The Wandering Goat

» Posted by on Aug 1, 2011 in Blog | 2 comments

The storage shed is full. Couch, bed, books, pots and pans – all the bulk is left behind with only the necessities crammed into the Jetta. Travelling light eases the burden of yet another move and leaving stuff behind ensures we’ll be back in Colorado pretty soon. We’re off again, to Canada this time, for Deanne to get a Masters in Indigenous Governance, in Victoria, BC. The road to the Island is not direct though as there will be a few stops along the way.

The Salty Sailor chills on the dash while dog nestles in the back amidst the clothes, sleeping bags and Thermarests. The i-pod’s dead so I break up the silence of the 8 hour push to Salt Lake City scrolling through my phone contacts, calling and talking to anyone who cares to listen. I get to the Speedgoat’s house early evening and will be running his race in the am. As I doze off in the Cheetah print sheets, my gaze wonders from the dozens of belt buckles hanging above my bed, to the number one bibs lining the wall and the trophies on every shelf, an overwhelming reminder of Karl’s many accomplishments over the years.


I get to Snowbird early for check in, anticipating a long line with the 250 runners signed up. The race shirt reads, “Speedgoat 50k 2011 – A Meltzer Designed Course” implying that you’re either going to be running up or down on rocky, technical terrain – the words “flat”, “cush”, and “easy” aren’t part of the Goat’s vocab.
Scott Jaime leads Nick Clark, Ben Lewis and I up the first major climb. I jokingly tell Clarkie that this isn’t Hardrock so we don’t need to take it out hard. The pace is comfortable and we enjoy a mix of single and double track up the mountain along with stunning views of the peaks, light by the rising sun.  I transition quickly through the Hidden Peak aid station and settle in the front. With a 4000ft descent ahead, my plan is to make an early move on Clarkie putting as much time as I can on him down to the Pacific Mine turn around to pad the return climb up the road where I know he’ll be stronger than me. This seems to be working well as I get some nice float going through the techy stuff and cruise into Larry’s Hole with a couple minutes lead. Leaving the aid station, I follow a string of orange flags to the right up a road, followed by a steep cross country section. I’m a little perplexed by the fact that I’m climbing again so soon as I definitely know that I haven’t dropped 4k yet but I assume this is one of the “bumps” people were referring to before the race that breaks up the downhills. Nick, Ben and Scott all follow suit and for a minute I feel transported to a European mountain racing scene. Runners hunched over, hands on their knees, grunting up the steep off-trail alpine terrain with cow bells ringing in the distance and crowds yelling…that’s until I realize what the crowds are actually yelling, “turn around!!”, “wrong way!!” Seriously?!? How can this be. The four of us stop and look back down to the aid station where we can clearly see runners heading the other way down the mountain. The climb we’re on is part of the course but we’re supposed to go up it the second time through Larry’s Hole some 10 miles later. The marshal wasn’t at the junction at the bottom to point us in the right direction so we followed the obvious flags up the hill, missing the ones heading down to Pacific Mine.
Now back on track after about 20mins or so off course, I can’t help feeling a little down and frustrated with the situation. Not really making things any better is the shit show of a road that is Mary Ellen Gulch. A mix of loose soft ball to basket ball sized rocks, litter the entire descent. I kick one about as hard as I can and for a moment think that I’ve broken my big toe. Then I roll an ankle, let out a yelp and I’m just all around pissed off. Of course, the only aid station that you can’t really drop out at is Pacific Mine since it would imply waiting there until the end of the race. Luckily, this is Roch’s aid station and Roch always saves the day. At Hardrock, I got to Virginius Pass feeling as low as I had all day and Roch told me, “Just do what you love, run in the mountains.” The right words. Here the idea was a little different but the effect the same, “Karl’s giving a thousand bucks to the winner, regardless if you break the course record or not.” I was feeling more like hitting the chair and a popsicle but I guess there’s more racing to be done. Clarkie’s red and white shirt bops playfully in and out of the trees a couple of minutes ahead while Ben and I struggle to keep up. We gradually reel in Jason Moyer and Chris Cawley who hadn’t gone off course, leaving only Nick Pedetella who hadn’t strayed either, ahead of Clarkie. By Larry’s Hole, I’ve gaped Ben and feel like I’m gaining on Clarkie. I run through the tunnel determined to close the gap on the final ascent up the Ridge Trail to Hidden Peak. No matter how hard I try though, I simply don’t have that extra gear to match his ascent speed. By the top, I estimate I’m probably 5-6 mins back now meaning I have to run about a minute per mile faster on the last 6 miles to the finish to pass him. About half way down, I catch a glimpse of him below on the switchbacks with Nick P. now just behind. Unreal! Iron Clark’s doing it again! I make one final surge to try to catch them. Rounding the final bend, there’s Nick P. 50 yards ahead but there’s no more trail left to race. Clarkie takes it by 2 minutes with Nick P. a few seconds ahead of me.

Karl generously gives both Nick Pedetella and I the second place finishers awards for the mess up with the intersection marking. The mid-race decision to give the overall winner $1000 definitely upped the ante and made for an exciting finish. I know where my vote’s going for UROY. Thanks to Karl and all the volunteers for a really well put on race, good chill vibes through out and definitely worth adding to the calendar if you like ‘em steep and rugged. Congrats to all the finishers and shout out to Micah Thatcher for finishing his first 50k (and first run over 17 miles) at the age of 15!
Now on to Outdoor Retailer and then UTMB before heading up to Canada.


  1. Exciting race Joe! Good job and great season so far. Your race calendar this year is awesome.

    I really enjoyed your post on minimalism. The post was thought provoking and motivated me to reassert myself to fight tendencies towards materialism.

    I’ll be in Victoria during the Christmas season; if you are around I’d love to catch a run with you.

  2. Thanks, Jason. Definitely hit me up when you come through Vic this winter…although Mexico might be in the cards for the Christmas..we'll see. 

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