American Zofingen…Best Race EVER!
I have been thinking about this race since it’s debut 3 years ago. I entered that year, but mother nature got the best of me, and I dropped out due to hypothermia. It was a brutally cold day, yet the weather was nothing compared the difficulty of the course, and I vowed to be back someday and seek revenge!
That day was this past Sunday, October 12th…it was time to face my demons, and just “finish” this race.
On a simply perfect day (temps in the mid 50’s to low 60’s) with the sun shining and leaves appearing to be peaking to perfection, the 2008 American Zofingen was set off in Old-School style “On Your Mark…Get Set…Go!” Like wild horses fighting for ground in the Kentucky Derby, we all took off for what would be a very, very, very long day. The race distance is made up of a 5 mile run, an 84 mile bike, and a 15 mile run. This in itself shouldn’t be too taxing for me…that’s shorter than the Ironman and there’s no swimming…always a PLUS in my book! Ahhh..but as I found out, jumping to such hasty conclusions is foolish. The course is DIABOLICAL. Sissy’s need not apply for this race…you will go home with your tail between your legs and probably searching for answers in some therapist’s office. This race takes every bit of physical, mental and emotional strength you’ve got inside you and then stares you in the face and asks “Is that all you got lard ass!?” I know I definitely answered “Yes!” a few times, but something inside me would not let me give up. I might be a lard-ass, but I am not quitting!
But I digress…the reason why the race is so challenging is the terrain itself. The 5-Mile trail run (which you do FOUR times btw) is quite possibly, the most difficult 5 miles you’ll ever run in your life – unless of course you’re running on the moon without a spacesuit. You run up what I figure are four, 12-15% grade hills on each loop. These are covered with slabs of granite rock and thick, narly tree roots. The groomed parts of the trail are seldom flat. There are some drastic switchback downhills that ignite your quads to scream as if they are being stabbed with finely sharpened Ginsu knives. Total Elevation gain in 20 miles is 2900 ft! The bike consists of a 27 mile loop (which you do three times) that leaves the Mohonk Preserve (I want to retire on that preserve btw…freaking awesome!) and travels west through the New Paltz mountain lake area. Breathtaking does not even describe what you see for roughly 26 out of the 27 miles. I found myself forgetting about the pain of each climb as I was gazing at the slabs of granite projecting itself off the Shwagunk Mountain range. Rolling streams and waterfalls, all thriving due to the rain we had in September, and the brightest reds, yellow and orange leaves I have ever seen. But…back to the race. The bike course is crazy-hard. There’s no other way to describe it. And for me (I am lazy and have barely been on my bike since the Lake Placid Ironman in July), it was a game of mind over matter. I wanted to finish…that was it. With a total gain of 8800 ft in 84 miles, my time of 5:47 was…well…respectable I guess.
Finishing the last section (a measly 15 mile run!) was icing on the cake. The finish line was actually inside a beautiful Pavilion where a big crowd was waiting to meet you with cheers, a medal, and a life-saving ice-cold keg of beer. It was truly magical.
Despite taking August off and loafing around for most of September, I hung on to finish 1st overall woman, and took home a gargantuan authentic German beer Stein, as well as some cash. The memories of the suffering soon faded as I sat in the Pavilion, cheering on other finishers, eating a hearty bowl of chili and drinking a cold, delicious beer from my (let’s just stretch the truth) “Made In Munich” Stein! I am already dreaming about AZ 2009!
Check it out: www.americanzofingen.racesonline.com
Mimi on the Podium (in red)
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