Thursday, March 31, 2011


Its frightening to think about, but the Front Range is already catching aflame this spring. This is far earlier in the year than I can ever remember. One particular fire that garnered a lot of attention was the Mount Galbraith fire just outside of Golden. Mostly because it blew smoke all over Denver. I, on the other hand, was concerned because I like running in the open space park in the area.

On Sunday, the fire was out, and my friend Luke and I ventured out on the nearby Beaver Brook Trail to survey the damage while traversing the on the south side of Clear Creek. Poor lighting made it hard to photograph the effected area, but I got plenty of other nice photos.

View of the burn area from the South. The light of the midmorning makes it hard to see the burn line, but if you stare long enough you can find it.

Luke at the top of Gudy Gaskill overlook

No fire, but nice view of Evan's from the Gudy overlook.

Downtown Golden and South Table Mountain (and smoggy Denver) on the way down Chimney Gulch Trail

Our "Trail Head" for Sunday's run. I don't know why I haven't thought of it before, but Golden City Brewery is the perfect place to start and end a run. Cold beers on tap upon return.

Yesterday, my friend Tom informed me that the park had re-opened. I jumped on the opportunity to take a easy run out there to survey the damage. It was extremely windy ('slightly breezy' as Tom put it). It never dawned on me until I was turning into the TH, but running in a recently burnt forest on a windy day is not the brightest idea. Tom put my mind at ease when he let me know that his uncle had died by getting crushed by a fallen tree. The chances of that happening to two people he knew had to be very small.

Anyhow, the combination of wind and a nice evening sun resulted in some great photos of the area, and a face full of ash. Good times.

Game trails that would typically be hidden under brush emerged when the vegetation is all gone.

Tom at the top of Mount Galbraith. This is close to where they think the fire started.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Salida 'Run Through Time' Marathon Race Report

What a great weekend. I don't really know where to start this story. The best place may be as I was lying in bed Thursday night. I got a txt on my phone from an unknown number. It read : Random question, will you be in Salida this weekend? Why, yeah, I was gonna be in Salida this weekend, but I had no clue who the txt was from. I conferred with my google account for a while and tracked down the number. Long story short... my good friend from college, Hunter, was driving up from Los Alamos to run his first marathon.

Friday evening I jumped in the car with a couple good friends excited to get down to Salida, run a trail marathon in a great setting and catch up an old friend; better than any happy hour I've ever attended...

This was my 1st (but definitely not last) time running this race. All I could really gather is that it cheap, well run, and in a great spot. The course had an advertised 4600 feet of gain/loss, and lots of dirt. So I actually had pretty high expectations going in. I wasn't disappointed in the least. I didn't really have any big goals for the race, as you never really know who's going to show up and it's hard to predict a time goal on a hilly trial course.

Following the check-in, I had pretty low goals for the day. There were tons of fast, accomplished runners all around me. I decided anything under 4 hours would make me happy. I also got to catch up with Hunter and quiz him on why he chose such a crazy run for his first substantial distance race. He didn't really have a good reason, which, when I really think about it makes the most sense.

Long shadows of Emily, Jeremiah and I.

The race starts with a long 10 mile gradual and fully runnable climb. I decided to take it pretty easy at the start hoping to gradually crank up the pace as the day went on and the course flattened out and headed back down towards Salida. I found myself in about 25th place a few miles in, and gradually started moving up the pack as runners who'd likely gone out a bit too fast started to slow. The course turns off of a decently smooth dirt road onto a more rocky jeep trail for a 2-3 out and back to the top of the course. This section got steep at the end and allowed you to gauge where you stood amongst all of the leaders. I started counting the runners on their way back down, but stopped counting at 10 as I was out of breath and could smell the top. I pushed it a bit harder right at the top of the climb and was able to catch 2-3 runners right before the turn around. I wanted to just hang out up there and enjoy the view, but alas, I was in a race. A total stranger was friendly enough to share a photo he snapped from the spot. Hammering the downhill back to the dirt road, I was able to wave and encourage several friends on their way up the hill.
Snowy 14ers that will likely make me their B*tch this fall. (Photo: John Courtney)

Around the 13 mile Aid Station I caught up to Geoff Roes, who was obviously out for a leisurely training run, and we chatted about my upcoming trip to AK and what not as we ran through some slightly muddy jeep trail on our way to the 20M aid station. It was nice talking with him; he really is just another humble nice trail runner and I'm pretty excited for that trip (he has a few more spots open for his July session, if you're interested).

The 'highlight's of the day involved the 20M aid station. As we were running in I was talking about how I was excited to finally get on some more technical single track while simultaneously unscrewing the top of my water bottle to get a fill-up. I'd like to say I know what happened, but I don't. Simply put, I ate shit. Water, dirt, and even a little blood went everywhere. No major injuries, just my pride. Right in front the AS crew and a couple runners. I finally gathered myself and sauntered over to the aid station just as Geoff was cracking open a PBR. He didn't want the whole can, and given the recent affairs, I felt it wouldn't hurt to imbibe a little myself, so I joined him.

That whole fiasco lasted all but a few minutes, but it was long enough for a couple runners to pass me. Geoff and I headed down the as-advertised awesome single track. About a mile later, there was a 200-300 yard grunt of a climb that practically stopped me in my tracks. That was the last of Geoff as he went flying by. Just at the top, I was able to catch and pass one of the runners who passed me at the aid station.

The last 5 miles of the race were pretty uneventful. I would catch glimpses of the runner in front of me, but he always seemed closer than he actually was. The single track was quite curvy, and the views of the Collegiate Peaks on the other side of the valley were breathtaking. It got me thinking about the Nolan's 14 attempt I have been contemplating later this summer.

Jeremiah and Emily were awaiting me at the finish. I think I ended up 9th in about 3:38, but the results currently list some lady with my bib number finishing instead of me. I guess my attempt at a beard isn't working. We hung out at the Park and had a few beers while we waited to cheer Hunter to the finish. I attempted to take a dip in the creek, but only got about ankle deep before chickening out. It was damn cold. I'm just not that tough. A beer or two later, we spotted hunter on the switchbacks leading into town. He finished with a smile, which is more than I can say about my first marathon.

Emily, Jeremiah and I soaking in the sun post race (beer in hand).

Hunter post race..I was excited for him

My car-mates (who ran the 1/2) were savvy enough to drink enough beers to render themselves non-drivers, so we hopped in the car, grabbed some beer and pizza on the way out of town and I drove rather quickly back to Denver just in time for a shower before I heading to the Pepsi Center to watch the Nuggets embarrass the Pistons.