Silverton Alpine 50k

The San Juan mountains beckoned for the second time in a month. As beautiful as they are, I hope to see them not shrouded by clouds one of these day. After pacing the Leadville Trail 100 last week, I was inspired to enter a race. The Silverton Alpine 50k takes place on a section of the Alpine Loop Back Country BywayΒ between the cities of Silverton, Lake City and Ouray. These sorts of expeditions for me are usually an excuse to take pictures more than anything else. But with it being a smaller race and having been motivated by the Leadville weekend, I decided to leave the camera and just run as hard as I could.

Screen Shot 2013-08-26 at 6.28.26 PM Screen Shot 2013-08-26 at 6.28.38 PM

Leila and I represented the Rocky Mountain Runners contingent. She posted a 5:04 for a win and a new course record. I lumbered in with a 5:23 which I was very happy with. Next time, I’ll carry a camera!

IMG_0239

Pawnee – Buchanan Pass Loop

Once a year is not often enough to take on the epic Pawnee-Buchanan Loop, but that seems to be my timing. This was the first attempt in the clockwise direction and it was a different experience entirely.DSCN1739

We had a nice group of 12 runners charging up the first steep climb towards Pawnee Pass.

DSCN1741

And then back down into the valley.

DSCN1743

DSCN1744

The western slope is incredibly verdant.

DSCN1754

DSCN1756

The water falls were numerous and gushing.

DSCN1760

5 hours later we started the climb towards Buchanan Pass.

DSCN1762

DSCN1763

There is plenty of time left this year to try this one again!

DSCN1764

Mt Massive and Elbert Weekend

Wrapping up work by 2pm Friday and driving directly to the Highlands is becoming a habit and I am starting to understand those who have long been habituated in this way. I am a bit of a late comer to it all. I headed back up to Leadville this weekend. I remember driving through Leadville the first time on my way to Buena Vista area and being thoroughly unimpressed by the look of this ramshackle town from the comfort of my car…but…..the place does grow on you. It is certainly authentic. The two challenges of the weekend were to be Elbert (far left) and Massive. Daunting but impressive.

DSCN1660

Michael and Malory joined on Saturday for a jaunt up Massive from Elbert Creek CG. They both kicked some ass at the recent Steamboat Marathon.

DSCN1634

Quick Team Massive photo after breaking tree line before the real fun began. Yes in case you are wondering….those are new Transition lenses and I am trying to make them cool again…..Oh, they were never cool to begin with? Yikes.

DSCN1613

The colors are just starting to pop!

DSCN1616

Beautiful Leadville πŸ™‚ nestled in the valley on the right with Turquoise Lake.

DSCN1618

Making the final push to the summit….I mean the false summit and the false summit and the final false summit…… πŸ™‚

DSCN1622

Aspen Valley in the background on the summit. Massive has a lot of character up top.

DSCN1631

So what do you do after a morning of running….have a Nutella sandwich washed back with a PBR and take a nap in a hammock…..then run again in the afternoon. Leila joined up with Michael and I for a run up the Powerline section of the Leadville 100 course. These two have both earned a buckle for finishing in less than25 hours. Impressive. I am pacing this year and was glad to be able to see this section of the course during the day…..

DSCN1637

Powerline during the day….the next time I am back here it will most likely be 2am as a pacer and quite cold…..

DSCN1640

We headed up Elbert the next day and had this view of the west slope of Massive……

DSCN1644

Leila in the lead who is heading out to Wester States 100 next weekend…..I am stoked to be her pacer! What a privilege.

DSCN1645

Elbert is a non technical but really steep and slick……glad I had a hiking pole.

DSCN1659

All smiles after snacking on some much needed bacon jerky….or was it the Views from the highest point in Colorado πŸ™‚

DSCN1649

Legendary Leadville

There have already been two really good posts about this weekend in Leadville by Silke and Mike but I’ll add a few of my own pictures and thoughts to the mix. Since moving here not too long ago, this was the weekend I was able to put the Colorado experience together, mountains, camping and running for a glorious weekend. I didn’t bother to keep track of all the mileage and climbing but it was around 50 miles and 5,000 feet of gain. More importantly, the time was spent on the Colorado and Continental Divide trails with friends. One of the runs is below.

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 8.04.22 PM

First on the camping…..no, I had never camped before this weekend…(gulp)….now that admission is out of the way πŸ™‚ Second, I was the only person in camp with all brand new shiny gear! I managed too spend a couple of (comfortable) nights under the starry skies in my new tent. I purchased the floor model from Neptune so this baby has got too have plenty of good mojo to deal out over the next decade I hope πŸ™‚ Friday afternoon, I arrived in camp first and decide to set out on a solo circumnavigation of Twin Lakes below the summit of Mt Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak.

DSCN1514

The entire circumnavigation was filled with scenes like this…

DSCN1519

And of course this…..

DSCN1524

About half way around the loop, I stumbled across the Historic Interlacken resort which was a Victorian era mountain retreat. There is a complex of restored buildings here for rent for your next special occasion….weddings, graduations, bar mitzvah and the like….provided you are willing to hike in. No motor access allowed πŸ™‚

DSCN1536

Continuing on the loop, I finally reached the end of my journey at Lake Creek after which a simple crossing would lead me to the camp ground about .5 mile away.

DSCN1540

I don’t have a picture of it, but I was surprised to find the creek was a raging white water torrent descending from the highlands due to the spring melt. If you have seen Into the Wild, I kinda felt a little bit like Christopher McCandless must have. I could practically see the camp from where I was but there was no way of getting there so it was time to buck up a bit and head back the way I came. I arrived back in camp just in time to see the rest of the crew heading into town for dinner. I had about enough energy to setup camp, have a few beers and listen to the Dead for a few hours. We all reassembled the next morning for a fine mountain run.

DSCN1543

Thanked the beaver for creating this fine little lake….

DSCN1554

And thanked whoever came up with the idea of swimming in a placid mountain lake after a trail run while sipping some cold ones in the sun shine. Brilliant!

DSCN1562

And what would a day on the trails be without a hot mountain pizza pie.

DSCN1563

Followed by another day running amongst the aspens…

DSCN1565

From Sea to Summit…..

DSCN1571

It does not get any better…..

DSCN1569

Rodeo Valley 50K – Sausilto

Wrapped up the 2012 running season with a spectacular course near Sausilto. The race director told me the good weather permit they purchased from the city cost a fortune, but it was worth it πŸ˜‰ Cloudless skies, temperature in the 50’s, very little wind and a decent track to run. Garmin tells me this course had 5,300 ft of gain. The course looped through the Marin Headlands and on the Coastal Trail with views of the Pacific, Sausilto, San Francisco and of course the Golden Gate Bridge. Garmin route here.

Picture 3

Below, I also have pics of the some of the sight seeing I did the day prior to the race, but first to the main event.

This is the view of the start line with the black sands of Rodeo Beach just after the sunrise crested the distant hills.

DSCN1191

Modest group of about 50-50K, some 30K, half marathon and 8KΒ  runners listen to the pre-race instructions. The course was basically a figure 8 where the bottom part of 8 the is run twice. The top part of the 8 loops through the Pirates Cove area and the bottom part closer to Sausilto and the Golden Gate Bridge.

DSCN1193

This is the charge from the start line up the first hill, every bit of it runnable. That is what I really liked about this course.

DSCN1194

The fog burned off within an hour of the start and gave the course an eerily beautiful feeling.

DSCN1197

After cresting the first hill, we plunged down into the fog…….

DSCN1200

This is the climb between 4 and 6 on the profile above and I think the steepest part of the course. But once you get to the top….

DSCN1205

There are some spectacular views.

DSCN1207

This section here was a blast, heading west, bombing it downhill towards the Pacific and Pirates Cove….

DSCN1209

Pirates Cove. At this point, the loop heads back south and onto the Coastal Trail.

DSCN1215

And guess what you see on the Costal Trail? Yep.

DSCN1220

Between 10-12 and 23-24, there is a great steady soft uphill with a Sausilto view. If you have climbing legs and want to compete, it is the time to real some people in! (I went from finishing 20th to 13th on this hill as I passed 7 people on the second loop. Thanks Colorado)

DSCN1225

The eastern most portion of the course is the highlight. At this point, my camera died on the first loop so I dropped it at the carΒ  and completed the second loop with more of a racing mentality. Finished at 5:23 for 13th place out of 48.

DSCN1227

The day prior to the race, I headed out to Muir Woods and Point Reyes National Seashore. Great scenery which included some grey whales at Point Reyes.

Taking a stroll through Muir Woods below.

DSCN1083

DSCN1109

This is an area called the Cathedral. The sun came out for a few minutes and lit up the fog.

DSCN1113

On to Point Reyes Drakes Beach.

DSCN1120

And the view near Point Reyes Lighthouse. I have some pictures taken form the beach shown here where the surf had to be 10+ feet.

DSCN1141

Point Reyes Lighthouse. There were several grey whales near by.

DSCN1128

And some more roaring surf.

DSCN1132

Whatever these plants were, they covered all of the dunes…

DSCN1121

The massive dunes of North Reyes Beach

DSCN1160

And the massive surf to match.

DSCN1165

What else can I say?

DSCN1144

USTAF Trail Marathon National Championship – Moab UT

The most stunningly beautiful course I have run anywhere. Not an exaggeration. The USTAF has a boat load of National Championships. This was the Trail Marathon version and my second trip to Moab this year having completed the MAS50 miler in August. I’ll be back for this event next year. Garmin tells me this was a tad shy of 26.2 miles with 5,000ft of gain. Route here.

The race started at the Pritchett Canyon trailhead southwest of Moab near the Colorado River. Photo by Silke

The large field of 300+ marathoners bolted out of the start gate, onto a narrow single track and into the canyon, the early morning light still casting deep shadows.

Having maneuvered through the slickrock narrows, things opened up a bit onto a nice soft jeep road…time to drop the hammer a bit.

This was an amazing rock formation. Those having visited Arches are familiar with the Balanced Rock. This is a smaller but no less stunning version. I wish I had time to hike under it.

There was a fairly technical piece running around the rim of a canyon. The road below would take us back out towards the big climb of the day.

Just before the point where marathoners and half marathoners split, I caught up to my friend Ginna #533 (that is me right behind) who completed her first trail half! Nice job Ginna, sore foot and all. Photo by Silke

At this point, the race gets a bit lonely but more beautiful. Runners tend to be loners anyway, so we don’t mind, especially if you are looking at scenes like this.

The most difficult climb awaited us. This was almost two miles of climbing at 1,000ft/mile. I power hiked it for the most part and reeled in several people along the way. No one passed me from mile 13 onwards. This is looking up the incline.

The view about half way up looking back towards where we started in the green valley.

At this point, I decided in was to beautiful, and conceded the USTAF National Championship in favor of pictures and a few vanity shots πŸ˜‰

And the scenery just got better and better. This is at the plateau of the climb.

This was a narrow slot that a barely fit through…..sideways! yes, we had to shimee our way through this thing.

The next couple of miles was on some awesome sections of slickrock…stunning.

Rounding the corner with the Colorado River back in view, I could see the finish and decided it was time to put the camera away and drop the hammer….well…..sort of

The race from this point became an obstacle course of ladder and rope climbing. This is the first of two roped sections. Hand over hand up to the top.

The reward being some more incredible rock formations.

Before wrapping this up, I have to insert an awesome shot of Silke’s husband Ryan who absolutely ran a world class race of 3:34 taking 15th overall. Photo by Silke

I didn’t even notice Silke on this last bit coming up over a hill onto the last 100 yards. This is my Eye of the Tiger. Photo by Silke

What an amazing race and a great group of people to share the weekend with. Cara, Ryan, Ginna, me and Heidi.