Monday, January 16, 2012

Ponderous Posterior 50k 2012

Ponderous Posterior 50k
Colorado/Manitou Springs, CO

The Ponderous Posterior 50k looked like a great opportunity to run some great, new (to me) trails with friends old and new. With a mild winter and perfect January weather on tap, this free Fat-Ass event was even harder to pass up.

I enjoyed carpooling down with Rob, so we had a great chance to chat both ways, while representing the Fort in the 50k. When arriving, we were glad to see Aaron and Dakota having made it down as well, for even more representation. But where was everyone else? I know the Fort is more than capable of invading Utah, Wyoming, and Arizona throughout the year, so next year, put it on the calendar!

Rob made good time getting us ready for the 8am wave, which seems to have been the most popular wave of the day. By then, cars with various bumper stickers with various numbers (usually 50 or 100) were lined up and down 31st street. With little fanfare, we were off.

The road section was over with fairly quickly, and soon enough we were on trails that led us a ridge above town. It was already impressive to see the type of trails that JT is able to hit from his front door, knowing that the later sections were even better, more classic trails.

After the first ridge was easy, conversational rolling, and the sunlight started hitting our sections of trail. We rolled comfortably and then entered some forested sections of trail, with periodic ice and snow. Like many, I had microspikes in my pack, but with careful, staccato steps, slipped occasionally but was able to avoid falling or pulling muscles.

I hit an icy patch on a corner and slid down. I popped right back up so as not to hold up the runner behind me, but blood and mud were caked on my left leg and splattered onto my right. At least I got it out of the way early.
Photo courtesy of Rob

I wondered how it would affect my running, but it honestly had no effect the rest of the day. The main thing that did slow me down was a strained hamstring from the previous Thursday morning downhill tempo, where I most certainly overstrided. So I had to take it easy on the downhills.

The uphills, though, were fun -- and there were plenty. I was running alone for a bit when I started wondering about the Red Mountain spur. I didn't want to miss it, but feared I did. Literally, as I was reaching into my pocket to grab the map, while still jogging, I saw the clearly-marked-with-flour intersection that said "Red" -- an obvious benefit to having course-markings done by hashing pros. Well done.

The Red climb was fun but I resorted to walking the icy sections, and saw a few 7am folks coming down. Two of them had microspikes on, which I had decided would be a good idea for the descent.
Arriving at the top, I took the fun little scramble (later noticed the trail around the back) and was surprised to see everyone else still chilling at the summit. I took in the views, put on the spikes, and headed down with them.

Next was a road downhill toward the infamous Manitou Incline. I enjoyed meeting up with Aaron, as well as Ryan K. here, and chatting -- hadn't met Ryan before, but I recognized his name, and look forward to running WS100 together. Met and chatted a bit with Leila as well and then reached the base of the Incline.

Of course, the Manitou Incline is well-known by weekend warriors looking to climb a couple thousand feet in just over a mile on an old Cog railway. It's been off-limits/private property the whole time, although thousands of people make the trek, and legitimizing of the trail is still in the works. (And, it's even safer now that some crazy Wisconsinite came and pounded in all the loose spikes).

So, time to hike. Kept it steady near some company, but then pulled up a bit. Passed numerous dayhikers that looked like death, I tried to encourage them on. I didn't know what to expect but heard someone discussing numbers, and saw that 30 minutes was a nice round number for being the middle of a long run (almost twice as slow as Matt C's 18 minute FKT). Caught up to NMP and chatted a bit at the top, and missed the arbitrary 30 minutes by 10 seconds. It would be fun to do an all-out effort sometime but then again it would be hard to pass up all the much more interesting trail options instead.

Again, I was surprised to see the other guys chilling at the top, so I grabbed a quick snack and adjusted clothes, then followed them into some more snow. Climbing was still OK but I was passed by several folks on the downhill. It was fun, soft snow, but I need to work on my technique, and my Cascadias suck at traction.

The descent kept going for quite a bit and then we hit the aid station. I was happy to ditch some clothes and grab some food from my bag, and then head back out, just behind the lead of the 8am group again, but it was the last time I'd see them.

Now I was pretty much by myself, as there was a group ahead and a group back, but I enjoyed the exploration of Waldo canyon, and ran into and chatted with a few folks running various distances with other start times. After getting into the shade again, the ice was pretty solid, and I debated putting my spikes back on. Right after I decided to do so, I remembered that I had just ditched them less than an hour ago. Oh well. At least with the previous traffic, I could see obvious shoe scrapes of the slipperiest spots, but I still grabbed onto branches and crashed into brush more than a few times.

Again, I looked forward to the climb out of the canyon more than I had the descent. Soon enough, that was done, and it was time for the long, sunny fire road descent, knowing that the real climbing of the day was done. The descent became tedious after awhile, and then I saw the little hill at the bottom which was marked in orange -- that was a fence-hopping endeavor into Garden of the Gods.

After a brief climb, and meeting a runner with a dog, we had gorgeous views of the Garden, and an eco-unfriendly eroded trail straight down into the Garden itself. It was awesome and I let out a "Whoop" here. I felt rejuvenated by some fun singletrack after too much road and ice, but somehow at the bottom, missed a left/North run to get around the rest of the Garden. Oh well, I mostly tacked my way East, backtracked a little bit, and asked around for suggestions, eventually popping out on a ridge less than a mile NW of JT's house (I had the map in my pocket and the street names helped). I'm not sure where the unofficial trails merged with official garden trails, but I'm guessing the flag/marking was moved or less obvious due to the heavy gaper traffic in the Garden itself, so mostly I'd just be more careful about studying that section of the course in the future.

Anyway, with minimal bushwhacking out of the Garden on onto a ridge, I saw a unicorn: a one-antlered deer, as the other antler had been busted off (and the existing one did have a few points, but was cracked and tilted). The buck didn't want to move, despite me being just a few yards away -- I stomped my foot, thinking the deer had already lost at least one fight, but hoping it didn't have mad deer disease either. I started running a little bit towards it, and it finally backed off. I scrambled down some rocks and skirted around a backyard, before getting down into some streets.

I missed 6 hours flat by 4 minutes, but oh well -- it was a great day and a great run. Enjoyed hanging out, eating, drinking, and chatting with folks. And it really did open my eyes to all the fantastic trails in the Springs! Thanks, JT and CRUD folks for a great event!


  1. You ran strong out there. We'll have to share some more mountain miles before the "Big Ones" this summer. Thanks for the Silverton brew.

  2. Nice to run briefly with you and to catch up post-run! I will keep you posted on the HR details.