Sunday, September 19, 2004

Trail Running Double Header, Part II - The Golden Leaf Run, Sept, 2004

Oh man, am I sore. I feel like the kids next door played hopscotch on my hamstrings all night. Sometimes there just isn't enough ibuprofen...sigh.

But the aspen trees are a-callin', s0 just a day after the Autumn Color Run, I'm lining up pre-sunrise at the Snowmass ski resort in Aspen, CO, to run the 13.5 mile Golden Leaf 1/2 Marathon. Hailed by Trail Runner Magazine as one of "America's 14 most scenic races," this half marathon is put on by the Aspen outdoor shop, the Ute Mountaineer. The race begins in Snowmass Village and cuts through the ski runs on the Government Trail, until finally descending back to the streets of downtown Aspen. It's a big race - probably 300-400 runners. It also happens to be the same weekend as Ruggerfest, so there are plenty of party-happy rugby players in town as well.

This race starts off with a 1.5 mile climb from Snowmass Village right up the CAT trail. Combined with the altitude, your heart gets going right away. If you think you can hang with the front runners, good luck - the Montrail Team, US Mountain Running Team, and many die-hard trail runners make this race a regular on their calendar. After the climb comes the real challenge - keeping your eyes on the uneven trail, even as you weave your way through miles of gorgeous creeks and aspen trees. As much as I thought TRM was boasting, it truly is one of the most beautiful race courses I have ever seen. Still, if ever there was a trail that demanded good trail running shoes, this is the one.

Thanks to the soreness, I finished the same way I started - slow. I think I clocked around 2:05 in a fairly leisurely run, but I didn't bring a watch. Michael Robbert clocked a fantastic 1:48, putting him 25th among the crowd. I don't know how he even got out of bed this morning, let alone cranked out a second great race. The Ute Mountaineer gave away a tower of shwag, and not a one was some cheap trinket. I was one of the few who didn't head home with a new pair of shoes or biking tires (such a genius way to clear out the old inventory!) .

In retrospect, I'm realizing two 1/2 marathons are much more brutal than one full marathon. One thing for sure - I've got some resting to do before the San Pablo Marathon next week.

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