|Big T Elevation Map (click to expand)|
Big Tesuque winds up Aspen Vista Trail to the Radio Towers on Big Tesuque Peak (12,000ft) roughly 5.8 miles away. Yes, it's all uphill although the grade of the road varies quite a bit along the way, and this creates extra challenges in itself above 10,000ft elevation.
|Onward and upward|
The folks up front will likely run the steeps regardless of the lactic freeze and oxygen debt. I've found the key to work through these sections with pace (a very subjective term in this instance), is to use fast but short choppy strides, and really swing the arms in an exaggerated pump. Low gears but high RPMs work well.
These steeper sections on the descent are easier to navigate but are mined with rocks and embedded trip-ups that can send a runner sprawling. You do not want this to happen. It will take much longer than 15-20sec of recovery to right yourself. More on this in a bit.
Broken into its mile components, the course is easier to process. Mile one is by far the easiest. The grade is mild, you're surrounded by other runners, and you feel fresh. Miles two and three are steep and lonely. This is the steepest part of the course. Settle into a rhythm and distract yourself with the scenery of what is always a magnificent morning in the mountains. Miles four and five offer easier grades and by this point you're fully warmed up and moving well. The altitude will create challenges on even the smallest of rises and step-ups on the trail. The final mile includes a short ramp to the lower mountain ridge, then a nice nearly-level catwalk for a couple hundred meters under the chairlift, followed by a hairpin right turn and some deceivingly steep climbing to the turnaround at the Towers. Whew! Seriously though, that last bit after the hairpin is a bear.
The race leaders will often make the turn on the Peak in under 50min. I believe the record is somewhere around 46min flat. In any case this is just over 8min /mi pace over the first half of the race, a terrifically fast ascent at altitude. The top 10-15 runners can generally top-out in less than 60min, a pretty stiff benchmark to meet that requires a pace near 10min /mi and less. The median ascent time - summiting square in the middle of the field - is generally about 68min, or just less than 12min /mi pace.
|Vin screaming through the technical Aspen Peak overlook |
section. Vin actually took a fall shortly after this shot, visited
the hospital later to have his knee drained, then made an
appearance at the after-party. God bless ya' Vin.
The race leaders will often descend in close to 30min, or roughly 5min /mi. The median is closer to 46min, or roughly 8min /mi. We don't have a record of the quickest descent but it was likely as unsafe as it was speedy.
Race Reports from Previous Years
Santa Fe Trail Runner - 2011
High Desert Dirt - 2011
Santa Fe Trail Runner - 2010
High Desert Dirt - 2010
Burritos, coffee, and gatorade are traditional at the finish. Pace yourself appropriately through this bit and the awards and raffle that follow. Recommendations for post-post-race refreshments include our friends at the The Santa Fe Baking Company on Cordova Rd. They've got delicious pastry, a full menu, and a Strider's membership card will now get you a 20% discount. Second St. Brewery across the way in the Railyard Plaza has a patio and cold beer. The Tesuque Village Market has the same, although in a more northerly direction.
Cheers and a helluva race to all that plan to run this Saturday!
View Aspen Vista Trail (Big Tesuque Trail), Santa Fe, NM in a larger map