Devil's Backbone 50M - Bozeman, Montana 5,4

Elevation Range:  7000' - 10,200'        Elevation Gain: 10,400'

Scrolling Photos of Race Day
July 19, 2014 - Of all the mountain events I've done over the years I would have to say
this ridge run is perhaps the closest thing to running Hardrock that one can do.  After
a run up along Hyalite Creek to gain the top of Hyalite Peak it seemed we stayed above
treeline for most of the day.  And a perfect day it was, with sunshine, cool temps, and
mild breezes mostly.  The smoke from fires in Washington, Oregon, and BC had mostly
cleared, extending our views of the huge Montana mountainscape, making for great

I knew from the first one hundred yards that my body was beat from too much racing on
rocky trails recently.  One week is not enough time to recover from persistent injuries,
but I really did not want to miss this experience.  This kind of running is the penultimate
ultra experience.  While I started with intentions of going the distance, I adjusted my
ambitions soon after the outset to just run half of the out-and-back course - gently - to
prevent aggrevation of problem areas while still enjoyng the course.  Much of the day
would be a hike in the mountains - not even a fast-paced one, with shuffling when the 
terrain and relief were milder, and stopping to take lots of pictures.

The first seven miles took two-and-a-half hours to get me to the top of Hyalite before
heading generally SSW along ridges, mostly, to the turn-around.  The field ran away
from me so that I was bringing up the rear from the outset, but I didn't care.  The
route was lined with waterfalls that are renouned among ice climbers in the winter.
Multiple stream crossings made sure our feet were wet before we were above it all.
A fair amount of snow fields remained after a good winter, despite recent high temps.
The snow was firm for the most part, but I was glad some thirty other people were ahead
of me to establish a path across snowy areas and to punch in some steps in the steep
headwall we climbed before reaching the ridge below the summit.

By and large the other runners who were back with me were either runners who had 
raced the previous weekend, like myself, or runners who were running with those
same tired runners.  Apparently, it's not just me who is tired from racing every
weekend.  Probably a bad idea, but I sure get to see a lot of beautiful venues and
courses during the peak of ultra season.  Just have to slow down and manage energy
and injury, as I am never fresh and haven't felt strong since early spring this year.
Oh well, I'm all smiles anyway.

The flowers, especially the lupines, were peaking.  You couldn't run through the many
flowery meadows without appreciating the fragrance blown around by the breezes.  It
was special to be up there, and I was in absolutely no hurry to push the day, even to
the point of sitting down to take a few minutes to enjoy eating gels.  

My energy level was good all day, but my legs had no zip, no strength.  By the end of 
the day they were not shot, however, because I walked a lot more than I normally do.
It was a great hike and I had no regrets as I strolled leisurely into the 25-mile
turn-around to end my adventure.  

The day was special too in that my long-time pal Rob Froelich was there to support me,
driving me to and from the event, since it is in his backyard in Bozeman, and hiking in
the last five to six miles to meet me and accompany me on the way to my conclusion.
I met new friends from Calgary - Lourdes, Ian, and Bill, mutual friends with my other
Canadian friends - Leslie, Fanny, and Margaret.  Small world.  And I got to share much
of the day and trail with two upbeat locals named Mariska and Boz.  It is still the people
that I meet along the way that makes this sport most appealing to me.

It was a great day in the mountains.  Those of us finishing at the turn-around helped 
gather up the aid station supplies there and hike them back to the trailhead parking
lot two-and-a-half miles down the mountain, further extending the pleasure of the
day with nice people.  Now it's time to rest for next weekend's challenge in Colorado.
By going easy I didn't do any further damage, and actually came away feeling pretty
good.  Perhaps by the end of racing season I'll be at my peak and ready to run well.
Until then I'm just going to enjoy the ride.