Thursday, July 31, 2008

ROMO running


Another quick post - we're doing 6 full days of running as GTA training (or as we say to the people on the trails who ask, "Pikes Peak training" - easier to explain). Rocky Mountain NP is really beautiful and we are enjoying every day here.

Danny came to visit us up here :) He did his share of hiking yesterday morning as well. Good job Danny!

Here's a photo he took at Chasm Falls:

I don't have much time or energy to keep up with computer-related things this week, but I promise to catch up soon...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

GUR Denver - quick post

John and I competed in the Great Urban Race (Denver edition) yesterday. We had an excellent time running around the city, finding checkpoints, trying (and failing) to catch Lightrail trains, running and running, and crossing the finish line after about an hour and 50 minutes. We weren't quite the first team across the line - last year's winners beat us by 20 minutes. But we were the first team with all checkpoints correct. So we won! Woo hoo!

Here is a photo Danny took of us re-enacting (with some embellishment) our finish line crossing:
The race was a lot of fun!

I'll write more about it in a future post. For now we're packing, moving all our stuff out of Danny's house, and heading up to Estes Park for a week of mountain trail training.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Denver scouting

Howdy from the Mile High City!

There seems to be a lot more air here than the last time we came through :) although we'll see if that opinion holds come race-day on Saturday.

We will be doing the Great Urban Race (GUR) in Denver. It's a clue-based race where you run around the city in teams of two, finding checkpoints and collecting photos and scavenger hunt items. It will be our first GUR, and we're looking forward to it.

But first we need to learn some things about the city. We are staying with our friend Danny and he has been on scouting trips with us this week, first in the car and today on bikes. Fun!

Some public art pieces along the 16th St Mall:

Clocks outside the very-cool REI store - the one in front is for Mount Elbert (CO highpoint) and the back one is for Kilimanjaro:

The inside of the store is impressive (that big structure is a climbing wall):

Danny looked good on our bike ride today. We rode for most of the day and clocked 25 miles - well done, Danny!

A giant sculpture outside the Performing Arts Complex:

Another big sculpture inside the Complex:

More scouting tomorrow - it's amazing how much time we can waste, I mean spend, roaming around a city looking at interesting things.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


We climbed to the highest point in Colorado today!

Mount Elbert (not far from Leadville) - 14,433 ft

It was a beautiful day for a hike.

On the way up, with Markus and Brandi:

On the last bit toward the top:

Awesome views from the top:

"Official" highpoint photo:

4-person selfie:

Historical info: :)
Highpoint #1 = Vermont (Mount Mansfield, 4,393 ft, 9/28/00)
Highpoint #2 = Texas (Guadalupe Peak, 8,749 ft, 2/19/08)
Highpoint #3 = Hawaii (Mauna Kea, 13,796 ft, 4/12/08)
Highpoint #4 = Colorado (Mount Elbert, 14,433 ft, 7/20/08)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP -> Leadville

We left Silverton on Tuesday (I suspect we’ll be back someday!) and made a quick stop above Ouray so I could see the Bear Creek trail. This trail switchbacks up and then contours around the side of a cliff for a mile or so, and I have heard many things about it in HRH race reports. John said it wasn’t so bad. Now that I have seen it, I’m OK with that assessment. It does indeed drop way, way down into a canyon, but the trail is wide enough and doesn’t always have a cliff right next to it.

Me on the trail:
We spent a night in the Ridgway State Park, and then moved on to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park for a couple nights. John had the great idea of dusting off our bikes to explore up and down the park road, so we got some riding and a bit of hiking in. The park isn’t huge, and it seems rather quiet most of the time, but the canyon is magnificent and worth several stops to oogle over the scenery at various viewing points. We are trying to get the most out of our National Parks pass this year, and it hasn’t steered us wrong yet!

Canyon scenery:

The view from our breakfast nook one morning:

A huge boulder that landed on the East Portal Road in April 2008:

The canyon from the East Portal:

This weekend we’re in Leadville for some more mountain training. Our friends Markus and Brandi (whom we met at the German 100 race) recommended it and decided to join us here for a couple days. Today we climbed over Hope Pass twice as training for Brandi’s Leadville 100 race in August – beautiful place!

Freedom and Brandi in the morning: View from the top of Hope Pass looking south:

Mount Hope (13,933 ft and west of the pass) - John climbed to the top:

At the top of Quail Mountain (east of the pass, 13,461 ft):

Monday, July 14, 2008

Grant-Swamp Pass

John and I went hiking today :)

He took me up from Mineral Creek campground on the Ice Lake trail until we found the HRH course. Then he showed me one of the many creek crossings from the race:

Can you pick out the grouse in this photo? I walked right by but John pointed him out. The grouse watched us and very slowly tried to tiptoe away, cautious step by cautious step - very funny.

Above tree line on the HRH course:

Island Lake - awesome!

Looking over at Oscar's Pass and the infamous mining road across the valley to the north:

The scree field on the north side of Grant-Swamp Pass - I haven't been on scree in several years, and it wasn't easy, but I made it down and back up. Yay! John says if I can handle this, I can handle the rest of the course. Step 1 complete (many more steps to go!) :)

I love San Juan Mountain scenery! Reminds me of the Alps...

Scenes from Silverton

Post-race funnel cake :)Site of PQ 2002 kayak launching:
Downtown Silverton:
One of the more interesting stop signs we have found:

HRH - final analysis

After getting some sleep Saturday night, we got up at 3 a.m. to go watch runners come across the finish line. I calculated 3 a.m. in the hopes of seeing Joe Prusaitis finish, but he SPED UP over the final 2 sections and came in at 2:13 a.m. He was probably fast asleep by the time we got up, so we obviously missed him. It was fun talking with him at their rented house later in the day Sunday - he did great and had some stories to tell.

So we hung around and cheered for the final runners across the line! Some ran, others walked, at least one was hobbling, and one guy was completely zoned out. As 6 a.m. (the 48-hour cutoff) neared, we walked out to meet the 4 runners that finished with less than 7 minutes to go. Inspiring to watch!

The final official finisher, Allie Wood (on the left in white):

At 9 a.m. we were in the gym for the awards breakfast. Each finisher was recognized, and Dale Garland (the race director) had comments for many of them. His comment for John was a question to Joe - whether he had been grooming John for this race? He should own up to it if so, because John did really well.

John receiving his certificate and hug:

We sat with Markus at breakfast - we had been hoping he would finish in under 48 hours, but he had a more interesting story instead. Coming up the hill out of Cunningham (the last aid station) his brain did some strange things. It's not exactly clear what happened, but lack of sleep may have caused some hallucinations. Even with another runner coming by, Markus couldn't figure out which way to go. Eventually the aid station volunteers noticed his light sitting up there and either came and got him or he worked his way back down. He seemed to be OK with the whole thing (and acting OK in general!) when we saw him. Hopefully we'll see Markus and his wife Brandi next weekend for some training in Leadville.

Some numbers for John:

* 6th fastest split for the final section from Cunningham to Silverton!

* Not the fastest first-time finisher (not even close, as first-timers included the men's winner Kyle Skaggs, the women's winner Diana Finkel, and at least 3 others)

* Close - but not quite - the fastest runner from Texas. Glenn Mackie was having a great race until he had some issues staying on the course. He came walking in 5:12 pm, only 10 minutes ahead of John!

* Amazingly, John was only the 11th fastest male masters runner.

Thanks for everyone's phone calls and emails and blog comments - John was thrilled to hear from everyone during and after the race!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

HRH - Finish Line - Rock On John!

After leaving Cunningham I came back to Silverton and cleaned up a bit of gear in Howie, posted the previous blog item, and decided I better get over to the finish line just in case John did something freaky like run the last leg really fast. I watched a couple guys finish, then sat in the shade to wait. Usually the spectators in the street would call "runner coming" when they spotted someone 3 blocks away, but suddenly they just started cheering and I thought "uh oh" - lo and behold, he comes John around a parked car! Every aid station I saw him from at least 1/4 mile out, but I barely had time to capture this picture of him heading for the rock:

A kiss for the Hardrock!

John had an INCREDIBLE climb over Dives-Little Giant pass, bombed the downhill, and passed about 5 people on the way from the final aid station. Awesome job, John!!

Now he's asleep :)

Congratulations John Beard #106 from Austin TX, 18th place finisher out of 141 starters!!

HRH - Cunningham AS

Almost home!

John obviously made it fine over Handies last night, and continues to move at a great pace today (even though he is still saying he is climbing "slowly"). The hills are less relentless in the last portion of the race, and John hasn't fallen asleep yet - or at least not for very long.

He looked great coming down the hill to the aid station! It was wonderful to see him. He seems a bit tired (imagine that!) but is still responding lucidly to all my questions. I sent him on his way with a light pack (water bottle, SPIZ bottle, Go-Lite jacket, spare pair of socks, and 2 Gu's). Looking forward to seeing him finish in a couple hours!

Some photos...

Rob Youngren (in green) at Cunningham AS, who ran into Ouray with John yesterday evening, and who smoked the last half of the course to finish in 10th place:

John flying down the hill to the aid station:

Look Ma, I finished yet another serving of Gookinaid:

John heading up the last big climb (I forgot my camera while walking him out, had to run back to get it, so he's only just a red dot in this photo):

Looks like he should make his goal of finishing by dark!

HRH - Grouse Gulch AS

No pics this time - too dark - but I was sure wishing for a way to capture the scene of headlamps switchbacking up the side of the mountain next to us, on their way toward Handies Peak (the course highpoint - 14,052 feet!). All darkness except lights moving methodically to and fro. Very cool.

John came running in at 12:45 am, right on time and looking good. He spent a bit longer at this aid station, eating some potato soup (yummy) while we made sure he had what he needs for the next 6 or more hours to Sherman plus tomorrow morning/part of the afternoon before I will see him again with the crewing stuff.

He was thinking it would take all night to reach the top of Handies, and was surprised to hear that it was only 3000 ft. higher than the aid station (although there is some down/up in American Basin first). He did great on the last climb, 5000 ft from Ouray to Engineer Pass. Blake Wood passed him and a group ran down the last hill faster than he did, but he is somehow passing other people and is currently in the high 20's in placing. That's very similar to where he ranked way back on Virginius Pass (Kroger's Canteen), so I think he's doing awesome.

Not to mention that he has tons of time in case of problems - lots of leeway to just make it to the finish line if that's what it comes down to. His primary goal is to finish before dark tomorrow, but he (and I!) would be totally happy with just getting to the finish line in less than 48 hours.

So I get to sleep now :) and with any luck when I wake up John will have made it to Sherman and I can stop worrying about the descent off the backside of Handies Peak. There is a snowfield up there that is icy at night, so John took YakTrax and trekking poles with him - he left the chisel behind, however. I know he'll do fine, I just can't wait to hear that that part is over.

G'night y'all!

Friday, July 11, 2008

HRH - Ouray AS

Hi y'all!

John was looking much better in Ouray - yay! He told me that he has caught back up with the liquid intake, and I think he has also found a pace to settle into. He thinks he is climbing slowly but his splits are exactly what he was planning for. He has been doing a "Gookinaid - Ensure - SPIZ" routine through and out of the aid stations and I think that is working well. One more aid station where I can meet him tonight (Grouse Gulch), then he is on his own with his drop bag at Sherman. I'd either need 4WD or to drive 100 miles around to Lake City to see him there, so we decided not to do that. My last crewing AS will be Cunningham (the last aid station on the course, actually), tomorrow sometime.

John told me that the snow slide down from Virginius was "COLD!" - he used his hands and elbows to slow himself down (?) and they were frigid for a while afterwards.

John's feet are doing splendidly - he has changed socks once, his feet look clean and smooth, and the water crossings don't seem to be a problem. At least not yet - apparently the last quarter of the course is quite wet. If his feet are still doing well at that point, they should certainly get him to the finish.

I drove over to Silverton to get the curvy Million Dollar Highway out of the way while it was still light out. Still have 10 miles on a dirt road to Grouse Gulch, but I don't expect much traffic up that way. After crewing at Grouse (estimating sometime around 1 pm to see John there) then I get to sleep!

Some photos from the Ouray area...

I missed seeing Kyle (who is still positively flying around the course), so you'll have to settle for a shot of the second place runner at Ouray, Jared Campbell:

The leading woman, Diana Finkel:

2 women runners (Betsy Nye and Diane Van Deren - you'll just have to take my word for it), 2 pacers, and 2 spectators on the trail that goes over the Million Dollar Highway just up from Ouray:

John coming up to the highway cross-over:

John has found a better stick - yay! Go John!
Many thanks to the well-wishers today! John was excited to hear about everyone watching and cheering him on.

See ya - maybe in the morning!