The Cohutta 100 is the second race in the National Ultra Endurance 2015 series and is held in TN. This race starts at the Occee river where they held the 1996 Kayak Olympic Competitions. This would be my first into the series for this year and Dave Jolin's second.
They changed the course slightly so it really is tough to determine a true personal record ('PR') compared to previous years. The two days prior to the race were absolutely gorgeous, so both Thursday and Friday before the race we headed out for some easy riding to enjoy the weather and dry trails.
The forecast for the day of the race? Not so much. Oh man, it's-'a-'coming!
The race directors were toying with the idea to shorten the race due to the impending severe storms, but in the end made the call the day before the race to keep the course as originally laid out. Your gonna get wet and muddy, that's MTB'ing. If the storms get bad, head for shelter, it is your choice to race. ;-) All good! Of course, opening up the weather app. on my iPhone the morning of the race covered the screen in various shades of green.
It was a wet start, but honestly not terrible and not discouraging either, at least not for me. It was still pretty warm so that helped tremendously. We were sent off at the usual 7am time and it was raining and the water was pooling at the start line, but many of us still lined up to race. It was motivating to say the least. Hitting the first part of the single track it was going to be a little slower due to the wet conditions, but amazingly it really was not bad. We were not rutting the course, at least not that I could tell, and in general things moved better than I had thought. One last note about the weather is that the rain stopped a couple hours into the race, the clouds parted, and the sun came out. This was both awesome and not do awesome because most of the racers dressed for cooler weather so it then became a game of getting rid of layers so that you prevented from overheated. I did a good job of layering so I was able to peel off the layers and get comfortable. The temperatures for the day ranged from a low of 45 degrees to a high of 75 degrees. Quite a different and tough to layer for.
A couple hours after I cleared the ST we started to hit some Aid stations and I made my first stop at aid #2 when my teammate and partner in "grime" came in just a few seconds behind me. Dave Jolin was doing well and I informed him that one of his masters competitors just left the aid station only a minute ago, so Dave made a quick pit and heading out before me. I quickly gathered my fuel and went off after the two of them. This happened over the next couple of aid stations, aid #3 and aid #4. Somewhere between aid $4 and aid #5 I managed to distance myself from them and others and was pretty much on my own. It was sometime around the middle of the 32 mile loop (the death march ... seriously felt that way) , before getting to aid #5, when I heard a grinding sound which I discovered was my chain that had become completely dried out. Not good. I had chain lube in my jersey pocket for just such an occasion and why I decided to not stop probably equates to my being stubborn and the fear of losing positions. In hind sight, it would have been the smarter move. When I reached aid #5,which is around mile 79, I had the volunteers apply a liberal amount of lube and man what a difference! The lack of chain lube had definitely slowed me down ... lesson learned!
From this point forward the aid stations came fast. Aid #6 was in another 3 miles, aid #7 was in another 6 miles, then #8 was in another few miles and finally I reached that last bit of single track which makes up the final 8-mile stretch to the finish line. Fortunately for us since the weather had cleared up the single track was in surprisingly great shape. There were a few wet spots but it was mostly dry and tacky and therefore ... fast and more importantly not dangerous as it was in 2013. There were more gnarly climbs that I apparently forgot about or just wanted to forget about from prior years, but I managed to pick up a couple places in the single track, which is surprising even to me, and I finished the race.
My final time was just a hair under 8:30 in 27th place. While this was 30 minutes faster than last year it is definitely not the finish that I wanted, but there were several factors at play and I am pouring over the data and results to determine how not to make the same mistakes again. Racing of any kind is a process and we all learn as we do more events, so in the end its all good. We all had fun, had some really fun cat and mouse chases, and we all got home safely back to our families (my ultimate goal for every race).
Dave Jolin ended up on the Podium with a time of 8:44, once again a very solid time and position for Dave. He is doing great in the NUE series!! Congrats Dave!!
Oh one more picture of the aftermath ... the bikes. ;-)
- Scott Morman