Horse Butte went off on April 3rd and it was great! Weather was still kinda crappy but anyone who has done this race in the past knows to expect less than optimal conditions. It seems to add to the event in a strangely positive way. The trail was in great shape and primed for a try at the course record. The field was stacked as any Bend event is these days but the men’s race was particularly interesting. Horse Butte would pitch course record holder Andy Martin against Bend’s other sickeningly fast runner Max King. As for the ladies 3 time winner Kristen Riley was the odds on favorite but it is Bend and you never know. Last years champ Lindsey Peters was on hand as well as Ahna Jura and Amy Freeman. More on that later.
As folks were warming up I caught a glimpse of a big foamy cowboy hat running by. On further inspection it was in fact Max King and not only was he sporting a sweet hat but he had cut off jean shorts, western shirt, and was actually warming up in cowboy boots. Max was definitely channeling the east side vibe.
After I started the race I wanted to see how the race was going so we drove out to the aid station to see how the battle was going. As we were setting up the aid stations with rock star support team of Lou and Barb Becker. Lou shared some great bourbon tea after we had everything squared. We only had to hang out for a short bit and over the snow dusted hill came two guys flying down the trail. Look closely at Max’s choice of race kit for the day. As expected Andy and Max were battling it out at a record setting pace. After they went through we were all curios about how the race for the ladies was playing out. I was a little surprised to see Kristen Riley and Amy Freeman come through so quickly. They both had the game face in place and were setting a fast pace. We had to leave the festive aid station so we could see the race unfold at the finsih. I didn’t want to miss it as both battles looked close.
At the finish everyone was wondering who was going to pull of the win of the kick off race to Central Oregon’s trail racing season. We did not have to wait long as Max cam over the rise and was on the gas towards the finish. Max came across the line in 56:28 which not only made him the new record holder and fastest of the day but he was probably the fastest man in jean shorts in the world. Now it was time to wait for the women to come in and I was really curious to see how it was going to go down. The race was still close as the ladies came down to the line. Kristen Riley prevailed by a mere 5 seconds and both ladies looked like it was all done as they crossed the line. Kristen set a new record of 1:10:33 so it looked like competition was a good motivator.
Lot’s of great performances on the day with people setting PR’s and others just getting their trail legs under them for the season. All seemed to have a good time and despite some cold weather folks hung out to enjoy a Oregon Country Beef hot dog and a little of Deschutes Brewery’s finest. I decided to take the overall and overall masters awards up a notch this year. For the overall male and female it was embroidered long sleeve western shirts. for the masters it was embroidered Snuggies to keep their old bones warm on those long winter nights. Nothing but good feedback here but the the discussion that dominated the post race atmosphere was the finishing prize. Kathy Harshburger who is a local ultrarunner and very talented quilter, sewer, knitter, and basically any kind of craft that involves fabric. She handmade over 200 hats that we handed out to finishers as they crossed the line. Everyone loved the hats and they really added to the success of this years race.
I have to say that is years race was was my favorite Horse Butte 10 miler to date. Thank you to all the racers and volunteers who make this race what it is. I’m already looking forward to next year.