|A few of the tents in our compound, and coffee brewing on the stove.|
My family and I spent Wednesday through Friday camping before pulling into the parking lot / base camp area at about 5:30 Friday. After 3 days in the wind and chilly weather there were some calls for visiting the Big Horn Lodge instead of camping, but a compromise was struck in setting up the tent then going into the Brewery for some grub. We returned to our campsite around 9:30 pm, just as Alex, his kids, and Mindy showed up. After helping a bit with setup I turned in to a cold night's sleep, knowing the 6:15 wake up was going to come quick. As my alarm went off I put on a few extra layers and ventured outside to see the rest of the team, listen to pre-race annoucements, and then cheer for Alex as he headed off on our first leg of the race.
|Start of the race, Alex is there somewhere|
|Sunrise a few minutes after the race started|
The excitement at basecamp was high. I don't know if we left the start/finish area the entire 43 minutes Alex was running. The race started just before sunrise so we were treated to a beautiful sunrise and stunning views of the mammoth red rocks that surrounded the area. Before we knew it Anita Ortiz was coming back in, the first runner to complete a lap. A couple minutes later Alex came in and we then went and made some coffee. The rest of the day seemed to fly by. I was out running my first leg, then my second leg in a seeming blink of an eye. In between legs we sat around, drank coffee, rehydrated, ate, talked some friendly smack with Cat, Celeste, and Lindsey, and each other, and generally had a great time.
My fourth lap was my only full on dark lap and it was the most fun, even though it was my slowest. I left basecamp at 12:30 pm and had a blast out on the trails in the dark. It was snowing lightly as I traipsed through the stream bed, that may be the highlight of all all my runs, it was beautiful. It was at times difficult to follow the trail on the slickrock but the peacefullness of the night and the sillouttes of the rocks and views of glowsticks and other headlamps in the distance were all somehow calming. I think the night running is where a lap course wins out over a point to point course, seeing so many others out there rather than potentially being all alone was nice.
Some of the other Fort Collins runners there I have run hundreds of miles with, while others hardly any. Without exception I enjoyed the company of all seven other runners there and their respective families and pets. I came away from the weekend feeling I know all of them better than before regardles of how well I knew them before. It was fun to see how we came together into our teams and how seemlessly we all transitioned from casual hang around camp time to serious run time and back (repeat, repeat, repeat). There was no whining involved, no matter how tired or how cold we were, and everyone was ready to run their next lap on time every time it was our turn. The interplay of fun and serious was like the running version of salty and sweet.
My favorite moment of the trip came while I was resting in my tent at about 3 AM. Alex (the math teacher) had just finished his 5th lap and Mindy were in the pop up shelter right outside and were discussing how many laps we were on track for. Over 20 minutes they did the math 5 different ways and came up with 5 different answers. I could only laugh about it because I was doing the same math in my head in the tent and I kept getting different answers too. We've all done math in our head late in runs, but this was like that squared. Running a lot and sleep deprivation is evidently something you shouldn't do before a math test.
Would I do this again? In a minute I would. I would plan my eating and drinking and rest a little better as I had a mini-crash between 5-8 pm, but that's about the only thing I'd change for myself. I've gone back and forth wondering if running 1 lap at a time vs maybe 2 at a stretch would matter. We did the one lap thing, Cat's team did multiples, and we finished only minutes apart over 24 hours and 129 miles so I've decided that probably doesn't matter.
Gemini Adventures put on a good show and I would go back to another of their races. I'm contemplating the six hour fun run at 24 Hours of Laramie, run in the Happy Jack area at the end of June since I had so much fun running at night. The fun run goes from 6 pm to Midnight. With multiple race and early registration discounts it's only $35, seems hard to beat that. We'll ignore it being 7 days after the Big Horn 50 for now.
|Alex returning from our first lap|
|Cat came in soon after|
|Joselyne heading out|
|Lindsey and Wiley - that dog loves to run|
|Rob had spring in his step early in the day|
|Returning from my first night lap|
|Celeste checking in before heading out for her third consecutive lap.|
|Mindy making Mr. Australia look bad|