The day started out well, running with fellow Trailhead David "Balto" Dirito who just completed his first 100 Miler last month at Massanutten.
Then around mile 23 after being joined by another Trailhead, Adam "Dorph" Byerly, it started to snow as we passed through 12,000'.
A couple miles later around 13,000' it became dangerous. Here's some video I captured when the snow slowed for a few minutes...
We were exposed out on a 9 mile section of the Continental Divide with sideways snow that was coming down so hard sometimes it was difficult to see. Footprints from the runners ahead of us disappeared in the snow along with the trail itself. At times we had to navigate marker to marker being watchful of the sheer cliffs. Dorph and I were waaaay under dressed for the conditions and hypothermia and frost nip began to take hold. Unlike many portions of the course, there was no vehicle access here. Stopping for even a minute or two was followed by a scary drop in core temperature.
When we reached the aid station at mile 31 Dorph and I darted into a heated Yurt to warm up. Shaking uncontrollably at this point I had no intention on going any further. There were about 9 other like minded runners there huddled around a wood stove. Warm in his full body length garbage bag (drum liner), Balto quickly checked on us in the Yurt and then headed back out, eventually finishing in 13:39.
After about 1.5 hrs in the Yurt the snow stopped and I felt good enough to continue. Dorph was not so sure that was a good idea, so I headed out alone, picking up a garbage bag and borrowing gloves. The next 9 mile section was great and I made it into mile 40 well under the cut off time, but mentally I was done. Legs felt great, but I had seen enough for one day and need to keep focused on Hardrock. Better to be fresh and hungry for a deep challenge there.
I later learned that Dorph reconsidered dropping at mile 31 and set out behind me only 10 or 15 minutes after I left! He eventually finished up in 15:21!
Huge congratulations to Dorph for gutting it out and finishing. This was one of the most impressive rallies I've ever seen. And congrats to Balto on a strong showing so soon after his first 100M at Massanutten last month! And to Ringo for making a very difficult, but wise decision to "Do Nothing Fatal"!
Thanks to all the race organizers and volunteers!