Oh, Bend! You never disappoint, with your genuine friendliness, your amazing food, and your character-testing. KMet had talked Sally and I into committing to this USAXC masters race last November. And as we boarded the short flight last Friday, we were all thinking the same thing: "What are we doing?" None of us had the most stellar winter of training. And the course was going to be torture. But, that's what XC is all about. And we wanted to support our fasties in person. Onward!
Friday eve Fleshman spoiled us with a love-infused homemade lasagna, and the rest of the weekend was set.
Lauren blazed the community race: 1st woman, 6th overall, nbd 5:57 pace. What a monster.
Then the masters race (mercifully in the morning, with fewer witnesses!). The first 300m got us massively in debt, and the rest of the race was just 5.7k of survival. And survive we did. It was a lesson in Just. Keep. Going.
Kmet and Sally, such an honor to be your teammate, and I would do it again in a second.
Glory be, we got to quick go home and shower off the mud, and get belled and yeti'd up for the fast races.
The ladies were asking for tips at the starting line and I carefully tried to pick my words. "Keep focused." What I couldn't tell them: Nothing in your training will have prepared you for this.
As the women passed us during each of their 5(!!) loops of the slippery and unbearably hilly course, we could see each of them get to that deep place of just grinding it out. And it was beautiful.
Marisa Howard: fell down 7 times during the race, and still finished 16th.
Megan Rolland: pure grit, 14th overall.
Collier Lawrence: composure during adversity.
Jamie Cheever: strong and brave.
Anna Weber: was tested, and persevered.
And Steph Bruce: worked her way up every lap, and with an aggressive finish earned her spot on Team USA for the World XC Championships.
We love you women! Thank you for showing us the depth of your character, and for embracing adversity.
Photos by: Heather McWhirter