Slick and Steep – 2015 Bangs Canyon 30K Trail Race Report

Race: Bangs Canyon 30k Fatass

Distance: 30k (With optional 60k that no one opted for this year)

Date: 1/3/15

A fine day for a run, finer for sitting around the fire with friends.
A fine day for a run, finer yet for sitting around the fire with friends.

The Story:  Starting back in November of 2014 I started getting urged by several Grand Valley running buddies to come out and run the Bangs Canyon 30K/60K to start off the new year.  The fatass race has a long history and has been run by the same group of old-school, die-hard Grand Valley runners from before I was running in high school.  The course is fully self-supported and in place of any entry fee it is suggested to bring food, drink or firewood to share with everyone after the race.  All of the usual suspects from the Mesa Monument Striders were present, and James had a late start that morning so I lent him my extra handheld water bottle.  By about 8:15 am over thirty people had signed into the paper ledger so the course director would know who was out there and some copies of the course were distributed.  Kevin Koch (the event coordinator) gathered everyone at the starting line to give some directions and to explain the course conditions.  Today’s conditions varied from ATV-packed powder to 2-3″ of unconsolidated snow over mixed terrain and slickrock.  We gathered at the starting line and with a simple countdown started our journey down to the Colorado River and back, gaining about 4,000 vertical along the way.

The Mesa Monument Striders running crew took off down the trail and pretty soon I found myself running up front with Patrick and James.  We made great time down to the river, averaging about 8 mph on packed snow and chatted until the beginning of the first big climb.  The initial climb is brutally steep and was nice and slick with the snow cover on the double-track.  James and Patrick dropped me almost immediately and I found myself running solo for the next 9 miles with occasional glimpses of them ahead of me.  As we continued climbing the snow conditions transitioned from packed trail to progressively deeper and deeper powder.  The final section of the Windmill Trail ascent was comical to try to run, and based on the tracks ahead of me I was not the only one reduced to walk the final hills.  The steep descent into Rough Canyon had seen lots of ATV traffic so I was able to fly down the trail and by the end of the descent I had finally caught up with Patrick.  James was nowhere to be seen, but Patrick and I alternatively hiked and jogged together up the final snow-covered slickrock ascent.  About halfway up I caught a second wind and started running.  As I passed a group of hikers coming down the trail I knew I was close and kicked it to the finish line.  A nice mellow finish consisted of Kevin writing down my time on the official results sheet that eventually had burn marks and beer adorning it from the apres-race festivities.  My beard, hair and glasses were iced over and my shoes were soaked so I headed straight to the car to get into a dry set up.  Fires had been raging since the race started so I congratulated James, took a seat next to the fire and started stuffing my face and rehydrating.

Thanks to Kevin Koch for organizing this great event, thanks to Pearl Izumi for the support and gear this season, thanks to Hammer Nutrition for providing race day goodies and thanks to everyone in the West Slope running community.  Can’t wait for next year!

Post race beardcicle/exhausted selfie.
James accepting his repurposed “World Champion” mug and child-size golden medal.
Fireside apres-race festivities and shoe drying.

Gear: Pearl Izumi Trail N2 shoes, Patagonia Speedwork Tights, CEP Calf Sleeves, Pearl Izumi Ultra Inside-Out Shirt, Pearl Izumi Select Arm Warmers, Smith Parallell D-Max sunglasses, Sunnto Ambit 2, Salomon S-Lab ADV Skin Hydro 12 Pack, North Face Ultra Gloves and a Patagonia Houdini (which I never needed to break out).

Results and Strava Links: (GPS never activated, but elevation and pace are pretty spot on)

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