Trail Running – Indian Creek Fifties – A 60K Ultramarathon

Clare and Doug Post RaceClare at Indian Creek Fifties Finish Line

On the Day of the Dead, Doug and I ran the Indian Creek Fifties. The Race Director, super nice dude named Sherpa John, apparently can’t do math…it turned out we all got to run 10K “bonus miles”. The course is really beautiful, mostly single track trail which winds from the North Rampart Range Road, to Strontia Springs, via the Roxborough State Park. Trail conditions were nearly perfect and part of the race was on the Colorado Trail!

For the Day of the Dead race, I decided to honor my Grandma Pat, by wearing a tribute to her on my race shirt. I went to a craft store and purchased some fabric markers…

My Race Shirt Front
The Front of my Tank

My Race Shirt Back
The Back. Ode to Grandma Pat

I wanted to pick an Ultra in Colorado that was before my Ecuador trip. I reasoned that if I could run an Ultra and be healthy, then I’d be in excellent condition for climbing really high volcanoes. So, I hunted around for an Ultra that was before my trip and I found the Indian Creek Fifties. With 6,600 ft of gain, it would be my most challenging Ultra so far!

I was surprised, but excited, when Doug signed up. In the prior Ultras, I didn’t know anybody at the starting line, so it was going to be fun to have Doug running on the same day.

The race started at 6am, so we had to get there by 5:30am. Doug came by my house at oh-dark-thirty and we drove to the start, which is in between Sedalia and Deckers, CO. When we arrived, there were volunteers directing traffic and helping people park.

As soon as I parked, I started getting stuff ready for the race. I always start with too many layers and then peel stuff off as I go. In darkness, it was a bit nippy, but not bad.

I made my way down to the start of the race. Doug told me he left something in the car, so he went back for it and all of a sudden the race started! So much for having a friend at the starting line. Lol! At least I’m not stuck running with the car key (as if one ounce makes any difference!).

As the race got going, I realized I had the wrong headlamp. I have two headlamps…one for futzing around in the car and one for actual trail running. So, pretty soon, I was left at the back of the pack and pretty blind. The headlamp just isn’t bright enough to give a good indicator of depth. So, everything looked flat. This is bad when you are running on trail that is undulating.

I quickly adopted a new strategy. Until the sun rises, I’d need to poach off other people’s headlamps. The tricky part was finding a person who had a similar pace as me. I’d run up to somebody and then find out they were too slow, so I’d catch somebody else…but in the meantime I had to be careful because I couldn’t see things. One time I ran into a willow bush (which was obviously off trail)!

Indian Creek Fifties Sunrise
The Beautiful Sunrise, taken by race course photographer.

Finally, I caught up to a gal named Lesli Carmical. She had a great pace and didn’t mind me poaching her headlamp. As we ran downhill, the sun was rising and we could see the lights of Denver twinkling in the distance. We were both in awe of the beauty and excited to be out running.

About 30 minutes later, we were on a gravelly slope and Lesli did a superman on the trail. I was right in front of her when it happened. So, I turned around and asked if she was okay. She’s a trooper though, so she picked up and kept running.

Approaching First Aid Station at Mile 10
The first aid station was ~10 miles into the race. Here I am approaching that aid station (and very thirsty!)

About 4 miles later, there was another aid station (at the race start/finish). This one was stocked with soup and all kinds of goodies. Doug got there a few minutes before me. Dennis took the following picture of Doug, while he was waiting for me!

Doug - 14 Miles Into the Race

Clare - 14 Miles Into the Race
Here I am approaching 14 mile aid station. I’m so excited to see Dennis. This has been a tough course!

After the 14 mile aid station, the next 6 miles goes downhill alongside a creek bed and then it climbs to the Colorado trail. Once on the CO trail, it drops down to near the Strontia Springs Reservoir. This part of the race course was really fun. Rip roaring fast; I couldn’t wait to get to the aid station at Strontia Springs. I was feeling pretty hungry and knew they would have some good eats!

Upon arriving at the aid station at mile ~20, I ran into Lesli again! Cool! I grabbed some sweet potatoes and we started climbing the trails back towards Roxborough State Park. It was a very steep climb, and so we hiked fast. I noshed on the taters as we chatted. In hindsight, I probably should have just stopped and eaten those rather than eating them on that uphill. I ingested a lot of air while I was breathing hard and later it came back to haunt me!

In any event, at some point, I lost Lesli on that uphill as I was keeping a really aggressive pace. By the time I got to the meadow at mile 23, I was feeling good, but starting to have some indigestion. The race course photographer got this picture of me in the meadow.

Indian Creek Mile 23

Now, I was feeling all this pressure in my chest. It felt like an alien was going to pop out; it was really painful. Unfortunately, I’ve never had this happen, so I don’t carry tums or anything like that with me. It would have to wait until the aid station at mile 25.

By the time I got to that aid station, the pain was almost unbearable. I consulted with one of the aid station guys, who gave me something to take for the gas. He didn’t have any tums though…so I’d just have to deal with it.

Off I ran, with 10 more miles to go. The pain subsided a little, but every now and then, it would build back up and I’d have to walk a bit. When I got to the 50k mark, I saw that it had taken me exactly 7.5 hours. I was very excited about my progress. The last 4 miles, was mostly uphill and with the indigestion still haunting me, I made steady, but slow progress.

Checking the Distance Post Race
Doug crossed the finish line well under 8 hours.

Personal Congrats From Race Director Sherpa John!
Accepting my finishing mug from the Race Director, Sherpa John.

Indian Creek Fifties Elevation Profile
The elevation profile

Indian Creek Fifties Garmin Results and Map
The Map!

Overall, I was 16th place out of 31 in my bracket. With a time of 8:44 minutes. I felt like it was a huge achievement, to run 4 extra miles, and I was psyched to finish healthy.

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