Silver King Race Report

I am going to try to keep this short and sweet… well as short as I can with two races to recap. When everything seems to go right on race day(s) that seems to be a bit easier. As I wrote about in my blog right before the race my run training leading into the Silver Rush 50s was a little less than ideal. However I’ve never been the kind of athlete that lets that kind of stuff get to me or cause me to doubt myself. I love to race and I’ve always been able to dig deep on race day regardless of the training in the weeks/months leading up to the race. So I toed the line at both races feeling confident and fit.

Silver King Day 1: Silver Rush 50 Mile Mountain Bike Race

I haven’t raced my bike a lot the past few years. Pretty much just once a year. In 2014 I raced the 6 hours of Temecula. In 2015 The Steamboat Stinger 50 Miler… and this year Silver Rush. I always forget how much I love mixing it up on my mountain bike. It was super mellow before the race with the 9am start. I hung out with Maggie, Fi and the boys from the team. I was super relaxed. The race started with super steep run up and I did a horrible job getting up it. However… I was quickly on my bike and with a solid group of guys. I didn’t know it at the time but we were the lead pack.

I took the lead of the pack (unknowingly leading the race) for miles 3-5 leading the group up the initial 8+ mile climb. My plan was to just stay within myself all day and never really red line… at least not early in the race but also not let any of the Silver King competitors get too far away from me (we had different color number plates so it was easy to tell who I was racing).. . Halfway up the climb 3 young dudes attacked and I wanted nothing to do with it. They quickly dropped me. I just kept my same pace and kept the calories coming in. I got to the turn around in 6th overall which was completely shocking to me.

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I was immediately caught and dropped by me teammate Jason who is competing in Leadman. I was stoked he was there but I was suffering up the long hike-a-bike section just trying to keep up with him. Eventually I backed off and did my own thing. Around mile 30 I was caught by Wesley Sandoval, a Leadville local, who was also racing Sliver King… and had won it the past two years. Damn. He got a solid gap on a technical descent before the climb up to the next aid station. I was able to reel him back in just a I reached the Aid station at mile 34. Time to do work.

Next up was the long Printer Boy climb and I knew it was my only chance to get away as he was descending faster than me. So I slammed a gel, put my head, and didn’t let up. By the time I got to the top of the climb I was able to get a big gap on him and also reel in another guy. All that was left to do was hammer 10 miles to the finish and that’s what I did. I crossed the line in 4:21 which was good for 7th overall and 1st in the Silver King competition. Wesley Sandoval finished just over a minute behind me. Close one.

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I was for sure tired during he hours after the mountain bike race but in a good way. Thats one of the great things when it comes to bike racing vs. running. It definitely smashes you but not in a way where your joints hurt and your quads are so smashed you can’t walk down stairs. Luckily Maggie had a coke and a big breakfast burrito waiting for me right after the race…. she’s the best…. and I continued to eat well… and a lot to recover and fuel me for 50 miles of running the next day.

Silver King Day 1: Silver Rush 50 Mile Running Race

Maggie and I were up super early for the 6am start. Thankfully Fi crashed with Maggie’s mom in her hotel room and would be meeting us at the turnaround. I was tired and the thought of running 50 miles was daunting but I was feeling fortunate to once again be toeing the line with Maggie. Everything went smoothly pre race and before I knew it we were running up same super steep hill to get the race going.

I quickly slotted somewhere in the top 10 during the initial miles… but I already was feeling the effort. I chatted with a few guys on and off but they would eventually pull away from me. Around mile 5 I was seriously questioning how I was going to be able to finish 50 miles let alone go for the Silver King win. I was still ahead of any one else in the Silver King race but at that point I adjusted my goals. I originally thought I could run somewhere between 730-8 hours after racing hard the day before. My new goal… just finish and try to stay ahead of all the Silver King competitors.

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I just put my head down and did my own thing making sure to keep eating and drinking. Heading into the first major aid station at mile at mile 13.5 I was suffering and people were pulling away from me. I was probably in around 12th-15th place at that point. I got my bottles filled and was looking forward to the next descent. Knowing the course so well from racing the day before was definitely helping me break it up.

I was now kind of in no mans land and running ok and managed to bring a guy back and pass him as I went through the 18 mile aid station which gave me a little boost. Next up was the climb to the pass before the long descent to the turnaround. As I was cresting the climb I saw a guy coming for me and from the looks of his bib he was in Silver Kind. Damn….

He caught me quickly on the descent but as he got closer I gotta a closer look at his bib and he was NOT in Silver King. That was a huge relief but the scare gave me a much needed shot of adrenaline. I was also stoked that I was going to get to see Fi and Lucy very soon. I got to the turnaround and they were there. I stopped to say Hi and then did short loop, got what I needed out of my drop bag and then was out of there.

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On the way out of the turnaround Maggie was coming in just 5 minutes behind me. I was so stoked that she was having a good race. She was really nervous heading in and it was great to see her crushing…. at that point I was sure she was going to catch me. I gotta quick kiss and then started the grind back up the pass.

I passed a couple of guys in the aid station and headed up with Adam, a cool dude from Vail I met at the marathon in June. We were right around each other all day. He was climbing well so I decided I would try to stay with him. About 15′ out from the aid station I saw Wesley Sandoval and knew I had a 30+ minute lead in the Silver King competition…. I just need keep doing what I was doing.

The climb up to the pass went well with Adam just behind me and somehow I was starting to feel better. My plan at this point was to hike anything too steep and let it rip on the flats and descents. I passed through the mile 30 aid station in 9th with Adam not far behind. I felt good climbing up to the mile 34 aid station and was mentally preparing for the last grinding climb of the day.

The climb started well and I was able to run most it. It’s 3 mile climb that gains just over 1000ft. It’s exposed and coming that late in the race it’s super hard. I could see 8th place just ahead of me and Adam just behind me so I used that for motivation to keep going. I caught and passed 8th halfway up and was now in 8th but with a half mile to go Adam caught and I latched on. I could not wait to finish the climb and then push hard that last 10.8 miles to the finish. I was actually feeling good but was ready to be done climbing.

I got dropped just before the top of the climb, back to 9th place, and decided to hike that last section and regroup. I took my time as I started the descent because I knew I was feeling good. Then I started to let it roll. A mile into the descent I moved back into 8th and was looking to move up more and to try and break 8 hours. I kept slamming gels and hit the final aid station with 8 miles to go. 2 miles late I saw a runner ahead me. This got me stoked and I couldn’t believe how good I was feeling. It was hands down the best I’ve felt late in a race of any ultra I’ve ever done. I was in hunting mode and feeling strong… such a rad feeling.

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I caught the guy and moved in 7th around mile 6. I wanted to stay there and look to move up more so I kept rolling and pushing. Unfortunately I didn’t catch anybody else but I crossed the line feeling strong in 7:41 which was again good enough for 7th overall and 1st in the Silver King competition.

Combined Silver King time: 12:03:03 (4:21:13, 7:41:50)

I was super stoked to take the Silver King win and also break the combined course record by 10+ minutes… which was secret goal I had going in. It’s super satisfying to work hard towards a race goal and come through. it had definitely been a while. Doing the two races back to back is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and it may be the race(s) of my life. I for sure couldn’t have done it without Maggie’s support.

Maggie crossed the line 10 minutes behind me taking the win in a super competitive women’s race. Next up is Leadville for her. I can’t wait.

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The weekend of racing couldn’t have gone better and closing the weekend with the way I felt the final 10 miles of the run still has me stoked. I think a lot of that comes down to my nutrition… both the day to day eating and the in-race nutrition. I can’t thank Cyril and the team at Feed the Machine for helping me get the in-race nutrition dialed in.

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It was such an awesome weekend of racing up in Leadville and The Adrenalin Project was well represented in both races. We even managed to take the team title in the bike race. I have so much fun racing on this team.

next up: Leadville 100 for Maggie on 8/20 and then Run Rabbit 100 for me on 9/16.

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  7 comments for “Silver King Race Report

  1. July 22, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    DUDE! Such a great read – back to winning again! Even more fun with kids – huh!?

  2. July 22, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Congrats¡¡¡¡

  3. July 22, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Does Floyd Landis really have a pot shop in Leadville?

  4. Bill
    July 22, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Mr James Walsh and family – thanks for posting this and a really a great resul! Leadville is the real deal. The town and the races. Enjoy!

  5. Brian Gunn
    July 22, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Awesome racing James!

  6. Adam Bybliw
    July 23, 2016 at 8:13 am

    I’m honored to have made “cool dude” status on your blog. What an incredible performance to take the SK overall and set a new course record that weekend. Every time I thought you were fading, you came back stronger and stronger- I just kept thinking, “this dude biked 50 yesterday and is still kicking my butt!” It was a pleasure to run with you and I look forward to the next time. See you soon brother!

  7. July 23, 2016 at 9:15 am

    A True Family Affair, Brilliant!!

    Cheers

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