April 12, 2014
6:59:37, 45 miles
1st (out of 42)
Three hours from the nearest interstate and situated amidst a playground of mountains, mesas, canyons and hills, it takes a worthy cause to venture away from Durango, Colorado in our beloved corner of southwest Colorado. April, as it turns out, provides just the excuse: mud and ice that keeps us Durangotans from enjoying our favorite high country trails. The escape? Go south!
So south to the desert we went. Last Friday a record fourteen Durango ultrarunners arrived in Albuquerque to take on the third annual Cedro Peak Ultramarathon. The event offers two distances: a 45 kilometer out-and-back and (for the gritty) a 45 mile “lollipop” on often technical single-track through rolling pinion and juniper. The latter features around 5,600 feet of climbing, a memorable stretch of power line, two summits of Cedro Peak, and a net uphill second half, all aspects making the Cedro Peak 45 tougher than one might first suspect.
After a 6:00am start, we ran the first few miles by headlamp before twilight enabled us to discard them at the first aid station. I quickly found myself out front with my good friend Jeremy Duncan (of Carbondale) and we chatted, sharing plans and dreams for the coming summer. Around mile five he paused for a pit stop and I never saw him again. What followed was a long, peaceful run in near solitude through the New Mexico desert, a chance to put forth a steady effort and iron out the early season kinks in my hydration and nutrition.
I first ran Cedro Peak two years ago in similar conditions finishing third in about 7 hours and 21 minutes. Hence, this would be a reasonable gauge of my fitness having spent five winter months since October focused on ski mountaineering (“skimo”) and only the last five weeks on running. Fortunately the transition has gone well. I managed to hammer the final five miles for a sub-7 finish and chalk up my second consecutive win (the last being at the Canyon de Chelly 55K six months ago).
The day, however, was not without imperfections: persistent cramping in my hip flexors, glutes and IT bands (perhaps not being sufficiently heat acclimated), tight laces pinching my right forefoot, and an early wrong turn resulting in some bonus mileage. That said, five years of ultrarunning have taught me patience. Perfection is illusive and mistakes will be made. How we handle and adapt to them determines our mastery of the ultramarathon distance. This race sets me up well for my spring focus: the Miwok 100K in San Francisco, just three weeks distant.
What I’m most excited for are the thirteen other Durangoans who ran commendable performances at the Cedro Peak Ultra: Brett and Missy, Jenn, Braz, Ben and Zoe, Drew, Erica, Ernie, Leah, Scott, Katherine, Steve and Martha. I never thought I’d get to share a race experience with so many hometown friends.
Does it indicate a movement? Is Durango the next ultimate trail town? Maybe so, but one thing is certain: I have a mob with whom to scheme up incredible routes and adventures through the San Juan Mountains this summer, and what could be better than that?!