I woke up Thursday morning feeling much less stressed than I usually do on this race day. Not having to race Homestake definately eased a lot of my worries, particularly for keeping my shoulders and teeth intact. The Dowd Chutes race went alright, I wasn’t perfect in any of my runs but I ended up third behind Nouria Newman, a top Red Bull athlete, and Sage Donnelly, a slalom, racing, and freestyle phenom. We all had to head straight to the hole in downtown Vail to get some training in before the freestyle competition started, about 2 hours after the Dowd Chutes race ended.
Despite having a relatively strong hate for the freestyle feature in Vail, I some how end up doing pretty well in there every year. I ended up in second place for competing in semi-finals the next day (Saturday) at noon.
Thursday was there and gone in a flash and I woke up Friday knowing my day was going to be even more full of events. I got up and wandered to yoga in the park, a really nice break from the crazy events I would be doing the rest of the weekend. After I got bendy, I headed back to the hole and trained some more. It was an unforgiving feature with a super shallow rock on the left side of the hole that people were coming dangerously close to. My first competition ride was completely terrible and I had some work to do in order to make it to finals. Then, mid way through my second ride, I hit my head very, very hard. It came out of nowhere but I kept paddling to smash out two moves which got me into the finals.
When I came out of the hole, my head was pounding and my neck was seizing up. I put my head in my hands and the announcers were asking for me to respond to them. I was merely trying to not pass out, I was seeing stars and had some tunnel vision going on. My ears were ringing and I couldn’t even pick my head up for a couple of seconds. All my brain was thinking about was my past neck injury and how terrible it made me feel for over a month. I was temporarily terrified I had broken my neck, via compression fracture. Sage paddled over to me and brought me back to reality. I lifted my head to see every person watching the event staring at me with worried eyes. The organizers had called the Fire Department and I ferried over to the other side of the river where Stephanie (Sage's mom) helped me get out of my boat and started figuring out what was going on. Luckily, she worked on my neck for about an hour and I (of course) refused any treatment from the EMT’s and firefighters.
Despite possibly having a minor concussion and not feeling my greatest, I powered on and ended up running my first ever 5k. Matt Lamb helped me so much during the run and he kept me going on both the ups and the downs. I finished the race in high spirits and I got 7th in my age group.
I headed back to the condo after getting some food and got all of my stuff ready for the next two days. I had 7 events to finish on Saturday and Sunday.
My Ultimate Mountain Challenge standing was pretty par for the course with the following points:
- Dowd Chutes Race: 7 points
- Yoga: 1 point
- Apres 5k: 5 points
Total: 13 points