Silverton Alpine 50K, Silverton, CO  3.3
Start Elevation: 9318'        Elevation Gain:  4400'      Highest Point:  12,930'
August 25, 2012 - After two weeks of climbing and traveling, this event would
be a fitting conclusion a great vacation.  Jeff Alexander and I rose from our
campsite dark early to drive to the start.  The early temperature was 36
degrees so I opted to dress heavy to stay warm, knowing that temps are
even chillier with a gain of elevation and morning breezes.  As the event
unfolded my decision proved a good one as temps probably dropped into the
twenties in the breezy morning shadows.

A small field of about 50 entrants for the marathon and 50K proved friendly,
with people from all over the country converging on the old mining town of
Silverton to discover its ultra racing appeal.  The 50K was started by RD
Jamil Coury and his brother Nick at 0700 with the marathon to follow an
hour later.  We headed out from Memorial Park up the road to Niagara
Gulch for a quick out and back before turning to the alpine loop that would
take us the rest of the way.  I picked up a couple of guys on the initial 4.9
miles and returned to the start in about 44 minutes for an initial pace of
better than 6 mph on mild hills to begin.

Silverton, CO                                            the Start
From mile 5 through mile 13 we followed gravel and dirt roads along the
Animas River in a mild climb to about 10,000 feet before the ascent of
the pass up California Gulch.  My body was attuned to the altitude so there
was no difficulty in maintaining a better than ten-minute pace.  My two
companions surged ahead of me out of sight as we ran up the valley, but
I pulled each of them back, one at 9 miles and one at 13 before beginning
the gradual climb that would take us up and over at 12,930'.

The nearly three-thousand-foot climb would take about eight miles to 
accomplish, taking us past the old mining ghost towns of Howardsville,
Eureka, and Animas Forks.  The first 13 miles took me slightly more than
two hours to accomplish; the next eight miles uphill would take about
the same amount of time, bringing me to the top of California Pass at mile
21 in exactly four hours.  For the first seven miles of the climb I continued
running for more than 90% of the way.  The final mile to the pass was
steep and nearly entirely walked - by me and everyone else.


Nick Coury was manning the aid station at the pass and took the photos
above right and below as I summited and began my descent on the other
side.  The descent was steep and required attention to strict control and
foot placement to avoid a tumble.  I thought I could blast most of the
rest of the way, but had to put on the brakes to sustain control and to deal
with a side stitch, of all things, that hit me after eating a cold piece of
watermelon at the pass aid station.

Starting the descent from California Pass past Lake Como
The descent was ten miles back to the start, almost all down hill, giving
back nearly four thousand feet.  For six of these miles I had to hold 
myself back to ease the sharp pain in my belly.  Since I didn't fall during
the entire event, perhaps the restraint was a good thing, but I knew I
had a lot of running left in my legs by the time I finished.  The last four
miles were not as severely steep so I extended my stride and tempo as
my side stitch gradually subsided, crossing the finish in 6:18:01 in 8th 
place for the 50K.  Results

In the entire race no one passed me who I did not ultimately roll past.
Five speedy marathoners who had started an hour later were all that
motored past me during the event.  It was a good race with a seriously
challenging climb and descent.  It is always beautiful to go high and 
really cool to see the remnants of a mining era gone by.  Running close to 
a 5 mph pace over such a challenging course gave me confidence that
I measured up to my ability this day and was ready for whatever the
next event would offer. 

Following the race I chatted awhile with Steve Pero of VHTRC and Sandy
Nypaver, female winner of the marathon and got to see the awesome
men's winner of the marathon, Dakota Jones.  Sherpa Jeff and I hit the 
road to begin our journey back to Pennsylvania.  My legs felt super after
not having to race hard and was able to make the trip without any undue

 Heading up the Animas Valley