I had the distinct pleasure of joining 1,500 of my closest friends for the 2011 version of the Imogene Pass Run this past Saturday. This was the 38th running of Imogene which makes it one of the oldest, most storied foot contests in our great state. The point to point course starts in Ouray and climbs 5,000 feet over 10 miles to the 13,000 foot saddle of Imogene Pass. Runners then bomb 4,000 feet of descent over 7 miles, finishing in downtown Telluride. In short, Imogene offers everything one could ask for in a short-course mountain race. Big ups, big downs, high altitude, great organization, and strong competition. It is a classic.
Coming off Leadville 3 weeks prior, my plan at Imogene was to push myself a little but to keep the overall effort relatively conservative. As expected, my legs had very little energy from the start, so I settled into a small group of dudes who were keeping an honest but easy pace on the climb. Mike Smith, of Flagstaff AZ, took the lead from the start and immediately opened up a huge gap. It was evident he was in a league of his own. I ended up running most of the climb with Salomon runner Eric Bohn, also of Flagstaff, who was coming off a strong week at Transrockies. I think we had similar strategies since we were both in recovery from ‘A’ races, so we ended up conversing most of the way up.
We were greeted by a dusting of snow and arctic conditions on the pass and treacherously icy footing for the first couple hundred feet of the descent. I coasted all the way into Telluride for a finishing time of 2:32, which was good for 6th place overall. Mike Smith went on to crush the field with an astounding time of 2:09, winning by close to 20 minutes. Only the legendary Matt Carpenter has covered the course faster. Not bad company to have. All in all, a fantastic celebration of mountain running and a race I plan to return to many times.
Outside of Imogene, nearly all of my runs since Leadville have been of the 30-60 minute variety at a less than casual pace. It’s been very nice to readjust to life without serious training, especially with the lack of typical glorious fall weather here in Aspen. Immediately after Leadville, while I was still riding a stoke wave, I entertained the thought of joining Ted and Christy Mahon at The Bear 100 at the end of September. Luckily I exercised good judgement and didn’t pull the trigger on registration. I’m simply too tired at this point, and really want to have longevity in this sport I’ve grown to love so much. The Bear is definitely on the bucket list though.
With the 2011 racing season now in the rear view, it’s easy to start formulating thoughts about next year’s race schedule. My plan is to structure next year a lot like I did this year with a Spring heavy schedule of shorter stuff to build strength for two Summer hundreds. Ideally I’d like to get drawn for either Western States or Hardrock, but with my lottery luck, I’ll probably return to San Diego to defend my title there. August will likely revolve around Leadville again, unless I can find the cash and the time necessary to give UTMB a legitimate shot. These thoughts are all very preliminary and unofficial but it’s fun to start visualizing a schedule. For now I’ll enjoy some down time and try to pack on a few winter pounds.