“What goes up, must come down.”
I just hoped it wouldn’t be me until AFTER I summited Leadville’s Mosquito Pass and by my own account, not by some freak accident that threw me over the side of the sheer cliffs that buffered the “road”.
I was 4.5 miles into the Leadville Heavy Half Marathon and I was staring up at Mosquito Pass’s 3000 foot vertical incline from Resurrection, the base of this mammoth mountain that would soon be underfoot. Up to this point, I’d only climbed 700 feet along a dirt road that was lined by delicate Aspen trees and stately Lodgepole pines and had a false sense of security that the rest of the run would be easy as pie.
However, as I rounded the downhill bend into Resurrection and turned to look up at Mosquito Pass and the endless switchbacks that were etched into its rocky face, I knew I was about to conquer a mountain trail that had no sympathy for the athletes that tried to claim it as their own.
Though my training brought me through Summit County’s spectacular mountain scenery, up dirt covered roads that drifted lazily alongside ice cold mountain creeks, there was something primal about Leadville and the surrounding area. It was like the area hadn’t changed in the 150 years since the mining boom brought people out to this incredible place in droves, each one hoping to strike it big. As we ran through the ghostly Tabor Mine, you got the eerie feeling that the miners had disappeared into thin air, leaving their spirits behind to taunt the athletes that challenged their bodies to carry them up the hill and over the boulders that littered the road.
Lucky for me, it seems as though those spirits thought me respectful enough to help to push me up the hill, over the boulders, to the summit of Mosquito Pass (13,185′ above sea level!) and back down to cross the finish line in downtown Leadville.
Big thanks to my mom for sharing the day with me. She woke up at 4:30am to head up to Leadville, camped out at Resurrection for hours, and walked with me while I noshed on a much needed PB&J after Mosquito Pass’s 3000 foot decline. Couldn’t have done it without you, you wonderful you. And big thanks to my dad and brothers for believing I would kill it. Love you guys.
The Leadville Heavy Half Marathon was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. There were times that I wished a big gust of wind would push me off the trail so I wouldn’t have to finish the climb and there were other moments of sheer exhilaration as I looked out over the vast high alpine lakes and valleys that give Lake County its name. I finished the race in 3:49 and crossed the line 219 out of about 800 runners–far better than I could’ve imagined, though my body is paying for it today. All in all, such a cool experience and you can bet I will be out there again in 2014…anyone care to join me?