Monday, June 17, 2013

Corner Canyon 50K

Johnny Runner, AKA John Maack, was diagnosed with stage 3 lymphoma half a year after completing the Wasatch 100.  If you google his race results there is an impressively long list of completed ultras including half a dozen 100's and many more 50 milers.  Wow.  After hearing the news his diagnosis, the running community (largely Troy Olson and Troy Robertson) in Utah rallied and put on the Corner Canyon 50K in 2012 to show support to John and his family.  
John, Troy and Troy
Since the diagnosis in April of last year John has underwent numerous rounds of difficult chemo and a stem cell transplant.  He is currently running, looking healthy, and his cancer is in remission!  John's daughter Dom is the significant other of our good friend and ski partner Tom Goth.  A month ago they approached Amanda and I and asked if they could dedicate this year's Corner Canyon 50K to her.  We were honored to be part of the tradition that the running community started last year to support one of their own.  

Last Saturday 100 or so runners gathered in the Andy Ballard Equestrian Park to honor John and to support Amanda. John gave a heart warming speech about Amanda and her positive attitude during her recent battle with colon cancer.  I'm glad no one was looking at me; I may have gotten a little chocked up because I couldn't have agreed more with the kind words he spoke.  Amanda then joked that since John already cried a little she wouldn't have to.  She thanked us all, told us to enjoy our health, and to savor the opportunity we had to run in such a beautiful canyon.

The next thing we knew, someone yelled go and we were off running.  The morning was cool, breezy and perfect.  The first 90 mins or so were spent chatting and enjoying the amazing single track throughout Corner Canyon. 
About to start
Somewhere near mile 15, Seth Wold and I sped up a little and ended up putting a gap between us the rest of the field.  During the surge I was feeling good but feared the length of the race might catch up to me.  I've skied a ton of 6+ hour efforts but my previous long run of the year was the Grandeur Fun Run.  Sure enough, 19 miles in I started feeling the first twinges of adductor cramps.  Damn.
Mile 19, starting to cramp
At mile 22, there was a steep 1000+ foot climb called the widow maker.  I could tell my legs had taken a pounding but the middle section wasn't too steep so I figured I should run it.  I cramped, had to stop and stretch and then was reduced to walking up the rest of the climb.  I hadn't seen anyone behind me for the last few miles but now had a pretty good view.  From the top of the climb I could see Matt Stewart running up the section I had just walked.  I knew I was in trouble.
Matt Stewart
 For the next 10 miles I fought cramps in my legs and tried to keep it as smooth as possible.  If I tried to push at all I would cramp and have to stop and walk.  There were numerous switchbacks for this last portion of the race and at each one I could see Matt catching me.  With 100 meters to go, while I was approaching the finish, Matt caught me.  Shorty after, my adductors cramped for the 50th time of the day.  He said, "I can't pass you, want me to carry you across the line?"  Humiliating.  I assured him he could pass me and that in fact he clearly deserved the win.  He casually jogged off as I struggled to keep it together for the last bit.  He was waiting for me just before the finish line and we crossed together but the winner was clearly Matt.  Andy came charging in a minute or so later and the party was on.
Matt with the win.  "You (me) kind of remind me of Richard Simmons in that picture." -Amanda
I was hugely impressed with the number of people who showed up just because they cared.  Matt, Angus, Libby, Adam, and Tamara, all of whom I work with, found out about this race Wednesday morning.   Within 10 mins of hearing about it they signed up.  Angus hasn't run all year but figured if he went for a jog on Thursday he'd be fine.  He was. He crushed it and then went to work.  Seth Wold, one of the faster guys in Utah, had run a marathon (2:30) and a 50 miler in the past few weeks and absolutely did not want to race another 50K but showed up too.  He said he wasn't planning on racing but when he heard the cause he couldn't help but come out and run.  He wanted to support Amanda and all things running.  Jared Inouye found out about the race last minute, emailed the race directors, dropped all plans, and came out.  Andy never questioned running it.  Scott Wetzl came with his whole family ran 30 miles and then as usual was hanging out with a smile.  I'm sure there are many others who I didn't meet who came out and suffered in the heat just to be there and to show support.

Thanks to everyone who participated.  The race organizers spent many hours wonderfully marking 31 miles of winding trails, thank you. John Maack, thank you for reaching out to Amanda, beating cancer, and for raising such a great daughter.  Next year the Corner Canyon 50K will benefit another battling cancer and we will absolutely be there.  Hopefully Amanda will be running, she's planning on it!

John and Amanda

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your account, it's great to hear how it went down up front as us mortals that were behind you had no idea of how the battle was unfolding in the lead. Nice fight!

    You and Amanda are great people and an inspiring couple. You weren't the only one choked up during the opening statements....touching.

    And I'll only take exception to your reference to my run because my Suunto recorded 31.5, and that last 1.5 hurt enough that I want credit for it. :)