2013 San Juan Solstice

papoose fire, san juan solstice 50

A look back on the course towards the Papoose fire, near Rio Grande Reservoir, somewhere around mile 35.

The San Juan Solstice 50 mile run was last weekend. It’s always been a favorite race of ours, and this year was made even better when both Christy and I managed to finish in our best times to date.

The course itself was in great shape. The streamflow in Alpine Gulch was low so we were able to keep our feet dry, which was ideal since I had my ankle taped. And the nearby wild fires that are tearing through the forests to the south and east were driven by west winds, so we didn’t get any smoke. There was talk by the race organizers of potentially re-routing the course (with a whisper of outright cancellation) were the winds and fire to change direction. We were all selfishly happy the race went on as planned, but it was a pretty frightening sight and is a real serious concern for the people and the towns in the area.

lake city 50

It was a pretty powerful scene as we watched from our hotel in Lake City. The mountains in front of the smoke are in the neighborhood of the course.

As for our race, I took about 13 minutes off last year’s PR which was great, because I showed up with about half of the training miles under my belt. That was due in part to a recent twisted ankle, so I started the race figuring that a fast time wasn’t likely.

On that note, I have to thank Tim Reed for helping me get back on my feet, going so far as to see me every morning after the injury for ultrasound. From the look of my ankle three weeks ago I thought I was going to be sidelined for the first half of summer. Based on what I felt on Saturday, it feels as though it’s completely healed up.

san juan solstice 50, lake ciy 50, chris davenport, christy mahon, ted mahon,

Chris, Christy, and me at the early start in Lake City.

Christy made the biggest improvement though, shaving 1:20 off her previous best time here, for a 12:15 finish. She insists that it’s not a big deal, that she’s never had a good finish here so it was therefore an easy time to improve. But 80 minutes (1:36 per mile faster for 50 miles) is a lot, and she should be happy.

lake city 50

Looking out to the northwest from the Divide. Seen left to right are the 14ers Sunshine and Redcloud, and then two unnamed Centennial Peaks we have yet to ski. The race course drops down the descending left ridge from the rightmost peak, around mile ten.

She’s right though. In the five or six years we’ve run here, we’ve always been challenged to get good results. Some years we were feeling good, but the course was snowy and wet, and therefore slow, if not re-routed. Other years (most of them, actually) we had a long spring ski season, which usually left us with only a few dedicated weeks to get ready. And sometimes we have to deal with the 1-2 punch of both of those hurdles.

lake city 50, san juan solstice 50

On the Divide section of the course, near mile 25.

papoose fire

It looks like it’s merely smoldering, but the fire line could actually be seen at the right edge of the smoke.

Yet this year, even though we were skiing peaks into June, things still went well for us, a fact that I’ll credit to experience. We’ve seen the course a lot now, so not only do we know what to expect, but we’ve also given ourselves ample time (in the form of multiple attempts) to tweak and refine, to get things just right. And even though we seem be on a rushed schedule, experience has also taught us how to make more efficient use of the abbreviated training window we have.

Christy was pretty quick to point out afterwards that rarely can she show up to something new and ace it on the first try. She sometimes needs a couple of attempts at something before learning how to do it right. I’m kind of the same way I guess.

Hopefully experience will count for something in two weeks when I give the Hardrock100 my 6th go.

jon webb, uncompahgre peak, san juan solstice 50

Jon Webb descends to Slumgullion Aid Station at mile 40. Uncompahgre stands proud in the distance.

5 comments to 2013 San Juan Solstice

  • Christy

    Great photos Ted! Continues to be one of my favorite weekends in the summer. Uncompahgre is always so impressive….

  • Rod Nash

    Astonishing PB cut, Christy You sure there was no MTA running out there? I did a little research on Rosie–found she used the subway in NY to qualify for the Boston. If she had been content to finish, say 15th, she might never have been caught but she got greedy. I could win it and take the Mercedes! That’s when the elite runners got suspicious. Yet to this day Rosie claims she ran the whole course.
    Great photos with the smoke clouds. River Rod

  • ted

    Good to hear from you Rod. That Rosie Ruiz could probably pull a few tricks on some of these laid-back mountain courses for sure.

  • Jeremy Phillips

    Christy, after reading this, I take full credit for pushing you to your PR as you constantly passed me, the guy in red! Just kidding, actually, thanks for pushing me. Seems I was constantly trying to catch up with the ponytailed woman in blue. This was my first 50 miler and something I’ve wanted to accomplish for many years. Funny to have run near you all day and then find out I knew who you were. Here’s to a sub-12 one of these years….

  • Christy

    Jeremy, So great to hear from you. Congrats on your first 50 miler! Awesome job. It was great to leapfrog with you all day. Definitely kept me going too. Although we could have dug a little deeper and tried to catch the girl right in front of us! But that last downhill and final push through the neighborhood is hard. Here’s to a sub 12 next year! Happy trails, C

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