The email came in at 11:16 Friday night, just as I was going to bed, officially notifying me that the Boulder Marathon is cancelled until 2014. Disappointing of course but not surprising. This flood is a disaster. But you know what? Anyone can run a marathon. Try running 16 miles over Georgia Pass. I got in a 7 mile run Saturday with Steve and went out this morning at 5:30am, but not to run my planned marathon. Instead of running 26.2 miles on the Boulder backroads this morning, I ran along the Continental Divide with Keith and Chris in the mountains above Breckenridge. I’m not disappointed now. This pic is of us on the pass at 10am with Mount Guyot (pronounced gui-oat) in the background.
As of last night, the weather called for rain, turning into snow. Instead, the temperature was 41° and the rain didn’t begin to fall until around 12 or 13 miles. Ideal running weather. The three of us were comfortable wearing runner shorts and 2 or 3 layers of shirts. As you can imagine, there were very few others out on the trail. We encountered one hiker who started ahead of us, with his dog, and a couple more on the descent. Plus four mountain bikers crossing the trail on a jeep road.
We reached the trailhead via Tiger Road, which runs east from Hwy 9. After 5 or 6 miles, we took the left fork to the North Fork Swan River. The right fork leads to the trailhead on the Middle Fork Swan River, but it would have been a shorter run than we wanted. We were looking to run about 13 miles. The Middle Fork would have been 10 miles. The North Fork turned out to be 16 miles – out and back. The trail is segment 6 of the Colorado Trail. This entire CT segment is 31 miles from Kenosha Pass on Hwy 285 to Gold Hill on Hwy 9.
This section of trail isn’t as smooth as the other sections between here and Denver, but the 6% grade was manageable, considering we were running up to the Continental Divide. We started just under 10,000 feet and the Pass sits close to 12,000 feet. Trail shoes are advisable given some of the rocks, and the rain making it slick, but both Chris and Keith navigated fine in street running shoes.
I was pleased we were able to run up with very little walking. The first 3 miles between the North and Middle Fork trailheads served as a pleasant warmup. The grade steepened after that. Chris seemed unaffected, although he slowed down at times for Keith and me. The pass appeared as soon as we rose above treeline. I was more exhausted than I expected; I assume from not walking more on the ascent. We decided to all return at our own paces. Keith wanted to be cautious. I wanted to run fast but knew I was too exhausted to keep up with Chris – who wanted to sprint the 8 mile descent. He nearly did. This picture – which you might need to click on in order to see Chris – shows him 100 yards ahead of us after only 30 seconds. Chris reached the trailhead about 20 minutes ahead of me, giving him a 3 hour, 16 mile run. He out-ran me on the return by about 2.5 minutes per mile. I was hoping to keep up with him on the cancelled marathon. That might have been wishful thinking.
With Chris as our driver, Keith and I enjoyed a few ales at the Dam Brewery in Dillon. Their pub fare is really good. My cheese burger was outstanding – served to order. Could be I was just really hungry – my Garmin suggests I lost 1900 calories. I’m still working on overcoming that deficit, having eaten dinner and thinking of lemon meringue pie.
The rain followed us back to Boulder County. Hopefully nothing dramatic. My running is now largely on streets which I hate. The trails are slowly opening but not enough yet. I’m debating whether I should run the Denver Marathon in October. That’s on streets. Might be a good match for my current training.