Dotsalkers are commonly the stressed out next-of-kin for the very people they are watching. Others are just curious fans of the sport that watch in awe the sheer will and determination some athletes can display; and even some are a product of the very event they are following/previously participating in. Frantically, updating their web browser hoping to catch the latest pin point for their favorite rider(s). Secretly keeping Trackleaders.com open behind other screens at work, or sitting on the couch ignoring children and significant others while checking the latest standings. We've all been there. Okay maybe some of use are a little bit more into it than others. This year for me it took a different form.
I was originally planning to be a dot on the map this year, but poor planning and other factors took me out of it this year. But, over the last year of planning and preparation several of my friends were also planning to attempt the AZT 300. So I did the next best thing, cheer for all of them and watch their progress along the way. I still felt like watching the screen wasn't enough though. So, I talked with Mallory and convinced her we should spend our day off watching some of the 300 finishers cross the line at Picketpost.We planned to make carne asada tacos and hand out beer. Who wouldn't want that after eating gas station burritos and meal bars for about 3 days?
We set up at Picketpost trailhead Sunday evening and awaited the riders. I figured some would be in that night, but wasn't exactly sure. We were unable to look at Trackleaders due to lack of cell service. Luckily, Mallory and I were not alone we ran into Hunter Knox, who was there waiting for his friend Adam Marcinkiewicz, after scratching his own race on day two. We spent the evening sharing stories and enjoying some libations eagerly waiting for the first set of lights to break the ridge. A little after 9pm we saw a rider coming in. It was Pete Basinger looking a bit relieved to finish.
We started our hike hoping that we would see some riders rolling through, but were surprised when we only saw two through hikers. Mallory was surprised when I told her they were likely headed to Utah. She liked seeing the wild flowers even though only a few were in bloom. After hiking about two miles in we turned around since it was getting warm and had to head home that afternoon. Luckily, halfway back to the trailhead we heard a rider approaching. It was the "mad" Rhino himself as he was taking on the 750(ITT) on a singlespeed. We chatted briefly and he was on his way. We finished up our hike and broke camp so we could head home.
|Mad Rhino in the wild|
It was great seeing some of the AZT300 finishers, however, I didn't get to see any of my friends finish. Ian Wilkey pulled out at Molino on day 2, Joe Paluch finished later Monday night, and Mike Symons and Marcus Ontiveros finished just afternoon on Tuesday. Even still I learned a lot about the ultra endurance athletes I met and hope to take notes for a possible attempt in 2017. Also the whole experience was reassuring for Mallory in a way now that she understands some of the ins and outs of the event. Thanks to Max Morris for your insight to Ultra racing and letting me check out your set up. Hopefully I'll be toeing the line next April. Until then, GO RIDE YOUR BIKE!!!
|Hedgehogs a bloom|