Race: Grand Mesa 100
Distance: 100 Miles
The Story: This year’s edition began with a casual round up at the starting line and a nice loud gun to get everyone headed off to the boulder field bottleneck. At the first trail junction there was someone guiding runners and telling them to take the next left, which a bunch of runners missed anyway (I would suggest either running the Crag Crest loop before hand or just taking it slow to stay on track at the beginning). The columbines and sunrise were amazing and everyone running the race was super friendly and chatty as we ran the loop. I was back at the lodge at 7:10, right on schedule and swapped my headlamp for my hat and shades. I ran straight through the Mesa Top aid station and then found a 50-mile runner, Joshua Goldstein moving at my same pace so we ran together to the Flowing Park aid station. I had told my crew to expect me at 10 am, so when I hit the road at 9:15 I was worried I would miss then. The worry lasted about 15 seconds until I saw my Dad driving down the road to meet me. I grabbed my iPod, filled my bottles and slammed some watermelon. One marathon down I was moving fast and feeling great. The Flowing Park loop was much smoother and more enjoyable than other reports had led me to believe and the trail was easy to follow/well marked. At the 5-mile gate on the loop I still had about 30 oz of water so I didn’t fill up figuring I could make it to the next aid station. I ran out of water about three miles from the next aid station, but luckily was still running with Joshua and he let me bum some water from his Nathan pack. The horse packers at the Indian Point aid station topped off my bottles and I made it back to the Flowing Park aid station to find fellow Mesa Monument Strider Scott Vig getting ready for the next section. We headed off towards Carson Lake together getting our feet soaked in a meadow along the way and before the descent to the lake Scott slowed down citing stomach issues as I ran down to the reservoir. My dad was playing “Charge” on his trumpet as I crossed the dam and was met with my crew and first pacer, Rob Pizem. I grabbed my trekking poles and switched to my SJ Ultra pack to carry ~120 oz of water for the descent and climb back out of Kannah Creek (highly recommended). Rob talked non-stop the entire descent telling me about his recent climbing trip to Italy, his family and entire plot of some TV shows I had never heard of. We made it down to Kannah Creek and I was now in third place about 35 minutes behind 2nd. The aid station was amazing! Ice cold towels, ice water, chairs, watermelon…it was hard to leave staring down the steepest and hottest part of the route.
Piz and I loaded up on water, again ~120 oz for me and we started the long power hike up Coal Creek. At the bridge, about half way up Piz took a food and water break and I kept charging up. I ran out of water right before the switchbacks and hadn’t seen Piz for about a mile. We were shouting back and forth so I knew he was okay, but I knew he was hurting. I made it to the top of the climb, slammed almost a liter of water and reloaded my bottles. I told the aid station captain that my pacer was coming up and to direct him down the road when he arrived. I waterlogged my stomach trying to get rehydrated and was reduced to shuffling the flat road to Land’s End. When I got there I hadn’t seen Piz on the road and was told that he was in bad shape and was being driven up to Land’s End. I switched socks, changed back to my little AK Vest and met Adam my pacer that would take me into the night. As I was getting ready to leave Piz arrived, sat down and started puking immediately. My crew started caring for him, eventually driving him down to Grand Junction where he rehydrated and was 100% by the next morning. Adam and I shuffled out on the long dirt road to Carson Lake and made it there just as it was getting dark. I was now about 25 minutes off 2nd place, but my effort was starting to decline. Despite having a reasonable heart rate, I couldn’t push the pace or maintain a run unless I was going downhill and it was minimally technical. Adam and I ran to the Aspen Grove aid station, and when I arrived 2nd place had gained almost 40 minutes. Driven to keep my 3rd place spot and not knowing where 4th place was, we keep moving. The hike up Kill Phil hill was short and full of talus and the next 20 miles were a blur of hiking and shuffling across deceptively uneven meadows aiming at blinking LED flashers on the far side. Back at Carson lake Jess swapped in as my pacer and patiently cajoled me along the last 18 miles of slightly uphill “running” at a dismal pace of about 16 min/mile. I hadn’t seen another racer or headlamp for almost 30 miles at this point but kept looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was catching up. Jess made sure I was eating and drinking every twenty minutes despite my protests and we eventually pulled into the finish line just as the blue light of dawn was approaching. Phil was the only one at the finish line, sitting around a fire and presented me with my ceramic finisher’s medal and 3rd place ceramic tile. I downed some dolmas, hugged my family and remaining crew and headed back to Cedaredge for a long, leg-throbbing rest at the Cedaredge Lodge.
Gear: Injinji compression socks, Hoka One One Stinson Trail, Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest/SJ Ultra Vest, Pearl Izumi Ultra Shorts and Inside-Out Ultra Shirt, Smith Parallel D-Max shades, iPod shuffle, Black Diamond Ultra Distance Poles, BD Storm Headland and Ion Headlamp, GU/Hammer Nutrition and tons of Watermelon.
Results and Strava Links:
Rob Pizem’s summary and photos: