Hideaway 100 (50K)


What: Hideaway 100 (50K)
Where: Winter Park, CO 
When: September 6, 2015
Race Options: Half Marathon, 50K, 50M, 100M 
Vertical Gain: 4,837 ft. 
Elevation/Altitude: 8,733 ft.-11,894 ft. 
Field Size: 38
Placement: 9:40 || 37th place || On pace for 8:40, but more on this later...

Warning: If you're looking for a detailed race recap, you're in the wrong place. 
Scroll to the bottom for the Cliffs Notes version. 
If you're looking for my personal experience and what I loved about this race, you're in the right place. 
Get your popcorn ready, this is a long one. 

WHY HIDEAWAY? 

When the realtor placed the keys into our hands, my first inclination was to pull a Tom Cruise and start jumping up and down on the nearest chair and professing my deepest love for Winter Park, but fortunately I saved that for after we walked out of the office. Once we settled in, it wasn't long before I found myself cruising the internet to find a race close to our new digs. You see, the majority of the time we have spent in Winter Park over the years has been in the winter (ski season) when it's our "off season" for tours and when we tend to take time off from a year of nonstop (work) travel. I couldn't wait to find a summer race that would allow me to explore the trails in our new backyard. 

While perusing the Google of trail races, UltraSignUp, Hideaway Hundred rose to the top of my search. It was an inaugural race falling on Labor Day weekend, and with this new tour where we have weekends off (like never before) it seemed like a safe bet that we'd be able to make it back for this race. School would be out and there's no way they'd schedule an event over the holiday weekend. Right? 

So, I sat on it for awhile [awhile in my impulsive book reads: a few days] and then I pulled the trigger. 

LEADING UP TO RACE DAY.

We live in the present. Literally. In experiential marketing, you can only live in the here and now because your schedule may change today, tomorrow, and it's normal to be in a different city/state every few days. Your schedule is always at the mercy of the client and while it's been a blessing for us to focus on the now, it can be frustrating for friends and family because we can never plan anything. 

Anything

This current tour has been especially different in regards to our schedule as we never know where (literally what city or even what state) we're going to be in until a few days prior. 

The spontaneous stories we tell, most would not believe, but here's another page from our book of #tourlife (and to clarify, I wouldn't trade it for the world). 

I'll set the stage...

Chattanooga, TN. 

Two weeks prior to the race: I get sick. I hardly ever get sick. And this was a gnarly cold that nearly knocked me out. The only thing I could do outside of my obligations for work was to sleep and hope my body could fight off whatever this was.  

With being sick, not knowing our next city, or even our next state, I came to the conclusion that Hideaway was probably not going to happen. We had hoped to spend the holiday weekend at home to see the wildflowers before fall swoops in and so I could run the race I had committed to, but it just didn't seem logical or feasible at this point. Not to mention flights were averaging around $500/each. 

Two days before the race: 

Thursday, September 3rd. 


Frontier Airlines launched a massive sale with select cities offering $1 $15 one-way flights and Atlanta and Denver just so happened to be two of those chosen hubs. The catch? You had to book your travel by midnight of 9/3 and you had to fly between 9/5-9/15. 

Christmas in September? Frontier practically wrapped this sale with a big red shiny bow and put it on our doorstep. Instead of Tom Cruise, I felt like I was an audience member on Oprah where she awarded her "favorite things" to each lucky seat-filler; pointing and shouting, You get a flight! You get a flight! And, YOU get flight! 

Once I snapped back to reality, I quickly got ahold of our boss, confirmed that we had no upcoming events over Labor Day weekend and asked permission to head home. 

We waited for a response. 

The $60 roundtrip we were pitching sold out. 

Sh--. We're not going. 

Finally, we heard from our boss and he gave us a stamp of approval. We flung open our computers but it appeared Frontier's website was frozen, consumers were complaining that everything was sold out, and we were riding on a rollercoaster of emotions (we're going...no we're not going...I think we're going!). 

Thankfully, after clearing the cookies in my web browser, we were back in action. Fortunately, we were still able to secure roundtrip flights for the two of us from the late evening of 9/5-9/10 for $166 TOTAL. 

As in both Casey and I - together - total cost: $166. 

From a frequent traveler...
That's insane. 
Especially for booking last minute on an extended weekend. 

Like I said, you wouldn't believe us if we told you. 


THURSDAY-SATURDAY

As you can imagine, we booked it to Atlanta. We were lucky enough to negotiate with our go-to hotel that we've stay at for nearly sixty nights this year to allow us to leave our company's branded 38-foot RV in their parking lot until we returned. They graciously accepted and that was another logistic crossed off the list. 

Next up, I had to figure out how the hell I was going to pick up my BIB and attend the mandatory pre-race meeting. We weren't going to land in Denver until nearly 9-10 p.m. MST (the earliest flight we could get), we would have to hop on the shuttle to get to our rental (thanks Priceline for a killer deal + ride), and drive 1.5-2 hours to Winter Park...getting us in around 12 a.m. (if we were lucky) for a 4 a.m. race start. 

Yes, I opted for the 4 a.m. start for two reasons: 1. I actually learned something at Dirty 30 (if you're coming from sea level give yourself more time...you're going to need it) and 2. Because Debby was starting at 4 a.m. 

WHO'S DEBBY? 

A saint. Once I read that I could still participate in the race as long as I "made arrangements with someone" who was in attendance at one of the mandatory pre-race meetings I messaged another flatlander in our Hideaway Running Events Facebook group and asked her if she wouldn't mind snagging my BIB for me. I'd start at whatever time she wanted to and I'd owe her a few drinks after the race (which she refused to accept). 

In what other sport can you message a complete stranger and ask them to do you a favor like that? None, I tell you. 

Debby, you're a doll and I will continue to thank you a million times for being so sweet. 

FINALLY, SATURDAY EVENING SUNDAY MORNING

Long story even longer. Our flight was delayed. Luckily, we landed just after 10 p.m., our bodies registering this as midnight coming from EST, and we proceeded to pick up our vehicle. We had heard there was a 2 to 3-hour wait for cars at Hertz but thankfully that wasn't the case for us. In fact, they must have been short on cars because our "compact" payment somehow equalled a high-priced mid-sized SUV which later on came in handy for some of our off-road adventures. 

We finally walked into the door of our place close to 1 a.m. MST (3 a.m. EST). I unpacked all of my stuff, quickly got everything together for the race, placed everything in the living room so I could get dressed there without disturbing Case, and got about 1.5 hours of sleep before I was up again to eat, get dressed and walk to the race start at Hideaway Park. 

RACE DAY

There were six of us that chose the 4 a.m. start. Apparently flying in last minute leaving no time to adjust to the altitude, on very little sleep, with 2-3 weeks of no running prior to race day due to being sick is the WINNING combination for me. 

I was feeling GREAT! 

Seriously.



I stuck with John, Shana, Lisa C., Lisa P. and Debby for the first few miles as we attempted to navigate the course in the dark. We got lost a couple times, and Lisa and Debby took the opposite side of the South Fork Loop, but for the most part we were right on track and the few mixups just came down to identifying markers in the darkness. John and Shana both full-time Colorado residents, and from what I picked up on, a former Ironman and Leadville finisher (one was tattooed on his calf and she wore the shirt at post-race) dropped us (rightfully so) just before we reached the first aid station. From there Lisa C. and I stayed together for awhile. We chatted and enjoyed the sunrise together and I couldn't believe that after my Dirty 30 disaster that I was hanging with folks currently residing/training in Colorado and feeling like I was on Cloud Nine.


However, the clouds dissapated not long after as we started climbing near Rifle Sight Notch (named for it's similar appearance) which used to be part of the old Moffat Road prior to the Moffat Tunnel being built. Around this time as we worked our way towards Rogers Pass nearing 11,000 ft., I became lightheaded and dizzy. The escalating altitude, probably mixed with the lack of sleep, was taking it's toll. I kept moving, but at a much slower pace than before. I chugged water and allowed my body to slowly acclimate. 

MOFFAT ROAD

On a side note: lets talk about this trestle. It's truly unbelievable that a train used to go OVER, not through, the Continental Divide from Denver, and that people used to live and work at this elevation in a small settlement called Corona. You may not realize it, but there's a huge difference where we live at 8,500 ft. versus 11,000+ ft. The weather conditions these people had to endure - lightning, hail, ice, heavy amounts of snow and the high altitude - is truly amazing. Besides the living quarters, the actual engineering of the Moffat Road is pretty remarkable. 

You can read more on it here and here.  

The Needle's Eye Tunnel below collapsed years ago and was later filled in, but these historic ruins if you will, are one of only three trestles that still survive from the days of the Moffat Road. 


(Source)


As we crept closer to Rogers Pass, Lisa C. went on while I was just in awe of this place I call home. I couldn't stop taking pictures (one of the many reasons why I love to run - to capture images and places my feet have taken me) and quite frankly I just wanted to take a seat and take it all in. Of course, I didn't, but I've worked my tail off to make this a reality and I had one of those moments where it felt very surreal to look down on the Fraser Valley and know that's the place I now call home.

Just look at these views of Winter Park Resort and our favorite mountain Mary Jane...



And, these trails...


You can hold the palm trees, because these mountains are paradise, baby. 





Once I reached Rogers Pass, I snapped a few more photos, soaked up the views of James Peak, Bancroft and Parry Peaks and was absolutely stoked that I was still feeling good and the course was mostly downhill (AND MORE OXYGEN) from here. 

Until...

I MET JIM. 


Jim changed my race plans completely (for the better). You see, I met Jim not long after I turned away from the sign that adorned "Rogers Pass." He was one of the few 100-milers still left out on the course. I gave him a congratulations and a you're amazing! shout but then I asked him a question that I've now learned you should never ask a 100-miler: How are you feeling?

This would drive most 100-milers bonkers because of course they feel like hell after 70-80 miles, but Jim wasn't in a state to really make fun or roll his eyes at me. Instead he basically responded with: Well, I'm struggling to stay awake while standing up. I've had moments where I've started to fall asleep standing. 


I'm sure he may have been half-joking, but since I can't read a joke to save my life, I took him very seriously especially because we were practically on the ledge of a mountain and this wasn't the place for someone to fall asleep standing up.

At that point, I knew I was throwing in the towel on my race because I just met someone who's race against the clock was far more important than mine. I also knew the altitude was getting to Jim and I made it my mission to get him safely off Rogers Pass and at least back down to Trestle Aid Station.

The only problem was the more time I spent with Jim, the more I wanted to make sure he finished this race and got that damn belt buckle (if you're not a trail runner: most 100-mile races reward a belt buckle as the finisher's prize). Not to mention, this guy is absolutely incredible. He threw his hat into the Hideaway 100 pool (with no pacers) just to support RD Tyler Tomasello just ONE MONTH after completing Big Foot 200.

Yes, that "200" number you just read means exactly what you think - 200-HUNDRED-miles. 

Just like Debby picking up a stranger's bib number, another thing I love about this sport, is how openly you can talk about bodily functions practically in the second sentence after your first introduction without being judged.

After seeing the shape Jim was in, I knew he hadn't been drinking enough water and was fighting altitude sickness. Living in Denver previously and with numerous trips to Winter Park, I can spot it when I see it. I asked him numerous times when the last time he peed and encouraged him to down more water as he should be going more frequently at higher altitudes.



I've never paced before so this was a crash course, but sure enough the further we got down the mountain and the faster we began to descend the more and more Jim's mood and abilities began to quickly change. He was singing, shuffling, running, eating - doing all the things he needed to do. It was miraculous and so cool to watch.

I assured him many times that I could run a 50K ANY DAY, but it's not every day I get to be a teeny tiny part of someone's 100-mile journey and I truly meant every single word. Thank you, Jim.

Helping him fill his bottles, seeing him rebound so well and go from his lowest low back to such a ridiculous high was beyond inspiring. For ten miles I got to root for Jim, make a new friend, and learn more about this extraordinary man.


I had every intention on running Jim into the finish line until he reminded me that our courses split towards the end. I didn't know what to do at that point. I didn't know if I should completely DNF and run his route in or if I should finish up and race back to him.

We made the decision to split, I'd finish the original 50K course and he'd finish out the 100-miler and if I finished before him I'd race back to get him.

I regret that decision immensely.

At that point, my race was already over, and I should have finished what I had set out to do...

to see him complete HIS journey and not MINE.



But, he didn't need me in order to do that because he did so himself. 
With guns blazing. 
Not only did Jim get that handmade belt buckle, but he CHUCKED his poles and SPRINTED into the finish! 

By far, the coolest thing I've ever seen. 

Jim, you're my hero. 

Thanks for reminding me (yet again) what running is all about for me
It's always been about the relationships, the experience with others and the scenery...not the time on my watch. Or the time against myself. But, the time with others.
 For others. 
And, seeing others fight to achieve their goals. 
THAT is what has always drawn me to this sport no matter what surface I happen to be running on. 

This experience reminded me of one of my most cherished running memories that occurred during my early marathon days, in my early 20s, when running was so innocent and when I didn't own a GPS watch, or read running magazines/blogs and didn't have a care in the world in regards to when I should cross the finish or what time the clock should read. Those were the days when I ran for others, not for me. It was the 2008 Chicago Marathon, my third time running/fundraising for the ACS, and I met another older gentleman, (a fellow American Cancer Society charity runner) named Rick from Ohio. We were both struggling, I was ridiculously undertrained, we were entering that dark pain cave, tapping into that place that brought us here. Turns out we were both still grappling with the losses of our fathers (his more recently than mine). We exchanged stories, wept together, ran the last 12 miles and finished the race together. And to this day, we are still friends on Facebook and fondly remember that race. 

It's THESE experiences that remind me why I love to run. 
A reminder that there is more good in this world than evil and that we can all be brought together from different backgrounds, different age groups, different languages/ethnicities, all different walks of life by something as little as a common love for sport. 


Alright, aside from my stellar experience here's a Cliffs Notes version on why this race rocked and why you should run in 2016: 

-Weather. The weather is perfect this time of year with highs in the 50s/60s and lows in the 40s. 
-Course. The course is beautiful and historic. 
-Just enough vert. The altitude is your greatest competitor, but aside from that the vert isn't too bad and is mostly downhill after the halfway point. 
-Volunteers. The volunteers were AWESOME, along with all of the people in attendance. 
-Surplus aid stations. This was only my third 50K, but this race had the most aid stations out of the three (obviously due to the fact you hit some of the aid stations twice). 
-Wildlife. I was hoping I'd cross paths with a moose, some elk, or a black bear from afar, all of which you have a great chance of befriending on this course. That wasn't in the cards for me, however we did hear a pack of coyotes howling during the morning hours which was pretty righteous. 
-Because Winter Park. This race was put together out of pure love for Winter Park, the trail running community and this killer scenery we call home. How could I not be a fan of a race like that? Please come visit and see why I love this place so much! 
-Giving back. The numero uno reason why you should run this race: almost ALL THE PROCEEDS went to Grand County Search and Rescue. Instead of netting a profit for the race director, Tyler donated nearly $1,500 towards the community. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have my registration fee go towards making a difference versus a medal or more race swag that will inevitably collect dust, be donated, or gotten rid of. Not many races follow this ideology, so I tip my hat to Tyler. 

Improvements: 

-Distance. The course measured closer to 34 miles. I think either take out the South Fork Loop to cut it down OR extend to a full 34-35 mile race and just call it a 55K. I don't really care either way, but I did hear folks chattering about this post-race. 
-Course Markings. I guess folks in the half, 50 and 100 may have had problems with course markings and distance. The half marathoners were lead the wrong way, the 50-mile race was cut down to 44 miles (?) which also affected the 100-milers cutting it down to 88 miles or so. I can completely understand those folks frustrations, but I didn't experience any of this and can't speak to it first hand. My experience was great and I found the course to be marked well as long as I was paying attention. I also came into this race knowing that it was the first year and nothing ever runs perfect in the first year of a race. 
-Course maps. Another thing I heard from runners is that they wanted a more detailed course map online. I guess I was familiar with the trails and was able to map together the course with an online map of the Idlewild trails, but it it seems some of the maps posted on the event website were altered last minute anyway, so researching beforehand still wouldn't have mattered. 
-Personal improvement. Next year I need to make sure to bring a cooler of brewskis and a lawn chair for the finish. 

If you're looking for a corporate event with lots of signage and a bag full of swag and a finisher's shoot you have a walk a half-mile to reach a banana + bagel (nothing wrong with that), then this race is probably not for you.

But, if you're looking to make a lot of new friends, have a kick ass time, and truly appreciate pushing your body on some beautiful terrain in a no-frills race - then I'll see you at Hideaway. 

I gutted my race shirt into a sweet cutoff. 

For more info check out the official website: Hideaway Running

See y'all at Hideaway in 2016! 

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