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Devil on the Divide


doug in co

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22km (14 miles or so) and 3400ft of climbing, followed by descent again. This was the high point of my day..

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I knew this was going to be hard, but it was still harder than expected, more like a marathon effort than a half. Took me 3hr 53min which is longer than any marathon I've (yet) run. To be fair if I did run a marathon now it would be in the 4h30 region.

Not much running in the previous months as I'd been nursing a bad knee which my physical therapist told me not to run on. The first commandment of running injury recovery is, Always Listen to your Physical Therapist - you shall have no other desires but what they say.. 

A bit of swimming since the other physical therapist had fixed the biceps tendonitis, and a good bit of MTB riding on gravel trails with plenty climbing, thought it would be enough.
Ha no. 
Yes, I had two PTs, one for biceps another for knee. Reminds me of the old joke, 'Trust people ? Trust people ?!  you sound just like my other psychologist'. 

Start at the bottom of Jones Pass, near the Henderson mine. Here they mine molybdenum and they're always recruiting, molyjobs.com posters all around the race site even. 2200 feet over 4 miles to the first aid station, cut off at two hours. I think I ran about 200yds total in those 4 miles, the rest was a determined steady plod at maximum HR while panting heartily. 
Here's the Alltrails.com picture from the top of the pass where the aid station is. We started away down in the woods somewhere. 

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A failure to read the topo map accurately brought a fine surprise, OK we're up the pass now, but there's still a thousand feet to climb along the Continental Divide trail to that high point. More plods, with occasional jogs. This pic from the race photographer @jordanchapell sums it up - a young woman leaping swiftly down the trail behind me, me firmly earthbound grinding along. 

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Views were terrific. The winds howled over the Divide. When unpinning the number later, I found the winds whipping it around had actually bent the safety pins nearly open. 

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Here's a pic I took at one point while panting on the side of the trail, trying to calm my heart down as it tried to leap out of my chest. Runners all across the horizon, a real highwayman's farewell..

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Most of this was runnable if you had working legs, which I did not. It seems I overcooked the climb. Staggered on and out to the turnaround above Herman Gulch to get my bib punched. The volunteer asked if I was OK, must have been looking a bit ragged. Assured him I had a flask of Coca-Cola and two Honey Stingers left, I'd be fine. 

Another race photographer @sohboyum shows the start of the downhill section. I did break from a walk into a sort of wobbling lurch but you can't tell it from the picture.. 

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One of the volunteers said, "it's all downhill from here !" 
Replied, "even if that's not true I'm going to believe it - lie to me, please".

;-) 

Lumped and bumped down the rocks and roots of Herman Gulch, passing day hikers who most politely stepped off the trail for us sweaty plodders. The finish at 22k was also the aid station for the 50k runners. I watched them come in and leave again, legs trembling with fatigue. I could not have left again. 

A bus, masked, back to the Empire ballfield where the food and beer awaited. Sat down and stuck in the chair until they called my name. 

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Turns out I'd won my AG by default, being the only one. (art by idigoddpairings)

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Now the proud owner of a genuine Norwegian cowbell, made of genuine brass rifle shell casings from the Norwegian military. What a great prize.
Beer by Tommyknocker brewery in Idaho Springs, excellent. Drank two without feeling a thing. 

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Said farewell to my table acquaintances, and went up the road to find a little creek for a bit of fishing. Once I get out of the house I like to get full value from the excursion. 
Too tired to fish effectively and left soon for a nap, still did get a bit of a lower-leg soak in the cold water and a couple pretty miniatures of trout. 

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Edited by doug in co

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Congratulations on conquering the Divide.   Love the amazing views, especially for us flatlanders in southern Michigan.

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