Ultimate-O Goat, at the one and only Salmon La Sac. This was a pretty epic race which I think deserves a full write-up. We had an unusually robust front group this year (as compared to the usual me vs. Bonesaw two-man wolfpack) comprised of Adam, Bonesaw, Nate, Peteris, and myself. Graeme was also there, but ran the Kid because he is habitually broken.
S-1: Out of the start I was in the front just behind Peteris, then he started to make a no-good-very-bad decision to go straight instead of around on the trail and dropped behind me. I was hoping he had gone through with it, but had aborted and was in the group at 1. In other news, Bonesaw was in the port-o-potty (port-a-potty?) at the start, so started maybe 45s behind everyone else. Pretty standard.
1-2: At the front of the pack on the single track, trying to figure out skips and thinking about skipping 3. Then as we jumped off the trail, Peteris said something about skipping 3, and I said let's do it. So we all did it. Unfortunately, by this point Bonesaw was back close enough to see what we did, so he also skipped.
2-4: Nothing to report; I think I got there second.
4-5-6: Spiked 5 and everyone else didn't, which gave me a lead of 9s! Which of course meant nothing except that I had the burden of navigation. But it made me feel good about myself. 6 was a trivial leg.
6-7: Still in front, but only nominally. Looks like Bonesaw somehow lost 20s here (?).
7-8: Nate motored into the lead on the road run and led the way nicely into 8, with the other three of us right behind and Bonesaw lurking comfortably.
8-9: No change.
9-10: Short leg, we were a little bobbly. I spotted it first.
10-11: First decisiony leg which split us a bit. I quickly angled to get out to the main trail and had some trouble locating the indistinct trails in the green, but eventually made it out with Adam and Nate right behind. Not sure what the other two did but they were a bit slower on the leg.
11-12: Steep uphill leg that we were too far right on, allowing Bonesaw and Peteris to come back into contact.
12-13: No change except Bonesaw continuing to catch up.
13-14: The classic Salmon La Sac tourist leg, as perfected by Patrick. Still in front at 14, though somewhat distracted by the view.
14-15: Overran this one which lost me 15s and put me in 4th.
15-16: Won the leg hustling to get back up with the other guys.
16-17: Loooong climb gaining back all the elevation we lost 13-14. Bonesaw and I jumped on the trail (though we split pretty quickly), while the Canadians didn't for some reason. The others were stronger on the climb than I was so I got to 17 in 4th.
17-18-19-20: Short legs, again hustling to get back up. Starting to think about the next skip.
20-21: Long, tough leg. Right behind Bonesaw for the first half, then we split a bit after leaving the trail. Ended up in third at 21 about 30s behind Bonesaw and 15 behind Adam.
21-22: The decisive leg for me. I hesitated out of 21 because I wanted to skip 22, but ended up not being brave enough and headed after the other guys. Turned out to be a bad choice because I then blew two minutes, and Nate and I lost all contact. I did get away from Nate after he went west and I went east, and I stumbled into 22 first. That northern area has always given me fits.
22-23: No issues. The only two real legs were 24 and 25 so I felt like I had to skip one by default.
23-25: So I decided to skip 24 on the logic that I could then take the trail most of the way down to 25. This turned out to be a very poor choice, because there was still a substantial rocky climb up to 25. To illustrate: Adam took 10:09 to go from 23 to 25, not skipping 24. I took 14 seconds *longer* to go from 23 to 25, while skipping 24 - and I spiked 25. Facepalm.
25-26: All alone, overran it a little. Also took a faceplant in the marsh.
26-27: Out to the trail and back in to this one we had already visited.
27-28: First of two road legs back down to the other side of the river. Felt like I was moving fairly well, but Bonesaw and Adam took a full minute out of me here. I did have to slow down for some horses, and bobbled it a little. Still, impressive.
28-29: Second road leg. No sign of Nate or Peteris.
29-F: Bringing it in for third place. The finish was sneakily hidden by a rogue group of trees.