What started as a crazy, laughable idea became reality last Saturday. 24 Hours of running up and down our big hill, the hill that makes the Fort Collins Trail Runners stronger, Towers, the antenna farm, big sucky mountain, or whatever else you may call it. I was simply blown away by the participation. I expected a total of about 25 runners, maybe 20 to start the morning and a core group of 10-12 throughout the day. Instead I witnessed the Soderberg lot fill and a mass of 56 runners descend on the campsite / starting line Saturday monring.
It got hot fast, temps were above 90 from roughly 10 AM until 6 PM. The Lory weather station reported a high of 92, but it sure felt hotter than that on the exposed trail, especially with zero cloud cover. Most runners seemed to adapt and maintain good spirits. There were some slower than anticipated laps, some adjustments made to the amount of water carried, some trips home for hydration packs, some extra rest, and yes there were some lessons learned about running in such heat. I spent a lot of that 10-6 window in the shade drinking water and enjoying the company of FCTR. As temps cooled there was a fresh assault on the hill, culminating in a group of 12 or so heading up for a lap at 10:30 pm. After that the number on the hill dwindled to 3 and then a solo runner for an hour or so before morning hit and numbers grew for a final lap.
|The best view of the rock can be snagged from Towers
|Great views of Meeker and Longs if you poke through the trees
|A nighttime view of the Fort through the trees from the Westridge junction.
The family lap was also a bigger hit than I expected. I didn't get an exact count but there were 6 or 8 groups that went out as couples, runners with children, or both, maybe 20+ of us? Some made it all the way up, some turned back sooner. I hope everyone else enjoyed sharing this hill with their family as much as I did. Several husband/wives made it to the top with runners and 4 children of runners. Sara Speights, Micah May, and my kids Sandis and Stella. Sara may be hooked, I hear. Micah did admirably well for a teenager. Sandis and Stella complained until they had some canine companionship then marched the last 2 miles to the top without a complaint. Stella was youngest to summit that day and at 7 years old she hiked her age in miles! She sings and dances and burps and likes to get dirty, I think she's a trail runner in the making.
|The families spread out at the beginning of the family lap and my kids on their trip up during the family lap.
Back to that idea of 24HoT being crazy and laughable. Few, if any, of us would have set out to run laps on Towers in 90+ F heat on our own. Had this been our plan for the day we likely would have altered the route to hit some shade on Timber or Howard or the Lory Westridge. As a group we not only worked through a bunch of vert and bunch of hot miles, but we had fun doing it, building on a group mileage total with each lap complete. Working together, supporting each other, sharing water, accomplishing huge things, and having fun; these are things that make the Fort Collins Trail Runners so awesome. One great thing about the day was that it was not a competition. There was not a lot of trying to out do that other guy, but there was a lot of supporting each other. In the afternoon when many were taking a break a common question was "how many have you run?". The responses started to come out as "only 3" or "just 2" but soon the group dynamic had numerous people responding to that with "There is no 'only', 3 is a lot of a work", etc. That was one of my take home moments from the weekend, "There is no only". It's easy to find someone in our community who has done more than you, and it's easy to lose sight of how great our own accomplishments are. It is wonderful that the FCTRs create an environment to remind us all of that important point, "There is no only".
The final statistics:
- 78 different runners
- 210 laps completed
- 1502 miles
- 367,500 feet of ascent (69.6 miles)
- Average per runner:
- 2.69 laps
- 19.25 miles!
- 4712 ft. vert.
- 25 runners with an "ultradistance" day, 4+ laps
Yeah, that's right, 78 people averaged a 19 mile day on Towers in that heat. That seems incredible, and awesome! (I am a child of the 80's, I'm allowed to say awesome)