Last week I decided to run the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Marathon (BoSho) after a prompting from a friend. She sent me a text and then emailed the course map as if I was already committed. With no excuse not to go for it, I prepared my mind and hoped my body would follow.
BoSho is a 'bandit' race held mid-April every year on the foothill trails above Salt Lake City. There are no sponsors, permits, advertising blitzes, or website signups. It is, however, well-organized and the course was well marked. The distance is a full marathon, and that is the easy part. There is over 6,000 feet of uphill over the course of 26+ miles. A couple of big climbs make up significant portions of the climbing.
I showed up to the designated start/finish area about 30 minutes before the second group of runners were to go at 7AM. While in the drivers seat I yanked my shorts down to apply glide. Just at that moment an SUV pulled into the parking space a couple feet to my left. SUVs are higher than sedans and the view into my vehicle must have been spectacular. Of course, it had to be a woman in the SUV passenger seat. Gotta glide. We all understand, right?
As 7AM approached, a good-sized group of runners gathered on the double track in front of the runner's buffet table. I saw a lot of familiar faces, and as usual, I said hello to Kendall W. up at the front. He told me he was going to do the first 4 mile loop without water. I looked at my two hand-held bottles and said, "Yeah, what do I need these for?" I set them down on a tuft of grass. A minute later someone said go and we began the run. Ben Lewis was there, as was Robert Mueller, and we ran closely with several other guys the first 4 miles through Red Butte and back to the start area. I recall it was about 36 minutes to finish the Red Butte loop, which had a bunch of climbing.
I grabbed my bottles and continued down to the Dry Creek trailhead. The group of six guys in the lead slipped away from me as we climbed the trail up into the foothills. My legs felt heavy, I was already tired and feeling the effects of...I don't know. Something was "off" and I knew it. But I continued on. At the U-turn up Dry Creek I was glad to see the red ribbons indicating the turn off trail to follow the creek. Water was flowing and I slowed to avoid getting my feet wet. I hate having wet shoes. This was the first big climb of the day, up something called Unkle. Really enjoyed seeing this side of the foothills near Twin Peaks. At the top the route converges with the ridge between the Twins and little Black Mountain. A run down to the 5-way trail junction, then a sharp right down toward City Creek led me through a new-to-me trail. I was loving this.
Running about 5 minutes behind the front guys, I was overtaken by a couple more runners, heading down to Morris Meadow and the one aid station. A volunteer refilled one of my bottles. Mark Robbins was there and said hello. He had started with the earlier group. I continued down to City Creek trailhead. As I started up the North side of CC I detected cigarette smoke coming from somewhere very close. Alone now, with no other runners in view either ahead or behind, I ran pretty well up the switchbacks and up to where the trail climbs above the expensive custom homes in City Creek. This is the second big climb of the day. I was able to run virtually all uphill to the radio tower. Since I am not so strong at downhill, at least on this day, I could make good progress in keeping a solid climbing pace. At the radio tower the course descends several hundred feet into North Salt Lake. To the left and steeply downhill lay the battered ruins of Le Car. I grabbed a stone and made a weak attempt at contact. Not even close.
The third big climb of the day, and arguably the biggest one of the entire course, is the hike up to Meridian Peak. I felt very good going up, and ran half of it, passing several others. From the top is a generally level run over to the point where we make the big, steep descent back down to City Creek. If I was a faster downhiller I could have made up some lost time but at this point my feet were aching. Near the bottom I saw Andrea Martinez a few hundred feet ahead of me. She had started with the 6 AM group. When I caught up, and before she knew I was behind her, I did my worst David Lee Roth impression. "Aww might as well jump!" She did, in fact, jump. Never sneak up on a woman on the trail.
At the City Creek trailhead I again smelled cigarette smoke, then I remembered that just a few days before I found a hobo camp hidden in the trees just off that same place in the trail. Must be a chain smoker in there.
As I began the climb back out of City Creek, and to finish the last 6 miles, Nick Sourlos (whose name I had read several times in various places) caught up and introduced himself. With some kind words he continued on and eventually disappeared from view about 3 miles from the finish. The last 5 miles were tough. Still feeling "off" but confident of finishing, I kept moving at the best pace possible for having achy legs and feet. I ran the uphill back to 5-way junction, then settled into a slow-but-steady pace along the shoreline trail to dry Creek saddle. A couple of strong closers passed me there, then a woman and her male companion cruised by me in the descent of Dry Creek. I almost forgot - There is one more short but steep climb half mile from the finish. I had about 5 minutes to clear this hill and the distance to finish if I wanted to get there in 4 hours 30 minutes. I still had some uphill running power so I went for it. Alas, I pulled in at 4 hours 32 minutes and 50 seconds. My parents were there wearing big smiles. A lot of other runners came in soon after and we congratulated each other on a good run, good weather (cool, but with virtually no rain), and excellent trails.
Thanks to the organizers, volunteers and runners who make BoSho a pleasant experience. The course was pleasantly well-marked. I will be back next year.