Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bergen Peak Almost Marathon

I'm 5 weeks out from Silver Rush, so Saturday's run was the first of three weekends in June where long trail runs are on the docket. First up was Bergen Peak/Elk Meadow Park in Evergreen. I had the pleasure of running with Patrick for the first time. We've emailed a bunch, but never gotten on the trail together. He's running in the Sun Mountain 50M this Sunday, so he agreed to join me for the first 10.5 mile loop as he's tapering for a strong race next weekend.

Let me backup a bit. So we had a little rain on Friday night. From 11pm-2am, I was awoken about a dozen times from lightning flashes and rain/hail pounding the house. Tossing and turning, I finally rolled out of bed at 3:25, which was about 5 minutes before the alarm was set to go off.

I left at 4:10 and it was cold, dark, and still raining. I held out hope that it was only raining on the plains and that the mountains would be dry. If not, I was trying to prepare for the mud that was waiting.

Got to the trailhead a little before 5:00 and Patrick rolled in shortly thereafter. I was very impressed that he came since I couldn't help to think that there was no reason he had to subject himself to these conditions at the crack of dawn for a 10 mile run. When I got out of the car, I was surprised to see the rain had turned into a very light mist. Perfect! And the mud? Well, the trail up there was wet, but no mud.

We started our loop and I noticed, in the pre-dawn light, patches of what I thought were snow. No, they were piles of hail. That area got hit pretty hard overnight.

The higher we got, the colder the air turned and the more patches of hail we ran through. The trail rises about 2000' over 5 miles, so not the steepest out there, but also no walk in the park.

Towards the top, you run through more aspen trees. The new leaves simply got pummeled by the hail and created a green carpet to run on.

The summit (9708') was in a cloud. I'm going to have to head up there again someday in order to see the views. We made it back to the cars in just shy of two hours. Patrick took off and I grabbed my camera and went out for lap two. I cruised at just about the same pace, but encountered more rain and then mini ice pellets pinging me. It got old after awhile.

Upon returning to the trailhead a second time, I grabbed my PB&J sandwich, refilled my water reservoir, and started out for lap three. Not the full loop, but a shortened 5 miler in order to get me over the 25 mile mark. Prior to the run, I had mentally committed myself to a run of 25-30 miles. Seeing I was at mile 21, I wasn't about to back out now. Starting out was tough. I was tired of being cold and wet, and couldn't get the thought of a hot cup of coffee out of my mind. It would have to wait. This run was critical, so I just pushed away my desire to bail on it and forged ahead. The small loop only had a few hundred feet of climbing and I ran through a herd of elk that bolted from the trail, so that lifted my spirits a bit.

With a mile to go, the heavy rain returned and I cranked out my third fastest mile of the day. My watch said 26.16 miles. Would I go the extra .04 miles in the parking lot in order to register my first official marathon distance on a training run? Nope. Ha!! That cup of coffee was calling my name! I found it at McD's, as well as a mouth-watering Egg McMuffin.

So it was interesting to learn that 26 miles on trails with close to 4500' of vertical is nothing compared to the pounding your body takes in the same distance on roads. I was sore, but I ran another 8 mi on Sunday and felt great. That would never have happened after a road marathon.

Next up? Pikes and the Barr Trail. It looks like enough snow has melted that you can get pretty high, so we'll see just how far I get.


  1. Sweet pics! Thanks for the run Woody. I came this close to getting some McD's myself after the Java Groove was closed!

  2. wow, great run Woody! It is good to know that sometimes Superman even chooses coffee of saving the girl. You da man!