There is no luck on stumbling onto a race. It's kind of like a crack addict stumbling onto a dealer- when you need a fix, you'll find it without much effort.
I needed to be down in Costa Rica to meet my son for a week of surfing (more like a week of cartwheeling for me) so I stumbled through the ultra trail blogs and found that there was a race really close- just across the boarder in Nicaragua. Perfect....
I need to remind myself that showing up after 24 hours of straight traveling to do a race is a little stressful and I should give myself at least a few days buffer to adjust. There was even one guy in the race who spent 7 weeks on the island training for this race- that would be nice!
The race took place on the Island of Ometepe about a 2 hour ferry ride way out on Lake Nicaragua. In the photo above you can see the island (looks close, but it took 2 hours by boat). The island is in the shape of an hourglass with 2 big Volcano's on either end. The 50km race was one way across the island from one end to the other climbing to the top of one of the volcano's along the route.
After a 3 1/2 hour drive to the airport, 3 flights, bus and a ferry to the island and 3 hours of sleep in two nights, I actually felt ready to run...well with a BIG coffee first.
There where lots of people from all over North and South America, with a few Euro's too, even a strong contingent from the island itself where they are trying to encourage the local youth to get into the sport.
After the 4am start with our headlamps, we cruised through the dark on fairly relaxed rolling terrain, which was a mix of trail, donkey cart paths, dried river bed and road. The first 31km went by pretty fast in 3hours until we got to the base of the Volcano.
I think a lot of people thought the next 2okm climb over the Volcano was going to be quick, so they blew through the aid station at the bottom of the 5,000' climb without much food reserves. Of course I new better, not because I'm very bright, but because I've made this mistake about twenty times before- paying a heavy price...
I was slightly nauseous because of the tropical jungle heat, but as we started to ascend the Volcano, the weather actually got cold, wet and rainy- perfect!
So I went from crappy to feeling great over the course of the climb.
About 30 seconds after munching down 4 Oreo cookies in the photo above I sprayed them back up all over me...The guy who took the photo figures that's where they came up with the expression "blowing you cookies!"
Up up and away we climbed and it got gnarlier and gnarlier as we ascended with cold driving rain, deep mud and a tangled mess of roots and ferns. The locals call this section the "Jungle Gym"
Some of the trail sections were 4 foot deep ruts by 6" wide...
After 2 hours of hard climbing and numerous false summits I finally topped out before I descended down to the check point which was in the crater of the Volcano. We still had to climb back out again before you'd start the last big descent down to the ocean finish line.
It went from 15 degrees blowing windy rain to 33 degrees and sunny on the descent down the volcano, but I felt great passing a bunch of people on the way.
After 7:08hrs I crossed the finish line with one lovely tasting beer waiting for me- man did it taste amazing!
I don't think I'll run much in the next 3 weeks as I really didn't enjoy the road running to get ready for this trail race, but I am going to India in March so....hmmmmm....... wonder what my crack dealer can find me there??