The 2005 Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon

October 29, 2005 Ė Enter your results here

The first rule of the Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon is that you do not talk about the Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon. The second rule of the Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon is that you do NOT talk about the Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon. ÖYeah, well rules are made to be broken.

This unofficial bandit race has been going on for at least a couple of decades. Started by Neal Beidelman and friends back in the early 80ís, this ďnon-eventĒ is now ďdisorganizedĒ by the ghost of Ernest Greenman, for which the Greenman Trail is named. There is a memorial plaque for Ernest on top of the Third Flatiron, of which he made over 100 ascents.

This yearís race started at 10th and Cascade, just two blocks from Chautauqua Park, the gateway to Boulder Open Space, at the house of Phil Mislinski, the founder of the Boulder Trail Running group. Over 100 runners from the community gathered here, some from as far away as Colorado Springs. Charles was hawking race T-shirts and I picked up a large for myself. There were countless friends at this event and that is the big draw for most.

I can sometimes do reasonable well in this race, but only for three reasons. First, many of the fastest local trail runners donít do this race. Last year Dave Mackey didnít do the race and this year Galen and his friend who won Imogene Pass didnít complete the whole course. Second, the fast guys that do the race frequently donít treat it very seriously and go at a casual pace, at least for them. Lastly, the course almost always involves an opportunity to get lost.

Dave Mackey, the patron of the Boulder trail running peloton, led the group up the hill to Chautauqua and 100+ runners ran right by the ranger station at the start of the Mesa Trail. Technically you arenít allowed to have a group of greater than 25 people on Open Space Trails. That might be a reasonable rule for a mass that stays together, but since this race breaks up almost immediately it doesnít really apply. Iíve never known the rangers to give this race any trouble, but that may not be the case. The recently accepted Visitor Master Plan prohibits competitive events on Open Space land, but this rule is patently ridiculous and impossible to enforce for unofficial race without numbers, an entry fee, or a race director.

Going up the steep start to the Mesa Trail a lead group of 15 has already formed, followed by a smaller group of ten. Iím in no-manís land off the back of this group, but I get on before the Mesa Trail turns to singletrack. The course followed the Mesa Trail south to Bear Canyon and up that to the West Ridge of Bear Peak, over to the summit of South Boulder Peak, then down Shadow Canyon to the Old Mesa Trail to Eldorado Springs. Next we had to head south out of Eldorado Springs and flail around back there on a confusing assortment of unofficial trails, game trails, dirt roads, cross country, etc. I think anything here was legal as long as you ended up on the Dowdy Draw Trail, got lost, and spent at least 45 minutes wandering around. You finish by running the Mesa Trail back to Philís house at 10th and Cascade.

My goal was to get to the saddle between Bear and South Boulder Peak before the leaders turned down Shadow Canyon. I was probably in about 20th place going up Bear Canyon and once we got onto the West Ridge, the first woman passed me. I worked pretty hard on the steep section at the top of Bear and passed a number of people on the slippery rocks leading to the summit and down the other side. I passed Eric Dec who has passed me early and headed to the saddle. I arrived at the saddle and started the climb up to South Boulder Peak right behind Justin Snow. A couple of minutes later Dave Mackey led Galen and his friend down to the saddle, leading the race. These guys were at least 12 minutes in front of me. Following them were a few more fast guys, including Jeff Valliere and Jason Poole. I followed Justin Snow up South Boulder and we talked about his stellar season of ultrarunning, even though he fell just short of a number of his very ambitious goals.

At the summit of South Boulder Peak, I once again passed people on the slippery talus. I passed George Zak on my way down, just below the summit, as he was going very carefully. This guy is one of the fastest road racers in Boulder and it was great to see him out running the trails. Passing him underscored how ridiculous this race is, as he is so much faster than me that itís ridiculous. Clearly he was just out for some fun. I caught my good friend Brian Hunter on the descent from South Boulder. He wasnít sure he wanted to do the full course, but I talked him into and we stayed together for most of the rest of the way. I had passed Dave R. a bit above Brian and he caught back up with us. A little ways down Shadow Canyon Jonas Fast came absolutely blasting by us. He was descending with reckless abandon and we wisely let this agile runner go.

The three of us descended Shadow and then the Old Mesa trail to Eldorado Springs. After crossing the bridge we found 6-time Leadville 100 champion Paul Dewitt just sitting on the stone fence, waiting for someone to show him the confusing section coming up. We all joined forces to flail around on various trails, roads, and fields, before growing frustrated and going cross-country, jumping three pasture fences (thankfully only one of which was barbwire) and joined the Dowdy Draw Trail where it hits the Community Ditch Trail at the big bridge.

We ran down this trail to the South Mesa Trail where we got some extra water from the back of Galenís car and a handful of potato chips. We all headed up the Mesa Trail, with me off the back a bit. Eventually, Paul and Brian left Dave and I behind and then we were all running as soloists for a ways. Paul and Brian caught Andy Hampsten Ė the only American to win the Giro díItalia and one of the greatest U.S. cyclists of all time. Andy is no slouch at trail running either. He is one of only four people to crack the 16-minute barrier on Mt. Sanitas South Ridge Trail (this trail gains 1300 feet and the only others to break 16 are 8-time (more?) Pikes Peak Ascent winner Scott Elliot, former U.S. national champion Nordic skier Nathan Schultz, and just recently 2004 Pikes Peak Marathon winner Galen Burrell). Andy was dying, though and I eventually caught these three just before the descent into Bear Canyon. I went by them, but pulled Brian and Paul with me and they dropped me good on the descent and stretched out four minutes on me in the next thirty minutes.

I was hurting pretty good for the last thirty minutes, but managed to run most everything except the short, steep climb out of Skunk Canyon. I hit Chautauqua after four hours and two minutes and ran three more minute down to the start. I was shocked to see Claude Clegg run up beside me. He had gotten lost south of 170 and ran an extra two miles. He was one of the early leaders coming down South Boulder Peak. Oh well, thatís par for the Basic.

Jeff Valliere would go on to win the Basic in 3:41:41. Dave Mackey, clearly the class of the field as multiple U.S. Champion ultra-runner, holder of countless course records, and an incredible string of victories this year. Dave spent a lot of time building cairns for the other runners. He could have won this race, but heís won enough this year. He doesnít need to win this race. He wins when there is money on the line. Today he was all about the community, as he is each time he does this event. Dave finished with Jason Poole, another all-around super stud. Jason is a very successful adventure racer and this year tried his first 100-miler at Leadville. In his debut he finished 12th in 21 hours or so.

I hung out at Philís house for more than an hour talking with friends, eating, and drinking. What a great community event this is. Many show up and just run for an hour or two or three or whatever. Itís not that important to finish the entire course, but to come out and get that great feeling of community. I hope I run this race for the next two decades.

I set up a web page where all particpants can enter their time for this race: 2005 Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon.