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Matt Mahoney's 2009 Vacation - Hardrock 100

Silverton, Coloado, 6:00 AM, July 10, 2009. (I am near the end of the video in the red jacket).

Video by Kelly Koravek pacing Kim Holak
Photos by Jon Teisher
Photos by Blake Wood
Photos by Olga Varlamova

Sorry to disappoint my fans, but I didn't get to kiss the hardrock. I missed the 39 hour (9:00 PM) cutoff at Chapman Gulch (82 miles). At 9:02 PM a crew for another runner kindly took my wristband to the aid station 1/4 mile ahead and gave me a ride back to Silverton. I suppose I could blame the 5 minute wait at a low spot just below 13000 ft Oscar's Pass while a thunderstorm moved through, but the real problem is the gradual deterioration of my downhill running ability over the last several years on steep, rocky, technical trails. Simply put, I am too slow. For someone used to starting at the front in road races, it is a humbling experience to be in last place, like I was from Virginius Pass (mile 68) onwards. Physically there was nothing wrong with me except for some small blisters on my toes that formed after 50 miles.

I didn't bring my camera because I wanted to focus on running. You will have to be content with last year's photos. The course looks the same except that we ran in the opposite direction (counterclockwise) and there was a little less snow. Virginius Pass still had two steep pitches of about 200 vertical feet each at a 45 degree climb. The top pitch had a choice of a vertical climb with a rope or a traversing climb in the footsteps of earlier runners, which I did with the help of two pieces of wood that made temporary ice axes in the softening snow.

I had constant reminders of the difficulty and dangers of this course, traversing steep cliffs on narrow trails at night and in rain and hail. One runner (Bob Combs) was knocked down by a lightning strike around midnight of the second night, but got up and finished the race. Another runner who had not acclimated was pulled from the race at Sherman (28 miles) suffering from high altitude cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain. He had a severe headache and was losing his vision. I saw him on the trail just earlier, going the wrong way. They treated him with oxygen for an hour and then brought him to lower altitude where he recovered. Most of the early miles are at 11000 to 13000 ft. I was surprised to learn that Sherman was equipped with a Gamow bag, a portable compression chamber for treating altitude sickness.

I had acclimated in Leadville (10200 ft) for two weeks and climbed to about 14000 ft every other day. More acclimation would have helped. I still had a bit of high altitude pulmonary edema (water in the lungs) during the climb to 14048 ft Handies Peak. Based on my breathing rate and rate of ascent (2:45 from trailhead to summit) I estimate I had about 1/2 to 2/3 of normal lung capacity. I recovered during the night descent into Ouray at mile 58 at 7700 ft, the lowest point on the course, and had no trouble with it during the second day.

I carried a 2 bottle pack, 2 shirts (one synthetic long sleeve and one polypro), a jacket, a ball cap for day and a knit cap for night, gloves, and pants that converted between short and long with detachable sleeves. I wore Saucony Kilkenny 6 oz. XC racing flats without socks, which worked reasonably well on steep dirt and snow and dried quickly after water crossings. Temperatures ranged from about 30 to 80 F with frequent afternoon rain or pellet snow and storms. I did not use a crew, pacer, or drop bags. I carried 2 LED flashlights and 8 extra AA batteries, which I would have used on the second night. I carried caffeine pills but did not need them on the first night, as I filled my water bottle with Mt. Dew at Grouse Gulch as dusk (42 miles) and this was enough to keep me alert until sunrise. Otherwise, most of my calories came from the energy drinks at the aid stations (Succeed, and a little Coke), some chips, cookies, M&Ms, turkey, spaghetti with meat sause at Sherman and grilled cheese sandwiches at Telluride (72 miles). I did not have to eat food between aid stations even though they were sometimes 6 hours apart. I did refill my bottles from streams (untreated) when it was warm. I carried ibuprofin but did not use any until the second day, and then only the minimum dose.

Hardrock 100 website with race results

Altitude Training Photos

Part 1 - Cape Cod, Pike's Peak, Mt. Elbert
Part 2 - Mt. Huron
Part 3 - Sand Dunes
Part 4 - Mt. Adams
Part 5 - Mt. La Plata
Part 6 - Hope Pass
Part 7 - Mt. Sherman
Part 8 - Mt. Massive

Matt's Birthday 54K Run, Aug. 8, 2009 at Wickham Park, Melbourne FL