In 2008, I attempted the Speedgoat, but crashed and burned at the top of Hidden Peak with 6 miles to go. In 2009, I timed out at the tunnel (mile 22). In 2010? They pulled me at Larry’s hole (mile 20). Yes, each year became a testament to my slow climbing abilities and Karl’s sick, twisted masochism. “If only there was a race with just downhill,” I thought, “then I’d show ’em!” Welcome to the Quadbanger.
This was Karl’s first year expanding his normal torture fest into a three day Speedgoat festival: a vertical mile Friday, Speedgoat 50K Saturday, and Quadbanger downhill event Sunday. I love any event that takes place on Sunday and doesn’t involve church, so I was already signed up before I knew what to expect. The race consists of 4 downhill laps running from Hidden Peak to the bottom of Peruvian Express at Snowbird Resort. Runners then ride the chairlift between each assault. Your quads take a beating, for sure, and you do it four times…heh, get it? Quad-banger? A good double entendre makes me feel twice as nice. Here, then, are 4 things I discovered at the Speedgoat Quadbanger:
1. No one that signed up for this race hates downhills.
I feel like a rockstar at the end of mountain races when I finally get to run downhill. I get to pass a lot of the people who blew by me on the initial climbs. Usually, they’re tired and dread the descent. Me? I love a good technical downhill. It’s the only thing I feel good at. So, part of me figured I’d show up and do well. And, I really wanted to do well. But, Ultrasignup.com had me pegged to finish last. Hmmm, OK. Well, I’ve actually finished dead-last before, and it’s not a huge deal. I’m not worried about losing my sponsorship with Duff Brewing or Amy’s Discount Pregnancy Tests. So, I just take it in stride. Maybe Ultrasignup was wrong? The reality? No idiot who dreads downhills was gonna sign up for this event. Every person who showed up (and 20 people did) were just like me; they all love the downhill. So, there you go. I was in the company of some highly competitive, very talented, and very friendly runners. My dreams of winning a race would have to wait for another day. I did manage to secure my first—and last—5th place woman’s finish. All the women did great, and we were all top 10 finishers. All 8 of us.
2. The chairlift between laps doesn’t suck.
Everyone warned me how stiff I would get riding the chairlift between laps. When I got to the lift, I did things like elevate my legs, stretch, ankle-rolls, leg-kicks—for about 5 minutes. Then, I chilled out. Actually, it was just nice to relax. The wildflowers were in full bloom. I saw a baby deer. When the wind blew, it looked like waves rolling across the mountain. My heart rate stayed low, I sent updates to my friends and family, and just generally enjoyed the day.
3. The running community gives back more than it takes.
This one. I’m serious. I checked in to the warm greeting of my buddies Maureen and Tony. Ryan, fresh off his hip surgery, followed me to the top of the mountain and managed to hobble around and snap photos of me all over the course. At the top of the lift, Missy Berkle and Maurine Lee cheered me on every lap. This was day 3 for Missy, and I have no idea how she was still standing. She’d logged over 10 miles on Saturday alone lifting heavy shit, taking care of runners, all. day. long. Maurine offered to run with me if I was having a hard time, too. On my way to the bottom, Karl’s wife, Cheryl, sat out in the hot sun until every single runner came through and made it past an intersection without getting lost. And, it was her birthday. Karl’s dad hung out at the base of the mountain with a cowbell cheering us in, and, on my last lap, shouted, “Way to tough it out!” At the Peruvian lift, Roch Horton and Tony’s crew made sure we were all in good spirits and kept us cooled off and hydrated before we got on the chair. A sincere, “Good job, kid!” from Roch made my day in a way that I just can’t explain. When I was running down the hill, other runners riding the lift above me cheered me on. When I got lapped by the leader, he told me I was doing well. I crossed the finish line and Karl had a glass of ice water and a handshake for me. Someone gave me a popsicle. No one had to do any of this for me. It was Sunday, I was back of the pack. But, it didn’t matter. I almost can’t talk about it without choking up. I’m not sure what was going on that day, but I think it just might make me a better human. God, I hope it does.
4. Cruising is better than burning out.
I didn’t run fast. I was afraid of going balls out and burning up after my first lap. So I played nice. I thought more people would burn up upon re-entry. The result? I just cruised, and it was pleasant. I never had to stop and catch my breath. I was nervous about this race, and here’s the ugly truth: I cared. I actually trained for this one. I bought a Snowbird tram pass this summer and ran the course. A lot. I ran Farmington Canyon. Fuck, what a nerd, right? I know. Well, it turns out Slow and Steady doesn’t win the race, but she doesn’t blow up and walk it in either. I felt great the whole time and enjoyed the day. It was so weird.
I can’t wait to come back and do it next year. But, I have a feeling Karl will make it harder, somehow. He always does. Cheers.