Tuesday, July 20, 2010

RR - Kendall Mountain

Race Report
Sat, Jul 17/10
Kendall Mountain Marathon
Silverton, CO
Marathon #333
7:36:55 – 1 AG – 6 OA

This was an unplanned/unscheduled race. I was looking for a race in mid-July to maintain my marathon conditioning but I didn’t want to spend money on air travel etc. I searched the local Colorado race calendar and found a new (inaugural) marathon to be run in Silverton, CO. That is a real pretty area of CO and also close to many 14ers that I had not yet climbed. After many attempts to contact the race director who chose to ignore my emails/phone messages for more info I decided to drive to Silverton the day before the race. If the race didn’t happen I could always climb some of those 14ers?

I drove west and then south through the scenic town of Ouray that sits in a canyon surrounded by the San Juan Mtns. It is also the beginning of the Million Dollar Hwy between Ouray and Silverton – so named because of the Million Dollar views (and no guard rails to obstruct those views)! I took many photos of these and other beautiful scenery of CO to share with my readers. When I arrived in Silverton I found registration/packet pick-up – not where it was supposed to be and none of the race volunteers could provide information on the race or course. I signed up and then found the man in charge of the race timing. He was most helpful and provided me with most of the information I needed. Warning – there is very little info on the website for this race and the race director will not respond to emails/etc. It was difficult to get info on logistics and the course even after I registered. For this and other reasons to be discussed I do not recommend this race!

The most important Information I learned was that the Kendall Mtn Run – a half marathon – had been run for 32 years and this year a marathon had been added. The marathon would be two loops of the half course. I had mistakenly interpreted the info on the website to mean that the half marathon course started in Silverton and finished at the summit of Kendall Mtn! WRONG! The course started in Silverton (elevation 9318 ft) and climbed 3748 vertical ft over 6.5 miles to the summit of Kendall Mtn (13,066 ft) – and returned to Silverton. Like I said the lucky marathoners got to run two loops! I asked about aid stations – there were supposedly five but the locations were not known? That was an important detail because I needed to know what waist/water belt to wear? I decided that I would wear a larger, more cumbersome belt to start the race because I wanted to carry a camera to take photos for my readers -because there was another strange twist (noted on the website). The course followed a very steep 4X4 road for the first 5.85 miles and then ended at 12,800 ft – no road and no trail. For the final 266 vertical ft and .65 miles runners were forced to scramble (on hands and feet) and bushwhack to the summit of Kendall Mtn! I knew that would present some great photos of the race!

As I walked around Silverton and looked up at Kendall Mtn that towered above the town on the East it looked intimidating and scary. I drove the first few miles of the (very steep) 4X4 road and confirmed that there would be a lot of walking involved and early in the race!

Sat was ‘M’ Day! The race started at 8am – sunny and a warm temp of 50F with temps forecast in the low 80s. I decided not to carry warm clothes but still wore the larger waist belt to carry my water, carbo gels and camera. I parked my car at the finish line so I could switch to a smaller belt (or discard the belt) at the Half. There were over 100 runners in the Half but only 12 in the marathon. Marathoners had a blue bib so we could identify our competitors. I managed to run the 1st mile but was then reduced to walking with most of the runners. The 1st water station was located at 1.6 miles. I will compliment the race organization on the water stations. They were located approx. every 2 miles and had lots of water, energy drink, food and carbo gels. I reached the 2nd water stop at 3.4 miles in 54:10. The next 1.7 miles of the course climbed very steeply (45 % grade) and relentlessly to the 3rd water stop at 5.1 miles (1:33:09 and a split of 38.58). The course then made a 180 degree switchback and climbed steeply to the next water stop and the end of the road at 5.85 miles. I could see runners ahead scrambling up the steep summit and I was scared! I am afraid of heights! I reached the end of the road and started to follow the route that other runners were using to scramble up the mtn. I kept my eyes focused on the mtn and refused to look down until I reached the summit (13,066 ft) in 2:06:32. I stopped to take a few photos and wash down a carbo gel. Yes they had a water stop on the top of the mtn? I don’t know how they carried those gallon jugs of water up there? Now for the scariest part of the course – I had to scramble back down to the road – and I was terrified! I side stepped down most of the scramble/descent to maintain total control and prevent a fall and injury. It took 16:02 to descend .65 miles! But the next 6 miles was all downhill and steep. So steep in fact that it was difficult to control my pace and speed - any small mistake and losing control would result in a serious fall and injury! About half way down the descent I passed the lead runner – a local elite female who was running up the ascent for the 2nd loop. She was so far ahead of everybody else! Nobody was even close! As I passed other marathoners starting their 2nd loop we looked at each other and exclaimed that we had to be totally crazy to run a 2nd loop of this nasty/challenging/insane course! I reached the Half in 3:30:44.

I switched my waist belt to a smaller belt. It was necessary to carry water since it was taking 40 to 50 minutes to walk/climb the 2 miles between water stops on the ascent and that is too long to go w/o water in the mtns! I didn’t need the camera any more so a smaller belt would be lighter and less cumbersome. I think I was delaying the agony of starting the 2nd loop. I really didn’t want to run a 2nd loop. A person had to be crazy to run a 2nd loop! Maddog (appropriately named for this situation) screamed that I paid for a marathon and I needed to get my money’s worth! As far as I was concerned I had already got my money’s worth! Reluctantly I started climbing/walking back up Kendall Mtn. I knew the 2nd Half would be much slower. I figured 4 hrs would be a good target? I reached the 2nd water stop at 3.4 miles (16.6 miles) in 4:35:13 and a split of 1:04:28. On the 1st ascent I had been able to run the very few flat and downhill sections – but not on the 2nd ascent! I was trying to conserve energy for the scramble and final descent. I caught 3 runners – one female and two young males who were cramping badly and had to drop out. I reached the end of the road at 18.95 miles in 5:24:20. I was all alone on the scramble – nobody to follow up the ascent. I reached the summit in 6:01:47 and a split of 37:26 for .65 miles!

I might have stayed there on the summit because I was too scared to scramble back down. However a few drops of rain, a boom and a flash of lightning quickly changed my mind. I needed to get off the mountain! Even the race volunteer was concerned about staying up there! It still took me 17:56 to scramble that short .65 miles descent but then I was back on the road. I decided to take a risk and push the pace on the steep descent. My legs were trashed – they were sore and stiff and my quads screamed at me as they tried to keep the old bod in control on that terribly steep descent. Then my heart monitor alarm started beeping? I was pushing the old ticker at 100% Max! I figured it was an incorrect reading and adjusted the strap. The alarm still beeped a warning sound? I figured it had to be a combination of the exhaustion and pace plus the anxiety I felt at risking a serious fall and injury by pushing the pace? So I ignored the monitor and continued to push the pace until I crossed the finish line in 7:36:55!

I was totally fatigued and beat up. One spectator asked if I had fallen or rolled down the scramble since my clothes were covered in dirt. I replied that safety on the scramble was my priority – not cleanliness!
I collected my finish medal- got in the car and drove to the hotel. After a long hot soak to soothe tired/sore muscles and wash away tons of dirt I returned to the finish line to check results. The timer was kind enough to print me a copy of the final results. I had finished 1st AG and 6th Overall. The 1st AG was a given since I was the oldest runner in the race – by many years. The 6th OA felt good in such a tough/challenging race. I may need to revise my ratings for the world’s toughest marathons after that race. One thing I am absolutely certain of – once was enough – I will never run the Kendall Mountain Marathon again!

It was 5 pm – I had not eaten all day (except carbo gels). I went for an early dinner but I was so exhausted and felt so poorly that I could hardly eat so I went to bed and slept 11 hrs!

On Sun I planned to climb a 14er near Silverton but in spite of my normally-reliable 14er guide and directions from the hotel I could not find the trailhead. I think I did eventually find it but it had no signs or markings and I was not willing to venture off into the wilderness of the San Juan Mtns w/o confirming the trail and destination. Instead I took a ‘forced’ rest day and drove around the San Juan Mtns to Lake City on the East side of the mtns where the access and trailheads were much better for the 14ers I wanted to climb.

On Mon I woke early and arrived at the trailhead by 7am so I could score a triple-dipper - by climbing three 14ers in the same day. A 17-mile hike/run with three 14ers in 7 hrs. More details to be provided in a separate 14er report!

Maddog enjoyed a great weekend of high altitude endurance training to prepare for the Pike’s Peak Marathon. I am ready! I wish the race was in two weeks instead of 5 weeks because I am tired of training for it!

Stay tuned!

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