I scaled back the racing this year. Way back. I had only planned on two races, and they couldn’t have been more different.
First up: Winter Ezakimak
Ezakimak is a 5K. But like anything we do in Mammoth, its not just a normal 5K
-Ending at 11,053 feet
Participants can run, fat bike, cross country ski, or snowshoe from Main Lodge to the summit of Mammoth Mountain. I love this race. I look forward to this every year. My history with this race goes back to the first winter running in 2015. I entered the running division and wore microspikes. My friend Mackenzie Long and I nervously looked around at the start and I believe her words were “This is going to hurt” said with a huge smile. A high five and we were off. Somehow we ended up on the podium with Deena Kastor. This is one of the moments that made me fall in love with racing.
After that year, they started offering a cash prize for King and Queen of the mountain and it drew quite the crowd. That’s fine. I was happy just to be doing the race.
Then a couple of years ago I got a pair of running snowshoes. Oh hello, new nerdy hobby. I was in love.
Last year (2018)I ran with a man named Michael and we stayed together the whole race. Encouraging each other and suffering together. We both took first place in our division.
This year, we met at the starting line and hugged. He told me he’d been nursing a hamstring injury and probably wouldn’t be able to keep pace. I told him if I got to the finish first, I’d be there cheering for him when he did get there.
We took off, and I can honestly say that I don’t remember much of that race. Lungs burning, wind blowing, sloppy snow. It had been warm the week before and the snow was super soft. The bikers had probably the most trouble of anyone. I ran by so many people pushing their bikes and taking their skis off. “Well, snowshoe was the right choice” I thought.
The final push always feel like it’s in slow motion. Coming up over the last hill, there are lights along the ground and the wind is ALWAYS blowing. The music is playing and the crowd is cheering. “Oh finally”. When I ran by Miles he said he hadn’t seen any other snowshoers yet. Turns out, he was right. I crossed the line first in the snowshoe division.
*If you do this race, heed my warning. The top is cold. You will be sweaty. Put a full change of clothes, puffy jacket, *socks*, and big giant gloves in your checked bag. It’s a full party atmosphere at the top with beer, hot chocolate, a DJ, and awesome people crossing the finish line. You will not want to stop cheering and dancing to go inside and warm up. The podium is also outside, so plan accordingly.*
Below is a video from the first year. Views for days in this race! At the end you get a glimpse of that very special moment where I get to stand on the podium and fall head over heels in love with this sport.