Young at heart!  Badger Mountain Challenge 2013.

Young at heart! Badger Mountain Challenge 2013.

Move over Bloomsday! There’s a better place to race! I mean absolutely no disrespect to Bloomsday; it is a first class operation. It will always have a special place in my heart. But the Badger Mountain Challenge is a better course! That’s easy for me to say now, having finished the 2013 race.  Ascending Badger Mountain twice made Bloomsday’s infamous “Doomsday Hill” look like a speed bump.  Kind of like a Sunday stroll in the park! Comparing the Badger course to Bloomsday, or any other road race, is like comparing mountain biking to road biking: riveting technical challenges combined with physical challenge vs. somewhat monotonous physical challenge.  Bring on the wild!

Annie wins!  2013 tally:  Annie 2, Frank 1.

Annie wins! 2013 tally: Annie 2, Frank 1.

We arrived to the race about the time the first wave of speedsters were taking off.  The porta-potty line was long, so we missed waves two and three as well. The rest of us started after waiting for our turn, so Annie and I were in the fifteenth wave or so. The race was brutal at first, climbing hard without a real warmup. I pulled to an early lead over Annie on our first trip up the mountain, but she passed me by on the first downhill section. She has awesome downhill speed! The course twisted and turned, climbed steeply and descended steeply, followed by a long rolling road next to an orchard. For us, walking was best on some steep uphill sections. The mental challenge was to remember to run when you could. We passed dozens or hundreds of people during the course of the race, after starting nearly last. Annie was mentally tougher than me today, pushing the second mountain ascent.  I realized I was a bit late with my second gel. As it kicked in, the course leveled out and I turned on the speed!  For the last mile or two, I was running like a youngster, and loving it!  I finished in 1:41, about 2.5 minutes behind Annie. When I said my goal was 1:35 for next year, she targeted 1:30. That’s tough competition!

The race was well-organized, had good food and a beautiful site. Thanks to all the volunteers!

It was so fun to run in the sun!

Finishing fast! Re-match!!!

Finishing fast! Re-match!!!