Monthly Archives: August 2013

Pace Report: Leadville Trail 100 Run

No, the heading is not a typo. After running the Leadville Trail 100 Run as my first 100-mile event last year, this year I returned not to race but instead to pace. I would pace Mike, one of my pacers from Western States (check out that Race Report), for the final 40 miles of his race.

I arrived in Leadville on the Wednesday afternoon before the race. I was sharing a house with Mike (who is an ex-pat Canadian), Dennis (a transplanted New Zealander who first suggested Mike to pace me), and another Australian also called Mike who was just out for the race. The Australian Mike mentioned that he was speaking to another friend and it sounded like he was starting a joke when he mentioned that he was sharing a house with an Australian, a New Zealander and a Canadian. On Friday we were joined in the house by Duncan (Mike’s coach and the official Leadville coach), and another runner coached by Duncan along with his wife. Therefore by Friday night the house (which can sleep up to 14 people) was populated with a total of 7, including 4 racers, 2 pacers, and 1 crew member.

We spent time relaxing, preparing (pacing charts and drop bags), attending race events (mandatory briefings, optional briefings, race registration), and even squeezed in a couple of last runs before race day. On the Thursday Mike and I went out for a 7-mile run along the Half Pipe section of the course, and on the Friday I completed a solo 6-mile run along Turquoise Lake. On Friday night we sat down for an early dinner, and I even felt relaxed enough to enjoy a beer. Then it was off to bed in preparation for an early morning start. Despite feeling relaxed about my involvement on race day I still struggled to sleep, possibly only sneaking in 2-3 hours before being woken by my alarm at 3 AM for the start at 4 AM.

I walked with the guys down to the start line, grabbed a coffee once they were in the starting pen, and then positioned myself in front of the start line to watch almost 1000 people (up from 800 last year) run down 6th Street on their way out of Leadville. Once all the runners had cleared the area I walked back across the start line (which is also the finish line), as I would do once again more than 24 hours later.

Mike would run the first 50 miles to Winfield, where he would pick up Duncan as his pacer on the return leg over Hope Pass. Once they reached Twin Lakes on the return I would join Mike for the final 40 miles back to Leadville. Therefore I needed to make my way to Twin Lakes. I had arranged to work with the crew for Denise Bourassa, who I had met at Western States, through until her return to Twin Lakes so that I could await Mike there. Then Mike and I would return to Leadville on foot. It was to be my first time crewing a trail race as well as my first time pacing a trail race.

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Running Destination: Boulder

I was very keen to run to the summit of Green Mountain, a peak just outside Boulder. Anton Krupicka uses the mountain as a key part of his training, reaching the summit more than 200 times per year. I decided that I would be happy with summiting just once.

There are many options for a starting point since the mountain can even be reached when starting downtown, and also provides many trail options. I selected a loop that would start and end at the Chautauqua Park Trailhead, as taken from a hiking website. I set off in the mid-afternoon and immediately commenced the ascent that would take me up 2500 ft (750 m) to the summit.

I knew that Anton would run the entire ascent so I decided that I would only walk if it became extremely steep. I started out on the Mesa Trail, eventually reaching the Bear Canyon area and continuing onto the Bear Canyon Trail. That trail took me up the mountains through switchbacks that I recognised from the great short video titled “The Runner in Winter” (you can check it out on YouTube here). I was running up a section that Anton descends in the video so I started wondering whether I might be running his loop in reverse direction. That appeared quite possible since I had taken my route from a hiking website, and it is often the case that hikers prefer to tackle a loop in the opposite direction to trail runners since they generally prefer to ascend a gentle slope and descend a steeper grade, while trail runners prefer the opposite.

I turned off the Bear Canyon Trail onto the Green Bear Trail, and as I neared the top I spotted some movement to my right. I found myself exchanging looks with a feline, luckily a bobcat rather than its bigger cousin the mountain lion. I stopped and took a couple of quick photos, which I certainly wouldn’t have done if it was a mountain lion, and then continued on my way.

Boulder - Bobcat on Green Mountain
Boulder – Bobcat on Green Mountain

Continue reading Running Destination: Boulder

Running Destination: Moab

Moab is famous as a mecca for mountain bikers rather than trail runners. But any trail that can be cycled can be run. I went out for a couple of runs on the famed slick rock that makes up many of the trails in the area.

My first slick rock experience was in Canyonlands National Park, running a trail that involved a combination of slick rock and sand. Since traversing slick rock leaves no visible trail as it does on dirt or sand, the trail was marked by a series of rock cairns (piles of rocks). Upon reaching a cairn it would be necessary to locate the next one and run towards that. The trail I followed was a well-marked one but even still it is occasionally difficult to locate the next marker, particularly at a running pace.

Canyonlands NP - Following a Slick Rock Trail
Canyonlands NP – Following a Slick Rock Trail

The other interesting part about running on slick rock is that it is no softer than running on roads. I normally consider trail running as having less impact on the joints (due to the softer surface), but requiring more work from the muscles (since more energy is absorbed by the surface). Therefore running on slick rock surfaces has the impact of road running but requires the concentration and focus of trail running.

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