Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mt. Evans Ascent (Race Recap)

Saturday, June 16
Idaho Springs to Mt. Evans, CO
Weather - Warm and sunny at start. Cold, windy and blizzardy at finish.

L had registered for this back in January. As Peru got closer, I had opted to leave a "recovery" weekend. Then L decided she didn't want to run alone and registered me to run the Mt. Evans Ascent with her. Great. (When she told our mom about it, my mom said, "are you sure you don't mean DECENT?" I wish we did).

Alarm went off at 4:25 am. Quick getting ready and then we got on the road for our drive about 15 miles east of Idaho Springs. There was no traffic and it didn't take nearly as long as anticipated to get there. However, the main lot was already full, so we had to park below the lake and take the shuttle to the start. I didn't bring nearly a large enough drop bag, it was bursting from the seams and I still had to get my packet.

Packet pick up took about a half a second, and then we hit the bathrooms and just sat around for about 45 minutes until we had to drop off our stuff and cycle through the bathrooms. Everyone else running seemed much more "serious" and "hard core" than us:

I managed to see Luke, Courtney and Heather before the start. Took my awesome pre-race picture, and then we headed to the start line.

So "ascent" obviously means UP. The entire. Damn. Course. Was uphill. Like I didn't just do all this last week? Anyway, goal was to take it is as easy as possible without missing the cutoff at 9 miles, and obviously, don't die.

We started a few minutes late since we had to wait for all the cars (spectators) to go through the gates. We lined up as FAR to the back as possible. And then we were off. Started out very slow. I don't think there is a better strategy when you are running AMERICA'S HIGHEST ROAD RACE. Made it about 5 minutes in before I was already wanting to walk. Took about a minute walk break and then off again. Man. This was hard.

Neither of us was wearing headphones and everyone around us was hyperventilating. Did you know there is virtually NO oxygen at 10,000 feet?? Within the first mile, I already needed to shed my long sleeves. The sun was shining down and things were heating up.

The course was insane. Up. and Up. and Up. and Up. Around every corner there was another huge hill. It always seemed like at some point there should be a downhill or a flat, and there really never was. We got into a groove with a group of other runners and we amused ourselves by NOT really running and by singing inspirational songs like "Eye of the Tiger" and "Don't Stop Believing" - I bet we were REALLY annoying. The guy in the picture below (all in black on the left) was doing this for the 5th time. He comes every year from Tennessee to participate. We felt we would be fine as long as we stuck with him.

VERY little running was happening. When it seemed "less" steep or "somewhat" flatter, we would jog for a minute or so. My stomach was getting angry again. The day after I got back from Peru, I contracted a stomach virus and it still hasn't cleared up. So even if my legs/lungs felt ok to run, my belly really didn't. L was nice about it and stuck with me anyway. (She SHOULD, I only was in this mess since she signed me up).

I guess I can stop saying how uphill the course was since that was the very nature of it. The pictures I was able to get came out EXCELLENT. It helps to be walking so they aren't blurry, I guess.

The aid stations were more like what you would see at an ultra. Every three miles or so apart, and they had electrolyte drink (I think it was Heed), water, coke. They had gels and candy. Pretty spectacular.

We were keeping ahead of the cutoff time and we began to relax and not worry so much about getting little bits of jogging in. The few people we were with that tried jogging were honestly moving slower than we were at a brisk walk. So why bother? Somewhere at this point of the course I saw a deer. I hoped to get a picture, but it ran away :(

About mile 7 I started to get a little chilly as the wind began to pick up just a tiny bit. I put my jacket and gloves back on.

That is a dog near L, not a wild animal. And that snow NEVER melts.

We made the cut off with about 20 minutes to spare at Summit Lake. And THANK GOODNESS there was a bathroom there. I had to wait for a minute or two, but since we were already past the aid station it was no big deal.

The last 5 miles were the most brutal, for sure. It felt definitely like the race was NEVER going to end. The road began making tighter turns and more switchbacks. Up and up. The air got thinner and colder, and the wind really started to pick up.

We saw some people running on the way down. I guess the down would be a reward after making it all the way up first?

Then the thunder and lightning started. We had less than two miles to the finish, and really I just wanted to get done without getting struck by lightning or getting wet. Not that we had any plans of really going any faster.

Don't worry, the dog wasn't really driving
About 5 minutes before we got to the finish line, the wind picked up to gale force and it started snowing. It came down sideways and was pellet-like. Brrr. We actually ran across the finish line. Grabbed a water and then took this picture:

Found our drop bags with no problem and literally out of nowhere it was blizzard conditions. The wind was blowing so hard I was struggling to get my sweatshirt on. A man yelled out of his car - "girls, get in the car!" The line for the shuttle buses had over 50 people in it (they could only seat 15), so we were looking at a long wait. The organizers were trying to get any spectators to take down any people they had room for. We got in. Turns out we were riding with the race's oldest participant. At 75 years old, we BARELY passed him right before the end. They were really nice, and the drive down the mountain was crazy. The snow had already left the roads white and it was foggy and windy. They dropped us at the start, and we each got a GIGANTIC muffin. So delicious. Took a shuttle back to our car.

Turns out it was a tad hilly
Bib# 412
Official Time - 3:51:52
Official Pace - 16:00
Overall Place - 336/369
Gender Place - 115/129
Division Place - 24/25
Garmin Time - 3:51:41
Garmin Distance - 14.40 miles
Garmin Pace - 16:05
Mile 1 - 14:12 (sad, we "ran" like 75% of this)
Mile 2 - 14:51
Mile 3 - 15:19
Mile 4 - 15:58
Mile 5 - 15:43
Mile 6 - 15:45
Mile 7 - 14:03
Mile 8 - 16:14
Mile 9 - 16:40
Mile 10 - 16:31
Mile 11 - 16:07
Mile 12 - 18:39
Mile 13 - 17:51
Mile 14 - 17:36
Mile 14.4ish - 15:33


  1. Gorgeous course, looks like one worth doing for the scenery...but maybe not the week after what you did in Peru! :)

  2. You're like a machine!!! Wow.. Love the photos.

  3. And I thought Denver's altitude sucked. Nice job ladies! See you next weekend in Seattle.

  4. That sounded insane! Yay for you for finishing!!!

  5. WOW does that look hard - great job getting through it! Nice scenery at least? :)

  6. Way way too tough - you're amazing for getting out there and conquering it after Peru!

  7. Just stumbled across this. I was "running" near you two most of the way. Good job! You two were definitely having as much fun with it as possible. ;)


  8. Tough course! Way to go! And you looked adorable in the Blue Pixel. :)

  9. Sweet medal, though! I kind of want to do that. It looks miserable.

  10. Nice job, Lady! That's one toughie, but oh so rewarding!! Sorry I didn't see you at the of these days we must meet up! :) Congratulations!!


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