The drive to CO was uneventful. I left late and took my time, reaching Denver at 1 a.m. After sleeping for a few hours I continued up to Leadville with a short stop for coffee in Idaho Springs.
Once in Pbville I drove directly to the Silver Rush 50 start where I stood and stared at the start for a couple of minutes before I changed into running clothes.
Yes, this rock-covered incline is the SR 50 start/finish.
(Click on it to isolate and then click it again to see detail.)
What an insane way to start/finish a 50 mile race! Ken Chlubber (race director) is either evil or he possesses a malicious sense of humor. I strapped on the GPS, started the watch, and walked up that hill before starting to run. The start hill measured just under 0.04 mi and it climbed 56 feet. That is almost 30% grade on loose rock. I was a bit confused about the direction of the still-unmarked course, but I soon realized that I was on the right mountain mining road (there are MANY of them snaking around here) and settled in for a relaxed 6.6 mile/ 50 min run. That 7:35 pace may sound slow, but it was faster than I should be running at the start of the SR 50. The recon run took me a little ways into Iowa Gulch and about half way to the first aid station. It was a typical rutted, rocky CO mountain road. I hear that the challenges (FUN!) comes further up the Gulch and on the way up to Ball Mountain.
One of the mining roads used for the SR 50
As I wrote in an earlier post, the air is so dry here that I never saw sweat form on my skin or clothes as I ran along at a pulse that would be induced by a 6:15 pace in Eville. What I did note, however, was white salt patches on my shirt, shorts, and cheeks. And so goes sweating in the Rocky Mountains. I definitely prefer this over the soaking sauna in Eville.
After the run I stopped by the Wolf Den B&B where I will stay this weekend. Sweeeet. The Den is actually very nice mountain home. It overlooks Twin Lakes about 25 miles south of Pbville. The luxury of the Den will be welcome before the race, especially after spending many dozens of days on the ground or in a car up here.
Upon leaving the Den I drove 3 hours to Crested Butte. Crested Butte (8848 ft) is known as one of America's best small towns for adventurous people. The city is nestled in a lush valley that is surrounded by high and rugged peaks at the end of a dead end highway. I walked around a bit and then rested in a grassy area and waited for a FREE Paul Thorn concert that was put on by the Crested Butte Center for the Arts. Thorn played on an outdoor stage while the crowd of about 2500 sat in lawn chairs and on blankets in a large grass field. The warmth of the brightly shining sun balanced the cool, dry breeze to create an ideal atmosphere for an outdoor concert among those mountains. It was simply awesome!
Crested Butte concert area before the crowd moved in
Most of the people in the crowd did not know who Paul Thorn was before last night, but I'll bet they don't soon forget him or his music. There were hundreds of people dancing before he was finished. In fact, the crowd continually warmed to Thorn's music and from-the-heart stories as he moved from rowdy numbers to sensitive ballads. Thorn had that crowd in such a frenzy that I believe he could have kept playing for a couple hours longer without loosing a soul. Again, it was an awesome concert.
I am typing this at the Proving Grounds in Pbville. This coffee shop is filled right now. People are waiting to be seated, so I will bring this post to a close. Who am I fooling? I really just want to get out into these big mountains! Upon leaving PG I will trace the crew access roads and stop at the Printer Boy aid station for a run up into Iowa Gulch.