Sunday, 10 August 2014

Mt Massive and Manitou Incline

The day after my rather eventful traverse from Frisco to Breckenridge I had a pretty easy day up in Leadville with Kim doing a little section of the 100 course. We just parked at the bottom of the Powerline climb and hiked up it and ran back down doing a total of about 6 miles. Nice and easy and just what I needed.

The following day we went to do another 14'er. This time Mt Massive. It's a pretty long trip up this peak being 22km's total for the out and back with 1400m of climbing. The approach trail is a brilliant smooth track all the way through the tree line and begins to get rocky when you pop out into the meadows. From then on its up , up and up until the final summit ridge which can be made pretty interesting with a little scramble here and there or there is a trail to the side for those without a head for heights. I made it to summit in 2hrs 30mins dead on , and admit I did start to slow once I got above 14'000ft. I hung around waiting for Kim grabbed a quick summit pic then down we went. The downhill was amazing and once off the rocky outcrops I flew down through the trees really opening up my stride and blasting out a descent of under an hour back to the car. I loved this peak. Probably the best 14'er I have done so far. The views from the summit were incredible out all over the Rockies. There is just so much to be done here and from the summit of Massive all I could see was high ridge lines connecting nearly all the peaks in view. A lifetimes worth of high level running.

Summit Mt Massive. 14.421ft
The following day(Saturday) was rest day and I enjoyed some more fine Colorado Ales in Golden and just wandered the streets there doing the tourist thing. I had been having an issue with my left Achilles and my left foot so the rest was good. I did plan to have today off as well but getting a late message from a friend last night with the offer to go to Manitou Springs and have a go at the famous Incline climb I could not say no.

I have been wanting to have a bash at a speed attempt on the incline for a while now. It used to be an old cog railway believe it or not but now the rails are gone it is around 2000+ steps all the way to the top. It rises 2000ft(600+m) in just under a mile and near the top it really does get pretty steep , sometimes requiring hands to aid hauling over some of the steps.

Incline is pretty obvious
Myself and Geoff arrived at the bottom about 8am and to my amazement it was already packed with hoards of people out hiking up it. At first I kept saying I would go easy as my foot was still a bit sore but as soon as I started my watch I just took off. It starts off at a reasonable angle but just builds up and up getting steeper and steeper. I kept a good jogging pace going for around the first 10-12 minutes but then slowed down to a fast hike and skip kind of motion. There was a bit of congestion in the middle but I wouldn't say it affected my time that much. Maybe a minute at most. About ¾ of the way up I glanced at my watch and seen I was on 25 mins. I had no time in mind but from then on I wanted under 30. It was head down , hands on knees and go go go. It was so bloody tough. By this point I was at nearly 8500ft so I was breathing like crazy , heart felt like it was bursting out of my chest and the sweat was pouring off of me as I got closer to the last step. Finally I got there and noticed I had made it in 29 mins. I was super happy but exhausted. I have not pushed at that intensity for a long long time and the taste of blood in my mouth(apparently from the dry air is what people think) was pretty horrible. The record for this climb is 17 minutes! I reckon I could hit 25 if I had another go but looking at records of attempts 29 is actually a very very reasonable time., especially for first attempt. Average hiking time is an hour and average fit runner time is meant to be 40ish. Elites are under 22 so I guess I am somewhere between that.

Pushing hard. Not using camera could have saved a few seconds I reckon!
The descent was also something I was super excited about doing. Due to the amount of traffic coming up the Incline it is normal practice to descend the Barr Trail. Now the Barr Trail is epically famous for runners. It starts down in Manitou Springs and climbs to the summit of Pikes Peak in 13 miles. The super famous Pikes Peak Marathon is this trail up and down. I have always wanted to go on this trail and with bad weather coming in there was no way we could get up and down so I made do with descending it for a couple miles back to the car. It was incredible. The trail is perfect packed dirt with the odd rocky section to negotiate and I loved it. I must go back and do the full up and down if I have time to squeeze it in long enough before the 100 in September. I managed the Incline round trip in 49 mins. Admittedly my legs were actually a bit like jelly at the bottom after going so hard on the up and not slowing down at all on the descent but for some strange reason and I ain't complaining about this but my pain in my left leg has gone completely.

Long way down/up
The top. Picture really doesn't do it justice
So tomorrow I am going to Boulder for an easy 10 miler and maybe a bit of climbing then I will probably rest for a day or two before we head to Leadville on Thursday to prep for the LT100 on Saturday. I can't wait for it. I still need to rest well before this. I won't be going at a fast pace on the course but I am still pacing for over 30 miles so need to just be sensible about it as this is not the time for me to get injured.

I have attached a little vid at the bottom here. I took it straight after I finished the incline so I do apologise for the language and spitting. I wasn't really in any frame of mind to know what I was doing or saying.

Heading down the glorious Barr Trail

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