Last week I was out in California for a running race, a brief departure from ski training in Vermont. The Broken Arrow Skyrace is relatively new as far as races go, this being only its 3rd year, but it has a lot going for it and was an excellent event! “Skyraces” as a category of event are quite common to Europe, but there are few happening yet in the US, even though we’ve got some great terrain and trails for them too. Actually I just learned from a quick search – skyrunning is defined as “mountain running above 2,000m over extremely technical trails.”
Broken Arrow happened in the mountains at Squaw Valley, a ski resort near Lake Tahoe. I figured it’d be competitive fields of racers, nice scenery and mountains, and a fun chance to meet people at an event I’d never been to before. So I decided to make the trip West, using airline miles for a ticket and the help of my running sponsor, Salomon, for on-the-ground logistics and housing. I do like running up and down technical trails and mountains… that’s probably worth noting too!
The week I spent at Squaw Valley was an awesome experience, and definitely worth the trip! After arriving in Reno, I took a long solo run into the foothills and was impressed with the variety of desert vegetation and the little oases in the canyons. I stayed my first night with Annika Taylor, a friend and Olympic XC skier for Great Britain, and it was great to catch up with her and then be able to rollerski together the next morning. From the second day on, I ventured into uncharted territory – meeting a whole bunch of new people, exploring a new area, testing the waters of how my body would respond to running at over 6000ft altitude with no acclimation.
Staying in a Salomon Running athlete house facilitated meeting a ton of really cool people – runners, supporters, family, and Salomon staff. I didn’t do a very good job of taking photos of the various groups of people; my phone has many more photos of flowers than people from the trip. At the risk of sounding a little star-struck, I was quite excited to put faces to names, to meet and talk to a few of the big names of US and international running… Courtney Dauwalter, Scott Jurek, Francois D’haene, Lucy Bartholomew, Max King, Rickey Gates and many others. These are amazingly talented, dedicated, and accomplished individuals, and it’s just fun to see everyone’s personalities behind the scenes, what you might not get from a race report or a photograph. I also ran into quite a few acquaintances from the ski world, since nordic skiing and mountain running is a frequent cross-over, so it was great to catch up with a few of them too – James Southam, Morgan Arritola and more. The Salomon staff were tirelessly running expo booths, aid stations, and supporting the athletes – thanks Esther, Steff, and Ryan! And filmmaker Max Romey and photographer Martina keeping the energy high and everyone on their toes… overall it was a great and enthusiastic group of athletic people.
Here’s a collection of photos more centered on the racing action, and my activities between races. I competed in the VK on Friday June 15th (that’s 1 kilometer of climbing, over about 5k of distance going all uphill), watched on Saturday as runners raced a 52k, and then I raced again on Sunday for a 26k loop around Squaw from base to top and down again. I was quite happy with 3rd place for women in the VK, and 2nd place in the 26k!