The first weekend in June offers ultra-runners a great opportunity to enjoy the most challenging 50K in Colorado - the Golden Gate Dirty 30. It is conveniently located in the mountains west of the Denver metro area. It has just over 7,800 feet of climbing at between 7,600 and 9,500 feet with great views of the front range.
This was my second running of this race. Last year I did it with a sprained ankle. This year I came without any injuries yet most of my spring training had been speed/road focused for the Colorado marathon. My goal for the race was to have fun, run fast where I could, and be conservative on the technical sections.
The smile below says it all. Great clear skies and cool temps - hard to beat.
Below are Runners Roost Team Mountain Ultra teammates Seth Kelly with Sean and Laura Wetstine
The beginning of the race I moved closer to the front to avoid the bottleneck that occurs on the first quick climb out of the starting area. Last year it was jammed to a crawl but this time I shot off quickly to avoid the hangup. It was fast moving along the single track for about a mile until it hit a jeep road. The road was fast and it gave me some added space for the upcoming tight section.
The next few miles the race got back on single-track following the stream pictured below. My plan was to keep up a solid pace pushing myself for the 1st part of the race to gage my fitness and to build some space before the technical sections.
After climbing above the stream I hit a good downhill where runners began to pass me up. Fast downhill running is not my preference especially after last year's ankle injury.
Approaching the 12 mile aid-station
Finally, after miles of technical, there was a brief runnable section leading into the junction for the 17 mile aid-station. This was the only part of the race that should be changed. At the junction, there was a 1/4 mile optional downhill to the aid-station and drop-bags. Since I had to refill my bladder, I had do to added distance with the uphill back to the junction.
The next 2.5 miles after the aid-station was a 1,000 ft climb which I hike most all of it.
At mile 20, the race hit a fast moving downhill road. This section was different from previous years in that the forest was cleared (I guess for fire control) yet it was nice running on the wood chips.
Mile 22 to 25 there was mix of smooth and rocky single-track and one road section going into the mile 23/28 aid-station.
After leaving the mile 23 aid-station, there was a quick downhill to the beginning of the dreaded Windy Peak climb. It is not the highest point in the race yet it is tough climb near the end of a race. It is a two mile 1,200 ft climb. The fist mile is steady and runnable but the second mile is more challenging especially nearing the top with a steep rocky section. On the way up and down I passed one runner who apparently twisted his ankle and was hobbling down (I hope he made it).
Above and below are the views from Windy Peak
Below is the last climb of the race
Leaving the last aid-station, I only had a few miles to go with fuel in my tank. I was able to pickup my pace and ran everything including the last hill. I came in 98th place with a 6:44:20 time feeling good and ready for our Fleetwood Mac concert.
In the end, the race was a great kick starter for the summer running season. It is very well organized and the scenery is exceptional. If you have not done this race I would recommend adding it to your bucket list.