The time has come. 15.5 miles up and down a Colorado monster. From 10,000ft to 13,000 and back. We woke up at 6:30 am for our 8 o’clock start time. Our hotel was a few blocks from the start, so we all got dressed and headed over. This race has just a few hundred runners in it, but they come in all ages, shapes and backgrounds. It’s quite interesting to observe other human beings that think they should attempt this type of thing. Here’s me and my brother at the start, plus my stretching coach helping me with my pre-race routine.
The gun went off and we were on our way. The heavy-halfers and the full marathoners all start out the same, then branch off about a mile up the course. Brandon ran with me the first mile, then I was off on my own. I huffed and puffed my way up. It was mostly walking with running when your body felt like it could. My GPS was freaking out a bit during my walking spells, so luckily I had written some aid station mileage on my arm so I knew where I was at. I took some time to video here and there only to notice that as I was getting my video in and out of my pocket, I turned my watch off. Shit. It happened around the 1:30 mark, so now I had nothing to tell me where I was at in my goal to reaching the top in 2 hours. The goal was at the top of this hill, just above the “i” in the snow. You can also see the dirt switchbacks we had to traverse to get to the top.
Here’s a shot looking another direction.
The big traverse is called Mosquito Pass. On my way up, the elite marathoners started passing me. I got to see Anton Krupicka pass me on his way up and down. I said good job, but after the race he admitted he probably looked a bit disgruntled. I agreed with him. This race is brutal for anyone. I made my way to the top in 2:14. Took some video and left little time to rest as I was ready to start back down. The descent is the most fun for me. Gravity just wants to throw you down, so you have to use control and precise footing. I was able to run into Brandon on my way down and his way up. We stopped for a few breaths and were on separate ways. Once I got down the Pass, all I could feel was happiness and was singing to my tunes and smiling at everyone. People probably thought I was nuts. These marathoner’s still had a long way to go and here comes some chick bouncing down like a school girl. A lot of people smiled back once they saw how good of a time I was having, and I reminded them that they would be smiling once they start down too. As I passed by aid station B, I got to see Kim and the kids. Kim snapped this picture of me headed down. I was acting like I could fly. I felt like it was possible with the momentum of the hill behind me and the view in front me. I was having F U N!
With just a few miles left, everyone is pretty spread out but I got to meet 3 interesting fellows on the way down. One was from Mexico. He didn’t speak any English but told me if I ever wanted to visit his country, he’d give me his phone number. He found me at the end of the race and asked to have his picture taken with me. I’m not a rock star runner, but I’ll take the “celebrity”. The other guy I met was named Jim Heil. He and I had been taking turns leading each other and at his final pass past me, he introduced himself. He was 68 and on his 4th set of legs! I assume he had some hip replacements in the past. He did say I had the nicest legs on the course, so I’ll let it slide that he kicked my ass by a few minutes. Another marathoner ended up passing me before our big turn out of the mining area. There are pink flags marking the course, but he wasn’t paying attention. He started heading straight down a street when he needed to go right. So I started yelling “right…Right…RIGHT!” Finally he caught on, waved, and headed into town. His name was Nick Clark and ended up finishing 4th in the marathon race. At the end, he admitted he was a bit out of it and said thanks for the help.
I cruised into the finish at 3:57:06. I was pleased! Not too shabby for a Flatlander. I finished 115th out of 164 and was 15th in my F30-39 age group. The winner ran it in 2:16:11! I made my goal of 4 hours, but my most important goal was to have fun. And I did. More fun than I can describe! I probably could have pushed myself harder at points and cut some time off, but I’d wanted to take in every second of this race and squeeze as much fun out of it as I could. Here’s me with my finishing time on the wall.
Since Brandon had twice as far to go, I hung around the finish to take in the scene and people. I was surrounded by some really talented runners. I introduced myself to the Leadville Marathon winner, Dennis Flanagan and snagged a shot with him! Met and got pics with runners #1 & #2 of the day, sweet!
As I waited for Brandon, a quick storm rolled in and added some coolness to the otherwise hot sunny day. It sprinkled for 30 minutes on us, but you could hear the thunder rolling in on the mountains.
Brandon made it down the stretch and crossed the line at 5:55:36.
In my opinion, a job well done by the Fuller Crew. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Not even the tiniest elephant in the world! Sounding like a 5th grader, I think it’s so cool that my brother and I have both got to compete in a race together in our home states. I will say, my state’s are easier, his are more fun! Thanks for the invite Brandon! I wouldn’t of wanted to share this with anyone else! Thanks to Kim, Sydney, and Reagan for giving up their weekends to be with us in Leadville! I sure enjoyed it and hope you all did too!
Check out Brandon’s story…
Check out my video…I inadvertently had the camera on in my shorts pocket, so my battery died towards the end. Didn’t get my finish on video. Lessoned learned for the next race.