Warning: the following words and images will allow you to vicariously see the world with the eyes of Sultan. Read at your own risk. The name Sultan has many meanings, but derives from the peak Sultan Mountain in Silverton, CO!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Crowders 20M

The weather recently has been weird lately, flip flopping from cold to hot to cold. A blizzard came thru on the Mt. Mitchell Challenge forcing a few runners to drop due to hypothermia and the lowest finishing rate. The weekend after, we ran thru Hot Springs and thru a heat wave with temperatures close to 80 degrees. This weekend we hit rain and temperatures not going north of the 40’s! Note: Photo above was not taken during the run, I just thought it looked good!

Me, DC, Mason, and Rob met at the Cracker Barrel at 0700. For some odd reason I was under the impression we would have breakfast there, which I was looking forward to. But this was only a rendezvous location. We drove down to the Linwood access of Crowders and met up with Greg. The five of us set out from Linwood to run towards Pinnacle. I had my Houdini jacket on and although the cold rain was soaking my body, I warmed up after the first few miles and wrapped the jacket around my waist. We pushed thru sloppy wet trails and flashbacks of Mitchell paced my mind.

As we passed the ranger station, and began the approach up Pinnacle I began to hike up the steep sections as both DC and Mason passed me by. They took off and I would not see them again for the next 4 hours. A few hundred feet below the summit of Pinnacle was the new trail that leads to the Boulder Ranger Station (Not opened yet) and I veered left. Before I took off both Greg and Rob hollered and said that they were turning around here. I paced back a few feet to say good bye and grab a gel from Greg that mentioned he did not need. They both headed back down Pinnacle and I turned left again and tried hard to catch up to Mason and DC. It rained harder, it was pouring rain, and I ran harder. I stopped for a minute and put on my rain jacket and added the extra thin layer between my body and the elements. I was cold and gloveless so I yanked my sleeve from the jacket down to keep my hands warm. I had never been on this trail and I was excited to experience it for the first time.

I had two handheld bottles which were both half full by this point and decided to drop one of them on the side of the trail for two reasons. One, I consume a lot of water, so in the event there is no where to refill I will at least have a half a bottle to take me back from Pinnacle to the car. Two, there was not need to carry two bottles, carrying one made me faster. I skipped down the steps and crossed a road. I found it odd that DC and Mason were no where to be seen, but kept trucking along. I knew they wanted to get 20 miles in today and that we would cross paths on their return because obviously they were blazing his section.

I ran/hiked the uphill’s and I was determined to catch up to these two. I crossed another road, and kept moving. Then another road, and I kept following the red blaze. I questioned myself at this point, was I lost? I knew I was on the only trail that led out of Crowders so that couldn’t be the case, I wasn’t lost. I was just moving slower than both DC and Mason. I kept going and finally reached the Boulder Ranger Station and was full of joy when I saw water fountains. I guzzeled what water I had left in my bottle and to my shock the fountains were not working. My watch said 2:10 which was how long I was on my feet from Linwood to Boulder. I spoke to Danny the ranger and asked him if he had seen two crazy yahoos running in the rain. He quickly said “No.” I was getting cold talking to Danny and took off on the return. I was alone, cold, wet, and with no water. Somehow I lost both DC and Mason. How did I get myself into this situation? I did what I could and truck back along the same way I came out. I would push my pace a little and then my hamstrings would start talking to me. I quickly told them to quite down and would slow my pace. I found my water bottle that I had left half full, and guzzeled about 200 ml right away. Finally I was back on Pinnacle and running down the sloppy mud past the main ranger station and back towards Crowders. I was back at Linwood in 4:24 with the inbound run taking me 4 minutes longer than the outbound. I was wet, cold and dehydrated and could only think of food at this point as I had only slammed down two gels.

Mason and DC were no where, and neither was their car. Whoa! I thought to turn this 20 mile day into an 80 mile day and run back to my car, but then came to my senses and knocked on the Linville ranger’s door. From their I was able to call DC and have them turn around and pick me up.

What happened: Both DC and Mason ran to the true summit of Pinnacle and waited for what they thought was me, Greg, and Rob to reach the summit. Well of coarse none of us made it to the summit, Greg and Rob turned around and I turned left on the new trail hoping to catch them. After DC and Mason waited for a few minutes they decided to go ahead and thought we had all turned around. I was ahead of them the entire time on the new trail, and I made it to the new Boulder ranger station while both Mason and DC turned around half a mile from the new Boulder ranger station. On the return they were ahead of me and I never caught up to them. When they finished they thought I had gotten a ride from Greg and took off!

Thank you to the Linwood ranger who kept me warm and let me use the phone! Exciting adventure for sure. We all went out for a foot long subway after the run.

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