Start of HR 2012 - photo Fred Marmsater
First and foremost I need to say thank you to my wife and family! The journey leading up to HR is never possible without my wife to support me in every decision we make around HR. And that includes spending all our vacation time in Silverton, Colorado. It's never "No" but "let's see how we can work this out" Thank you Nicole! 1 month in Silverton is not easy. Thank you Jaxon and Myles for understanding (trying anyways) to know what this HR thing is all about. Thank you to my In Laws who love Hardrock as much -or even more- than I do. Thank you to the Darnold's for the their continued support. And last, thank you to my Dad, brother, and nephew for coming to see this crazy thing we do. I hope the San Juans have left an impression of inspiration on you like they have for me over the past 6 years.
Is there any wonder why we run Hardrock? photo - irunfar
Nicole and her new friend after hanging out a month in Silverton
(she is not a DG)
Start - KT (2.27) 11.5 myles
I knew Karl wasn't going out fast so I figured if I stayed with him through Telluride, I would be keeping it "under the hood". A group of about 6 of us climbed steadily towards the Putnam basin, not a constant run but rather a run/hike, whatever felt natural. There was a lot of chatter and joking going on and also many statements of how lucky we really are to be enjoying this day in the San Juans with such a good group of friends. None of us felt like we were working and as we approached the KT aid station road we knew we were a little fast but because it felt easy so we just kept rolling along at that pace.
Leaders at KT - Photo irunfar
KT - Chapman (1.32) 18.9 myles
Nicole, Rick, and the Darnold's hiked up from the South Mineral CG to give me some aid. Nicole quickly gave me my Ultraspire Spry vest which contained an EFS liquid shot bottle (5 oz EFS LS + 15oz of water) tucked in the back, some boiled potatoes in the front pockets, and a light shell with gloves. My fueling system was perfect. While I had two handhelds, only one in hand while the other was tucked in the back pocket of the vest. When I was climbing for a while I would put the other bottle in the back of my shorts so I could use my hands to push on my lower thighs - that was a technique I picked up from the Euros last year at UTMB.
Up Grant Swamp we go. There was a little separation between myself, Dakota, Karl, and Nick as we trailed Hal, Timmy Parr, and Joe by about 400 yards. At the top I could not believe how many people had made the climb, at least 30 people taking pictures, ringing bells, and just overall energy. I bolted down the other side towards Chapman, going all the way to the right where the dirt was soft to get some good traction. Across the rock field, down into the trees, and into Chapman with Joe, Hal, and Dakota. It really did feel effortless up to this point but I questioned if it was too much. I certainly wasn't going to push it up Oscar's.
Chapman - Telluride (2.25) 27.8 myles
I tucked my bottle in my shorts and started to push on my lower thighs. Of the two previous training runs up Oscar's this was the best I had felt. I soon caught up with the 3 leaders and just marched on very steadily up the 8 or so switchbacks. The clouds had covered the sun so it was pleasant and not hot like I thought it would be. Up at the top there was another slew of people who brought more energy. I stopped to change bottles out of my vest and the top 3 were gone! It was at this point I realized I was getting caught up in it again and made the decision to run down to Telluride at a very mellow pace. Time to get refueled and let me body try to absorb some of the potatoes I was taking in. The climb out of Telluride always kicks me in the teeth so I wanted to save something for it.
I really felt great getting into Telluride. The energy was amazing! I saw my brother and that gave me a really good boost. He's never seen any of my races so I wanted to make a good impression. As my wife restocked my potatoes and ran out of the aid station with me I told her that I was doing everything in my power to slow down. I felt like I was crawling. It was kind of scary because even though I had gone an addition two myles (reroute) I was still within 15 minutes of my time last time through here.
Starting up Oscar's - photo John Medinger
Telluride - Kroegers (1.49) 32.8 myles
There is no getting around the fact that the climb up to Kroegers is a kick in the teeth. I was climbing good and even running the flatter sections but once we clear the trees - it is just plain tough! As I cleared the trees it started raining pretty hard and I was soaked immediately. I kept eating the potatoes and sucking on my EFS bottle but the energy was leaving me pretty quick. I knew some of that had to do with the altitude so I wasn't worried too much. By the time I had entered Roch's cantina I was a bit woosy and they could see it in my eyes. I took my first coke and bolted down the other side. Both Karl and Nick were on my heels but I didn't mind because I knew they were good company.
Kroegers - Governor Basin (0.32) 36 myles
I was absolutely freezing on top of Kroegers but as soon as I got onto the road leading to camp bird I was pretty much dry and warm again. I didn't stop at Governor because I was in a groove and knew I should just maintain my pace so that I could get off the road as quickly as possible.
Governor Basin - Ouray (1.09) 43.9 myles
I ran the entire road. Shouldn't be such a big deal but the two previous times in this direction I couldn't run the road because I was starting to feel it. I knew I wasn't blazing but there were no doubts in my mind that the pace I was running was good. Shortly before I turned to go into Ouray, Karl and Timmy Parr caught me and were moving just a tad bit faster. Mentally and physically that was OK for me. Flashback to last time, I had a feeling that I needed to push to stay in front, even though I was suffering by the time I got to Ouray. I had to push harder than I ever had before. We all know the result so this year I was in a good place. Ironically as I pulled into the aid station, so did Diana Finkel. Almost the same spot as the previous time. Basically 10 hrs into the run now and I really do feel like I'm running a good race.
Jaxon with some solid advice in Ouray - photo Alyssa Wideboer
Both times previous this climb has always been the worst. Something physiologically goes wrong on the climb to Engineer. I was certain that I escaped this time, but it was not to be. By the time I reached the "dinner plates" (4 myles out), I was dizzy and nausious. At about which time Jonathan Bashman passed me and offered assistance. I started shoving more potatoes and more EFS into my mouth as well as water. In fact, I left Ouray with two bottles and I had to dip into the stream at the first crossing before Engineer aid station. I was taking care of myself. I seemed to snap out of it within 30 minutes and I was even running the flatter stuff in the meadows leading into the aid station. At the aid station, I sat down and drank a coke and ate two cookies. I left with a positive state of mind that I would be making it to Grouse before dark.
Engineer - Grouse (1.38) 58.4 myles
There is only one part to this section that is real tough, and it's the last 400 meters getting to Engineer pass. This year some guy yelling "that's what I'm talking about" and his van was full of all sorts of goodness. But my the time I got to the top I was hurting and didn't even want to talk. Sorry dude. Now down the road for 5 myles to Grouse. All I kept thinking is "running is easy downhill". My whole goal was to run the entire road at a relaxed pace. Last time I was not able to run more than 5 minutes at a time and didn't reach Grouse till way after dark (without a headlamp).
Because I was way late last time, Dale Garland came up the road in his truck to check on me. It's always good to see Dale, even if I don't like chatting, Dale has a way of striking up conversation. It was a mental boost for me for sure. I rolled into Grouse 14 and 1/2 hours after I started and it was still light. Even though I wanted to use the daylight, I needed a little break to eat some pumpkin pie, soup broth, and more coke. It was also good to chat it up with those who were driving around these mountains to support me. By this time my EFS LS consumption was dwindling so my crew cut the concentration in 1/2 - 2.5 oz EFS LS to 18oz of water. I need the calories because between Ouray and Grouse (4.5 hrs) I only had a few potatoes and a couple cookies.
Grouse - Sherman (4.21) 71.8 myles
In my mind this is when I start to hunt. But as I climbing over to American Basin I would be a starving hunter... I felt like crap! I had to stop several times even before I crested the first climb. I turned my light on about a mile outside of Grouse. Down the valley I saw a string of better hunters and I was about to be dinner. I kept eating, I kept drinking, but I couldn't help but stop after about 10 minutes. Finally, Adam Wilcox caught me on the final ascent up Handies. I was dry heaving and freezing cold. Adam stopped to offer anything but I was trashed and beyond repair at that point. I just needed to rest for a good 5 minutes but I knew I would freeze before that. I pushed on and over the top where I rejoined Adam. I certainly was feeling better after I descended about thousand feet.
Now I was moving much better and started to get into a rhythm down to Burrows park. Midway down I caught a slowing Timmy Parr and his pacer Duncan Callahan. Hoping for Timmy to turn it around but it wasn't meant to be. Although I will say, Timmy toughed this one out and got his HR finish. Nice job Timmy! Down the road I go into Sherman, and again, I don't want to stop at all. All these roads are slightly down but this one feels uphill for some reason. At any rate, I run into Sherman with Jason Koop and Pete Stevenson. I need another break but both Jason and Adam barely stop. I ate pretty good at Sherman and 10 minutes later left with some good energy. My father in law Rick came over with Mindy Campbell so that was a boost of energy and confidence as well.
Sherman - Pole Creek (3.10) 80.9 myles
My spirits and energy are good despite being on my feet just over 19 hours. I climbed really well up cataract gulch, catching Jason Koop around 30 minutes into the climb. I could see two more sets of lights ahead so that gave me energy to push harder. As soon as I reached the top, I was right behind one set while another had slowly gained from behind. Ted Mahon and pacer passed me just as we started our descent into Pole Creek. I thought I was moving good -forward anyways- but Ted was moving great! I tried to stay attached but it was too much. I got into Pole Creek just after 4 AM and Ted had put 10 minutes on me.
I stayed at Pole Creek for about 10 minutes drinking coke and eating cookies. I was not in a hurry and really felt like I was coming into my own. I was confident as I left Pole Creek!
Pole Creek - Maggie Gulch (1.25) 85.2 myles
As I looked across the valley I could see 3 sets of lights. I started putting time checks in my mind which told me I was back into hunting mode. I was not looking behind at all. I ran most of the valley and then had to hike the climb to get up to the Colorado Trail. I turned my light off at the crest of the climb leading into Maggie. I was hurting but I was also gritting my teeth and wanted this to be over. As I rolled into Maggie I saw Ben and then I saw Diana! I couldn't believe it and was feeling bad for her. I know she would not have been there unless something was really wrong. She had such a fantastic race going but because of the Rhabdomyolisis symptoms, it was the right choice to stop.
I packed away all my night stuff, drank a coke, and ate some stuff. They offered me a "bacon and maple" roll but I was not at all intrigued by that combo. I have always had a good climb out of Maggie so I was hopeful I could catch a glimpse of someone to fuel my climb.
Maggie Gulch - Cunningham (1.54) 91.3 myles
The climb didn't go that smooth out of Maggie as I had to stop a few times but got sight of someone so I kept pressing. Up and over Buffalo Boy ridge and onto Green Mountain and I was slowly, but surely, reeling someone in. By the time we could see Cunningham aid station we were running together. Into the aid station, and again, I took my time. I ate more pumpkin pie and more coke. I emptied out my vest and took one water bottle over the Dives Little Giant climb.
Cunningham in hunt mode - photo irunfar
Cunningham - Silverton (2.39) 102.1 myles
All of that climbing goodness that I had in my legs had now suddenly left. I couldn't keep pace and had to rest every 10 minutes. Once I was near the top, Zeke Tiernan and James Bonnett came bolting by and it gave me reason to stop for a break. They gave me some good energy and decided I would try to run it all the way in. My time up to the top of the last climb was not good at all but once I started down I was moving really good.
Finally down the switchback road to the river where I caught up with Karl. He had been having a rough go trying to stay awake since Sherman. I offered to run it in together but he was having none of it. On the flat section coming in I had a renewed sense of energy so this section went by pretty quick.
Representin' the gray hairs
Eric and Dillon at the finish while Dad looks on
Sure I wanted the race to be over but when the awards are done, there is a certain emptiness that takes hold for the next few weeks. The Hardrock family gets into your blood and I can't wait to go back!