Seems like snow is a hot topic this year in the ultra world. Western States, Hardrock, San Juan Solstice....a lot of the big gun ultras in the west are struggling with crazy amounts of snow pack. While I'm happy to report that the Black Hills 100, which I'm co-directing, is NOT one of those events, I'm not so thrilled that the Bighorn trail run, which I'm running this weekend, is very affected.
Snotel data at Bald Mountain, near the 50 mile start/100 mile turnaround at Porcupine ranger station, shows 85 inches of snow on the ground. That's just wrong. At this time last year, Bald Mtn. showed 30 inches of snow. There were a few patches of snow to traverse near the start last year, but overall it wasn't bad. This year, though, I doubt the start is even accessible, unless you have a snowmobile or plan on snowshoeing in. And the snow ain't goin anywhere either....in fact, in the middle of last week Bald Mtn. actually got 5 inches of new snow. It just simply hasn't been that warm around here (or over in Wyoming) this spring, causing the snowpack to linger longer than normal.
So, it's a certainty at this point that we'll be running an alternate course at Bighorn. What that course looks like remains to be seen. So long as it doesn't involve running laps around the Dayton city park, I really don't care...I'm confident the Bighorn organizers will come up with the best route possible given the uncooperative conditions. But it looks like I'll have to plan a return trip to Bighorn next year to truly get revenge for that DNF on the regular course from last year.
Taper is going just about how you would expect it to. My legs felt like absolute, total crap, for no apparent reason, for the first few days last week, but they came around as the week went on. The Dino Hill trail race, 2nd race of the Black Hills Trail Series, was on Thursday evening. While I ran it about 30 sec./mile faster this year than I did last year, I finished 3 spots lower in the overall standings. Just more faster guys there this year. I was pretty happy with the run, though. Last year, I was forced to walk a few of the hills. This year, I ran the whole thing. And, I ran close to 2 miles of it with my left shoe untied. I felt it come loose, but I had a guy right on my butt and didn't want to stop to tie it and give up my position. So, I kept going and the shoe got looser and looser...by the end, my heel was slipping out on the uphills. The gamble paid off though as I finished just ahead of that guy...I'd pull ahead on the uphills, he'd catch up on the downhills, but could never get the momentum to pass. Lucky for me, the race ended with a series of uphills (and my shoe stayed on). Next time, I'll triple tie those laces.
Edit: Of course, just after writing this post I went to the Bighorn website and the alternate course for the 50 mile had been posted. In fact,they posted two of em. Apparently getting in to the Dry Fork aid station with a vehicle is still touch and go. If Dry Fork is accessible, we'll be starting at Dry Fork, running backwards (compared to normal) to Footbridge and then turning around and heading back to Dry Fork and then on to the finish (the same snow course they used in 2008). If Dry Fork isn't accessible by vehicle, we'll be starting further up the road at Twin Buttes, running to Dry Fork and then to Footbridge and back (and will actually end up closer to 53 miles, whereas the first option would be 50...the normal course is 52). In any case, not knowing is the worst part. Now I know and am ready to tackle either one!