Before the race I was nervous, but quietly confident. I had put in the time at altitude with six ascents of Pikes Peak already this year, and with a 100-mile race a month ago under my belt I had the endurance. My main competition in the 50-54 age group for the 12-mile Barr Trail Race to Barr Camp and back would be the formidable Eddie Baxter. Eddie had won the 50-54 age group in the Pikes Peak Ascent last year in a jaw-dropping time of 2:44. But it wasn’t until I rechecked the entries on-line the morning of the race that I saw Senovio Torres from New Mexico had also entered. Senovio holds the records for the Pikes Peak Marathon for the age groups 45-49 and 50-54, and for the Pikes Peak Ascent, age group 50-54. Two years ago he set the record (beaten last year by John Victoria) for the Barr Trail Race (I also set the record that year, but finished 2nd to Senovio).
In the early going, keeping track of my competition, I reached the top of the W’s ahead of both Eddie and Senovio at 22 minutes and change—about where I needed to be. Rebekka handed me a bottle of Cytomax, which I sipped before dropping it empty at No-Name Creek. With the day’s forecast of blistering heat the extra hydration was critical, but I didn’t want to carry any extra weight such as a camelback. My legs felt a little tight. Had I left my race at the top of the W’s? Eddie caught up to me in the flat stretch before the arch and smoothly passed me. Before I knew it he was out of sight! Man! —he must have hit the glide path!
In the easier portions of the trail near the 7.8 mile sign and beyond I fell in with Buzz Burrell. I didn’t know him but he looked like an old fart so I asked him for his age group. He started laughing. Thinking he must have misunderstood me I asked him again. He said he was laughing at my question. Finally I told him I was 52 and he realized that I was also an old fart and told me he was 55. He ended up finishing just behind me, setting the course record for the 55-59 age group.
When I reached the ½ mile-to-go sign to Barr Camp a glance at my watch showed 1:07. Damn! Too slow for an age group record. I knew I had to reach Barr Camp in 1:11 to have a good shot at the age group record. That was not going to happen as the fastest I had run that last half mile recently was seven minutes. As I approached Barr Camp the next question was where would I see Eddie? Through the meadow, past the bench, I finally saw him coming down right at the fence next to Barr Camp. He had about 100 feet on me. I made the turn and coming down, right at about the same place on the fence up came Senovio. At the turn-around I was about 100 feet behind Eddie and 100 feet ahead of Senovio.
I caught back up to Buzz Burrell, and fell in behind him. We moved across the bridge and up to lightning point--then down to the slight up-hill leading to the 7.8 mile sign--I surged past Buzz—now it was time to turn on the “crazy legs” and see if I could make Eddie come back to me. I flew down the down-hills and pushed the up-hills until finally I saw Eddie ahead of me. He was coming back steadily. No need to push too hard—just let him come back. When I passed him I put on a hard surge. I looked back on the switchbacks above No-Name Creek, saw that he was a couple switchbacks behind, and relaxed the pace. Cruising down towards the top of the W’s someone was breathing down my neck—I asked him if he was ready to pass and the youngster blew by quickly and was soon out of sight – young fresh legs. About here I thought, “What about Senovio?” Maybe he was gunning for me! Senovio was a formidable down-hill runner—maybe he was closing on me! I couldn’t relax. The rest of the way I ran scared, which is a good way to run! Finally reaching the final stretch of pavement near my house I looked back but only saw Buzz Burrell about 50 yards back--no one else in sight. I could coast. I finished in 1hr56min. Eddie finished 31 seconds back and Senovio close on his heels, another 7 seconds behind Eddie. But I would get the nice new pair of La Sportiva Trail Running shoes for finishing first in the age group!