Written by Michael Green Tuesday, 04 February 2020 20:01
Like a flash, it’s here. Target number two for the year is Iceman Cometh in Northern Michigan with 5000 of my closest friends.
This is my twentieth pilgrimage to Kalkaska, Michigan on a chill November morn. This year’s event didn’t disappoint and lived up to its namesake with snow arriving the day and night prior. Temperatures hovering around freezing causing wet and heavy slop on the trails and was going to make it a slog... an epic Mudman.
Because of the fast and sandy nature of the course, I had planned to run Schwalbe Thinder Burts but last minute I mounted a Racing Ralph onto my rear Carver hoop with a hope to gather some greater purchase on the trail: I’m glad I did because it truly had turned into a slopfest.
Two goals coming into the race: win my age group and place in the top 100 (including pro’s). With BIG money on the line over recent years half the states of the union are represented at the race and many hoping for a fun, big payday. I had a poor position in the coral in wave 1 but with a long roll out at Kalkaska airport there was plenty of chances to make up ground. The gun went off, and we were racing.
I was happy with the start and how I moved up and by 10k I was at the back of the first group but really struggling in the black slop and my brakes were not behaving. Eventually I popped and found myself alone for a significant time. By halfway the snow was worse and the usual two track portions of the route was now singletrack. I used a lot of body English to maintain upright in the greasy singletrack but wasn’t confident at all.
Strangely, with a third of the distance to go the trails changed again - no snow and wonderfully tacky. I’d found myself with a group of others and we raced the last miles. With 25% of the total elevation gain coming in the last 4 miles, there was no doubt this group would change significantly by the finish line. I stayed in contention, used others to remain competitive and won the sprint to the finish line.
I hate the mud and wet. Two items I really dislike are wet feet and a wet chamois - today I had them both. Unfortunately I got second this year and didn’t get my sixth champions jersey. I did finish 116th, my highest ever over all rank by quite a margin but not quite breaking 100 - perhaps next year?
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