Who Doesn’t Like to Win?
Inside Trail Racing Team member, Victor Ballesteros, dominated the illustrious Jed Smith Ultra Classic 50 miler this past weekend in Sacramento, CA. The course is a flat and somewhat monotonous 5-mile loop of paved and dirt path that delivers some of the fastest 50k and 50 mile times in recent US history. Such a race places a tormenting stress on the legs and diligence of the runners. It requires a fine assembly of seemingly contradictory qualities to complete the race with speed and vigor and not fall behind in the drudging routine of running a circuit race. Participants need to be willing to push hard and feel the discomfort of hovering just below the red-line yet also relax into a meditative, halcyon state of feeling light and swift; translating the ache into a tickle. It takes a person of incredible talent and psychological perseverance to finish and a willingness to ignore looming personal obstacles and a powerful spirit to win. Victor was that person on this particular day.
Having had some hamstring pain develop the Sunday before the race, he entered the 50-mile course with caution and hesitance. Some minor physical ailments can be ignored and won’t hinder training, but then there are those insidious strains that provide you with the true excuse to drop out of a race (ie.Tim Stahler’s groin in the Napa Valley Marathon last year). Victor began his race with the knowledge he may have a flare up and feel the sting of both injury and a DNF–the swirling wonder of what might have been. Often, in situations like this, he finds one of the best strategies is to try and find his happy zen place, or whatever comes closest. By concentrating on distant landmarks, passing them and then focusing on the next, he was able to press forward and not give up. He ran conservatively as to not aggravate his hamstring yet still managed to pull ahead and run solo for the entire race. It was an auspicious feat that his injury remained quiet for the bulk of the race except for a tense moment on the second to last lap. He felt the impending affliction, eased off and completed the race in an unbelievably fast time for holding back as much as he did. It’s an unambiguous and ostentatious example of determination and humility as Victor was delighted by his win, but displeased with the inability to really hammer, having run a PR 5:53 at last year’s slightly hillier and not so monotonous Last Chance 50 miler. I don’t often have the ability to wish I could have burned my matches up if I already have the win. Victor came blazing into overall first place with a time of 6:07:15, a pace of 7:21/M…for 50 miles. Did you get that? Yeah… The next male finisher, Chad Worthen of Sacramento, came in at a time of 6:47:00, 40 minutes behind Mr. Ballesteros.
Not only did this unrelenting speedster walk away with the win, he also limped away with a beautiful little blood blister under his left toe, his first time for such a nuisance during a 50 miler.
Victor will be taking the next few days to recuperate and charge up for his next endeavor, in his words, “the ridiculously stacked” Lake Sonoma trail race taking place 4/13/13 in Healdsburg, CA. Other Team ITR members accompanying Victor include, Gary Gellin, Christopher Wehan, Jonathan Gunderson, Sarah Lavender Smith, and our very own, Ken Michal. We are excited to hear how the race goes for Victor and hopefully he’ll be happy he has the chance to break his legs with an all-out effort…as long as he crosses the finish line first.
For full results please visit: http://www.capitalroadrace.com/results/2013_JS_50M_OVL.HTM