Wasatch 100

Wasatch 100

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2012 Vermont 100 Race Report

2012 would be my 2nd attempt at the Vermont 100 with two goals:  1. Finishing and 2.  Sub 24 hour.  I tried both in 2010, yet just finishing the Western States 100 and dealing with extra-hot temps and humidity, I fell short by 30 miles.  

In January when my friend Jason Mittman decided to do his 1st 100, we decided to come back and join Jason along with Marcy Beard, Kip Fiebig, and Dave Bogle for the 100 miler.  Kelly Goode (who got hit by the heat in 2010) would join Shauna Metcalf on the 100K.  

Leading up to this race, I have finished 6 hundred mile races including:  Hardrock, Leadville twice, Western States, Wasatch, and Big Horn so I have a good basis to compare courses.  Although limited in altitude, there is non stop up-and-downs in Vermont plus heat and humidity (which are my worst enemies).  The course is mainly on dirt roads with about 30% on single-track/jeep roads and about 5% pavement.  

As an experiment, I carried my Garmin 910 with a portable charger that allowed a full reading of the course.  It showed 16,417ft of climbing and 16,257ft of descending with just under 100 miles (it may lost the connection in the trees which will connect with a straight line so, I still feel confident about the 100 mile distance).  

To see the Garmin report see: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/202468433  

In addition to the Garmin link there is also a video summation at the bottom of this report.

Now for the race.  We flew in on Friday, arriving in Manchester NH at 1:00 pm from Denver and we were able to make the race briefing and check-in.  Afterwards we checked into our hotel at Ascutney Hotel/resort followed by pizza in Windsor.

Race morning I woke up at 2:30am and Jason and I took off to the start allowing the girls some valuable sleep before their 9:00am start for the 100K.  After arriving, we checked in and Jason went to look for everyone else as I went to grab my gear from the car.  When I got back, I grabbed some coffee and looked around for the group but I never could find them after checking in so I was on my own.

 Few pictures of the starting area with fresh coffee and quick picture of myself at 3:50am

The countdown 

My strategy going into the race was to take advantage of the cooler temps in the morning and evening, so I started off with a solid pace between 8:40 to a 13:20 pace in the first 25 miles.  After the 4:00am start, I enjoyed some jeep roads but mainly rolling dirt roads through sunrise in route to Woodstock roughly at mile 16.  

I was able to run most of this part of the race except for a few steep climbs. On the hills, I would run into them and gain some elevation before walking and then I would run before reaching the top knowing I would recover on the flat or descent.

The next 6 pictures are in the Woodstock area. Unlike previous years, we were detoured through town because the Taftsville bridge was washed away from last year's hurricane.  The town was very scenic with several covered bridges and parks.  As I was leaving town, I began to hear the hoofs from the lead horses doing the same 100 mile race.  Oh yeah, there are horses that give a unique twist to this event. The riders are very friendly and work well with the runners.  The horses too, have their own aid-stations and support.

 Below are the lead horses on one of the few road sections

 One of the many farm homes we ran by in the race

 One of the wooded climbs about mile 19
My plan in the race was to go unsupported and without pacers.  Vermont has 29 aid-stations, so it is easy to eat and keep hydrated. Then at the Pretty House aid-station (mile 22.5), I ran into John Beard who volunteered to be crew for all of us.  In 2010, John came in 9th in the 2010 Hardrock 100 so he is a very accomplished runner and adventure racer and knows what he is doing when it comes to crewing.  I took him up on his offer and while I was eating watermelon and chips he filled my bottles and he cheered me on as I raced out of the aid-station.
 The cows in vermont are more curious then the ones in Texas or Colorado
Above, I hit mile 26.2 in just 4:36 (not bad for even a road marathon).  Despite the speed that was my goal. At mile 27 or 28,  I  hit the high point of the race on an open meadow that showed the entire area.  

Off the hill, I was slowed down some by a few steep climbs and technical trails yet kept my pace into the Stage road aid-station mile 31.

At Stage Road aid station, I had one of my two drop bags and sure enough, John had a chair and the bag waiting.  I had a bottle of First Endurance Ultragen recover mix that John added ice and water to.  While I was drinking that he filled my running bottle as I dropped my headlamp and reloaded my Gu supply.  At this point of the race the heat began to become more of an issue (but not too bad).  In addition to adding ice to my bottle, I also wetted my head from a cool waterhose. 

Below is the road going into Stage.
The section after stage is one I remembered well from 2010.  It had a steep single-track climb going through brush and 5ft tall grass.  The vegetation seemed to generated additional heat and humidity. Then after about of mile of climbing in the brush path we hit normal single-track into the woods (see below).

The next two pictures are of the Lincoln Covered Bridge at mile 39.  Ahead in the pink, was Cheryl Yanek from Brooklyn who I ran with on-and-off for the next 15 miles.  

One of the horse aid-stations.  Each time vets would check their electrolytes, heart rate, and their running form before letting them leave.

Nine hours and 30 minutes in the race, I made it to the Camp 10 Bear aid-station where my second drop bag was waiting with John.  Again I refilled my bottle with my First Endurance EFS drink-mix and loaded my Nathan mini-pack with more Gu and bags of drink-mix.  I also grabbed my Rayovac portable charger to later charge my Garmin.  

By this time in the race, the heat and Kip caught up with me just as I was running out of the station.  I turned off my competitive switch and turned-on my survival switch and focused on making it through this hot 22 mile loop.  

After a few miles of nice rolling roads the trail turned to the right for long nasty climb where I was definitely feeling the heat so I made a decision to focus on slow walking the hills.  On the climb, Kip caught me but he too wanted to slow down because of the heat. We had a good time for the next few miles as we battled the heat and took time talking future adventures.  It was really nice to have a companion to distract me from the hardest part of the race.

Pictures of Kip and I at mile 49

 (Mile 50 in 10 hours 11 minutes)
 Below is the field we cut across after leaving the Birmingham Aid-station mile 54.1
 Below is the Tracer Brook aid-station at mile 57.
 Mile 59 looking at land that was owned by the Roosevelt family - so a local told me as he drove by
Mile 57 back to 10 Bear is best runnable section of the race.  The trail is rolling but not too steep, so I was able to get some shade from the trees and pullout a slow run.  In the middle of this section, there several manned and unmanned refreshment stops and they all had ice to cool off our drinks.
At mile 65, I ran my experiment.  I carried my Garmin charger with a Rayovac portable lithium charger.  At that point my watch had 38% battery remaining and I was able to get it back to 90% before I dropped the charger in my drop bag (next time I will start charging earlier).  In the end, I was able to have GPS reading for the entire race with 50% battery to spare.

About 7:30pm, I made it back to Camp 10 bear (mile 70).  This was my longest stop lasting about 10 minutes.  I grabbed my jacket (just in case I got cold but I did not need it), headlamp, more Gu, and new EFS for my bottle.  On each time I stopped at 10 Bear, I had to weigh in.  The first time I had lost 7 pounds and the second time I gained back 1 pound.  At that point Kip was 40 minutes ahead.  

Before the race, Marcy and Kip (with their spreadsheets) had narrowed down two key points: 1- If you make it out of 10 Bear before dark you have a chance for a sub-24 hour finish and 2 - If you make it to Spirt of 76 aid-station at mile 77 before dark you have a very good chance for a sub-24.  Knowing the last 30 miles are the most challenging - I knew I had to pickup the pace and start making time to get to Spirt of 76 soon.
Leaving 10 Bear, I immediately had a very steep climb that I pushed out a fast hike passing several runners.  On the top I was rewarded with great final daylight view.  The sun was about to drop below the horizon and I still had 4 miles to cover before Sprit of 76.

After this last daytime picture, I was back on single-track into the woods and before I knew it, the headlamp was out just 1 mile before 76.  I finally made it and with a quick in-and-out with a cup of iced down soup (the only solid food I ate in the race), I was on my way.

A few miles later, I ran into Shauna who was power marching on the road.  She was tired yet determined.  Despite limited summer training and this being only her second ultra,  I think she was doing great.  The next 10 miles had some good climbs yet it was all dirt roads and the heat was no longer an issue.

When I reached Bills aid-station (mile 88.6),  John was waiting to take care of my bottle while I was weighing in.  At that point with the cooler temps, I was only down 3 pounds!  To this point in the race, I had no injuries yet I had some rubbing issues on my right achilles tendon and the front of my feet near the tongue of my shoes.  To help, I treated the areas with Neosporin+pain relief (I carry this on all my 50 -100 mile races).

Leaving Bills, the race hopped on a rolling single-track in the woods.  I slowed down to make sure I did not trip or bash my foot on any leaf covered roots. Eventually, it got to long open field for a long descent before joining the road for another long climb.  

At mile 92, I had some more solid food at Keating's and refilled my bottle with Gatorade.  For the first time my stomach was starting to bother me.  I had been eating Gu every hour with 2 sport legs per hour with limited solid food for the last 21 hours.  I grabbed some Ginger candy but it looked and tasted old so I spit it out.

At mile 93, I slowed down to fuel up with Gu and Sport Legs for a final push and just then, I heard Jason talking to his pacer Randol hiking up behind me.  I turned back, and sure enough it was them with Marcy just behind them taking a nature break (how is that for politically correct).  I am not sue if I said hi or not, but they were enough motivation to gear me up for my final push.  Thanks Jason!

My legs felt good, stomach ok, motivation hi.  Not only was I going to break sub-24, I had a chance to break sub-23.  Uphill I ran to the next aid-station where John was waiting.  I was pushing so hard, I refused to give him my bottle and I topped it off myself.  He did say I was gaining on Kip (I still did not believe I would catch him).

Still running every inch, I passed a guy who asked "Is that you Ryan?" and it was Kip.  I did not even see him and could not believe I caught him yet - I still had a goal.

Running past Sargent's aid-station at mile 98, I decided not to stop and hit the single-track into the woods. It felt great passing all the runners and getting their support for a strong finish and finally I saw a sign showing 1 mile to go and I had 14 minutes.

I had no idea what surprises that may appear to slow me down. If it was runnable - I kept going watching the digits on my Garmin tick away. I  soon could hear the finish area as I passed two more runners.  Who ever they were, they started to keep up with me and they had loud cheering section calling and yelling Hoo-Ray for them.  So I found my final gear and sprinted in to keep them from passing me (I hate it when I have a strong final 5 -10 miles and someone I just passed with fresher legs overtakes me in the final second).

At 22:57:22, I crosse the finish line coming in 89th out of 218 finishers (306 starters).  This was a good race.

Then Kip soon followed with Jason and Marcy soon behind.  We all sub-24ed the race.  A special congratulations to Jason on his 1st 100 miler being sub-24 which is amazing.  We just lacked Dave who hurt his knee at mile 47.

 (Kip Crossing)
 Jason and Marcy with Randol crossing
The whole team above:  John Beard -Crew Chief extraordinaire, Me -Ryan Martin - rabbit number 1, Mary Beard - disciplined and consistent, Jason Mittman - 1st timer, Kip Fiebig - rabbit number 2)

The next morning after a few hours of restless sleep she made it to the awards ceremony.  Kelly below got 3rd place overall female in the 100k with a 15:14:36 time.  Also, Shauna finished her 1st (she says last) 100k too.  Great time with friends at a well organized and scenic 100 miler.  
Kelly above getting he award and Jason and Marcy getting their buckles
 Below is a video summary of the race at a few different sections.
In conclusion,  Vermont is near mandatory run for all 100 milers.  It is a great east coast run with good trail conditions with lots of climbing and descending very similar in elevation change as the Leadville 100.  What it does not have in altitude is made up with heat and humidity.  It is very well organized with many aid-stations so you can cut down on heavier packs.  It has enough runners that you will rarely be alone and make many new friends along the way.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Buchanan/Pawnee Pass 28 Mile Loop Hike - Indian Peaks Wilderness Co

The Buchanan/Pawnee Pass loop is one great loop hike that is convenient to the Denver-Boulder Area. It ended up being a 28 mile loop covering 3 climbs in the Indian Peak Wilderness.  According to my Garmin 910 (both setting map and watch) we climbed between 7,093 ft (map) and 9,334 ft (watch) and had close to the same descent.  See: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/194970958.  Note: at the end of this report is a video that shows some of the highlights from the hike.

We began our hike about 7:50 am after enjoying coffee in Nederland and breaking down our camp at the Kelly Dahl campground 20 miles away.  Our goal was to finish close to 12 hours and treat the day as a fast hike with no running. 

(Brainard Lake looking at Shoshoni Pk - We would return from the right side view)

To begin, we parked at the Lake Mitchell trailhead, which is in the mountains above Ward, CO.  In the summer expect to pay a park fee to the area ($6 or $9).

At the end of the parking lot, the hike began on a shared trail that also take hikers to the 13,233ft Mt. Audobon.  The next several pictures are of the first 1.67 miles to the trail cutoff and the top of the first and easiest climb.

( We are at 11,200 and above is the turn for Mt Audubon 2.4 miles. Below is pointing the the direction we were going next) 
The next 3.5 miles was on the Beaver Creek Trail which had a lot bushwhacking in the weeds and tall grass.  This was the least traveled section of the trail as it moved down hill until it got back into the trees and eventually reached the bottom and crossed a 4x4 road at Coney Flats.

(The trail junction at Coney flats - in the distance is Sawtooth Mtn and Buchanan Pass)

The climb to the second pass was 3.5 miles with a 1,700ft climb on good trail conditions.  On the way up Kelly started to slow down so we took a minute to eat a few Gu Chompers for energy and make our way up. For the hike we only took to packets of Chompers and two bags of chips.

(Above is a tube showing the annual hike of the Colorado Mule Rider's association and below a cave near the top of the climb)
Approaching the top

(These are the views from the top as we moved down. We would follow the canyon below.)

Once we hit the trees we constantly found ourselves crawling over or hiking around fallen trees.  This was particularly bad between tree line Thunderbolt creek. Note: There will be a social trail at Thunderbolt creek that is partially blocked to the left.  Go right and cross the creek.  

At mile 15, we finally made our way down the Buchanan/Cascade Creek junction.  This would also be an alternative starting spot from the Monarch Lake Trailhead by Granby, CO.  The next 7 miles would take us from our low point (8,806ft) to our high point (12,534) in 7 miles with 3,741ft of climbing.  This stretch of the hike is one of the most scenic trails in Colorado.  Even if one does not want to do a major loop hike, parking below and enjoying this section of the trail is worth the drive and hike.
The trail is very well maintained with either bridges or logs crossing Cascade Creek and all the other tributaries. In just a mile we reached all the falls.  This was truly spectacular with over 10 falls lined up the canyon.

After passing all the false summits the trail began to move into an area with great views of the Crater lake basin. Be sure to blow of these pictures to see the rugged nature of these mountains.

At mile 18, we stopped and enjoyed our great lunch of chips Chompers.  We also grabbed my SteriPen to disinfect the water and refilled our bladders and bottles to take us though the end of the hike (we did this twice in the workout with our 70 oz bladders and two 16 oz bottles).
At mile 18.5, we turned to the left on the Pawnee Pass Trail with views of Shoshoni Pk (see next round of pictures) and the sharp unnamed peaks next to it.  Note: If you plan to backpack this hike I would recommend camping at Crater lake that is 1.1 miles in the other direction at the trail junction.

Below is Pawnee Lake and another camping alternative.  We came up from the canyon in the middle on this 2.4 mile final climb.

I ended up finding a great spot to make a video (see below) and visit with the local marmots.  Looking up it was impossible to see the trail.  In every direction, it would have required scaling up a rocky ridge.  The next pictures reveal how amazingly constructed the trail is as it navigates through the rocks.

Nearing to top, I was able to get some great pictures looking back at the canyon we came up and the last few hundred feet of the upcoming climb.  Kelly, with about 500 calories in for the day was starting to bonk again, so it was a time for a quick rest.

(Above - looking west is Lake Granby)
Below is a view of the last few feet of our climb
Finally, we reached the top with great views of the plains to the east and Brainard area lakes below.  The ridge to the right (below) appears to be a 4x4 road with jeeps on it.

(Below is looking back at Shoshoni Peak and the Isabelle Glacier)

(Below is Lake Isabelle)

(Long Lake)

After reaching the Long Lake trailhead we had to do the last mile of our hike on pavement to back to our starting point. 

After 12:32 minutes, we finished our 27.52 mile loop hike.  It was a great day with perfect weather and we only saw 22 people (including those off the trail) and got in a great workout.  Enjoy the video below that is a compilation of several spots on the trail starting at one of the Cascade Falls.