Monday, July 4, 2016

San Juan Solstice 50M - Race Report

Playing cribbage the day before the race to keep my head cool.  Penny telling me what to discard.
Penny puts down the pacifier to go over race strategy.

We had a nice 2 mile warm up on dirt road to start.  A pack of 6 or so of us led the way to the Alpine Gulch trail head.  We stomped through half a dozen or so creek crossings as we made our way up the first of three major climbs on the course.  Dustin Simoens pulled away from Travis Macy, Jon Brown and I as we ran through the first aid station then crested the climb and began the 6 mile descent to the Williams Creek aid station, which was conveniently where my family and our good friends Peter (who also raced) and Mandy (crewed & paced Peter) camped at the night before the race.  Dustin ran through a couple minutes before I did and I a couple minutes before Travis and Jon.

By the time we all topped out on the Continental Divide at the halfway point of the race, Dustin had 9 minutes on me and Travis was still a minute or two back.  I was pleasantly surprised with how runnable most of the course was.

At the Divide aid station ~ mile 31, I scarfed down some potato chips... probably too many.  My stomach, which had been rock solid with a Vfuel every 20 minutes and water all day, didn't like the watermelon and handfuls of chips I gorged on.

For the last 20+ miles every time I would look back, Travis would be right there, a minute or two back. Initially I thought, sweet, he can't catch me.  Eventually I realized that he was just waiting to strike.  Strike he did, blowing by me at mile 34.

I snagged a water bottle and waist pack from my wife Elissa at Slumgullion, the aid station at the 40 mile mark.  I physically fell apart for a couple miles and had a little pity party as I hiked through the moderate climb through a gorgeous aspen forest.  I was dehydrated but didn't have much left in my bottle.  Luckily I came to a clear looking stream after the top of the climb that has not given me giardia yet.

I slowly cruised down the steep descent into town and made my way to the park where the race started and finished in 8:52.  Good enough for 3rd place today.

Travis Macy (2nd) holding is daugher, Dustin Simoens(1st) holding his beer, me (3rd) holding Dustin.
photo from San Juan Solstice Race FB page.


Glad I went with the Hoka Speedgoat's, they're still my favorite big mountain shoe - performed well through the creeks, mud, rocks and small patches of snow.

Drymax Lite Trail Running socks kept my feet happy.  No blisters or hot spots after 50 miles of creek crossings, small patches of snow and alpine terrain.

VFuel gels kept my energy level perfect and stomach happy, until I foolishly ate too much watermelon and too many chips.

Julbo Blast's with their photochromic lenses were nice for the exposed breezy ridges and shady forests.

This was definitely one of the best events I've participated in.  The loop course is in the fairytailesq San Juan Mountains, the organization is smooth and everyone can enjoy a free breakfast buffet in the park the next morning.  There are lots of kiddo's and dogs around, along with tons of good mountain loving peeps including fellow Montrosians Chris Marcinek and Erin McMahon.  I enjoyed pacing and crewing my wife at the race the last two years and am glad I ran it this year.  While part of me is stoked to have finished on the podium, another part of me knows that I could finish in less time than I did this year.  I'll be coming back.

Penny likes camping in Lake City.


  1. Good stuff duders! Perhaps next year I'll come out and we'll race to the death...or just the finish.

  2. Bring it son! It'd be really cool if you could finish the race this time =0

  3. Great run Chris and nice recap. Congrats!

    1. Thanks Scott. Have fun at Hardrock, see you there at some point =)