Train to Hunt takes on Montana
Governor’s Cup Marathon
Cameron takes 1st in Master’s and 4th overall Helena, Montana June 7th 2008
Having never run a marathon in Montana, I was excited to toe-the-line for the bright and early, 6:30 a.m. start of the Governor’s Cup Marathon in the heart of the state’s capital. Perfect weather, other than a brisk wind. At the gun, the 5,000 and some odd runners, with me rockin’ my new Under Armour Train to Hunt gear with Mossy Oak accents, took off running downhill out of Helena. I got into a good groove, running 6:20s and feeling great. At about mile 6 or 7, a fit looking guy eased passed me. I stayed on his heels, not wanting to loose my spot in the race. Eventually, I moved to his side and we started chatting a bit, like marathoners often do. He was a local guy, Scott Gaiser, and come to find out a talented Ironman. Said he had competed in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii three times, including this last year. Sizing him up, I asked him what was his best event in the Ironman, hoping he was going to say the swim or the bike. Nope, he said the run was his strength. Damn. That meant I was going to have to work very hard to hold him off and looking at his bib color, I also noticed he was, like me, a Master. Of course, my goal was to do the best I could overall in the race, but also, I wanted very badly to win the Master’s Division if I could. No sure thing now it seemed.
Striding out and getting in a groove, we picked up the pace some. There was a gal ahead of us, hammering away. I definitely wanted to catch her, but she was smoking’. At 11 miles she was still ahead of Scott and I but we were reeling her in. Finally, at about mile 13 we passed her (Heather Lieberg – two time women’s winner of this race) but it took a 6:05 mile to do it. We were at the half at 1 hour 22 minutes and 30 seconds. I was on pace for a 2:45 marathon and I felt real strong, those tough ultras were making this road marathon seem like a walk in the park, but Scott said we were running a much faster pace than he could sustain. He predicted hitting a big wall later in the race. We kept working as the wind picked up substantially. At the mile 15 we hit the turnaround and the race changed dramatically. Heading back towards Helena now, we were running straight into a powerful headwind. It was brutal…30 mph. Scott, asked if I wanted to take turns drafting, two minutes at a time. Thinking anything would be better than battling the headwind, I agreed. We worked together for a couple miles, stood upright and slowed to a touch over 7 minutes miles, until the course altered slightly and we had more of a quartering wind. The gusty breeze was still wrong enough to wreak havoc with our mile splits unfortunately. At mile 20, I was hurting. I fumbled around at an aid station getting the drink I wanted and Scott pressed on. Mentally, that was a hurled. I was now 75 yards behind him and the gap was increasing fast. My walk in the park had turned in to a crawl in the park. I was going to let him go, trying to pacify myself a little for being weak by reasoning that even if the wheels fell completely off, worst case, I would still finish in the top 10.
At mile 21 Scott had me by about 150 yards and I thought, screw it. I didn’t come all the way to Montana to run hard for 3/4 of the race, then mail it in at the end. I thought about the tough challenges I will face on my hunts. I thought about being away from my wife and kids and knew, for them, I absolutely had to give my best effort. Otherwise, I may have well stayed home. I started tracking Scott down. At mile 22 I caught him. I was really dying, but I passed him trying my best to look fresh. I said, “Good job buddy,” between painful grimaces. At mile 23 there were a couple of race organizers stopping traffic at an intersection, while running by I asked them, “How far back there is the guy behind me?” They said, “Way back.” That was the answer I really needed to hear. I didn’t want to turn around and look myself, because anytime I see someone looking back in a race, I know they are hurting. If they are concerned about a guy behind them their race is going the wrong way. I gave the last 3 miles all I had and ended up getting Scott, who was as nice a guy as he was a tough competitor, by almost three minutes. The effort was rewarding and even though my time fell off, it felt good to bring home the Master’s win.
Next up on the docket…the Bighorn 50 miler in beautiful Wyoming. I can’t wait. Can I earn my first ultra win? Only time will tell. Honestly, what I am looking forward to most is running with my friends. Dwight Schuh is joining me in the daunting 50 miler, Guy Eastman, his girlfriend, Rinda Coons, Eastmans’ TV guru Nate Simmons and director of sales and marketing for Eastmans’, Shawn Buckley, are all doing the tough 18 miler in the rugged Bighorns. It is going to be a blast! Check back here for updates.
Thank you all for your support!!!! Cam