Report - 2001 Truffle Shuffle
scene for the 2001 Truffle Shuffle was pretty typical Oregon
conditions for this annual mid-February event at a place called
Alton Baker Park in Eugene, Oregon. While the theme for just
about all of the running events anywhere in the nation this
weekend was all about Valentine's Day, unbeknownst to me,
the devil was waiting for me on the course. And I ain't talkin'
no cupid, baby. I'm talkin' Mr. 666 himself. More on that,
the race, there was no evil in the weather. Just some Truth:
cold and cloudy, threatening rain and a slight breeze. The
only thing I didn't like thinking about was the thought of
having to turn back into the breeze for almost the entire
third mile of the four mile event, which me and 401 other
runners would be dealing with in about 45 minutes.
I waited for Coop, Bill and Tommy to show up, I was trying
not to freeze my not-much-of-a-butt off. Thank goodness for
the race organizers, including former Olympian Mike Manley
and the Bolder Options folks for keeping the runners comfortable
before and after the race year after year. I hate pre-race
time, especially when it's cold. Not to worry. They had plenty
of hot drinks, heaters and shelter to get runners out of the
wind and cold. As usual, the volunteers made it all happen,
including handing out truffles to every participant after
the race. Wow.
showed up and kindly allowed me to stash my gear in his car.
We then took off for a short loop warm up. I tried to get
myself pumped up. My confidence was low. I wanted to at least
come within shouting distance of my time from last year (22:56),
but had not raced individually since July. I thought something
in the low 23's…like 23:0-anything was possible for me if
I ran a smart race. We all had all done a dry run of the course
together a week earlier, and the 23:45 I ran felt great.
our warm up loop, Coop and I hooked up with Bill and Tommy,
who showed up with a bad case of the crud, still planning
to race, of course. It was getting close to start time, and
I did a few strides and then toed it up waiting for Manley
to get us started. Also present at the start was another former
Olympian, Annette Peters. Wasting no time, Manley got us off,
mercifully sparing us from any more shivering than necessary.
I wondered to myself how many times he had raced and what
his starting line stomach must have felt like for a runner
of his caliber as I tried to block out the discomfort that
was shortly ahead of me. Then we were off.
took off and Bill was right with me. It was great to have
him there. He ran a great first mile, and that's what we both
needed. I try to fool myself that the first mile is free,
but I know all pace decisions have a price. I have also learned
from Bruce that you don't run fast without taking chances.
I just was not ready to do it today in the first mile. I came
across in about 5:37, which was slower than my opener last
year, but it was how I felt that I was most concerned about,
and I felt good which immediately boosted my confidence.
fell into pace with a couple of guys in front of me, and then
passed them as they started to fade. I hoped to come across
mile two at around 11:30. Bingo: 11:31. O.K. It's on, I thought.
three was tough. I was now separated by a group in front and
felt nobody coming up behind me. I find it really easy to
get lazy when I am not pushed. Also, as I had feared, as I
turned back down the canal, here came the breeze, which wasn't
much, really, more of a mental thing than anything else. But
it made the usual ¾ point fatigue factor seem worse than it
really was. Watching the group in front widen their lead was
not a good mental thing, which only meant I was probably getting
out of nowhere, a huge devil…repeat…devil…passes me right
before mile 3. Actually, mercifully, at least the guy left
the tail and pitchfork part of his costume at home, or at
least in the trunk of his car. Otherwise, I would have been
really demoralized. When I came across the third mile in 5:57
(17:28), I realized it was not as bad as it felt. One mile
to go. I now had motivation: Beat the devil. Also, I noticed
the devil was also probably in my age group! If I was going
to three-peat in defending my age group championship, I was
almost certain I would have to beat the devil himself. I told
myself "those are my truffles!" (age group winners get a four-pack
of truffles, and my kids were home waiting).
it was REALLY on. I tucked in behind and rode on his shoulder
for the first half mile. I felt fatigued, but in control.
He was a big guy. Easily over six feet tall to my 5'7". He
had a real long stride and decent turnover. When the devil
approached a slight hill with a little over a half mile to
go, I thought this is where I will make my move doing my short,
choppy, high turnover uphill thing. As I passed him going
up, I sensed another runner coming up behind us. The devil
responded to all of this and passed me back on the downhill
side, holding off me and the other runner by putting his long
stride up against my short choppy thing, which makes downhill
running a big weakness for me. I heard the other runner coming
up making another surge and I accelerated to hold my position.
The devil and I were now running shoulder to shoulder.
just before the third to the last turn, still well back from
the finish (about a third of a mile out) I thought it was
time to take a risk. I decided I would try taking off and
see how long I could hold it. I knew this was risky on my
part and I really didn't know how much I had left. I was,
however, running against the devil and I had played it pretty
safe so far.
it paid off and I managed to hold my surge through the finish
which was enough to hold them off. As it turns out, "they"
were Todd Bosworth (23:13) of Eugene and Sarah Raitter (23:14)
of Bend. I turned to shake hands with them in the shoot and
congratulate them on a good race. Yes, I shook hands with
Dressell of Eugene (19:37) and Annette Peters (21:15) were
the overall winners.
finished in 23:09 for 21st place overall, running the last
mile in 5:41, which I was very pleased with. Bill came in
at 24:08 (28th) and Tommy ran 24:41 (37th). Coop took an amazing
1:20 off his time from last year, averaging 6:36's for a 26:24.