Kendall Mountain 12M Run, Silverton, Colorado
July 18, 2015 - There is a story told that a wager was made in a bar in the town of
Silverton more than a century ago that a certain fella couldn't go to the top of
Kendall Mountain and back again in an hour and a half.  While the guy that took
the bet lost, he still managed to make the round trip climb of about 3700 feet in
a remarkable one hour and thirty-four minutes.  Thus began what today was the 23rd
running of this challenge in the modern era.  And the mountain hasn't gotten any
less challenging, by any estimate.


Silverton is simply a great little mountain town.  I look forward to returning here for
any excuse to run or climb in the San Juan mountain range.  I have not and probably 
never will do Hardrock 100M, but I really enjoyed my previous race here - Alpine 50K,
with a long run up over 13,000-foot California Pass, and will be keeping an eye on any
other good excuse to return.

The day began early with a chilly wakeup of 39 degrees.  Heading into town there
were already hundreds gathered in and around the Grand Imperial Hotel awaiting
the start and the return of the warmth of the sun.  Thirty-nine degrees is still tee-
shirt weather in the Colorado mountains this time of year, but some of us chose to
wear a shirt with long sleeves...... just in case it might be even chillier or the wind
might kick up at higher elevations.

I had run into RD Jamil Coury the evening before after picking up my bib number -
right smack in the middle of main street.  Being Silverton, neither one of us felt much
need to move out of the middle of the street to engage in conversation.  Cars just
drove past us (not many, mind you) without much concern.  He caught me up on his
recent filming at the Whiteface events in the Adirondacks (which I opted to blow off
because of heavy rain) and gave me the latest scoop on Scott Jurek's finish of his AT
FKT.  Jamil now sports a fine black beard to round out his long haired dharma run bum
image.  Always good to see him.

Being only a 12-mile "race", many of the couple hundred contestants were warming up
in earnest.  Not me.  It was social hour, as usual.  When the event set of with the crack
of a firearm, the field took off through town.  At times like this I wonder if I am even a
runner anymore, dragging my sorry ass behind not only the young guns, but even the
mediocre among us.  The first mile was through town, mostly on dirt roads (par for
Silverton) before beginning the climb to the south that would wrap around the mountain
on its way up, up, up.  Maybe I've been doing too much climbing and not enough running,
but the first three miles or so seemed laborious.  It couldn't be age????  Naw.


Finally settling into an alternate rhythm of running a bit, then walking a bit, I felt more
comfortable and began to pull back a few runners.  The Jeep road tilted gradually upward
with an occasional leveling out that afforded a few extra strides of running.  The sun was
warming the air and there were blue skies everywhere between the peaks - a purely
delightful day.  As the road switched back on itself again and again, between times when
I wasn't watching my feet to avoid a stumble with all the rocks, I could see we were
making progress in approaching treeline, which is more or less about 11,500 feet.  As the
race began in town at 9318' and would finish atop Kendall Mountain at 13,066', treeline
marked a little better than half way on our climb.


As we passed treeline I kept pulling back people, both power walking and running a bit.
By 12,000' or so the race leader came bombing down the road, followed by the second
runner in chase.  I thought to myself they would likely be finished before I ever hit the 
top.  Oh well, good for them.  The last thousand feet of climbing was marked by patience
on everyone's part.  You could see the top, but had to just sustain to get there.  I was
pleased that I could still stride out the level parts above 12,500', showing that my lungs
and legs were getting closer to being acclimated after only three days at altitude.


The final push to the top was off road on single track scree and talus - straight up, as
the pictures clearly show.  This was pure four-point climbing at least a couple hundred 
feet to the summit - probably my favorite part - certainly my favorite for pictures.


               note the lines of people going up and down and the road we ran up below

Reaching the top in one hour and fifty minutes, I scree skied back down to the road as 
best as I could without losing balance too badly.  I was having a blast, honestly,
stopping to take copious pics and mixing it up with the other runners and volunteers.
The run down started out cautiously for me, trying not to slip or stumble to a fall.
Many of those ahead of me blasted down the mountain, uncatchable.  I took my time
pulling back perhaps a dozen folks on the run in, picking up momentum and speed
toward the bottom.  Finishing in 2 hours and 53 minutes gave me a little bit better 
than a 3 mph climb and a 6 mph descent.  I only seriously stumbled once, with a
remarkable recovery.  I absolutely didn't want to hit the ground at these speeds.

Aiming for a three-hour finish, I was satisifed with the day's effort.  I'm not fast, but
the race did not tire me out or make me sore.  I have to toe the line again tomorrow
in Vail for a 4000' climb up Vail Mountain in 13 miles.  Will see just how resilient I am.
I grabbed a veggie burger and bolted for the car, with only ten minutes to spare before
the clouds cut loose with a soaking rain storm.  The weather changed that quickly.  I
felt bad for those who were behind me and would get soaked, as I thanked my lucky 
stars that the weather was perfect for my race.  Adieu Silverton, until the next time.


My Age Group Award