2018 Nolan's 14 report by Sarah Hansel
Nolan's 11 may not have quite the same ring to it as Nolan's 14, but other than the numbers, my 60 hrs in the Sawatch were everything I'd hoped for. It was a unique experience for me: no official start time, no official route, no aid stations, no prizes, and no race director to blame if things didn't go quite right, and they didn't. I was responsible for everything out there and I didn't exactly pull it off. I ended up curled up on the side of the Colorado Trail, shivering under an emergency blanket at the base of only my fifth peak, and so behind on calories and dizzy that a pile of pine needles looked more inviting than the 3 mile hike back to my car, too tired to even be disappointed. My legs were fine, but my stomach and head just rebelled for some reason.
Over 9 hrs later, with my tracker still ticking way, I decided I hadn't come all this way just to end there. I'd kind of stuck my neck out even toeing the line as an East Coaster, and it was just plain embarrassing to quit so soon. I knew I couldn't get an official finish at that point, but I figured I may as well just go as far as I could in the time left and make the absolute most of it.
I started back slowly, but my legs honestly felt stronger with every step I took. It was more than a little frustrating to roll into Winfield 2 hrs before cut off feeling like I could keep running for days, but also knowing that I didn't even have enough time left to make it up one more mountian. All I can say is that I am very grateful to have tried. I left feeling stronger and braver than before, and incredibly inspired by these mountains. I don't think this challenge is really about the numbers anyway, it's about being out there for the pure love of it all, and failing this time simply gives me an excuse to come back.