Matt Mahoney's 2004 Colorado Vacation (Part 3, Hardrock 100)

As planned, I had no crew, no pacer, and no drop bags. I wore my usual 2 bottle hip pack and Walsh fell running shoes without socks. I had gaiters, but didn't like them and took them off after 4 miles and discarded them at the next aid station.

July 9, 6:00 AM. Runners await the start in Silverton as Dale Garland, standing on the hardrock, gives last minute instructions.

Mile 2, crossing South Mineral Creek.

Mile 8, crossing Putnam Divide, the first of a series of progressively harder 13,000 ft passes.

Mile 13, crossing below the Ice Lake basin waterfall on wobbly logs.

Mile 14, climbing Grant-Swamp Pass above Island Lake.

Descending Grant-Swamp Pass.

Mile 21, Oscar's pass

Mile 22, Wasatch Trail into Telluride

Mile 33, looking down the north side of Virginius Pass. The runner below has just come off the end of the 150 ft rope.

Looking back at Virginius Pass.

What can I say? The pictures explain it all. It took me 11 hours to reach Telluride at mile 26, twice as long as it took to cover the same distance at the Leadville Marathon. I reached Ouray, the lowest point in the race at 7700 ft at mile 42, at 10:40 PM. The next climb to Engineer Pass was a vertical mile. I crossed it at 4 AM and reached Grouse Gulch just before 6 AM to start the climb to the highest point, Handies Peak at 14,048 ft at mile 65. I summitted at about 9:15 AM. I was so tired at this point that I sat on the trail to take 1 minute naps and fell asleep the instant I put my head down.

We descended to Sherman (9000 ft, mile 70) and back up to the relatively easy Pole Creek basin, a beautiful meadow at treeline 10 miles long and 2 miles wide, ending at Maggie Gulch at 7 PM. This is where my real troubles started. Even though I hiked it before, I didn't recognize the route once it got dark for the second time on the top of Green Mountain, the second hump after Stoney Pass. There was no trail, so I was using my flashlight following faint footprints and beaten down grass from earlier runners to find my way. There were markers, but I couldn't always see them. When I could, they led me through a flock of sheep. I reached Cunningham (mile 91) at 11:30 PM, much slower than in training. My shoes dug painfully into my ankles every time I stepped on uneven ground (which is most of the course).

Climbing 3000 ft out of Cunningham, I was hallucinating badly. I was losing my balance on trails with steep dropoffs because an invisible person was trying to enter my body. I took several 1 minute naps to reduce the hallucinations to a tolerable level so I could focus on my task. The last 3 miles of trail to Silverton was a muddy mess. I kissed the hardrock at 5:21 AM, more than 47 hours.

Bill Thomas finished in 36:51. Greg paced Andrea to a 43:52. Hal Winton dropped at Telluride. Paul Sweeney was the winner in 30:39 after last year's winner, Karl Meltzer, dropped at Sherman. Altogether 80 of 125 runners finished within the 48 hour cutoff. I was 71st. The last finisher had 5 minutes to spare. Complete results.

July 11. After finishing I slept 2 hours, went to the awards, slept another 4 hours, had dinner, and slept another 13 hours.

July 12. Drove to friend's house in Westminster. Only slept 5 hours since I needed to get to the airport.

July 13. Flew back to Florida. For the last week I have been sleeping about 10 hours each night. My first workout was a 1 mile run on July 15. Actually my legs don't feel bad, but I don't have any desire to do anything hard.

Back to Part 1, Pikes Peak, Meeker Ridge, Elbert, Windom

Back to Part 2, Black Canyon, Huron, La Plata, Sneffels.

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