I got a call from Nicolas Mermoud mid-afternoon on Friday inviting me to run the Golden Gate Dirty Thirty with him the next day. I had plans to go to Pikes Peak for some altitude training but had been fighting off a cold for the past few days so the thought of a bit shorter drive and the extra motivation of running with people sounded appealing. That’s until I realized that the race start was at 6am meaning a 4am wake up call for me. I got out of bed feeling groggy and coughing with Deanne telling me I sounded terrible and that maybe I should reconsider. The thought certainly crossed my mind but I had breakfast prepped so I wouldn’t toast the coffee and boil the toast and was meeting Tony at the Eldorado Springs turn off in a half hour. He was about as sharp as I was at this early hour, so it took our full concerted effort to follow the road lines and a little tempering of the habitual chit chat to get us there on time.
After some back and forth to get my number, I had less than a few minutes to spare before the race got underway. Nick Clark
and I led the field along the ¼ mile of dirt road on to the single track and rapidly opened up a gap. We were both a bit surprised that no one else was gunning for the $100 prime at the first aid station so Nick suggested that we split the cash instead of racing for it. I was happy with this idea as it also meant I wouldn’t have to resort to the dive
this early on. While my legs were feeling great, the congestion in my chest was causing me to breath harder than usual up the climbs. After the first aid station, I decided to lay off the pace a little, letting Nick gradually pull away. I still felt like I was moving pretty good but didn’t have an extra gear so I was content to sit back in second place and just enjoy the run. This was easy to do as the course is very engaging, either climbing or descending, with a mix of smooth or moderately technical single and double track, with short and scrambly bolder outcroppings at the top of each peak. Wheezing my way up the last ascent to Windy Peak, I took a double espresso gel that tasted nothing like my morning coffee and combined with the now warm frothy Heed made me glad that I was close to getting this wrapped up.
Just after turning around at the summit I caught up with a guy in a red and white shirt with a pony tail, who I was convinced was Nick but after calling out “Clarkie!” I got a “no, I’m not Clarkie,” look and realized he was running the 12 mile race. A few minutes later though the real Clarkie came running up and in our brief exchange I heard something about “visiting another peak for a spot of tea.” I thought it must be some secret Western States
training technique and now found myself leading the race with basically all downhill running to the end. I cruised the last few miles and came in a couple minutes under Justin Rick’s course record from last year. Nick definitely would have won the race had he not gone off course but all things considered I was satisfied with getting a solid run in and some good preparation for the summer races. The rest of the day was spent enjoying good food and good company in the relaxing post race atmosphere. Thanks to Megan Finnesy and all the volunteers for putting on a great event. Tony took lots of pictures and you can view more of them here
Darcy Africa - first woman. Photo: Tony K.