Sunday, August 29, 2010

Triathlon Anyone?

I joke with some of my triathlete friends that I am just going to show up and jump into a triathlon one of these days. Well today, I literally almost did (although unofficially and unintentionally). While these events look fun, I just don't want to train for one. I like the simplicity of trail running. I had planned a big loop around Horsetooth and Lory Parks only to find myself eventually heading down toward the Timber Trail Trailhead in the opposite direction of the Xterra Lory Trail Triathlon. I had actually done this triathlon a few years ago (the trail run portion only on a team), but completely forgot that it was going on today. So I pulled a U-turn and huffed it in the opposite direction hoping I was far enough ahead of those lead bikers. So my route today was created and edited "on the go" to get me about 19 miles and 4000 feet of vertical. I even included Nick's "secret trail" today so I can now say I have run on every piece of trail on Horsetooth Mountain Park. Not too much to it, but it does provide a loop option when doing the Towers Road climb (I need to best my very soft PR of 41:11).

Todays run: Southridge/Horsetooth Rock/Westridge/"secret"/Towers/Mill Creek/Arthurs Rock/Timber Trail (toward trailhead and back)/Well Gulch/Overlook/Arthurs Rock/Mill Creek/Loggers/Herrington/Spring Creek/Soderberg/Horsetooth Rock/Southridge

Start and Finish at Horsetooth Mountain Trailhead.

GPS data

Unfortunate that UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc) got postponed due to weather this weekend in France. This is sort of like Europe's version of Hard Rock and had a strong contingent of US trail runners this year to try to take down 2-time defending champ Kilian Jornet of Spain. Rain, snow, and mudslides caused the race to be cancelled about 3 hours into the 166 kilometer race. They ran a shorter (98 kilometer) "replacement" race the next day won by the UK's Jez Bragg. Bighorn winner Mike Wolfe from Montana came in 2nd. Certainly not as exciting as if the original race could have been run (most didn't even run the next day), but always better to be safe so we can all run another day.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Another Horsetooth Lory Loop

Sunrise over Fort Collins (from the Overlook Trail)

I've been sticking to the local trails the last 2 weeks. A short Coyote Ridge/Blue Sky run last Sunday afternoon among the crowds of mountain bikers. Today, another nice loop around Horsetooth and Lory Parks. No people (until near the end), but plenty of deer and one black bear. I wasn't blistering the course, but had a strong low gear for climbing. Ran every step, including some tough climbs up Timber Trail and Mill Creek that usually force me into some intermittent hiking. I guess I was inspired by all those fast Pikes Peak ascents this weekend. Glenn Randall posted a 2:09 for the win at the Ascent on Saturday. My pick, Tim Parr, had a bad day (for him) and a couple of my other picks actually went off-course to drop them out of the running. I can't understand how you can lose the Barr Trail. Matt Carpenter barely held off all the young guns for another win in today's marathon in an "almost human" 3:51. Great race for Nick, 5th overall in 4:00:35. At Leadville, Tony (my pick to win there) dropped out late in the race and I believe he was on record pace. I better not make any more predictions and place my curse on anyone else. Duncan Callahan got the win in 17:43. Strong runs by Brooks, Brownie, and Pete. Only one more race to go for Brownie's Rocky Slam and Pete's Grand Slam.
My course for today.
Swan Johnson, Shoreline, Valley, Arthurs Rock, Overlook, Well Gulch, Timber, Westridge, Howard, Mill Creek, Spring Creek, Herrington, Stout, Towers, Swan Johnson (start and finish at Soderberg Trailhead)
About 17.5 miles and 3900 feet of climbing.

My playground for today (from Howard Trail)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Big Race Weekend

A big weekend of trail races here in Colorado with Pikes Peak (Ascent on Saturday, Marathon on Sunday) and the Leadville 100. I am not running in any of these this year but have a strong interest in how things turn out. Made my predictions for the top 10 at the Ascent over on in hopes of winning some La Sportiva shoes. This year's Ascent is also the World Mountain Running Association Challenge, so a strong field from all over the world will be there. I'm still picking last year's winner Tim Parr to repeat as I think experience on this course is a big advantage. Of course if Matt Carpenter decides to run the Ascent at the last minute, he would be the favorite (he is only registered to run the Marathon on Sunday). If I am lucky the top 10 go like this: Parr, Blake, Hafer, Gates, Chemweno, Manning, Randall, Delaney, Freudenberg, Nichols. At Leadville, look for Anton Krupicka to possibly take down Matt Carpenter's course record. There are going to be close to 1000 runners at this year's Leadville race (too many for my liking). Hopefully I can find a quiet trail somewhere this weekend since everyone else will either be in Leadville or Manitou Springs.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Comanche Peak (and then some)

I explored some uncharted territory for me this weekend. I have run several times in some of the southeastern parts of the Comanche Peaks Wilderness (i.e. Signal Mountain). This time, however, I made the longer drive up to Pingree Park where the options are endless in this vast wilderness. Taking off from the Emmaline Lake/Mummy Pass trailhead, my plan was to complete a loop that would take me around Comanche Peak (with the option of summiting if all went well) and back to the Beaver Creek trailhead just a couple miles up the road from my starting point. Somewhere around 20 to 25 miles expected. It turned out to be a beautiful route with a lot of runnable trail, much of it above treeline. I took the Mummy Pass trail over Mummy Pass and then down to the Mirror Lake trail. The only long stretch of required hiking came on the climb up Mirror Lake trail to Comanche Peak (about 2000 feet in 2 miles). I did make the scramble off trail to summit the peak and was rewarded with great views overlooking Emmaline Lake and across to Fall Mountain.
Looking down on Emmaline Lake from the top of Comanche Peak.

The view of the Mummy Range extending to the Southwest.

While it is fun to explore new trail, there is always the added element of route finding and much of these trails above treeline were hard to follow. There was also very little signage to even tell you what trail you were on. I highly suggest having a good map with you. I made it back to the Mirror Lake trail, now with great views down to Mirror Lake, and decided to hook up with the Hourglass trail as my return route.

Overlooking Mirror Lake.

Coming down the Hourglass trail, now below treeline, I eventually reached a backcountry campsite with several faint trails that all faded to no trail at all. After several attempts to backtrack to the actual trail (I should have backtracked further) I decided to go cross-country through the forest in the direction of Comanche Reservoir. This was a big mistake. I did come out right to the middle of the reservoir, but only after a very long struggle through the obstacle course of fallen trees. The worst of it was trying to get around the reservoir (no walkable shoreline). Well I finally made it back to a trail (Beaver Creek trail) and completed the loop, expending a lot more time and energy than originally planned. About 24 miles for this loop, but I would highly recommend sticking to the trails if possible.

GPS data (including crazy route finding paths and off-trail adventure)