Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday, 11/01/08 Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon

Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon
Green Mountain/Flagstaff/Bear Peak/S. Boulder Peak
~22 miles
~7,000 vertical feet

Although not really a race, the Basic is a local rite of fall and attracts many of the region’s most notable and prolific trail runners to get together at an undisclosed location and run together on undisclosed trails that typically involve a variation of Green, Bear, S. Boulder Peak and Flagstaff in no particular order. This year we met at Bear Creek Park near Lehigh and Bear Mountain Dr. at 9am. There was of course a great turnout and there were many fast and experienced runners, many I knew and many I did not. No matter what, I knew things would get fast and competitive although in a very friendly, social and fun manner.

We started off at a mellow and conversational pace up the Bear Creek Trail and then to the Mesa Trail as we headed South. Soon, we started up Bear Canyon and the pace picked up just a touch. Justin Mock was leading it out and setting a steady tempo, followed by Dan Meehan, Andrew Skurka, Eric ?? and then myself. I just hung back about 10 feet behind these guys so I had a good view of the trail and made it a point to stay fueled, hydrated and not go too fast, as we had a long way to run. Luckily the pace was relatively mellow and coincided great with my intention to hang back and go somewhat conservative until the steep climb up Bear Peak via Fern Canyon that gains 2,100 feet in just over a mile….. my favorite.

We arrived on top of Green in 52ish, I scampered up to the summit boulder while Justin, Dan and Eric did whatever. I was not sure who was doing the short loop and who was doing the long, so I just kept rolling back down to the 4 way junction and down Ranger at a fast but reasonable speed. Dan and Eric soon caught up and I offered them the opportunity to pass, but they were content following me all the way to Chautauqua where we spent a few minutes refilling our water bottles (arrived there after about 1:30ish?).

As we were getting back on the trail, Justin arrived (not needing to fill as he would be pulling off early) and we were 4 again. A bit more conversational pace running, eventually led to Justin leading again at a steady tempo heading South on the Mesa trail. The pace was quick, but well within my limits and it was my goal just to run steady and always be close to the front.

Justin peeled at the Bear Creek Trail (thanks for the pacing!) and it was just Eric, Dan and I. They were both claiming to be tired, but Dan has dusted me up on Mt. Evans by a long shot and Eric is built like/looks like a very good runner, so I was not sure how things from here on would pan out. I led the way up the Fern Canyon Trail and started upping the pace, as I had been conserving for this moment and I felt great. Eric immediately popped on the steeper terrain and Dan fell behind and was soon out of sight. I was not sure if Dan had turned or what, but I kept up a hard pace, running when I could and power hiking when I had to knowing this was my opportunity to put it away. I got to the summit of Bear in 2:30-2:31 or so, tagged the true summit and scrambled back down the rocks to the trail. I did not look at time splits too closely after this point, but am assuming it was another 10 minutes or so over to S. Boulder.

Dave’s suggested route through the boulders that I was rehearsing yesterday worked out fast, smooth and flawless and I made quick work of it. I then started flying down the mountain as fast as I could go, as I was hoping to turn down Shadow before being seen, but I ran past Dan, Andrew and Joel (forgot his last name) about a minute before I made my turn. Seconds after passing them, I stumbled or slipped or something (I don’t really remember), but came down on a knee, ankle and hand. It hurt and I yelled involuntarily, but the adrenaline was so high, I shrugged it off quickly and started cranking down Shadow Canyon. Here I was starting to feel the effort, along with being a little shaken by the fall, I was not feeling at my best, but knowing I only had 7-9 minutes on those guys, I was running with reckless abandon (scared).

Coming out of the mouth of Shadow, I passed a hiker in white who knew my name, but I was so focused, I had no idea who it was. I knew the final miles back on the Mesa with the rollers were going to hurt, but I just kept digging hard and pushing the pace, always at or near my limit. If anyone was going to roll me up in the final miles, I was going to make them work for it. I passed Lisa and she offered up some encouragement which gave me a bit of a boost. I looked back on several of the more open sections expecting to see somebody creeping up on me, but I never saw anyone.

I was stoked to crest the final uphill and then gave it all I had on the down. My HR was completely pegged as I was leaving nothing to chance and I was at a near sprint for the final ~1.5 miles. Toward the end, I was starting to accept that I would not be caught and was starting to consider going under 3:30 (only because it is a round number).

As hard as I tried, I did not make 3:30, but was very happy to finish first at 3:34:05. Not that it means much, but I race so infrequently and when I do, I rarely do all that well, so I was fired up to have been able to run smart and strong today. Andrew ended up finishing second, 12 or 13 minutes back (I was surprised to have gained time), then Joel 6 or 7 minutes behind him. After that, I did not check my watch but Dan rolled in 4th, then Johannes, then George Zack, followed by Buzz.

All in all a perfect day of running. It was sunny and warm (but not too warm), I had a great run, saw many old friends and acquaintances and made some new friends along the way during the run and at the post run BBQ at Ryan and Lori’s house.

I was bummed that Dave could not make it due to a recently sprained ankle (even though his participation would have for sure set me back a place), as he is a great friend and also hands down the best at type of run. Many people commented on his absence. Wishing Dave a speedy recovery.


  1. Jeff -

    Nice work today. For comparison, my splits at the summits were:

    Green - :54

    Flag - 1:13

    Bear - 2:40

    SBldr - 2:53

    Finish - 3:46

    I think you gained time on me gradually over the course, not on one particular leg. With the other guys that wouldn't be the case.

  2. Yes - sweet job bro.

    Green - 57
    Chaut - 96
    Bear 2:49
    So Bo - 3:06
    Fin - 4:14 ...

    I guess I was fading more over the tail end.

  3. You're just lucky that the Kenyans didn't jump in at Chataqua!

  4. Right on, Jeff! That's a great effort and you definitely ran smart. I hope there are no lingering injuries due to your fall. Wish I could have done the full course, but I'd have been struggling to break 4:30.