Sunday, June 12, 2011

Running America's Highest Paved Road

Evans (foreground) from Echo Lake. Photo: Joe G

From Echo Lake to the top of Mount Evans (14,264') by way of 'America's Highest Paved Road,' it is 15.25 miles and some 3,600 feet of climbing. For those familiar with mountain grades, those digits compute to a very forgiving grade. The one compounding problem, however, is that all the work occurs between 10,600' and 14,264'. The air is thin up there, but I really felt like I needed to get some work up high before heading out to Silverton for the Hardrock 100 in July, even if just as a token effort.

It was either Pikes or Evans as far as not-too-snowed-in, high-Alpine options were concerned, and in the interests of expediency I figured the long road to the top of Evans was preferable to potential above-treeline slogging on Pikes. Besides, Evans offered up the opportunity for some good turnover, which would also serve me well with regards to Western States, especially on the long, long descent.

A few emails on Thursday and we had a nice little crew lined up for the Saturday jaunt: Joe Grant, Pete Stevenson, Scott Jurek and Jenny Uehisa. Two hours down the road from the Fort and we were set for a 7am push off.

All pics J Uehisa, unless otherwise noted

As noted, the grade going up is really quite pleasant. Per mile, it is approximately 250 feet of ascending with very little variation, so a real runners' grade. Once settled in, the running actually came quite easily. The wind was howling a bit, and there were a few stop-you-in-your-tracks headwinds on some of the more exposed aspects, and on the tight switchbacks above 13,000', it was either a complete slog into the wind or a rushing tailwind, which provided a little extra element of fun to the summit push.

One of the depressingly long road vistas

On the summit. Photo: Joe G

From Echo Lake to the rocky summit, I was up in 2:15, in what felt like a steady to relaxed effort. The descent (1:45) was torture after about five miles, and if it wasn't for the wonderful company of Radio Joe G FM, I may even have resorted to sticking my thumb out.

A little chilly starting out on the descent

Layers were soon shed

With a total of 30 miles on road, I think this may have been my longest ever road run. Somewhat bizarre to have achieved that going up a mountain. Welcome to Colorado.

And done!

J Uehisa. Photo: Joe G

Ultragen and Peaks. Joe G.


  1. (2:15 - 0.75 mile)*race effort < Matt C's 1:37? We all know it's easy to get your competitive juices flowing. Hopefully Joe G gets into HR. I saw that Scott J dropped from the entrants list (too bad).

  2. Rob - not a chance. Sub 1:50 seems doable. Lot of variables with Evans, the wind being top of the list.

    Agreed on Joe and HR. No.7 on the list, so a very good chance. He'll be there either way and is training on the assumption that he's running.

    Think Scott is fousing his efforts on UTMB.


  3. Holy crap. This is a barber shop's dream.

  4. What a coincidence - I ran Evans up and down from Summit Lake Sat. evening. I didn't know the race was the next morning.
    Ditto on the stop-you-in-your-tracks wind gusts. And the tailwinds were "interesting". Wish I knew what my longest stride measured, going downhill with a tailwind!
    Always a different type of thrill than we're used to.

  5. Yeah what GZ said! Massive beard on that dood! Makes you look like Dakota...

  6. Hey Nick! While you were doing this, I was vetting your pacer down in the Auburn area: he shuttled me to Michigan Bluff and ran with me a bit on my final training run on the course. We also enjoyed a brew on Sat night. He'll be a great pacer and definitely fit/strong enough to pace you 62-100 if need be! Rest up and I'll see you in just over a week! -Joe

  7. I think I ran that race in 1:56, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the day when I was about 25. Or maybe that was the winner. I came in 4th. Carpenter's 1:37 is pretty nuts, but no surprise. I get a little taste of altitude this weekend, it'll probably hurt more than I think. See ya in Silverton.

  8. Joe - see you out there, man. Hope all is fixed and you're ready to go

    Karl - hopefully I'll have some legs left for Silverton - but definitely no guarantee. You're the man to beat for sure. Good field. Should be an interesting race.

  9. Thanks for letting me tag along on this one. I'm glad I could stand in to make you guys look clean cut and respectable in the photos:-)

  10. You should try the trail version of this. It had gorgeous scenery and was mostly runnable trail (except for one really steep hill and the last 3/4 mile at the summit). The trail also starts at echo lake but the distance is much shorter (8 mile trail vs 15 mile road)

  11. I’m delighted that I’ve observed this weblog. Finally something not a junk, which we go through incredibly frequently. The web site is lovingly serviced and saved as much as date. So it should be, thanks for sharing this with us.