22 July 2014

2014 Camp Hardrock: Days 5 - 6

"I like people to have a little nonsense about them.” 
- L.M. Montgomery
Kendall Mountain from our front porch
(This is the third of four blog posts, covering my nine days at Camp Hardrock. Days 1 & 2 are found here; days 3 & 4 are found here.)

After three days of getting out in the San Juans and enjoying some of the best trail runs I've ever had, it was time to switch gears. Dale Garland was at Silverton High School (aka Hardrock Central) with the merch team and those getting ready for runner check-in, which was to start at noon. Lois was at the American Legion building where aid station supplies were being amassed for transport. Since I had planned to help with merch setup around 9am, I got out in the morning for an easy run on the first couple of miles on the HR course. It's not particularly inspiring, but you have to run along the periodic jeep road in order to catch the trails leading to the awesome views. 

While I was out, I saw both Seb and Prez (Dakota) as they were out on their taper runs. Seb was out running with his wife, Isabel and as always, smiling. I for one, was happy to encounter his smile and get a hug a number of times during the week. Made my day.

Prez had been keeping a low profile, so I hadn't seen him yet as I had most of the other front runners. Last time I saw him was on the Barr trail, and same as last time, managed to get a lousy picture with him. I told him later that he ruins my trail selfies... he blamed my camera. Harrumph

Morning fog over Silverton
Christ of the Mines statue

Smilin' Seb
Prez and his favorite (?) commenter 
Before heading to the school, I ran into the two Brits that were running the race, Stuart Air and Tim Adams at Mobius. Tim lives in London and somehow manages to train effectively for this race as he'd completed it previously. Stu lives in Manchester and this was his first Hardrock. Both would go on to finish in fine style... way to go, mates!
Tim and Stu
Spent the next few hours helping with the last of the merch setup where I helped Missy Gosney (who won the Bighorn 100 a few weeks earlier...Boss!) and Roch Horton's wife, Catherine. Ultrarunning's biggest fan, Bill Dooper stopped by and purchased a bunch of items and I teased him about mixing up his races with his Leadville hat and Hardrock jacket. Hardrock ain't nothin' like Leadville, that's for sure.

As runners began checking in, I got to meet a few folks I knew only by name, such as Kendall Wimmer, who shares my daughter's name and also ran The Bear 100 last fall. John Sharp is known for his You Tube videos of his 2010 and 2012 runs. Fun to watch his infectious enthusiasm and realistic struggles (salty language and all!) as the miles add up.

Saw Tim Olson and his wife Krista as I was poaching wifi from Mobius after hours and snapped a picture after a brief chat. I was thinking later on that the 2-time Western States champ and CR holder had been training himself for an entirely different type of race with Hardrock. Western is a runner's race, more downhill (23k ft) than uphill (18k ft) and one that serves his strengths as a fast runner. Hardrock is a hiker's race with almost twice as much climbing. Kudos to Tim for working to make himself a more versatile runner and challenging himself in new ways at Hardrock. 
Kendall Wimmer, Missy Gosney and John Sharp
Prez and his mama
Tim and Krista Olson
The next day (Thursday) I pulled staff shirts for aid station workers before the supply trucks headed out and helped iRunFar with a couple of things. They had been working all day since arriving on Tuesday, getting video interviews up on the site, volunteers coordinated for race day coverage, among a myriad of other things needed to do their awesome work of covering the race. 

On a side note: If you appreciate what Bryon and Meghan do at iRunFar, please consider donating to the site to help them with expenses. It costs a lot of money to travel to these races and acquire the necessary technology do what they do. I got to see first hand how hard they work and how little sleep they get to give us the real-time race updates that we've come to rely on. If you purchase from Amazon or Backcountry, you can click on the link above and scroll down to find links to each retailer. Use these links when you purchase and iRunFar will get a commission. Easy peasy and costs you nothing!

At noon, I attended the mandatory runner briefing which I really enjoyed last year. As Dale says every year regarding the course description, "When you see a mountain, climb it. When you come to a river, cross it." Dale is Mr. No-nonsense. I was happily surprised that he recognized and remembered me from last year. I had told him to remember me 'cause I'd be at Hardrock until I'm dead, so I guess he took it to heart. Love that guy.  

This year they added the "Hard Block" kids race which went around the school block. Kids kissed the rock and were given ice cream treats at the end. It was fun to watch and I look forward to seeing my own kids participating in the run next year.
The start of the Hard Block
Seb's son 
Darcy's daughter 
Jen Benna's daughter
Tim Olson and his son
See Jordi's picture here
Runners briefing (Photo: Chris Gerber)
Bryon and Meghan hard at work
I had hoped to pace someone on Saturday, if possible. I was working on trying to get a ride out to either Grouse Gulch or Sherman to pick up a runner on the fly. Thankfully, I didn't need to do that as Steve Pero approached me on Wednesday night and introduced me to Rich from Montana. He was looking for a pacer from Grouse for his second running of Hardrock. I was a little nervous about doing 42 miles of the course, but figured at worst, I'd go as far as I could with him. We met up on Thursday at the Avon to talk about what he needed and the Peros provided some intel on this new-to-me section of the course. I was excited to be able to support him in his run and experience a part of it myself.  
Rich, me, Steve and Deb
Got tips from Liz Bauer, who's run more hundos in a year than anyone  
With 10 hours to start time, time to head to bed
So, before we knew it, it was time to hit the sack 'cause the run started at 6am and I planned to be at the gym before then to wish my friends a great race. Stay tuned for the fourth and final (LOOONG) blog about race days #1 and #2, pacing and the awards ceremony!

If you want to watch John Sharp's 2014 video... here you go: (Parents: Strong Language!) 

Happy Trails,


21 July 2014

2014 Camp Hardrock: Days 3 - 4

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, 
even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, 
the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. 
You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
- Nehemiah 9:6 (NIV)
Engineer Pass
(This is the second of four blog posts, covering my nine days at Camp Hardrock. Days 1 & 2 are found here.)

After running up the Highland Mary Lakes trail on Day 2, I set aside two more days to explore the Hardrock course before the volunteer work was to begin. After talking to a few people about what section to run, I decided on Bear Creek Trail out of Ouray. There are actually three Bear Creeks on the Hardrock course, the Silverton, Telluride and Ouray Bear Creeks. The Ouray trail starts off Highway 550 and ascends up a series of switchbacks into the canyon overlooking Bear Creek. Passing the Grizzly Bear and Yellow Jacket mines, the trail continues to above treeline and into Engineer Pass. The 7.1 mile trail ends at the top of the pass, just below Engineer Pass road.

As it turned out, I was running the trail ahead of the course markers who completed the marking as I was coming back from the turnaround point. It was an easy trail to follow between the obvious trail and cairns that marked the game trails. The afternoon clouds were rolling in on three sides as I came to the turnaround point and as I heard thunder off the distance, I made a "beeline for treeline" by taking the straightest path I could to the trees in about 20 minutes, which required only one episode of 'shwacking down the hillside back to the trail. Thankfully, it was just some grumbling and no lightning to be seen from my vantage point. 
Folks thought it was 5 miles to Engineer... what's 4 extra miles, right?
Going up the shale switchbacks
Bear Creek Canyon

Bear Creek
Crossed this twice!
The falls above the prior crossing
This is typical on the HR course. Feels good, actually.

Engineer Pass

Wheelbarrow cairn
Looking back
Cairns mark the game trails
Turnaround point
View back to treeline (dark clouds on either side)
Oops... that's the wheelbarrow cairn down below
Found the HR markers on my return trip
I did a lot of praying on this run. Worship is an automatic response in the midst of such majestic beauty. I'm so grateful legs that work and eyes to see the beauty of God's creation. I'm always reminded that a God that's wise and powerful enough to form and sustain the natural world can be trusted with the details of my life that I can't understand or control. As C.S. Lewis has famously said, "He whispers to us in our joy..." and I hear Him talking in places like this -- loud and clear -- and find peace flowing like a river in my soul.

I was good and tired after my 14 mile hike/run. I needed to rest because I'd planned to get my iconic Island Lake picture the following day. Meghan and Doug joined me the next day as we hiked up the 4 mile Ice Lake trail to the top of Grant-Swamp Pass.

The must-have snapshot of Island Lake
Joel Zucker died just days after running his 3rd Hardrock in 1998
Looking at Oscars Pass from Grant-Swamp Pass

I spent the rest of the day breaking down camp, moving to Silverton (where I took my first shower in four days!) and checked in with Dale and Lois regarding any help needed. They needed help with merch set up, so that's what I did for the remainder of the afternoon. Since it was late in the day, the bulk of the work would happen in the morning before runners began check in.

It felt good to be in Silverton as things begin to heat up in preparation for Friday's start of the run. Stay tuned for days 5 and 6 coming up next...

Happy Trails,