LooseCrew-JeffO: Hard Rock Pacing


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hard Rock Pacing

It has been a total blast! It was awesome!

I drove to Silverton the night before the race and asked the race director if he knew anyone who wanted a pacer. He did. Soon I was in the Wyman Hotel knocking on JB's door. He's a very affable guy and was quite glad to have me. We talked projected times, his past times as comparisons, logistics, etc.

For the first time, I was able to follow live stats, so I was able to guess when JB and his pacer (wife) would get to Ouray. I guessed within two minutes! They had just gotten there about 4:23am. JB was in bad shape, but mostly it was fatigue/sleepiness. His body was freaking out and starting to shake uncontrollably. I threw down three sleeping bags I always have in my car and he bundled up for a 10-min. nap. That made a huge difference. JB and wife headed out again after a long 46-minute aid stop.

In the background, some guy was barfing convulsively and non-stop. Strange how you get use to stuff like that.

Since the sun was about to come up, they weren't worried. Runners always tend to fade in the wee hours of the night, but they rally about the time they normally wake up. He was still ahead of his 2005 time, so he was well ahead of the cut-off times.

In Telluride, I was suited up and waiting at the aid station just 4 minutes before JB came in. He was only about 40 minutes behind his projected time. He warned me the new projection wasn't a 2am finish but more like 4-5am.

The scenery blew me away. I've been climbing and hiking for years, but I missed the high valleys south of Telluride. I've been in the lower valleys all around but had no idea what I was missing above treeline.

JB was basically hiking the whole thing. I tried to imagine what his legs must feel like and tried to throttle myself back and think of him. I nagged him about drinking and eating Gu's.

We made it to Chapman aid ahead of schedule, but not too far. We didn't waste time, and headed out within several minutes. We ate on the trail.

We had a good time, and got into the KT aid station during fading light. We ate hot potato soup and drank Coca-cola.
I had my first of two river crossings soon after.
We headed up into a crazy meandering trail through the forest in the dark. I took the lead, basically doing all the trail-finding. When you do 100's staying sharp is difficult. If you have a pacer, it's best to stick them out front at night and just follow their lights. Still, I was surprised just how sharp JB was. We didn't talk much, but I liked to start some small conversation periodically to keep his mind from totally skipping-off. We went from KT aid all the way to Putnam without seeing a soul. We saw lights off in the distance, but never within a mile of us.

It was a pitch-black night and the stars were amazing. Between KT and Putnam, we spent hours above treeline, and lots of time on ridges where our views were barely obstructed in any direction. Very cool. Totally religious experience.
The worst part of the journey was about two miles of rocky trail below Putnam where you could not find flat, stable surfaces to place your feet. In the dark, with dancing shadows from multiple headlamps, it was almost comical. We lost some time there.
The last river crossing was deep and cold, but it rejuvenated me. I've never crossed a river in the dark. That was interesting. There was only two miles left.
JB kissed the rock at 3:17am. Much better than the 4-5am he had warned me about, but still less than the 2am he had dreamed of. Still an amazingly hard race and he finished with hours left to spare.

To show appreciation for being crew at Ouray and pacer for 27.2 miles, JB bought me a fleece vest with the Hard Rock logo. Maybe I'll get a chance to do the same next year (if I'm not racing HR100 myself).


At 11:01 PM, Anonymous Meghan said...

Wow, sounds intense. Awesome, though! It must have been really cool to be a part of the whole Hardrock thing.



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