14.92 miles/5,229 vert./3:20:45/avg. HR 154 Garmin Data
Another fun Basic in the books. Every other year we seem to get a snowstorm preceding the event and this was one of those years which added a bit to the excitement. A huge group started from 6th and Aurora a few minutes after 9am and we headed up through Chautauqua and up Flag at a casual/conversational pace, on our way to a Green/Bear/SoBo/Shadow/Mesa loop.
Tony and I led up Flag, chatting the whole time, with Johannes R, Scott J, Aaron K, Geoff R, Dakota J and a few others in tow, where we slowly and unintentionally got a little gap on the other groups behind. At the top of Flag, those who had spikes put them on, while the rest of us peed, drank, ate, conversed or whatever. In the meantime, streams of people passed and then it was slow going in the icy track through the snow along Flag and up Green, where we all got spread out a bit and nobody seemed to be in a hurry.
At the Greenman/Ranger jct., there was a little confusion as to which way to go. Peter B. and Mike P. insisted continuing on Greenman, while somebody pulled out a map and insisted on Ranger. I had only glanced at the map before the start and thought Ranger was correct (as we later learned was incorrect), but I was fine with whichever way. I was hoping to run hard, or at least harder than we were, but was OK with the pace, as I made the mistake of deciding to leave my Microspikes in the car and was slipping some.
We lingered a bit on the summit of Green, taking pictures and all the usual stuff, but I was starting to freeze in my thin shirt/shorts. I knew I was going to be quite slow heading down the steep and iced over trail back to the 4-way, so I opted to keep moving, thinking they would quickly catch up. I slowly and carefully made my way down the bobsled run of a trail without incident and was relieved to find better footing on Green/Bear below the 4-way (as it was largely untracked). It was here where I met up with Eric, who I found out through conversation happens to know Homie and Bill and rode White Rim with them years ago. Eric and I went pretty easy down Green/Bear and up Bear W. Ridge, talking and waiting while on the move so to speak, all the while expecting the group to catch up any minute.
Once the trail got a little steeper, Eric fell behind and I just kept moving, mainly to stay warm, as the wind was blowing and the temperature seemed to be dropping. I tagged the summit of Bear and quickly started down, anxious to get back in the trees. As I descended, I could see Johannes, Scott, Geoff, Dakota, Nick P and Aaron heading up the talus field and was glad they were close (still thinking they would soon catch me). SoBo was slick and the summit rocks were tricky to negotiate in the snow and I again spent no time there.
Shadow Canyon was snowy and quite icy in many spots, so again, I just took it slow and careful. While I was nitpicking my way through here, Peter and Mike caught up and passed me like I was standing still (they wisely had hobnails/Microspikes) and left me in the dust. Once out of the canyon, I upped the tempo a little to catch back up with them, which I did by the Big Bluestem trail. I passed them both, not pushing, just cruising and only Peter went with me. We made a little small talk and he mentioned that we were to run up to the Slab and then down the lower section of Fern. I did not recall seeing that on the map and it sounded a bit odd, so once at the intersection, we parted ways and I kept going on the Mesa Trail.
At this point, I was really just thinking of finishing up the run, so I could get home and get going with the busy day of family obligations ahead. Once close to Chautauqua, I had an indecisive moment and debated whether or not to continue down Mesa, or head over Bluebell/Baird, so I opted for the latter, as I was almost sure that is what I saw on the map.
My little variation with the added distance/vertical allowed Peter to come really close to catching me by the end, as he took the correct (but shorter) route through Chautauqua. A post run look at the map confirmed that Peter had indeed taken the correct route in it’s entirety, so even though I was ~30 seconds ahead, he was technically the first one to finish and probably the only one (along with Mike) to have completed the “correct” route. I spent a few minutes chatting at the end, but unfortunately could not stick around to socialize, as I needed to head home.
Overall, a pretty mellow to moderate run with a great group (for a while at least) and was a great run over the peaks with the snow/ice/mud adding a bit to the challenge. As always, my biggest regret was not having the opportunity to catch up more with many of the people out there, those whom I know well and those whom I hope to get to know better, but it was great to see everyone out there and at least say hi face to face, if only for a moment. I'll also grab a map next time, as no matter how well I know the trails, my 5 second glimpse at the map failed me. Oops.
Catching up before the start: Shad, JT, Brandon
Can you spot the guy that looks a bit like someone we know?
Rob, Laurie, Fred, Meghan, Eric
Me, Scott, Johannes,
Me (should have kept the PFD with the spikes and windbreaker), Shad, JT (picture pilfered from Aaron Kennard)
Striking a pose just after I finished "hey, I just beat many of the top runners in the World!!".... "oh yeah, not so fast there sporty, it was not a race and they were just goofing off on a social run" ;). (photo 'rob'bed from Rob Timko)