Hey all, Its many miles and a lot of altitude gain since last update. We extended our streak of each day going over 13,000' (4,000 meters for our international groupies) to 7 days on the eighth day we rested. See Monday for streak ending details. First I would like to express how nice everyone has been to us since we have been here. They have let us stay at there houses, fed us, clothed us, and most importantly let us use their showers. The weather has been postcard Colorado Mountains, e.i. cool blue skies in the am, intense sun mid day, cool evenings, and the milky way at night.
Friday 26th- As we rejoin our intrepid runners we find them in Maggie's Gulch the sight of last year's John Demorest meltdown. For a year I have been hearing what a tough part of the course this was, and for a year I have thought that Dr. D was a wimp. Well it turns out the '97 route was much tougher than the '96 route. Now after skirting a 12 foot cornice, scrambling down rock strewn 30 degree slopes. John you are not a wimp. Although we did not have our bodies fill with "toxic waste" like Dr. D. it was a bear of a section. By the way a cornice is created on the leeward side of a mountain gap. As the wind slows in the winter it drops snow, lots of snow. The reason these are dangerous is that they melt from the bottom up and often the edge is supported by nothing this time of the year. Walk to the end of a cornice and it could be your last chance to say the Lord's Prayer (you will have plenty of time on the way down) In fact I checked with our local theologian, Dorton, and yes you would be able to convert on the way down although dying a Baptist would suck cause none of my friends could drink at the wake. Ergo I will remain a lefty, feminist, pagan. Drink On!
Saturday 27th- Scott and I thought we would pay Charlie Thorn back for his hospitality in putting us up at his house by going out with the course marking crew. To say they go slowly is to state the obvious. Nice folks, I learned a lot about the local trees form a mathematician from Bozeman. Yet I would not call it a work out. We spent a good amount of time post holing through a basin at 12,000' until Charlie said, " it was no use" and he would come back and mark it when the snow melted some. Scott and I saw our services were not needed so we went like wild men down the last 5miles (close to the end of the race route) We came upon "mineral Creek" at the bottom, 25 yards wide of raging water. We scouted up, we scouted down. I offered to take the plunge in the snow melt water. Scott said he did not want to make that "Juliana Call" and in any case he was not going. So we headed down stream through thicket and marsh, around a beaver pond all while the light was fading in the west. When the river started to go in to gorge I suggested we could make better time climbing the hill and bush wacking. At the top of said hill there appeared a clearing and dam if it didn't have a dirt road right to town. Lesson: the swiftest of foot may also be the slowest of brain. When we finally hooked up with the rest of the group they let us know, "oh yeah, we always go down the road in practice. You could get killed in that river."
Sunday 28th Oh no! We did it again; we went out with Have Dorton. As a group we decide to go in the opposite way from the trail marking party over Handies Peak (14,100+) meet them and return. A boat load of snow in the basin below the peak. Slow going and lots of post holing. We made the summit. Perhaps the most beautiful day on top: 70 degrees, indigo sky, visibility over 100 miles and no wind. Not sure of the new course we decided to go down at the saddle. We scoped out a spot on the cornice held in by a rock outcropping. Dorton went first since he is already born again he would not have to convert if something went wrong. Oh well, no Dorton memorial fund. We were at 13,500'+ looking down on a mile long 45 degree snow field with no end in sight. We jumped off and slid down about 700' at a little too fast for my butt. In high school we used to call this a"rush."
We hiked to the end of the basin and waited for the marking party. Then the markers showed and pointed out the race. approach. Way cool. We climb the side of the basin than walk a knife edge ridge to the summit. So back we go. I just hope race day there is no lightening, or yours truly could become instant beef jerky.
The end of the run was a series of swithbacks dropping about 1000'.Dorton's armour was cracking, I had put it to him on the uphills and he was showing fatigue. Scott decided to see what he had on the downs."Dorton I 'm feeling good, passing on the right." Dorton would sooner die than let someone else lead so he ran like a crazy man down the hill our fearless hero Scott matching him stride for stride. The seed has been planted.
Monday 29th- Rock and Roll Ouray style. Our new host Rick Trujillo (10time winner of pikes peak marathon, set the course record four times, has broken every mountain race record in Colorado, contemporary of Jim Ryan.)really wanted us to climb the amphitheatre above Ouray. For East Coasters this will be hard to imagine. The mountain goes up 3000' in a curved wall from town. I though this would be allot of switch backs and some technical sections. Oh no, we discover after 20 minutes it's 100 percent technical and Rick wanted to try it with out ropes this time. After a 100' accent by the front climbers a hour into it our fearless runner Scott got caught in a rock slide created by, you guessed it, Dorton. Rocks came 50' straight down on Scottie. It was so steep they only bounced once or twice. He dodged the big one, about the size of a head, but a baseball size one beaned him as he clung to the side of the mountain as to not become a slide himself. I was on the side out of range and helplessly watched the entire thing in slow motion. When I got to him he was coherent but shaken, he still remembered all the curse words from school so I figured he'd make it. We headed back down, we came all this way to run a race, it would be a shame being knocked out of it doing something stupid. The boys took some rest. Scott nursed his egg size bump.
Tuesday 30th- Black Bear to Telluride to Imogene to Ouray, or Dorton meets his match. We started climbing Black bear pass with the usual suspects: Scott, Dorton, his understudy Josh, Eliza and myself. I was "on" from the get go but was unsure of the approach over the peak. Dorton would not give me a straight answer, knowledge is power, and he liked me powerless so he could keep up with me. When we peaked out Eliza showed her strength by taking the lead over some pretty technical scrambles and drops. It culminated by her jumping off a 15' high cliff onto packed snow. That may not seem high but come on over to my house and get on the roof and look around for a while. I would not have done it alone, but with everybody looking up what the hell. I actually landed on my feet and butt on the slope below and immediately went into a 50 yard glissade down the hill.(9.7 for technique.)
The run into Telluride was gorgeous as we went past two post card ready waterfalls. After lunch in town we headed up the mountain 8,000' to13,100'. Scott and I took a bathroom stop. No one waited. OK says Scott lets go! Scott caught Dorton in a couple of miles, I nailed him a mile later. Dorton does not too much mind Scott, of Western States fame, pass him, but me the beer drinking, pagan wise ass was too much for him. The crack is now a fissure.
Wednesday July 1- Crew extodinaire Al and Cyndi Stam arrive. Al is mister tough guy at most stuff but altitude turns him into a whimpering bowl of jello. So we made plans for an easy bike ride. We'll it turns out that our bike guide Rick Trujillo was mistaken the pass was actually over11,000' oopps. Al has a head ache.
Thursday 2nd-The fearless duo parts. Scott has to go to a family reunionin Portland Oregon. I drove him to Albuquerque to put Scott of a plane. We did a hard pick up run in the foothills of Albuqueque. The boys are getting in shape.
Friday 3rd- I take the day easy and read
Saturday July 4th- Back with Dorton we decide to run Pole Creek and the14,000 mountain. This is where I got lost in '96 and wanted to revisit my nightmare. I am all over this section now. It should go quickly race day
as it is the only relatively flat area of the course. I put it to Dorton. He could not keep up with me on his speciality a steep climb. As we approach the summit two storms approached from either side. On the right was a complete white out I could not see the mountains only 5 miles away. Dorton takes off and leaves his understudy, Josh. Josh is a tough kid 24years old and record holder at Masochist 50 miler. His PR in a 10 k is under 30 minutes. However, he was whipped so I hung with him as Dorton disappeared beyond the peak. I yelled back to Josh and tell him the best line to take. We both summit, Dorton is long gone. Josh thanks me for waiting as he does not have a clue how to get off the mountain. I run it in with him, we dodge the worst of the storms. Dorton is clueless that he was endangering Josh. It doesn't matter Dorton's armour is off, he is beatable.
Sunday 5th- I leave Ouray (7,600') and run up the course to Virginius pass(13,000+). I am on my game. I run the section an hour faster than I thought I would actually singing out loud on the down hills. Al and Cyndiare supposed to meet me in Telluride well I'm early so I have a beer and bagel at the bakery. It turns out to be an awesome home brew. To save Al and Cyndi the hassle I but a growler of beer and a loaf of onion bread. Well they show up about 2 hours later. The bread is gone, Joe is near gone. Lesson: do not drink a half gallon of beer, when dehydrated.
Monday 6th- Scott returns with Jean. This will be our last training of the course. Scott and I start in Telluride and head up the trail. Lots of snow, lots climb, little energy in both the principles. I had an out of body experience. This is the best high I have had since high school. The only problem was I had to sit on a rock to appreciate it. Kind of disconcerting: I had my best run ever yesterday and followed it with the worst run ever today. See lesson above
Tuesday 7th-Scott went for a run, Joe contemplated the above lesson.
Wednesday 8th- The boys took an easy run up a near by mountain. The final push is on. Dorton came over. He was complaining about his foot, home sickness, and being tired. He can't be counted out. When the shoes go on Friday he'll get it back. He is the two time winner and record holder for the course.
Thursday 9th- Medical check, waivers signed, search and rescue tags, the gallant dou prepare for the race. Ali will try to send updates during the race. It starts 8 a.m. Friday. We should finish mid to late in the day Saturday.