Also, a big thanks to Tim Bergsten and Brian McCarrie from Pikes Peak Sports for providing a lot of local coverage for the event! Of course,with so much Ultrarunning talent on hand, it was a stacked line up for a low key event! They posted a couple of cool videos and HT people make an appearance in both - woohoo!
http://pikespeaksports.ning.com/video/fat-ass-50k - see us about a minute or so in, and Tim and George about 2:15 in
http://pikespeaksports.ning.com/video/the-ponderous-posterior-50k-no in here too!
Chillin before Wave 1 as Tim signs in on the "Body Count" sheet
It was still not-quite light when we rolled down the sidewalk from JT's place and headed through Pleasant Valley to the Garden of the Gods. While forecast highs were for 50 degrees, it was crisp and low 30's for the 7 am start. We were hoping for some sun to hit once we climbed up into the Garden...
... and - Sunrise was awesome as Wave 1 hits the Garden of the Gods
Orange splash across the foothills
(Photo credit: Brian McCarrie - pikespeaksports.us)
Brilliant Sun on the red rocks was almost too much for the lens...
It was fun for us to get in on the event and "wet our toes" a bit with the local mountain running crowd. Since we're not lifetime runners, we are not necessarily plugged in to the running community so events like this will help out a bit and also uncover a lot of trails we've never tried. Case in point, once we left the Palmer Trail at around 2 miles in, we found ourselves in largely uncharted waters - and it was sweet.
Climbing up toward RRR
We headed up out of the Garden on some sweet singletrack trails, climbing steeply at times to a ridgeline above Rampart Range Road - a high-clearance dirt road that weaves from Garden of the Gods up toward Woodland Park and then north along the Front Range to Sedalia. After running the ridge for a bit, we dropped down by a water tank to the road and followed it for three or so miles to the Williams Canyon trail.
Kathleen runs RRR with the Majesty of Pikes Peak looming large
Along RRR, just before the photo above was taken, we had a bit of a "spooky" occurrence. We stopped a couple times as we were hearing a noise off the hillside that sounded like someone crying. And loud. After scoping out the hillside, listening for a bit, and chatting with others who also heard it, we came to the conclusion that it was probably a mountain lion somewhere in the trees on the hillside - yikes!!! Glad we did not get a chance to meet and greet...
From RRR, we dropped in to Williams Canyon, a steep and densely forested singletrack passage that would take us all the way in to Manitou Springs. We hooked up with Tim and George at the top of the canyon and Tim ran with us all the way to the cutoff trail up to Waldo Canyon, where the longer races turned diverged. We also were fortunate to hook up with John Gardner, 2010 president of Pikes Peak Road Runners and a really great guy. We also tagged on with a couple guys we met on the trail - Bill and Corey - all three of them were doing the short version like us. The top of the canyon had a lot of chewed up soft snow but the bottom half was SUPER ICY! Because so much of the eastern half of the run was dry, we had gambled and gone without traction aids. They would have helped in Williams but we made it all right.
L to R - Bill, Corey, John in Williams Canyon
The trail continues down canyon until it drops out onto the old road for the Cave of the Winds, a local natural cave attraction above Manitou Springs. The road drops steeply and passes under US Hwy 24.
Can you hit the overpass???
We took a bit of a trip down memory lane with John, talking about crazy caving adventures from his younger days and also were introduced to one of their boyhood challenges: try to hit the girders under the highway overpass with a rock - easy huh? Well, easier said than done - see the close up below.
A highway worker had a sense of humor
Corey finally hit the beam with a rock, so we hopped out onto El Paso blvd and headed back towards JT's place. We had a really great time, got to see some new terrain (and opened up a whole new area to explore...), and were able to hang out with some terrific folks who love trail running. The route was around 14 miles with 2600' vertical gain and was plenty for us at this point in time. It was a great run to shake off some cobwebs from a month of mostly ho-hum running and that is always a good thing!
Shoes - K Asics 2150 Trail
S Pealr Izumi SyncroFuel XC
So how do we follow that up??
Oh those stairs...
After an awesome run on Saturday morning and a five hour round trip to Greeley and back in the afternoon, we were hoping to get in a shorter outing and have a little time to rest today (and watch some NFL playoffs...). What better way to get in a stellar workout, mash the quads thoroughly, and do so in a short period of time than to head back over to Manitou Springs and hit the Incline! If you have watched our posts for any period of time, you most likely have seen it by now. If not, come visit and we will
drag you take you over for a guided tour. No matter how many times we do this, it.still.hurts. One mile. 2000 vertical feet gained. 3000 plus railroad-tie step ups. You get the picture - or you can look at ours... It was extra-special-fun today as there is packed snow and fantastic ice on about two-thirds of the steps, making the climb so much more enjoyable. Follow the white line cut in the trees in the photo above - the top is just the "false" summit, there is about a third more to climb after that!!!
Looking down from the steepest section - 68% through here!!!
Summit photo - ready for some Barr Trail
Running the connector over to Barr
Capturing our "couple minutes" of sunshine for the day...
Barr Trail - One of the non-icy sections
Due to the last couple days of warmer temperatures and frigid nights, Barr Trail was a mix of treacherous ice flows, packed snow, and muddy granite. While we had screw shoes on, some of the ice today seemed impervious to even the sheet metal screws embedded underfoot. So we had some very cautious tempo down Barr but it was still all good!
Made it down - does it look cold?
The Incline was a great way to cap off a fantastic weekend on the trails. How often do you get to do a 4.5 mile "run" with 2200' vertical gain in a bit over an hour - and think it was a "good" time??? Come join us some time... Happy Trails!
Shoes - K Nike Terra Ridge - w/screws
S La Sportiva Wildcat - w/screws