YABRR: Silverheels 100 2016 Edition
Ups and Downs at the Silverheels 100 (18,000 feet worth to be exact).
35 hours is a long time on the feet, but well worth it. The Silverheels 100 course is one to be respected, being run at an average of 10,800 feet. Contrary to my original belief, there actually is oxygen at that altitude (but I couldn't process it). The course has two high points, Silverheels Mine (which is visited twice) at 12,000+ feet and a climb to 12,100+ feet (with a 1,300 foot climb in 2.5 miles) at mile 40. There are also numerous "smaller" climbs on the course to keep from getting bored. To keep things really interesting there were lots of water crossings, most of which could be done dry as long as you stepped carefully. Sadly, there was one that was going to soak your feet no matter what (15' wide, 6" deep). I did have a new experience at this race, it was the first time I ever "ran" across a beaver dam, and we had to do it four times. Due to recent rains (including the night before) the water level in the beaver pond was higher than expected, the volunteer staff did a good job of adding material (pallets and logs) to that section, but it was still going to soak your feet.
The views from the course were incredible, especially on the two high points and also the climb along the Gold Dust trail to Boreas Pass Road. The weather was almost perfect, adding almost enough heat in the afternoon to make me feel at home. During the night it was a clear and crisp. At one point as I summitted a pass I turned off my headlamp and just enjoyed the stars. I also saw at least 4 very bright shooting stars. I did deal with a little sleet and rain during my run, but in both cases once I got my rain jacket on, it stopped. For once the weather (and being slow) actually worked in my favor, while I had just a little rain, the front runners on the other side of the pass got soaked.
During the race I heard, but never saw, a screech owl, and spotted a lot of generic wildlife, but no bears (or alligators). One interesting fact about marmots, they will eat the playing cards that are used to "prove" the two out-and-back climbs.
The race volunteers were incredible, dealing with trench foot (not me), projectile vomiting (not me), and stupid runner tricks (me). Leaving one aid station I managed to run out without my hat, when I got to the next aid station one of the volunteers lent me his hat so I could do the 5 mile out-and-back to Silverheels mine. Also, at the post race feeding frenzy, the volunteers were making sure that folks without crew/support present had anything that was needed (they found a pillow for the last place finisher to use as he passed out on a picnic table).
It was fun going to a race where the only person I knew was my wonderful crew/pacer Shellene, and coming away with a whole bunch of new friends (I need new friends after all)
All in all, if you ever need a reason to be in the Colorado mountains, and want a challenging race keep this one in mind.
One final thought: "I will not think evil thoughts at the race director"