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Never a Wasted Day in the Mountains - Ascent 2018

I’ve been writing this blog in my head for the last week or so. Talking to folks about their race and then reading comments online it was like there were two different races going on. I prefer to look at the positive side. The last race of the Triple Crown 2018, The Pikes Peak Ascent AKA the Barrcent, was Saturday, August 18th. The Pikes Peak Marathon went off without a hitch on Sunday, August 19th. With the ridiculous weather the two weeks prior to the race and the evening before with Manitou getting hit with rain and hail there was speculation that the course could be shortened the next day and it was. Yes, every mountain race you run there is a possibility of bad weather and you sign your life away when you register but do you truly want to take that risk. It’s on the shoulders of the race director to keep the runners and volunteers safe. With construction on the summit virtually taking away any shelter up there, they made a difficult decision not with a roll of the dice but with input from other people including SAR. I respected their decision because I’ve been on the summit too many times when the storms roll in early – it’s not fun and it’s scary as hell.
I was bummed that we were going to Barr Camp and then turning around because like a lot of people that do the Ascent instead of the Marathon the downhill isn’t our friend. I don’t go fast uphill, downhill or flat for that matter but downhill is painful to me. My back and legs were torched for five days after the race. That was the only negative for me.
My favorite part of the day was the fact that the race director made Barr Camp the finish line and instructed everyone to walk or slowly run back down the trail. What does that mean for a back of the packer? Lots of cheering and encouragement!! I am used to seeing everyone in front take off and maybe seeing them in the tent after the Ascent. How did the shortened Ascent differ from the Barr Trail Mountain Race? There is two-way traffic and the downhill gets the right away during BTMR. During BTMR the runners are so focused you don’t hear a lot out of them going back down. During the Barrcent there were runners that were coming down standing on the side of the trail cheering everyone on that were still going up. Even if they were walking down the trail there was tons of encouragement – calling everyone by name because our names were on our bibs and just having fun. I usually don’t hang out at Barr Camp during the Ascent – grab water and handful of M&Ms and then I’m off. It was a party atmosphere at Barr Camp this year and a completely different relaxed feel.
I can’t say enough about the fantastic volunteers. Even at 6:00AM they got everyone parked, bibs handed out, herded runners in their waves and passed out water with a smile on their face. Then there was the neighbor in his bath robe – he might or might not have been happy about music playing at 6:30AM but everyone else was enjoying the spectacle. Search and Rescue was all over the trail and at the aid stations doing their thing. Volunteers at the aid stations were as happy as can be considering they were either hiking or 4 wheeling to their stations even earlier than 6:00AM and having a great time. Everyone adjusted to Plan B with no problems.
Thank you, thank you everyone who made the day a positive awesome one. I have Imogene Pass Run in a week and it being a mountain race as well we’ll see what’s in store for us. Mountains are our friends, but you need to have a healthy respect for them or they can quickly turn into your worst nightmare.
See you all on the trails and thank you Tim Bergsten and all the mighty marmots for welcoming me into your madness and out of my comfort zone!

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