I have had the pleasure of working with one of the hardest working runners I have ever met for the past two years as he has progressively made the jump from a Middle Distance runner to Ultra Trail Runner. Michael James has put in a tremendous amount of hours and miles to get to this point in his running career and this race was the culmination of all that work. As a middle distance runner at UNC, he was meticulous with his interval times, and now as an ultra trail runner he has made the transition to the different terrains and paces that all trail runners encounter. This weekend, he was able to put together a string of race pace flats, mixed in with slower inclines, and was able to save his energy for a strong finish.
Together we have been learning about the critical splicing of endurance building and speed work that is needed to put together the ultimate race. While we haven’t gotten there yet, this was a good indication Mike is well on his way.
As for the race, it was a great event hosted by Nancy Hobbs and her team from the USATF Mountain Ultra Trail (MUT). It was hosted at the Flagline 50K in Bend, Oregon on a perfect fall like day at the base of Mt. Bachelor. It was slightly overcast and the cloud cover kept away most of the heat until about noon. The most unfortunate part of our trip was that the last night of Octoberfest in Bend was held Saturday night. Despite the temptation, we decided it best if we didn’t partake the night before the race. That didn’t keep us from our traditional post race ritual of searching for local sources for good beer and food.