better?
Cha-Ching $700 first place check and a little pan to mining with so that I make even more money
:)
I may have gotten first place but Tyler got the ultimate prize?
True Love!
Posing with the winner of the triple crown winner, all around nice guy, and future Luna Sandal wearer.
Big congrats to Hal Walter
(and nice hat by the way)
My favorite Burro
All of the racers were super nice.
The sport of Burro racing can be a little strange but it's a lot of fun.
 Thank you Brad for the burro, I hope you enjoy the beer
Courtesy of the Stone Brewing Company
 Great to see you Jill
I am already looking forward to next year.
2014  Burro racing World Championships here I come.
:)

In the mean time I had 6 days to get ready for Leadville 100
I wonder how that's gonna go?
:)


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