2006 was the year they put the sprint in Patch Sprint!
In a classic finish, six-time champion Jason Fiegl, 32 at the time, outlasted 1998 Olympian Deborah Nordyke, diving across the finish line to capture the overall title in a time of two hours, 19 minutes and 31 seconds. Nordyke’s time of 2:19:37 remains the fastest female effort.
Fiegl darted out at the start of the race, opening over a one-minute lead on the first mountain. Nordyke, a Patch Sprint rookie and, at 44, the oldest female racer in the field, caught and briefly passed Fiegl in the final half-mile of the 12-mile, four mountain race. But on the summit ridge of Mt. Pok-O-Moonshine, Fiegl made a late dash to take the title by six seconds: the closest solo victory in the 30-year history of the event.
Deb Nordyke: “The first time I ran the Patch Sprint it was very exciting because I had no idea what the course was like. I really enjoy running on trails so I was so psyched to be out on a nice long point-to-point run. I was very concerned about getting lost but because I went out conservatively I was able to set sights on someone ahead of me the entire time up until going up Pok-O. At this point I was pretty beat and felt like at at
moment my legs were going to seize up on me. I had heard about the short-cut up the chimney but wasn't completely sure where it joined the trail but I knew that's what I wanted to do - anything to make the course a little shorter. I remember seeing Jay then, and I started gaining on him. As we went up the chimney I remember asking about how much further...I don't remember his exact comment but I do remember thinking, ‘Oh, I better bring it down a bit; we still a way to go.’ It was then he took off at a sprint that I realized I'd been duped! Ha! My bad! I know better: you should always know the course!”
Jason Fiegl: “I want to speak on the last mile. I have done it so many times on my own during the race, winter, and training. It is a mental game with a lot of internal conversation and looking at the ground as you place the next foot down on the trail. Deb summed it up when she caught up to me in 2006. I noticed her coming from behind. I did not know her well but knew she was an amazing athlete. When she got up next to me I stated something like ‘You are a machine!’ She humbly replied something like ‘just one step at a time’, or ‘just one foot in front of the other’. She had obviously been in that mindset before being such and elite competitive athlete through the years.
“I've thought of that since. That last mile is mentally and physically draining. Sometimes you don't care about the outcome, you just want to be done at that point. Sometimes you feel good and want to reel someone in. Sometimes you want to break your personal best time. Sometimes you can't wait to see friends on top. No matter what the mindset, you have to just dig deep and put one foot in front of the other and push yourself to reach whatever goal you set for yourself.”
Nordyke: “Great race! Every time, it's something new!”
Fiegl: "The race itself has changed with number of people and the amount of elite racers just looking for a unique well-organized race. Bonds are still created and friendships made. It attracts good people who see the value and importance of a healthy activity in one of the most beautiful settings all done for a great cause. It will always be special for that.”
Trivia Question: Who finished third in 2006? Answer in the comments section (below)