I made the trip back to Gallup NM again this year for 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest which served as the 24 Hour National Championships for the second year. After having a horrible race at this event last year, I was ready to come back for redemption! The weekend weather was looking good with daytime temps in 80’s and nighttime temps in the 40’s.
The race started at 11am Saturday and finished 24 hours later on Sunday. The start of the race was a traditional start rather than the Le Mans style start used by many 24-hour races. This was fine with me, as I’m not a huge fan of the running start. The pace was quick for the first lap and I got an early lead in the solo race. I kept the pace high for the first 12 hours of the race trying to get as much time on the competition as possible. The course started off in great shape, very dry and dusty but smooth as butter but as the day went on the trail started to get blown out and pretty rugged. When the sun went down and the lights came out, I had about a 25 minute lead on second place but I kept the pace high to keep all the chasers at bay. The night laps are usually when I feel the best, it’s always fun to rip around in the dark as fast as you can, and this race was no exception!
By about 2am, my closest competitor had dropped out and I was a full two laps ahead of the next closest soloist. That’s always the coldest part of the night and a somewhat warm night turned very cold, with some crazy temperature inversions, parts of the course were a good 15 to 20 degree difference from the start/finish area. I had such a big lead that I could just put things in cruise control and take it easy for the remainder of the race. It was still a difficult time after pushing so hard for the first 16 hours and my whole body ached! This is the part of 24 hour racing that’s the hardest; the last 6 hours, when you’re just counting down to the end and it can’t come soon enough. Luckily, I had such a lead over second place that I was able to stop two hours before the end of the race. I’m very happy how things turned out this year at 24-hour nationals, I was so disappointed last year, I worked very hard through the winter and the spring to be in top form for this race and I think I nailed it pretty well. When I began racing, I never thought I would win a national championship and now I’ve won four and can hardly believe it!