Mark Laakso: 13.1

March 11, 2013 Comments (0) All Posts

Nueces 50 Mile USATF National Championship

Stories from the Trail from Cody Moat

Coming into this race, I had two major concerns. One was the temperature of the race and the other was my training conditions. Sixty-seventy degrees would feel like an oven for someone use to training in zero degree weather. I had been training all winter on snow packed roads, not rugged trails. I hoped that my body would quickly adjust to the temperature and the rocky terrain of the trail.

With my headlamp on my head we started the race in the pitch dark. I knew it was going to be an interesting morning when I fell to my hands in the first ¼ mile of the race. I got up quickly and made sure I was still in the top group of guys. I was in 5th place. At about 1 ½ miles into the race I felt like I was flying down the trail until a rock camouflaged by the shadows sent me hurling to the ground. Luckily, I received only minor road rash on my elbow and shoulder.

Again I quickly got up and continued on my way. My group of 5 began to get a break on the rest of the runners. The early leader was Paul Terranova followed by Jason Bryant. I noticed early in the race that Paul had broken away from the pack. Because of the darkness, I didn’t even know who was leading the race. I decided I’d watch Jason Bryant and let him show me how to run a 50 mile race.

The sun began to rise and we had 7 miles behind us with 1 aid station out of the way. As the aid stations came and went, I noticed I would almost always fall behind. Something I can work on for the future. The whole first lap was spent playing catch up.nueces50m

Lap 2 started out a lot like lap 1 with our group of now 3 runners sticking pretty close together. Right after the first aid station, Jason Bryant put on a little surge and left the group. I decided that I would follow. Together we pushed through lap 2. As we headed up Windmill Hill I saw Paul for the first time of the race. At that point, I felt a rush of confidence that I could win the race. I felt good physically and emotionally. I was excited. Looking back now, I’m not real sure why I felt that way. I still had 19 miles to go. Paul turned around, saw us coming, and put on a pretty good surge.

The rest of lap 2 he was nowhere to be seen.

By the time I left the next aid station, my sandwich was hard to get down without choking. Jason was nowhere to be seen. This was the low point of my race. Doubtful thoughts began to crowd in. I remember thinking “I’ll probably never see Jason again, let alone Paul”. Also thoughts like “I hope I can hold onto 3rd place”. I tried to push these thoughts out and continue pushing forward.

Physically, I felt pretty good. My Inov-8 F-lite 195’s were working great. Even though I probably had the lightest shoe on the course, my feet never hurt one time during the whole 50 miles. That says a lot for a light shoe on a rough course.

About 4 ½ miles into the 3rd lap, I came around a bend in the trail and there was the yellow Jersey of Jason Bryant. I couldn’t believe my luck. I thought I would never see him again. Talk about a burst of energy. To make matters even better, when I got to the aid station they told me that Paul was now only about a minute ahead. So I put on a pretty good surge and before I knew it, I was on Paul’s heels.

We ran together for a few miles and we hit a pretty steep hill and I passed Paul. Much to my surprise, I got a pretty good lead. I knew what was up ahead and I was excited. I knew Windmill Hill was coming and I felt pretty confident that if I pushed the hill, that hill would win the race for me. So that’s exactly what I did. I pushed it as hard as I dared go which was quite a bit faster than I ran the hill on Lap 1.

When I reached the top of Windmill Hill, I knew I had a good lead and I hoped that it would be enough to fight off any competitors for the last 5 miles. At the final aid station I threw away my makeshift water bottle and headed for home. I hit the wall as soon as I knew I only had 2 miles left. My body decided it was tired of running and ready to be done. Lucky for me, I had a good enough lead to win the race and still set a course record by about 2 minutes.


I would like to thank all those who put together such an awesome race: Those who made this race possible, those who helped at aid stations, and other places on the course.

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