La Sportiva 10K at 10,000, Vail, CO

Elevation Gain: 1172'; High Point: 10,900'
August 7, 2011 - It is always great to be back in Vail.  The day dawned
sunny, but in the crispy forties.  I dressed with a couple extra layers
and started up the catwalk with my bib number in my pocket.  After a
week of climbing fourteeners I was fit enough to run the seven miles
up the mountain to Eagle's Nest, where the race would start, as a warm
up to the event itself.  Memories flooded back as I switchbacked across
the ski slopes of the times in the Seventies when I would run to the top
of Vail Mountain once or twice a week in training, then blast back down
to the Village at full speed.  

Allowing myself an hour and a half to get to the start I took my time,
walking when the grade became steep.  Back in the day I would have
covered the same distance in an hour.  It felt good.  I hadn't lost that 
much in over thirty years.  Altitude was not a factor.  With lumbering
operations on the mountain I diverted east toward Riva Ridge before
swinging back past the Mid Vail Restaurant on my cross-country
traverse to Eagle's Nest.

I crossed the finish line on my approach and claimed to be first.  The
event organizers had seen me running up and gave me kudos.  Air
temps warmed quickly, so I stripped down to racing attire and socialized
with others as I awaited the start.  I knew no one from the old days.  
All my old friends had moved on or taken up bicycle racing in lieu of

The race proceeded straight up a dusty hill before finding single track
through the aspens.  Both 5K and 10K racers ran together, so the
downhill pace was somewhat hurried from what I am accoustomed to.
It had been a long time since I toed the line of a 10K; my leg speed has
long since succumbed to age and injury.  I enjoyed the effort as I watched
younger athletes bolt away from me in their youthful vigor.  I miss my
youth now and again, but try to keep things in perspective.

Much of the race was tilted upward until the final two miles to the finish.
The pace stiffened when the gradient turned and I was able to retake
position from younger runners with my downhill finesse.  I did manage to
fall in all the enthusiasm, but only skinned a knee.  My time of a little over
an hour was nothing to brag about, but I had a good time once again
running in the shadow of the Gore Range with Mt. of the Holy Cross in
full view.  It was good to be back.

The event winner was young Sylvan Ellefson.  I knew his father Lyndon
in earlier times when Sylvan was just a little boy.  Lyndon would have been
proud of the lad had he still been with us.  While touring with the U.S.
Mountain Running Team Lyndon died as a result of sliding into a crevasse
in Italy.  A great talent and wonderful human being was lost to us all.

I gathered my clothes and what food and drinks I could carry, jumped onto
the gondola, and rode back down to Lionshead to meet Mike and Chris
waiting after their drive to CO and climb of Long's Peak.  None the worse
for wear, it was time to resume climbing mountains and set aside this
running business.