2 races, 2 days, over 15,000 feet gained and lost in about 44 miles. It was time for some serious racing: Kendall Mountain Run & Aspen Power of Four 50K
Kendall Mountain Run.
I’ve wanted to run this race for a long time. After running it, I’m not sure why I’ve never run it. An amazing course running from the town of Silverton at 9300 feet up 6 miles to Kendall Mountain at 13,000 feet. The run starts in town and quickly gets on a jeep road that takes you up to 12,700 feet. Then the last 300 feet of Kendall must be scrambled up.
My main competition was fellow Hoka teammate Sage Canaday and Flagstaff’s Andrew Benford.
Right away Sage used his road speed and led from the gun. I redlined it trying to balance the fast speed and not overdo it. Four minutes in we hit the unrelenting uphill. At last my type of terrain. Sage had the lead by about 40 yards, while a handful of us followed. Andrew and I sat in 3rd and 4th. We kept the tempo high but controlled. The jeep road got steeper and all slowed. This was my chance to keep pushing it. I was in my element: steep uphill’s at altitude. By mile 2 I had moved into 2nd and could see Sage was no longer gaining; instead, I knew I could catch him.
Incrementally I slowly moved up trying to catch him. We gained altitude and by the time we were at 12,000 feet, Sage was just 25 yards in front of me. But Andrew had not given up; he was only 15 yards behind me. Finally we hit the last 300 foot capstone of Kendall Mountain. We left the jeep road and started our scramble. Now I felt at home. We scampered up and Sage tagged the summit. I was now only a few yards behind. I tagged the summit and started the retreat back to Silverton.
As we bombed down Sage showed his off his marathon speed and I could not catch him. We ran back into town setting a blistering pace. Sage finished in 1:38:53, while I finished in second in 1:41:23. A fantastic race, well worth running.
Aspen Power of Four 50K
By early afternoon I found myself on the road… again. I was driving over to Aspen for the Power of Four 50k. The race gains over 12,000 feet as it ascends all four Aspen Ski Mountains.
I camped near the start in the National Forest and was ready for round 2. The race starts straight up Aspen Mountain gaining over 3,500 feet in the first 3 miles. Oh boy! The race was underway. Although there was not a huge field the race was highly competitive. We ran and power hiked straight up the steep ski runs. About a ¼ mile from the top the rest of the field slowed down (due to the altitude?) I kept the pace consistent and soon found myself leading at the summit.
I descended down the backside and soon had moved to 5th place as the others bombed down. Then the 2nd climb began. Once again I ran up and had moved into 2nd place by the summit. And once again was passed going downhill. The race was 60% over, we had 2 more climbs neither quite as hard as the first 2. I had been eating well but could tell the race the day before was slowing me up. I was now in 3rd and Josh Arthur was closing in behind me. I power hiked up the 3rd climb and once again started my decent. Josh soon passed me. He had a great race going on to finish in 2nd. I still felt strong, just depleted from the long 2 days of racing.
I then ended up following an arrow and accidentally took a wrong turn. I quickly realized my mistake and backtracked losing about 4-5 minutes in the process. I started the 4th and last climb of the day. I was now in 7th place and was cramping from the steep terrain. It was only 6 miles to the finish; I had to stay consistent. I kept going what seemed to be a terribly slow jaunt, getting passed by 2 more individuals. I finished in 9th place in 5:49:30.
A solid 2 day effort.