03 August 2010

My Grand Mesa Adventure...Finally!

Let me start off by saying that the GM 100 is a MUCH harder course than Pbville. On paper it deceives you- only 11,000 ft of climbing over 100 miles. Coming into the race I wanted to go sub 20 hours and realistically felt that 17 or 18 something was within reach given the course profile and stats. Boy was I wrong! I was hoping that this race would be my break out 100 miler and put a fast time under my belt and gain more needed experience at this humbling distance.

Since the Pbville marathon my body has been going downhill...metaphorically. After the race I acquired a tweak in my left knee that doesn't hurt enough to stop running yet always reminds me that I'm slightly favoring it. The dull ache of pain that doesn't allow me to run free... Pacing at Hardrock was awesome! And those 28 miles obviously didn't help the knee situation. So going into GM I was slightly beat up! I took advantage of the taper and only ran 27 miles before the Long Haul. I really hoped the knee would hold... it did... and I am still beat up...I'm hoping to arrive at Pikes HEALTHY even if I'm not as fit as I'd like; I just want to run free!

Back to the race. GM starts out with an 11 mile loop of the Crag Crest trail! This section is money! On the lower sections there is soft pine needle cushioned single track that ascends to the aptly named Crag Crest which is rocky, narrow, and drops off steeply to both sides...fun ridge running, Hardrockesque.

After the loop you follow a rocky forest service road to the aid at Granby Lakes. For the first 37 miles I got to run with Jon Allen and Zeke Tiernan who were racing the 50 miler. Granby lakes was the first place we stopped and grouped together to debate our direction of travel. After a few minutes we were back on course. The forest service road continues into the aid at Flowing Park, mile 22. Here I got to see my fabulous crew: AC/DC! Duncan trotted with me a few moments and gave me the encouraging pep talk...my legs had been aching the WHOLE day...after a while the ache just turned somewhat numb and the pain sensation subsided enough to where I didn't think too much about it.

Leaving Flowing Park you then do a 15 mile loop to return for the second time at Flowing Park mile 37. This section is relatively flat which runs near the edge of the mesa. Great views looking off the Mesa! Half way through the loop you stop for aid at Indian Point. A HUGE thank you to the women who rode 7 miles on horseback with TONS of water to stock this stop! A much needed oasis to say the least.

Upon returning to Flowing Park the 50 milers head out via the drop off trail for their last 13. The 100 milers continue to Carson Lake. This is where I got off course for the first time significantly and lost about 20 minutes. Leaving the aid station I was told to follow the dam and then take a hard left. After taking the hard left I ran about 5 minutes w/o seeing a marker so I then returned to the dam where I ran back and forth across the dam a few times trying to see possible routes/markers. A family of cowboys were driving a head of cattle near my 1st exploration point. I then ran over and asked where to find Carson Lake. The 11 year old wrangler told me to follow the road another half mile and then turn left. I was back in the game!

After the aid at Carson Lake it is an 8.5 mile descent into the inferno known as Kannah Creek. You drop 4500 ft and arrive in the sweltering heat of 6200? ft. They told me it was 97 degrees at Kannah! The descent was hot yet fun. Parts of the singletrack are super narrow with vegetation engulfing you. At times I felt like I was in the jungle. I intentionally stocked up on food and water. Kannah was the 50 mile point, I arrived in 8:40 approximately.

GM is the tale of two races. The first 50 was MUCH easier than the second. I knew this going into the race but didn't fully comprehend it until later :) So the second 50 miles begins with a 5.5 mile 4500 ft climb back to the top of the mesa. This section nearly took me 2 hours. I ran out of water 30 minutes before I reached the top...and I was NURSING my two bottles, I could have easily drank 5 no problem! At the top I was relieved to see Duncan and knew I would have company for the remaining 45-55 miles! After drinking about 48 oz of water and balancing the electrolytes we trotted down the paved section to lands end road aid station. Here I put down some big cals and we trotted down the forest road to Anderson Lake.

From Anderson Lake to Mesa Lake I ran like a champ getting in the groove on some sweet downhill forested singletrack! It felt awesome to stride out and feel like I was running again. From Mesa lake we plugged on and somehow missed our turn back to Anderson Lake. Duncan and I ended up on the highway! When in doubt go higher... we then followed the ascending highway. We debated on whether to try to find the missed turn or go cross country style. With this error we probably added 2 miles or so. We then struck out cross country style, without a compass we shot a human bearing and said " I think the lake is this way" and pointed our arms in the general direction. Holy cow! Within about 1/2 mile we intersected our missed turn. Back to Anderson lake the route was cross country and the sun was beginning to set. Night navigation had to be tricky for anyone going through here in the dark.

At Anderson Lake the AS personnel told us to wait a few minutes. Apparently at the time no one was manning the Carson Lake Aid station which was our next destination and they were thinking of possibly ending the race. After refueling we got confirmation to continue! The race was back on! At this point I was sick of drinking water and sugary drinks. My new goal in the race was to obtain and empty something cold, carbonated, and unsweet. The chase was on!

To be continued...


  1. RY!!!! So proud of you and Megan:) Can't wait to see you at Pikes Peak Marathon!!

    LOVE YouS!


  2. You've had an epic year my man - congrats once again. You and Sparky dueling it out on Pikes will be epic as well. Get that knee healthy.

  3. Nice work Ryan, can't wait to read the rest.

    I've got a race report up here: http://desertrnr.blogspot.com/2010/08/moments-i-live-for-grand-mesa-100.html