The 2005 Basic Boulder Mountain
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
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
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
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
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.