Thursday, July 27, 2006

Locals recount Hardrock tales

There were a record 81 finishers out of 130 starters at the weekend's Hardrock 100-mile endurance run in Silverton.

From the starters, six live in La Plata County.

Brett Sublett finished in 39 hours, 46 minutes and 20 seconds; Will Vaughan 42:27:43, Brett Gosney 42:35:09, Odin Christensen 43:08:40 and Rick Pearcy 46:08:59.

David Greenberg completed 90 miles before succumbing to exhaustion near Cunningham Gulch.

These are the numbers, but they don't tell the stories.

Sublett was happy to finish the race for the second time in as many tries, but it was not a pretty site. Sublett injured his knee halfway through the race and limped most of the remaining 50 miles.

"I couldn't bend my knee all the way, and I couldn't put much weight on it," Sublett said.

Sublett received a little bit of relief when an osteopath at Pole Creek treated him. Friend and adventure racing teammate Rick Callies and friend Liane Jollon also walked with Sublett and helped him stay focused.

"They were just great," Sublett said.

Vaughan knew the course, but the race was much harder than he thought it would be.

"I had done each section individually, but putting them together is a different story," Vaughan said. "Oscar's Pass was hot, and the terrain in and out of Cunningham was steep, loose and marbled."

This was Vaughan's first Hardrock but his third 100-mile run. He has also completed Wasatch and Bighorn. Despite some swelling and blisters, Vaughan felt better at the completion of Hardrock than he did at his other 100-mile runs.

Gosney is now 2-for-3 for Hardrock finishes.

"I was sick as a dog on Friday, but I had a great day of running on Saturday," Gosney said.

After arriving at Grouse Gulch, the halfway point, at 5 a.m. Saturday, Gosney thought that his race might be finished. He was nauseated, sick and exhausted. But after a 30-minute nap, Gosney felt like a new man.

"It was like Lazarus coming back from the dead," Gosney said.

Gosney's son Sam, 15, paced his father for the last 9 miles.

"Sam was psyched to be there, and I was happy to have him," Brett said.

Christensen was bothered after not finishing the race last year but redeemed himself this year by running a smarter race.

"The weather was favorable, and I didn't push too hard early on," Christensen said. "It was a positive experience, and it was a great community of people to share the weekend with."

Christensen also found two secret weapons this year. "I ate lots of pumpkin pie and potato soup at the aid stations."

Pearcy found all of the climbs difficult but was also intrigued with the beauty of the course and the remarkable sunrises and sunsets.

"There were amazing waterfalls, and I saw a herd of elk near Cataract Lake," Pearcy said.

Fortunately, Pearcy had plenty of scenery to distract him while he was vomiting during most of the last four hours of the race.

"Maybe I'll hike some 14ers and learn to kayak during the rest of the summer," Pearcy said.

Despite not finishing the race after having covered 90 miles walking and run, Greenberg had the best stories to tell.

In spite of the oppressive heat, Greenberg felt fine on Friday while going up Oscar's. After dealing with some stormy weather on Virginius, Greenberg started the climb up Engineer.

"My stomach started to turn, and I could see that flashing red light on top of the pass. But it just never seemed to get any closer," Greenberg said.

"Handies was beautiful but by Pole Creek and Maggie's, I was having trouble getting fluids down."

When Greenberg met up with a small group of runners, he soldiered up Stony Pass and over Green Mountain. After arriving at Cunningham with 9 miles to go and seven hours before the 48-hour cut-off time, Greenberg appeared to be on his way to a finish at his first Hardrock attempt. But it was not to be.

Greenberg tripped and fell backward while only 500 feet from the next ridge.

Exhausted, dehydrated and perhaps hypothermic, he was not able to get back up and resume walking.

Greenberg said he considered crawling but after thinking about the long-term effects on his body and the worry and anxiety he would put his family through, Greenberg knew that his race was over.

While his pacer gave him extra clothes and went back to the Cunningham aid station to get some help, Greenberg reclined and waited.

After being escorted back to the Cunningham aid station, Greenberg was administered an IV and was on his way to a complete recovery.

"I'd like to give Hardrock another try, but it probably won't be next year," Greenberg said.

Race director Dale Garland, who said he is amazed at the tenacity of all the runners, will be directing the event again next year.

"I can't run anymore, but this is one connection that I still have," Garland said. "I enjoy the challenge of putting on such a big event and watching it all come together. Hardrock has a lot of meaning in people's lives, and I enjoy being part of that."

Harriers start Hardrock 100

While it rained Monday, six local runners made their last-minute preparations for today's 13th annual Hardrock 100-mile endurance run, which begins in Silverton and proceeds in a clockwise direction through Telluride, Ouray and Lake City.

The race starts at 6 a.m. and will finish Sunday at 6 a.m. The Hardrock course has 33,000 feet of elevation gain.

Rick Pearcy, 53, spent the week in Silverton. On Monday, he duct-taped his Camelbak while fastening down all of the straps on his pack.

"This way, I'll have lots of duct tape handy in case I get blisters during the run," Pearcy said.

Pearcy, a retired policeman from Colorado Springs, was scheduled to start last year's event, but, instead, paced a friend.

"I knew I wasn't prepared for the race."

Pearcy is well aware of the monumental task at hand.

"A million things can go wrong, like getting sick, lost or bad weather," he said. "But I'm excited about seeing an incredibly beautiful course."

Odin Christensen, 58, a Mancos geologist, has started the Hardrock 10 times and has finished the event six times.

Last year, Christensen dropped out of the race at Grouse Gulch, near the 40-mile mark.

"Getting sick while running through the night is tough to deal with," Christensen said.

Christensen is hoping to redeem himself this year.

"I know that the pain and stiffness from the run only lasts about a week, but the real agony of not finishing lasts all year."

Will Vaughn, 34, is attempting the Hardrock for the first time. Since suffering a back injury in March, Vaughn's training has gone well. In the past few months, Vaughn has been able to complete five training runs of 30-40 miles.

"I think the toughest part of this race is eating and hydrating correctly," Vaughn said.

"It's also hard staying focused while you haven't slept for 40 hours and you've got all of these aches and pains."

With monsoon season arriving early in Southwest Colorado, Vaughn is expecting to see spectacular wildflowers.

Brett Gosney, 47, is the CEO of the Animas Surgical Hospital. Juggling a high-pressure job, family and training can be difficult, but Gosney is hoping to make it for his second successful try in three attempts.

On Monday, Gosney was in Silverton waiting out the rain and hoping to continue his high-altitude training by reading a book, Last of the Mohicans while spending time on Stony Pass.

"I climbed peaks in Alaska, Asia and South America for 15 years, but what I really love is moving quickly through the mountains," Gosney said.

"The Hardrock is the premier 100-mile trail race in the country. It's well-organized, and it's an honor and privilege to run this event in my own backyard."

Brett Sublett was the 10th-place finisher in last year's event in 32 hours and 42 minutes. Hardrock starters are determined by lottery, and Sublett was placed on the waiting list for this year's event. He only found out that he had been accepted to run a few weeks ago.

"My training hasn't been the greatest, but I have been able to get in a few long runs in the mountains," Sublett said.

David Greenberg, 41, lives in Durango but is a family-practice doctor in Shiprock, N.M.

It is Greenberg's first try at the Hardrock.

He qualified to run the Hardrock by finishing the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run last year in 35:42.

"My training has been going well, and I've been walking and running in the mountains," Greenberg said. "With family and work it's always challenging finding time to run."

Dale Garland, city councilor and former mayor of Durango, has directed the race every year since its inception.

"Last year's winners, Sue Johnston and Karl Metzler, are both back this year," Garland said.

"We'll also have runners from 33 states and Finland, Germany, France and Italy."

All of the runners' progress can be tracked at

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Cyclists are RAAM tough

They started in Oceanside, Calif., on Sunday at 10 a.m., and they'll keep on biking 3,043 miles until they reach Atlantic City sometime around June 20. It's the 25th Anniversary edition of the Race Across America (RAAM) and riders started passing through Durango on Tuesday afternoon.

It's a traveling three-ring circus of endurance masochists, support vehicles and media.

Val and Robin Phelps, time station captains and Durango Wheel Club members, are hosting a checkpoint at Santa Rita Park. The Durango stop is 815.3 miles into the race.

"It's sort of the fringe of cycling," Val said.

Jure Robic, two-time defending champion and last year's RAAM winner in nine days, eight hours and 48 minutes, was the first one to the Durango checkpoint this year, arriving at 12:30 p.m.

According to Robin, Robic was a little unsteady getting off his bike and went to sleep in his support crew's motor home almost immediately.

Marko Baloh was the second rider through at 2:12 p.m.

"It's going OK for now," said Baloh, while devouring a plate of risotto prepared by his support crew.

Marcel Knaus arrived only three minutes behind Baloh. Knaus brushed his teeth, lay down in the grass at Santa Rita Park and propped his legs up against a pole. While Knaus rubbed a wet cloth across his sweaty face, his crew massaged his legs.

Drew Bourey, Durango business owner, watched the riders as they arrived and tried to do a little work at Boure Sportswear in between.

"We have a couple of sponsored riders doing RAAM," Bourey said.

Jonathan Boyer arrived at 2:40 p.m. He dismounted his bike, got into his support crew's car and zipped off to a hotel for some rest.

Boyer was the winner of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in 1982. Ned Overend, who was wrenching at the Outdoorsman (now Mountain Bike Specialist) at the time, raced and won as a Cat. IV racer that year.

"I didn't get to race against Boyer much, but we're the same age (50), and I've been following the guy's career forever," Overend said. "Boyer was one of the early riders in Europe, and he paved the way for a lot of Americans to race there."

Ed Zink, Iron Horse Bicycle Classic organizer, remembers Boyer's 1982 visit to Durango well.

"Boyer came here because he was using it as a tune-up for the Coors Classic," Zink said. "After Boyer won the IHBC, he stopped for a few interviews before turning back around and racing back to Durango. He was on top of Molas Pass while the Cat. III racers were just getting there."

Overend was back and forth at the aid station trying to see his friends Ken Souza, Boyer and Tinkler Juarez. He was also hoping to ride a little.

Martha McClellan, 59, lives in Durango and was expecting to see her son, Zach Bingham, early on Wednesday. Bingham is riding on the four-person Beaver Creek-Vail team, last year's winning team.

"I'll have Zach's favorite food, tuna noodle casserole, ready when he comes through," McClellan said. "I worry every year about Zach, and I just want him to be safe."

Paul Skilbeck is the RAAM media director. He was accompanying the lead riders through Durango, making sure that they were safe and following the RAAM rulebook.

"Durango is a slightly mad cycling town, and this is the best stop of the entire race," Skilbeck said. "We're starting to see some real fatigue set in on the riders right now."

Rose Juarez, Tinker's mother, stopped in Durango while crewing for her son and waited for him to arrive from Cortez.

"This race is hard on everybody, but I'm just taking it day by day," Rose said. "Between cooking, cleaning and driving, there's so much to do."

Her son has visited Durango many times while racing in NORBA and Iron Horse events. He was looking forward to passing through Durango again.

"It's one of my favorite places to race," he said in a pre-race interview. "I see Ned around sometimes, and I keep in touch with Myles Rockwell (Durango rider)."

Meanwhile, Juarez was having his share of difficulties in Cortez on Tuesday. He had some problems with his bike fit, and was not in a good mood.

"This is not fun," said Rose, repeating her son's words.

At 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night, Robin Phelps was getting ready for a little nap as she wasn't expecting any more riders for several hours.