Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hardrock Impressions

So it’s been 4 days in Silverton, and I’ve had some time to see 61 miles of the course and learn a little about what I’m really about to do in 8 days. At first the mountains are overwhelming. To paint the scene, it’s much like a kid slowly craning his head upwards towards the sky, jaw dropped, gaze extending endlessly. For a few moments, you can’t get over how far you can see, how much vertical relief there is, how legendary the trails are. As you get into it, the air feels higher than just 13 or 14,000ft, but as you acclimate, things start to get better (two fold).

The reason the air feels extra thin isn’t any environmental reason (as a matter of fact, most areas are more humid than traditional dry peaks because there is so much greenery and water flowing everywhere (even in this dry year), the reason the air feels thin is because fear/stress in the human body causes inefficiency: increased blood pressure, headaches, asthma, etc. etc.. So, when they say “you have nothing to fear but fear itself” it’s basically, “you have nothing to fear but fear ruining your race.” Acclimation in this sense can’t be achieved only in an altitude tent; it has to be done in these massive mountains, in a hale storm freezing you to your core, in the middle of confusing cross country navigation, at the base of a gigantic climb, in the moments you hike past your comfort zone with confidence intact. This acclimation allows impossible performances like Kyle Skaggs CR, and Kirk Apt’s 17 finishes. 

Where there's Gold

In my runs over the past few days, I’ve thought about the mines strewn about the course. They’re impossible to miss and are often high up on the most remote and difficult to access ledges. Though their motivation was fortune, and some of their mines now leach out toxins, there still are other parallels with Hardrock runners. 100 Miles in the San Juans could be achieved using much lower peaks and less technical terrain, but that’s not what it’s about for the runner. This is about a race that is more rewarding and glorious than any other. It’s a fortune of an experience and accomplishment, and to achieve it, more will be asked of a runner here than anywhere else. The miner and the runner both appreciate the pain and suffering of the San Juans, and the glory of a (albeit selfish) gold strike (physical or spiritual) is worth it. We are not here to mine for Bronze, but the most precious Gold in the mountain running world.

 Jamil in the avalanche chute above Silverton

Summary:  June 25-July1
18,000ft, 84 miles


1 comment:

Joe Sammadi said...

Dominic, you've trained so hard for this feat. I hope something extraordinary takes place there in those special mountains.