Two things I like :
As such, The Boulder Bad Ass 100 was designed with two simple goals in mind.
1. Cover as many classic running areas around Boulder as possible
2. Impart as much suffering as possible
The Boulder Bad Ass 100 had been jokingly proposed several months prior as a way to to complete Greg’s quest for a full calendar year of 100 milers. As a purist when it comes to the aesthetics of a route, it had to be big, bold, challenging and creative. It had to be both inspiring and logical. I usually prefer the pointlessness and convenience of a circuit so starting and finishing at Greg’s house had a great poetry to it.
We had scribbled, bickered, tweaked and revised a route that would be worthy of Boulder’s reputation. The finale had been reserved for the classic Boulder Skyline which seemed a worthy challenge. After all, the traversal of Flagstaff, Green, Bear and South boulder Peaks would in and of itself pose a valiant adventure. With the usual post-run beer fueled bravado, however, we had wisely chosen to exacerbate the challenge by tweaking the route to descend from each peak, prior to the ascent of the next, as opposed to staying high as is typical with the Skyline route.
So long nice cushy Boulder Bad Ass 1oo version 3.4 and hello Boulder Bad Ass 1oo version 3.5. This would be our final revision and we would pay for it dearly.
Of course, to assume the previous 82 miles would be a fun little jaunt around town, would of course belittle the absurdity of our recklessness. Right from the start we had chosen to maximize the improbability of finishing by choosing the rather unsociable and inconvenient time of 10 p.m. for the start to our adventure, for no particular reason other than is sounded like a silly idea.
Every ridiculous adventure needs a band of trusty supporters to cajole and encourage but most importantly to provide mockery when things inevitably get tough. As such we had the best in the business with a full swathe of enablers and facilitators from the Rocky Mountain Runners. Alberto Rossi and Ryan Lassen would ensure that our proposed aid stations were meticulously organized, maximally delicious and outrageously entertaining. To achieve this, we had stripped Costco bare of supplies, armed ourselves with essential cookware and stocked up on Boulder’s other bountiful resource: beer.
We headed towards Marshall Mesa, weaving through the foothill trails of South Boulder. After a paltry 5 miles my knee started giving me some major grief. A parting gift from the Pinhoti 100 a month prior. I took the unusual step of popping a couple of Vitimin-I’s. It did nothing to quieten the discomfort unfortunately, but 11 miles later we rolled into our first organized aid station and were greeted by several RMR’s and a spread worthy of a banquet. I devoured an unreasonable amount of Ruffles chips which I had been thinking about for the last several miles.
As much of a hospitable welcome as we had on arrival, our crew chiefs were swift and merciless in evicting us from our comforts. Back into the cold we ventured and onto the cruel, lonely, windy and surprisingly relentless Marshall Mesa circuit, aka the Dirty Bismark Loop. For some reason this humble 15 mile, mostly flat loop around Marshall Lake always hides a sting in its tail. Sure enough, the exposure, combined with the easy runnable terrain and the fatigue of doing a full working day soon caught up to us. We arrived at Aid station #2 feeling the harsh reality of the task ahead. Again the aid station did not disappoint, bringing a modicum of relief from the 25 miles of continuous running we had endured thus far.
Onwards we plodded, into the rolling hills of Dowdy Draw, Spring Brook and Goshawk trails and into the cold, wee hours of Saturday morning. So far the course had been obnoxiously runnable. I think everyone was looking forward to getting to some steep stuff so we could have an excuse to hike for a time. We cruised along up high behind Eldorado Springs with dark views of the imposing cliffs all around us. Not surprisingly we had the place to ourselves as we dropped down into Eldorado State Park to meet Alberto and Ryan at Aid # 3. They were by themselves at this point and looked pretty tired also. Crewing is a selfless and tiring job. We were all pretty beaten up at this point. 32 miles into our adventure and the suffering was well and truly under way. Andy decided to call it a day here. He had been struggling to stay awake ever since the start and given our aim was to stick together as a group decided it wasn’t going to be fun or maybe possible to achieve that. Our first casualty. I think everyone was bummed that they didn’t think of it first. Now we’d have to push on with fewer chances of success.
Walker Ranch was rough. It was dark, cold, hilly and long. We pushed through, tired of being in the dark and trying to stay positive. 40 miles from the start, as the morning light started to rejuvenate us, we ascended the final climb towards the Walker Ranch trailhead. Alberto and Ryan were by themselves again. Luckily this would be the final time in solitary confinement for them as with each aid station the crowds would grow. The morning also brought a new peak to the quality of the aid stations. As we arrived, cold and downbeat from the long night, we were greeted with warm Nutella-filled croissants, cheese and avocado quesadillas, noodles, soup, coffee and pretty much everything you could imagine you’d want after 40 miles of running!
We soldiered onwards, feeling a new sense of purpose and looking forward to the day’s sunshine and potential. My knee had finally stopped complaining at me and I was eager to hit the half way point. After some bushwhacking and snow plodding we popped out onto the famed Magnolia Road which would surely pose a significant obstacle. Not surprisingly the relentless miles of punishingly steep descent did a number on our joints. Luckily for us we arrived at Boulder Canyon Road to a fanfare of cheers and pancakes!
A fun hill climb and a quick loop of Betasso Preserve and we were back to our comfy chairs, warm blankets, delicious food and great friends. I think we all definitely appreciated this short section where we finally had some company with a few pacers from the Boulder Banditos.
Just as we were getting comfortable, Alberto made sure to ring the cattle bell, signifying the impending reality of our situation. We still had 50 odd miles to go. Sigh. Best get to it!
We were finally heading back towards some civilization having seen no one other than our crew for the past night. We ran down into the noise of Boulder Canyon, being forced onto the busy shoulder at one point due to some construction on the Boulder Creek Path. As we climbed over Red Rocks we finally passed by other Boulderites enjoying their morning and almost felt a modicum of normality to the endeavor.
As we arrived into the mile 59 aid station at the Mount Sanitas TH we were greeted by a boisterous crowd of Rocky Mountain Runners. It was amazing to feed on the energy of the gang. Dan Gorman had cooked up a special concoction of sausage and barley soup which I swiftly dispatched three bowls of!
We were now joined by Jon Davis and Rick Hoberg who both planned to see us through to the finish. It was a much needed boost to have some fresh energy amongst the group if for nothing else but to have some fresh conversation to add to our tireless drivel of complaining about stuff. Onward we marched, ticking off more classic routes along the Front Range : Mount Sanitas, Wonderland Lake and the Hogback. We rolled into the mile 66 aid station to a raucous crowd of spectators and crew.
The first beers of the day were consumed in celebration at making the next major section. The flat stuff. No one knew whether to be scared or excited to be finally on this section. If we could still run well then we could tick off some major miles at a decent clip. If we couldn’t run well then we would be death marching for eternity around the mountain-less plains of Northern Boulder.
We were joined by a throng of pacers on this next section which made running on the flat stuff bearable. Although the Boulder Reservoir and Boulder Creek Path are probably some kind of dream to a triathlete or road runner it is pretty much left untouched among the trail running crowd here. We decided we could not possibly skip this section on our route however as we were trying to encompass all the classics, and as much as the reservoir sucks it most certainly is a classic.
As we rolled into Coot Lake (mile 72) with the setting sun to our backs, we looked back to where we had come and where we still had to go. It looked far. Really bloody far. The Flagstaff star marked the next destination, Eben G Fine Park in West Boulder. Much earlier in our travels we had seen the same star from the southern side as we drew close to the town of Superior on the Eastern side of Marshall Mesa. We had run 72 miles so far and didn’t seem any closer to our main objective, the Boulder Skyline. We had been skirting around it all day and it was now time to head towards our nemesis. We took a momentary reprieve to devour pizza and and say our goodbyes to Kerrie who was at the end of her rather lengthy HURT 100 training run! Onward to the Skyline!!!
We had done well thus far on the flat boring stuff around the Boulder Reservoir and we continued in that vein through the next aid station at Cottonwood TH, plodding along at a respectable pace until we were finally on the seemingly never ending path alongside Boulder Creek. Soon enough, after much grumbling and complaining about the incessant road running we had finally arrived at the most significant point of the run so far: the start of the Boulder Skyline.
It seemed an insurmountable task, that after 82 miles of running we still had something so colossal in front of us. We took our time in Eben G. Fine to revel in the aid station party which occupied the entirety of the Eben G Fine parking lot and get everything together that we would need for the many more hours that we still had in front of us. We had one last aid station, only a short ways ahead at the top of Flagstaff. After that we’d be on our own. I ate what was probably my 3rd or 4th entire quesadilla of the run so far, grabbed my hiking poles, traction, extra water and took a deep breadth. Ahead of us lay mountains, suffering and glory.
The Flagstaff climb lay the groundwork for the suffering. At first it was great to be finally hiking as opposed to the previous 20 miles or so of flat out running. Soon enough though, the climbing muscles waned and the effort level rose. We huffed and puffed and arrived at the final aid station at Relization point. This was our last lifeline. From here on in, we’d be on our own.
Our entourage had dwindled by this point. Silke decided to call it a day here, as the prospect of the gnarly descents ahead was too much for her tender feet and wobbly legs. There were now 3 idiots left for the full 100: Nick, Greg and myself. We set off with pacers Jon, Mike and Emily into the darkness, picking up a jet lagged Eric on route down Gregory Canyon.
After a seeming eternity we flopped out on the summit of Green Mountain. Took an obligatory picture. Complained a bit. Complained some more. Froze to death in the howling wind and finally fell downwards letting gravity suck us back towards the Mesa trail, 2,500ft below. Lulled into a false sense of security on the upper, buttery smooth trails, we had a moment of effortless, pain free running. Soon enough enough though, Bear Canyon revealed its treachery, unleashing a never ending torrent of vertical rock vomit upon which we stumbled downwards, cursing every rock along the way.
As we arrived back onto the Mesa trail, I couldn’t quite believe that we were about to run 2,500ft back up to Bear Peak. It just didn’t seem at all reasonable. My only hope of survival might be some wavering in the ranks and the promise of an early exit. My only problem was I was on this stupid run with Greg Salvesen and Nick Pedatella who are not exactly known for their penchant to bail in favor of a cup of tea and a warm rug. Shit. Before I knew it we were ascending towards the gale force winds of Bear Peak.
Silence. There was no talking. Not even any complaining. Just the emptiness of our fried legs, battered bodies and wilted motivation. Wallowing in the misery of our own stupidity we forged onwards nonetheless. Stubbornness was all that was left.
Finally, we summited into the howling winds. Frozen and defeated. Greg didn’t care enough to consider the peak a less that ideal place for a 3 minute power nap. It had been hours since we had left the comforts of the last aid station after all.
Erin and Matt had signed up a few weeks earlier to hike some beers up to the top of South Boulder Peak, a short descent and climb away from Bear Peak. We had zero faith that anyone would be there though. It was 2am, freezing and blowing a storm up high. Surely no one would be stupid enough to be out here in this. Other than us of course. As we rounded the backside of Bear Peak we were totally bowled over as we looked out across the saddle to the glorious sight of head lights in the distance. Holy crap. Thank goodness for stupid friends! Given our new objective we soon dispatched with the climb up to South Boulder Peak and were greeted with the most amazing aid station possible. We wrapped ourselves in down jackets and blankets and laughed at the absurdity of it all as we chugged beers, drank hot noodle soup and celebrated the final peak of the run. 97 miles in this was clearly going to be a touch on the long side. I don’t think any of us cared at this point. We were just glad to be on the home stretch. There was of course one final hurdle: Shadow Canyon.
I won’t go into details, needless to say stumbling down the technicalities of Shadow Canyon with 97 miles on your legs will not win us any awards for grace or speed. Running back towards civilization was a daze. It could have taken us 10 minutes or 1 hour. All perspective of time was lost. We finally found ourselves running down the obnoxiously steep descent into Chautauqua 9 hours or so after having left the Eben G. Fine parking lot. Confirmed. Version 3.5 of the Boulder Bad Ass 100 was definitely a step too far. Exactly what we had been looking for, of course.
We ran down towards Greg’s apartment in the early hours of Sunday morning. Thirty one and a half hours after departing. In the distance we could see Silke and Ryan Lassen in the middle of the road holding our finishing tape: a roll of toilet paper stretched across the road. A fitting end to the weekend’s shenanigans. We were finally done.
It wasn’t all for nothing however. The multi talented Dan Gorman, painstakingly crafted six fitting trophies to compensate for the weekends strife. These were awarded to the 3 idiots that finished this thing along with some special idiots who helped them accomplish this pointless feat. The awards were :
- The Summit Prolific Pooper Award : Greg Salvesen
- The Greg Salvesen Award for Understatement : Nick Pedatella
- The Rick Hoberg Recklessness Award for Stupidity in the Face of Adversity : Ryan Smith
- The Mike Oliva Award for Nutritional Excellence : Alberto Rossi
- The Ginna Ellis Award for Commitment to Party : Ryan Lassen
- The Jon Davis Biggest Ass Award : Erin and Matt Shaw
A massive thank you to everyone who came along to help out. This is truly an amazing community of like minded, selfless, fun loving, happy and passionate people. Either that or it’s full of sadists that take pleasure in other peoples discomfort. Either way, you are all rad. I am already looking forward to next year, when we have a hall pass at attempting this nonsense again and instead get to help some other fools who didn’t learn their lessons!