Yesterday I finished my first Quad Rock 25 miler (with 5300 feet of climbing)
in 6:14:07. It was hard and I'm pleased to have made it to the finish line.
It was raining at my house when I left to drive to the trailhead at 6:15. By
the time I arrived the rain had mostly stopped, but the course was completely
obscured by fog and clouds.
The trails were very wet. The rocky and sandy sections of the trail were
passable, but there were long stretches of soupy mud. The conditions were
comical at times. I ended up wishing that I had shaved my legs to minimize mud
The cool and damp weather had an upside: I didn’t get a sunburn or heat stress,
and didn’t have to take on tons of water to get between aid stations. It took
me a while to accept that I was going to be spending all morning in a cold
drizzle with wet and muddy feet, but in the end there was nothing to do but
laugh it off.
My gear was mostly fine for the conditions. My polyester t-shirt and nylon
ripstop jacket were just warm enough. My New Balance Hierros don't have great
traction in thick mud but drain water well and were reasonably comfortable when
wet. My favorite trucker hat kept most of the drizzle out of my face. Wet
compression shorts, however, suck; they made my legs feel cold and I'm pretty
chaffed mid-way down my inner thighs today. In hindsight I should have stripped
them off and stuffed them in my vest.
I would like to write about the views from the trail, but there were none!
Still, it was cool to go all over Horsetooth and Lory in foggy and dripping
conditions. I never do this otherwise. It felt like a different land entirely,
not the Colorado Front Range foothills. It’s very green up there now and peak
wildflower season is only a couple weeks away. Many species are already going
off. I saw pasque flower, larkspur, several species of penstemon, wild iris,
spiderwort, sand lily, and many others. Fringed sage covered with water
droplets has a silvery quality that is quite lovely, I think.
Just before my second arrival at the Towers aid station, at mile 14, I started
to see 50 mile runners on their second, reversed, loop. I was inspired. I was
even inspired by the last of them, hours later, who seemed like they were
suffering and were probably not going to make the cut off. I hope they will
try again if they want to.
I finished in 168th place out of 267, with about the same ranking as at the
Blue Sky Marathon last fall. I'm starting to accept that I'm not fast, I’m old,
and that I have limited training time. My ceiling is not far. I was also not
willing to risk crashing and going out of business before the finish, and so
I was going slowly on some of the steeper and rockier descents. My major
adversity in this race was the leg cramps I battled in the last 6 kilometers;
I went backwards about 2 minutes in each of them. I suffered from cramps during
the cold and wet Colorado Marathon of 2016, so maybe cold weather is not my
thing. At least I wasn’t sick like I was during the Blue Sky; I didn’t spend
any time at all in the Quad Rock’s portable toilets!
The race itself was very well organized. Communication was good. There was
a small army of cheerful volunteers. The trails were well marked. Aid stations
were well stocked. There was all the usual trail food, plus hot broth and bacon
at the Towers station. Maybe I should have indulged in some bacon. I meet
a bunch of fun runners from out of town, including some French folks from New
Orleans, and enjoyed their company along the way. Good company beats poor
conditions, for sure.
Thank you, Nick Clark and crew! I'll be back.