Kennebec Challenge 15M Mountain Run

Running is unpredictable.

Running is a constant series of highs and lows. I think the key is just to stick with it and not to overanalyze too much. Training has been going well for most of the year until a couple weeks ago when I started feeling very tired and worn out.  One week ago on Saturday my fatigue culminated when I tried to do an easy 12 mile run at Centennial Cone in Golden. I ran uphill for 2 miles and was totally exhausted. I decided to turn around and hike back to the car.

Having days or weeks like this can be demoralizing if you let it affect you mentally. So, I tried to just forget about it and not to overanalyze. I took off Sunday entirely, and ran a short quick two miles on Monday. On Thursday I decided to run Pikes Peak with a friend Malory. We ran a pretty smooth round trip from the Barr Trail to the top and back which was 25 miles with about 7000ft of elevation gain and descent. It felt very smooth and I had no soreness afterward. Running is tough to figure out.

My friend Ginna convinced me to take a trip to Durango to visit friends Jenn and Erik who had just moved there. There was a 15 mile race going on called the Kennebec Challenge Mountain Run so we decided to jump in. We arrived late Friday night for the Saturday morning race.

The race starts at about 8000ft and goes straight up to a little over 12k and then you drop back down. There are a few miles of tough technical trails up top to but most of the run is on a rocky jeep road. We go out pretty fast. Erik had been feeling terrible with a bout of food poisoning so he abruptly stopped at about mile 3. I was now all alone and my goal was to run up the entire mountain. I ran the entire way until I saw this like 30% grade which I had to use all fours to get up. I fell on my face about five times here! After that hell section I ran most of the way for the next ½ mile of uphill to the peak.

After peaking out at a little over 12k I turned around and saw the 2nd place runner was definitely in close sight which concerned me. I still was very conservative on the next 2 miles of rocky, twisty, downhill trail because I didn’t want to get lost or take a nasty fall. Once we came back to the road at about mile 10 I just started killing it. I was in an all-out tempo run pace for the next 5 miles. I don’t know how fast I was going because I don’t wear a watch but my guess is it was definitely sub 6 min mile pace. Some people told me I was well ahead but I didn’t care. I learned that when you are in the lead in a race you should never be complacent or let up, no matter what.

I came across the finish line at 2:05 which I was very happy about. The course record was 1:59. I felt zero effects of the 25 mile Pikes Peak run from two days ago and the entire race felt really smooth. My legs felt really fresh at the finish line.

Apple Pie Winner Prize

Apple Pie Winner Prize

It’s hard to believe I felt so terrible seven days ago that I had to actually walk two miles back to my car and now I was crossing the line only six minutes off the course record feeling like a million bucks! I really think it’s important to listen to your body and be okay with taking time off or cutting runs short if needed. On the flip side though I think it’s also crucial to just go for it and take chances if your body is feeling good!

Jenn was the women’s winner and our prizes were some serious Apple Pies. Despite some challenging moments near the peak Ginna finished her toughest mountain run to date! So it was a good day all around.

Shelton-Oliva Kennebec Run

Mike Oliva and Jenn Shelton, 1st place male & female

The celebration involved about 15 runners on bikes, testing out local Durango breweries for about 10 hours! But that’s a story for another blog…



  1. Power of Four 50K | Rocky Mountain Runners - August 7, 2013

    […] as busy as ever. This weekend Mike Oliva put down a solid pre-Leadville effort down in Durango by winning the Kennebec Mountain Race. Up in Steamboat Springs, Cassie Scallon crushed it to take the top spot in the Mt Werner […]

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