The Never Summer 100k Experience
A friend had mentioned the Never Summer 100k race, I liked the name. Up in the Colorado mountains, super scenic views, western states qualifier, easy enough to get into, and not too expensive. Signed up, got a couple of others to sign up too. I trained enough or not enough, I don’t know. You can always do more. I had kinda injured my back 4ish weeks before the race. Workouts were kinda off since then.
We left early Friday morning, I got these two running crazies to come too! The drive out went by fairly fast stopping to pick my sister up at the Denver airport and made it to packet pick up around 5. Talked to a park ranger who said bears wouldn’t be an issue but to watch out for moose and gave a run down of what to do if one had his eyes on you. Back away slowly but if it starts to charge run crazy dodging behind whatever rocks and/or large trees that are around. His advice on altitude came in handy, just stop, rest, deep breaths, drink some water and wait for it to pass.
The race was awesome but as I heard one guy but it before the start “looking forward to this 24 hour mountain tour.” We started out and it was 4-5 ish miles of flat to incline, nothing crazy. It started to go up, felt fine, the line of people I was in was walking the inclines and running flats. Worked for me. We made it up the first mountain, that first one was steep but not that bad probably because it was the first one. Views were pretty cool.
Now I definitely need to work on my downhill. People were just flying down. I was all being careful not to fall, no time for that.
We came across a beautiful lake in the woods, Lake Agnus. My sister was hanging out along the trail there which was great to see a familiar face! For a while it was pretty views and fairly tame terrain compared to what was coming.
Right before the mile 18 aid station my sister popped up again to cheer me on. Then I hit the aid station. The aid volunteer says to me ” you have 5.2 miles to the next aid station, It is going to be horrible.” Not the fun you can do it spirit you usually get from an aid station volunteer I thought but as it turned out he was being really positive. I went up the road for a ways then onto a bit of trail, it was getting very steep. Then we went off trail and just straight up the mountain, it was crazy steep. The guy next to me says “what the f is wrong with these people, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy!” That may have been how I kinda felt at the time. The best part was that from all the way at the bottom and climbing up you could hear a drum being played. You get to the top and there is the guy playing the drum. It’s cool.
Then you went down, scary way down. Then up and down across a trail to the next aid station. I thought I can’t climb another mountain like that. It was borderline scary and it was hard but they said that was the worst of it. Not that the rest would be easy. They said the next 6ish miles would be nothing in comparison to the last miles and they were right. Some road downhill for a while then trail, pretty trail all well-marked. The only part I wasn’t loving was going though the field of downed timber. Looking back it seems cool but at the time I wasn’t all into getting around them.
I might not have been in the best of moods when I hit the next aid station. I was only 29 miles in and 10ish miles to the next aid station with more mountains to climb. That didn’t sound like the best so I hung out at the aid station longer than I usually would. I’m an in and out girl, 5 minutes max. I still never sat down and was there less than 15 minutes I’m sure but keep sampling the food and thought about how nice dropping out might feel when this super nice aid station worker Sarah offered me her ice filled neckerchief thing. Of course she said she needed it back when she saw me at the finish so clearly I had no choice but to finish at that point.
I went on up to the next climb. It went up hill for a while, it wasn’t that my legs were that tired, it was just that I kept having to catch my breath a little during the climbs. It was very pretty trail though and so diverse. Wooded areas with creeks running through then across huge rocks with snow and a lake below. This was probably the only time along the course I questioned at all if I was on the right path a couple of times. Then there would be someone else around who thought we were and after a bit I’d see another pink flag never getting off course.
Eventually I came back to a road and a mile and a halfish later to the 39ish mile aid station. This aid station held an out and back. 2.2ish miles out then come right back to the aid station for snacks, easy peasy. Somehow I missed that the 2.2 miles would be straight up another mountain, took over an hour to get up it. There was a lake at the top, going down didn’t take quite so long. I saw Deb Johnson(after seeing that she had done the race last year and was from the Kansas City area I looked her up on FB to badger her with questions about the event, she was super helpful) on the way down looking super fresh, not like she had been climbing mountains all day even though she had. Had a good chat with her then we went on our ways.
I made it down to the mountain and perked up even though It would be dark soon. I only had 6ish more miles to the next aid station where Courtney would be to travel the last of it with. Plus I was told no more ridiculous climbs. It was dark fairly quick so I kinda hung with some other runners till the next aid station. I wasn’t to worried about getting lost but you know bears and moose. The day before the park ranger had told us the likely hood of seeing a bear was slim to none. I got to the aid station and one of the first things Courtney says to me is about the bear some runners saw on the trail today. I was like we are about to go for 14 miles into the wilderness do we really wanna talk about this bear now?
Courtney was chatty to make the time go by much faster. I was feeling done with the whole running up hill thing or really even running. Just wanting to make it under 23 hours, since that seemed like a legitiment goal, I told Courtney she was in charge of time as well. The miles past fairly quickly though maybe not as quickly as I would have liked. Courtney did sing a good Hi Ho Hi Ho it’s off to work we go from Snow White that was quite peppy. The last hill was super annoying and seemed to go on for ever and ever and ever. Like it would not end then we made it to the last aid station 2 miles out. Didn’t stop at all because 2 miles. Ready to be done, the 2 miles seemed to go on forever. Just when I was like were the f is this finish, it showed up. Not many people around at 3:43 in the morning but we finished. Dennis was there at the end which was nice!
I had my post race beer and we all headed back to the hotel for showers and a few hours sleep. The post race breakfast happened a few hours later so we all rallied and went to that. It was a little healthier than I care for after traveling 64 miles but the serious athletes were probably into it. Picked up my finishers tree slice and we spent the day in Walden sleeping and hanging out, it was pretty sweet.
273 people started the race and 192 finished the race.
I was pretty back of the pack at this race. Didn’t really sing any of my head songs, too much effort to breath. However I spent a lot of time thinking about the Von Trap family traveling across the swiss alps to escape the Nazis. The song Climb Every Mountain played in my head over and over, I only knew like 2 lines from the song so it was repetitive.