My strategic concerns were centered on my shifting estimates of the relative conditioning of the race participants.
Early in June, while snow was still on the summit and fast times still impossible I felt a strong sense of foreboding regarding the race outcome. I thought it quite likely that Taylor could blow me away if he extended himself all out the whole race.
My strategy, therefore, would be to slow the race down and lure him into a sense of complacency. Since there is quite a bit of pain involved in reaching the summit fast, without the adrenaline spur of a direct challenge I figured I might be able to keep visual contact with him to the summit. My best strategy here would be to hold back, stay a couple of hundred feet behind and do my best to appear nonthreatening.
After the summit I figured I could make up as much as ten minutes on the downward trip. That is because I have a lot of experience moving fast over rough terrain. I worked in the woods for several years, and one of my special talents was moving FAST (particularly down) over steep slash choked hill country. You keep your knees bent a little and bounce off roots and rocks. You never really plant a foot because friction cannot be counted on for that long. You use these bounces to guide the mass of your body in a sort of "controlled fall."
However... in July I took Taylor up the route to familiarize him with the terrain. I didn't want to beat him because he got lost during the race - that would give him an excuse to call the results into question. I thought about limping and feigning injury and complaining the whole way on this hike - but I didn't want to be too blatant so I just went slow. Several times though on the way up I speeded up and then slowed down again and based on his responses (presuming he wasn't prevaricating) I determined that I could probably beat him outright.
This changed my strategy completely. I decided that rather than slowing the race down I would try to crush him off the line. I would jump start the race and do the first mile as fast as possible, rather than set a pace I could maintain the whole four miles to the top. I did not want him hanging on my shoulder using me as a rabbit. I figured I could go fast enough in that first mile so he would lose visual contact with me and it would break his spirit. After that the next time I'd see him would be in passing with me on the way down and him on the way up with ten minutes to go to the top.
With that in mind, I negotiated a race time as early as possible so it would be cool and on a weekday so hikers (more difficult obstacles than trees or rocks) would be at a minimum.
Susanka's Front Door