Thursday, July 18, 2013


Thank you AJ Wellman

July 14th, 2013 

Silver Rush 50 ~ Race Report

After a few days of good fun with great friends, race morning was finally here. A short nights rest and I was up at 3:45 am and getting ready for a big day with much anxiety. With everything packed, I ate a calorie laden drink for breakfast and my wife gave us a short ride over to the race start. A big kiss to the wife and it was time to try and stay warm and relaxed with Jon, Steve and Mike (my fellow warriors in battle) at the start.

As we were standing there shooting the bull, my stomach was wrenching with much more anxiety than I care to admit. I wasn’t sure what I was in for or if I was trained enough to even complete what lay ahead.

Start Line to Black Cloud Outbound (7 mile aid station) ~

One last handshake to the boys and with a gunshot (a real rifle shot), we were off and climbing Dutch Henry Hill. None of us wanted part of the silly race up to the top so we just forged on. After seeing my wife, daughter and AJ at the top, I put my earphones in and kicked up the volume. I started with what felt like a decent pace (not too hard, not too conservative) and found myself passing people early, which I expected as many people start too far up in the pack to start many races.

Those first seven miles were not nearly as hard as I expected them to be and I found myself not stopping to hike even once all the way into the Black Cloud aid station. The pack was thinning and I stuck with two runners who were setting a sustainable pace (one of them being “Tom” who I ran almost 90% of the race with). Nutrition and hydration were going “ok” at this point and I was feeling fresh. As we approached the aid station, we found that it was still being set up and I hadn’t taken in enough fluids yet to need replenishment so I kept moving on. Tom stopped to use the Porta-potty and the other runner stopped to pick up trash he dropped leaving me alone for a few miles.

Actual Time – 1hr 3mins

Black Cloud to Printer Boy Outbound (13.5 mile aid/crew station) ~

I worked on eating a Bonk Breaker Bar, refueling on electrolytes and Roctane after leaving Black Cloud, quickly realizing that NONE of them were appealing in the slightest. Tom finally passed me again (a much stronger hiker than me) and I just tried to stay within 50 yards of him up to the high point turn (mile 10).  At mile 9, I couldn’t sustain running any longer with the incline significantly rising (375+ feet of elevation gain in each of the next two miles) so I worked a one minute run/walk strategy.  The view of the amphitheater bowl was gorgeous and worth the effort. At the high point turn, I caught Tom and we made some idle chit chat before I turned on the speed. I left Tom behind and focused on staying vertical at a fast pace (one small misstep could have ended the day). I bombed down the frontage road for the next 4 miles at a fast quip (two of the miles splits were 6:19 and 6:15).

As I ran into the Printer Boy crew station, right there to greet me were AJ and Savannah (AJ’s daughter) with smiles. AJ’s first words were, “Dude, you’re running in 4th place”. I was utterly shocked and in denial as AJ replaced my bottles with more fluids. I had AJ grab more food out of my back vest pocket for the next stretch knowing that I was already behind on nutrition. I saw my wife and daughter at the base of the exit hill out of the crew station and gave each of them a big kiss.

Goal Time – 2hrs 10mins ****  Actual Time – 1hr 59mins

Kissing my sweet Mia

Tackling a small hill out of Printer Boy

Printer Boy to Rock Garden (18 mile aid station) ~

I was already worried about this stretch of the race (miles 14 to 18) as it involved very little views to inspire you, it had harder terrain to run on and it was the point where the day just started to warm up. I stuck to the one minute run/walk strategy through here and just tried to keep the 3rd place guy in my sights immediately recognizing that my competitive side just kicked into high gear. He knew I was on him and he pushed the pace even harder. Tom caught me and the 3rd place guy and left us in the dust. This stretch was hard, but not nearly as hard as I expected, so I was pleased running into the Rock Garden aid station. Once again, I was NOT interested in eating or drinking much and when the aid station crew guys asked me what they could get me, I said “anti-nausea pills” half way joking …but I wouldn’t have turned them down if they did have some. I refueled on both water and Roctane (lemon-lime – BLAHHHH) and geared up for the next hard stretch up Ball Mountain. I caught the 3rd place guy (now 4th after Tom passed us both) and once again decided to settle in behind Tom.

Actual Time – 2hrs 42mins

Rock Garden to Stumptown (Half way point aid/crew station) ~

As we left Rock Garden, we were once again treated to some sensational views looking back down into Leadville and up into the Ball Mountain/Mosquito Pass Bowl. There was a mish-mash of running terrain mixed with some hard climbs. Sticking with Tom was a good strategy so far, so I continued. Another guy now passed me and Tom up the final Ball Mountain ascent and he looked VERY strong. I didn’t really care at that point and just kept Tom in my sights. When I finally peaked Ball Mountain, I said to one of the race crew, “That was brutal”. His response “Yeah, that f-ing sucks, but you’re kicking ass” appearing to have done it himself at some point in the past.

Renewed and focused, I relied on my good downhill running ability to catch up with Tom and make up some good time lost hiking up the other side of Ball Mountain. This section was hard to bomb because of its huge descent, but I did well. This was the first time in the day that I really felt my quads barking. I kept using excuses as to why I wasn’t eating at this point (not hungry, too hard to eat and run, blah, blah, blah), but knew I wasn’t doing well in that regard and I was going to have to fess up to AJ when I came into Stumptown. This was the ONE thing AJ emphasized most in training …CALORIES. Once I caught Tom, we BS’d the last mile into Stumptown as I found out he was using this race as a training run for the LT100. We talked about family, where we were from, how we were feeling and just how happy we were to be half way done.

I rolled into the crew station not feeling very good and the first thing I said to everyone was, “This is HARD”. I then fessed up to AJ that I wasn’t eating at all and not feeling super well. His response, “You’re going to fast …borderline irresponsible”. It was at that point that I realized I was almost 20 minutes ahead of pace for an 8hr finish. AJ asked me if I needed anything and I’m pretty sure I said “NO” to everything until he asked if I wanted my energy drink, at which point I gratefully accepted. I knew as I was standing there sipping on my drink that I was getting very comfortable not moving and said, “I need to get going or I’m going to sit down and not get back up”. AJ’s very fatherly-stern advice was, “Slow down, hike the up-hills and EAT”. For the first time that day, I was worried about a DNF (Did Not Finish) and was very concerned about my nutrition (or lack thereof). One more kiss to my wife and I geared up for a MONSTER climb.

Goal Time – 3hrs 50mins ***  Actual Time - 3hrs 34mins

Rolling into Stumptown

Drinking my Bing energy drink and trying to keep my composure

Stumptown to Rock Garden Inbound (30 mile aid station) ~

Knowing what I just came down, I struggled to stay positive as I went back UP. I crossed paths first with Steve, who looked happy as could be descending into Stumptown. I next saw Mike who asked how I was doing and I said “not well” and I’m sure I didn’t look well either. I then saw Jon and when he asked how I was doing, I think I said “I’m struggling” …and probably looked like I was struggling on this un-runnable stretch. After letting Tom and one more person go out of Stumptown ahead of me, I started to give less and less power to my competitive side and got back on the “just finish” band-wagon. I kept Tom in my sights and just mimicked his run/walk strategy, which FINALLY got us up to the top of Ball Mountain again. I was neck and neck with Tom rolling into Rock Garden where I saw Michael Aish (two time New Zealand Olympian) sitting on a camping chair drinking a can of Coke. He said, “Nice hat” (I was wearing a Run CO hat from his running store) and I said, “AISH”. We chatted for a few moments and he informed me that he wasn’t racing today, but rather just training for the LT100 and that he’d see me later. I grabbed a cheese rollup, took a bite and struggled to swallow it for the next 5 minutes. The rest of it went to the forest creatures as I tossed it.

Actual Time – 4hrs 33mins

Rock Garden to Printer Boy Inbound (34.5 mile aid/crew station) ~

The best part of this section was going DOWN the original 14 to 18 mile segment that plagued my dreams days before. I caught some good momentum down this stretch, but was still struggling with the knowledge that I was NOT eating correctly and tried to focus on making sure I drained my Roctane and tried a PocketFuel (almond butter paste). Bad idea. It was the first time in the day that I started to gag because it was so thick and my mouth was so dry that I had to eventually wash it all down with straight water in one gulp. I was a little deterred by that and when I made the turn back into the trees towards Printer Boy, I started to really feel the up-hills. I had little strength to push hard so I stuck with the plan to run/walk. One strong runner came flying by me (sand bagger) and then a few minutes later, Aish came right up on my side with a happy greeting. I said, “Go get ‘em Mike”. His response was silent as he showed me his watch wasn’t even on at that point and I was reminded I was NEVER in his league. He was out there having fun as I struggled.

As I came into Printer Boy, I was VERY encouraged by the cheers of my family, friends and spectators. When I came upon AJ, I wasn’t given the choice for sunscreen …he just sprayed it on me, which I was grateful for because I’m not sure I could have made smart decisions like that myself. I ditched gloves, arm sleeves and extra food. AJ offered me some food, the first of which was another PocketFuel and I emphatically said “NOOOO”. I grabbed 4 gels, AJ refueled my fluids and told me that I had one final push to go and then it was all down hill. One more big kiss to my wife and a kiss to my daughter, who wasn’t really interested in any more kisses from her sweaty, smelly dad.

Actual Time – 5hrs 12mins

Feeling hot, but "up" coming into Printer Boy Inbound

Trying not to fall down the steep little hill at Printer Boy Inbound

Printer Boy to Black Cloud Inbound (40 mile aid station) ~

On the way out of the aid station, I could see Tom and Aish ahead of me chatting. Aish dropped back for a second to meet up with me and said, “no need to run alone. Come up and run with us”. What I wanted to say was “Piss off Aish”, but instead I said, “Don’t wait for me. I’m going to take my time”. He promptly went back up to Tom and ran with him for a few steps and I could tell immediately that Tom must have said the same thing because in seconds, Aish was almost a half mile ahead of us. It was clear that both Tom and I were struggling up these HARD four miles and it was easily the most hiking miles of the day. As I lumbered through those 4 miles, I pushed on knowing that AJ was right …this was the last hard push of the day as my gluts and quads were screaming. About 50 yards from the peak/high point, Tom slowed down so I could catch up with him. He congratulated me on a great first ultra and told me he wasn’t going to push the downhill coaxing me to push as hard as I could the rest of the way home. Stand up guy through and through.

As I turned the corner to go down, I could immediately feel that my quads were wrecked and I couldn’t bomb this section like I had hoped. It was a challenge to keep the wheels on all the way down to the Black Cloud aid station. It was a muddy and technical section and I almost went straight into a mud bog as I took a bad step, but I recovered quickly. It was right after that when the hail started. The tiny little pellets at my back, neck and exposed arms were never a problem, only a nuisance and it only lasted about 5 minutes.

The biggest struggle for me in this section was expecting the aid station any second, but it just never felt like it was going to come. I finally ran into the aid station and was greeted by about 8 race crew members. They asked me what I needed and I said, “Nothing …I just want to stop for a few seconds”. I walked a few steps, cleared out all my trash and grabbed a gel, which I threw back down my gullet. Time to tackle the final 7 miles.

Actual Time – 6hrs 23mins

Black Cloud to the Finish (HOME) ~

I knew the next 7 miles were going to be a struggle because the descent slowly eased up and my legs were slowly losing the ability to pick up, which caused more of a shuffle. With about 6 miles to go, I somehow got a rock stuck in my sock down against my big toe. I struggled with that for about 2 miles and couldn’t get it out. I couldn’t bring myself to sit down and get it out worried I might not be able to get back up and get my muscles firing again. I finally noticed a new pain in the tendon along the top of my big toe running up my foot towards my shin. This pain out weighed the pain of the rock and I quickly stopped worrying about the one pain and focused on the other. Each mile ticked down very slowly and for the first time I was CLEARLY aware of the distance I had run and how many more miles I had left. I was alone the entire last seven miles and was hungry for company and to see someone …anyone. I rounded one of the corners, which was manned by the Ken Chlouber (Founder of the LT100) telling me there were women waiting for me at the finish. I laughed and said, “I thought this was the finish line”.

After the laughs were done, I made the final push home. Much to my delight, it started to lightly rain as I crested the top of Dutch Henry, which I saw over 7 hours earlier. I heard the cheers of my family and friends below not knowing what they were saying, just encouraged by their cheers. I rounded the corner and headed down a steep hill to see my daughter first, then AJ, then my happy wife and friends Heidi and kids. I raised my hands up high with pride, joy, relief and satisfaction. Coming out of the finishing chute I was first greeted by AJ with a hug …something AJ swore he’d never do and did. I was a rookie and was very pleased with my debut performance. I finished in 6th place overall and 1st place in my age group and crushed my original goals. I started the day with anxiety and ended the day with a gratitude for the love and support of my family, friends, fellow racers and especially for my health. This is a day that I will never forget.

              Actual – 7hrs 29mins – 6th place overall – 1st place in Masters Age Group

With rain coming down, I was relieved to see family and friends

Officially done and ready for my award and to just sit down


  1. To my studly husband,

    Congratulations on a terrific race! The talent you show in distance running is no fluke, and your placing sixth overall and winning your age group proves it. You have been an inspiration to the kids and me that surrounding yourself with the best people like AJ, Mike, Jon, and Steve, setting a goal, preparing diligently, and working hard are the real keys to success. Just to let you know, the expectations for a repeat have been raised, and we expect to be congratulating you and your coach on your second Leadville Silver Rush next year! We are so proud of you and we love you very much!


    Jen, Mia, and Kai

  2. I agree, all I wanted to do at the end was sit down....or lay down :)
    Great comment by Ken at the end - ha!
    Congrats on an awesome race! It was fun to read about your adventures as you crushed this race. Great memories of the race weekend!

  3. Sorry, I didn't mean to get in your way.... and for what it's worth I was working out there too, the key is just not to let it show.

    Congratulations on a great race (and thanks for making that hat look so good).