Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mesa Trail FKT run

Continuing my quest for fun adventures via the Fastest Known Times (FKT) boards... since we're in the Denver area for a couple weeks, I found a bunch of great possibilities.  I've been cherry-picking based on several factors, one of which is that there isn't yet a female time posted.  Surely many women have run the Mesa Trail faster than I'm capable, but at least I can say I was the first to record it on the FKT site.  Let's get some more ladies involved - come beat this  :)

It was our first time running in the hills above Boulder, and that experience alone was worth coming down out of the mountains last Sunday.  Beautiful place, wonderful trails, and a fun city to explore afterward.  We took the free shuttle from downtown to Chatauqua, and John hiked up into the hills to get a closer look at the Flatirons.

Those would be the really neat rocks sticking up in the background from where I started:

Wandering around Chatauqua a bit beforehand, admiring the buildings and imagining staying in a cabin here for a week, that would be fun.

Lots of people on the trails today - it was certainly good weather for it, cloudy and not too hot:

Getting ready to start at the gate at the bottom of Bluebell Road:

And... go!

The little building where the Mesa trail proper begins off to the left.  I will note that I'm trying out my new Ultimate Direction vest that I won at Spread Your Wings (thanks Too Cool!), and it was about perfect for this particular endeavor.  I stuffed plenty of stuff into it - the InReach tracker, a camera, my phone, water in the little bottles, snacks, a little med kit, and a trail map.  Not the lightest way to run, but it all traveled well in the vest:

I love paths through pine forests:

The trail at each end is super fast and easy.  In the middle there are plenty of rocks and roots; fun to run on, but I have no idea how the fast guys are setting times twice as fast as I ran today.  I speed-hiked up the hills and ran the downs, working at a reasonable pace (for me).

Little cabin in the woods:

Trail improvements, and more views of the Flatiron rocks:

I was lucky that I'd already planned to do this run on a Sunday - parts of the Mesa Trail are currently closed on weekdays for trail work.  They are certainly keeping the trail in great shape.

Gorgeous meadow, and lovely low clouds:

The bridge at the south end - note the hat on top of the sign:

My one-way (north to south) time = 1:27:03:

I paused briefly to eat a snack, send an InReach message to be sure it captured my position at that point, and take a couple more photos:

Then the long (ish) hike back up the hill to the north.  Both directions I took the "classic" Mesa Trail and not the cutoff that would save a tiny bit of distance and climbing.  Trying to match what has been done before me.  The Towhee trail heading off to west:

A random boulder in the middle of the meadow:

Views of downtown Boulder as I made my way back:

The trail is very well marked - except this one divergence (the Mesa Trail goes left; this is looking north-to-south):

More trail work, with some nice flat stones across the field:

One last wonderful downhill run, to the north gate, and done!

Total roundtrip time = 3:03:51 (break in the middle=2:49, return trip = 1:33:59).  It would be fun to come back to aim for a sub-3 hours sometime.  The distance is ~13.5 miles and somewhere around 2600+ feet of climb.

That was a fun one!

Mesa Trail page on the FKT site:

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