Wednesday, September 21, 2005

2005 Angeles Crest 100: Upending It All


Guillermo Medina, 2005 winner. AC100 finish line. Johnson's Field, Altadena CA.
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Angeles Crest has never failed to amaze and surprise. What is canonical received wisdom at 30 miles was turned inside out and abandoned at the finish line. Everything you thought you knew was wrong.

Guillermo Medina won it in a personal best of 19:33. By carefully picking and choosing his races for this last year, he saved his mojo for the Big Show.

In front of him was Jorge Pacheco, three-time winner. Behind him were two of the fiercest no-brakes downhill runners this race has seen in the last ten years, Tom Nielsen and Andy Jones-Wilkins.

Tom's won it twice before. The first time was a remarkable come-from-behind assault on Scott Jurek's  "unassailable" lead in 1999 where he caught Jurek at 83 miles in the black hole that is IdleHour. By the way, that lead was nearly an hour. That was also the year Ann Trason had her head handed to her, and she dropped at Chantry.

This year, Andy delivered a fierce no-holds-barred 2nd place finish at Western States, 24 minutes after winner Scott Jurek's seventh win of 16:40:46.

But back to the beginning. Jorge was leading, with Guilermo, Andy and Tom in hot pursuit. Jorge's race began to unravel at Mt Hillyer [49mi] The first inkling that things were changing was when Guillermo came into Chilao. Then Andy, followed by Tommy.

By Mile 75 Andy was within 15 minutes of Guillermo. In the IdleHour-Sam Merrill section, which is technical downhill, a wilderness creekbottom thanks to the winter pounding, then a grinding uphill section, Andy closed the gap to less than 10 minutes. By the finish he'd narrowed it down to seven minutes.

I wonder how things might have turned out if Andy hadn't done the Where's Waldo 100k less than a month earlier.

I'll bet Jorge began to wonder if his win at the Bulldog 50k in the 102-degree heat was worth it. His guts blew up at Western. Note to self: race smarter.

This race, Jorge struggled, falling behind. When he arrived at Idle Hour [83miles] he put his feet up, laid down, and took a 6 1/2 hour nap. It was possibly the smartest thing he'd done. When he woke up, he felt way better, and showing all of us what real men are made of, finished out the race just before noon.

He got a standing ovation.

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