A series of big mile running races just popped on the radar ever so slightly this year. If they have a central website, I have not found it, but I get information from them on Facebook. It's hard to find the dates sometimes, but thankfully they have decided to use Ultra SignUp at the central place to register. Here is the list of big mile races so far.
I'll also try a cut and paste. I'm posting this here more for my own use to remind me of quasi local events to do. Wow, with Grass Roots Racing over in Moab and now these guys it's like we all of a sudden have the best ultra running scene anywhere! Western Slope Rocks!
Monday, April 14, 2014
Sunday, April 13, 2014
The 2014 Edition of the Durango Gravel Grinder was held this last weekend. Of all the events I have planned this one has always lagged in attendance. But I know it's a great course and Durango just lags a bit in accdepting "new style" events. Gravel Grinders have boomed elsewhere and this is an early season "big day" with so little preparation needed, it just seems to me at least, very attractive. Where the 12 hour MTB races held in April that battled unpredictable weather now have all moved on, a free of cost local gravel grinder makes a lot of sense. If it snows, just stay home and no loss of entry fees.
This year we got 25 people including myself. Most were there for the 115 mile option, but 4 riders did the 160. With my wrist in need of surgery - and my desire to avoid that surgery - I kept with the program and continued to run rather than ride. Cross bike riding with a rigid fork on hard packed roads is absolutely the last thing I need with last years riding eventually causing my 2nd emergency room visit in the last 3 years because of the swelling. What ice cannot cure, a good shot of Demerol will for certain.
So with all this in mind, I set off to run the first loop of the 115 miler - which came out to 48 miles total.
This also marked the best weather we have had for the DGG - warmest for sure. There were very few DNFs as most people got their finish and we later congregated at Carver Brewing Company - right across the street from Velorution Cycles, which serves as the start for both the DGG and the other event I help put on - the packed to capacity Durango Dirty Century. That one is singletrack and a true mountain bike event.
I took off with ~ 64 ounces of HEED infused water in my C.A.M.P. Trail Vest and was able to fill up out on course from a widowed rancher. This was at mile 23. He brother and his wife were in their RV out front and they helped me get re hydrated. Really nice people, and I always enjoy meeting the ranchers out in La Plata County - a much different world than the transplants in town. From there it was tough to find water as i ran the loop in reverse and the houses off of Hay Gulch are too far from the road - so you can't see if anyone is outside. I will not knock on a door for water, but if see someone outside I try to strike up a conversation.
So I used the cell phone and a while later Jeni and Jia Li came up with a Coca-Cola and some Dasani on CR 125, which is a long descent into Durango. I kept the pace above 5mph, which for self supported running is something I am happy with.
I'm running on the Altra Olympus shoes these days mostly because they are "monster shoes" like my trusty Hoka One Ones, but about $50 cheaper retail. I also used their wedge insole which provides a bit more stability in running on dirt roads on the downhills. After running in the Altras on the technical Raiders Ridge earlier this week, I'm probably going to go buy another pair of the Hoka Stinson Evos as they provide more precision when having to dodge boulders, roots, and loose rocks. but for dirt roads, gravel shoulders, and pavement these work just fine.
A good day was had and I got to have the annual Tatanka Burger at Carver. One of my favorites, but not something to have regularly in the diet!
Monday, April 07, 2014
I headed back up to Silverton and explored Minnie Gulch. Great skiing back there, but due to steep slopes I had to be selective on where I skied. There were some natural slides up there with some up high cornices threatening to slide in other areas. So I chose a section below a rocky ridge that was not snow covered.
I skied this basin above, and then went to another. No tracks shown here though as this was the pre-climbing pick.
I wanted to ski this section below, but things looked a bit sketchy.
Nice tracks on a protected slope with not too much incline.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Monday, March 31, 2014
My second Elk Mountain Grand Traverse is in the books, although it technically was not the full course from Crested Butte to Aspen, but rather from Crested Butte to.....Crested Butte! For the 3rd time in the 17 years of the event they could not let us pass through to Aspen due to a huge snowstorm that left avalanche conditions unacceptable for a race like this - so they called it the Grand Reverse.
You race as a duo, and my partner from last year was again my ski partner for this year. With fully loaded packs on our backs carrying tons of survival gear, we skied from the midnight start and got our finish. We got 56th out of ~200 teams, although I believe some pulled before the start and I think the actual number of teams was in the 160s who toed the line. We did this as mostly a tour and stopped for food, clothing changes, etc. Doing this at a race pace is really hard for me to fathom given the conditions, but for sure this year people went at hard. Here are some press stories:
Finally Outside Online had a nice article on Skimo racing and it looks like the writer may do another one as he entered the GT as well.
The photo above shows a notch cut into my Ski Trab Maestro, done by a buddy at the Alpineer in CB. This little notch allowed me to use my race skins that previously were only for my narrower Hagan X-Race ski. This wider Maestro just makes skimo racing so much more fun without much of a weight penalty.
This concludes my first full season of doing skimo races and well I certainly am not fast at this. I learned a lot and look forward to making some progress in the next year. For the first time in my 6 years in Durango, I now am not ready for winter to be over. I enjoy the skiing and want to keep it going - but a break now will only make it more fun next season.
Monday, March 24, 2014
In the movie Joe Dirt there is a fictional mountain paradise called Silver Town. Close by we have a place called Silverton which is indeed a recreational paradise, but yet also contain many mining legacies from the left over ruins and all the way up to Superfund environmental nightmare status.
I went over to Kendall Mountain which turned out to be a poor choice as the last week of sunshine turned the snow to gray ice in spots. Skining up was fine, but coming down would have been better serves on hockey skates. I did however take my favorite ski - the Ski Trab Maestro with full length skins and once past the ice it was tight S turns all the way back into town.
The basin on the way up to Kendall which is over 13k.
This is a good view of Silverton. Stunning mountain views for this little mountain town, seems like paradise. However note the lack of development in the foreground - that is a "no build" zone with a history of lost life in one of many past avalanches that have consumed this town in years past.
I later went out north of town to check out some other routes and finally stopped to take a photo of the aerial ore buckets - the precursor to today's modern ski chair lifts.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Work brought me near Aspen so I had a chance to skin up Snowmass Mountain again as a reward. Uphill skiing during operational hours is allowed here and I made sure to climb the entire 4500-ft to the peak. It was sunny, warm and the snow was in good condition with some new powder up top - not a ton, but enough to cover up some wind swept area on the peak. Once back in the trees it was mostly groomed or carved moguls depending on where you went.
I paid for parking and had some food, but of course I did not have to pay for skiing. Snowmass is just amazing for allowing this access and both their patrollers and instructors usually give you a thumbs up or shout out when they see you climbing. They really support this!
On the way back, Sopris was glowing in the sun and the photo below does not do it much justice. Just beautiful.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
February ended up with a nasty head cold that moved to my chest and I'm still carrying some gunk in there. It was not fun, and I spent way too much time indoors. After skiing the Taos Rando Raid, I got in just one ski run (1 climb at Hesperus) before tackling the Gothic Mountain Tour one month later - last weekend. The tour was a blast, but my lungs just were not ready and I spent a good deal of time just trying to breathe.
I spent just one night in Crested Butte and got home after the race to spend some time with the family. I still have the Elk Mountain Grand Tour looming so I need to get the ski fitness up, but the weather we have been having of late, running is less of a time suck. Monday I went out for an 18-mile run through Edgemont and back into town through Horse Gulch. As you can see the trail are nearly dry.
I ran out of water and food and the body told me to slow it down. But it was nice to be out there again.
Last year I put in big skiing volume in February but little in March due to warm weather and the fitness held through to the GT. Not sure what to do this season, but perhaps just plan on big ski days on the weekends, running during the week.
Monday, March 03, 2014
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Monday, February 10, 2014
I went down to visit Santa Fe and Taos for the inaugural New Mexico Cup which is part of the COSMIC ski mountaineering series. Both Santa Fe Ski Area and Taos Ski Valley offered up events in 2 consecutive days. In short it was an awesome adventure as I got to climb and ski two ski areas I used to frequent many years ago when I lived - and still skied in New Mexico.
The events were really challenging with a lot of climbing. But the host resorts put on perfect races with volunteers and ski patrollers out on course to make sure we did not get lost. You could tell that they were proud of their ski areas and they very happy to be part of the series.
For a race like this, the camera was tucked away back in the auto so I have no photos of the resorts, or the courses. But on the way home from Taos I did take some photos of the beautiful Northern NM country side.
I hope the ski areas want to continue to host these 2 fine events. I will be back next year for sure if they do.