Sunday, June 17, 2012

A first pass up Hope Pass

Hope Pass
June 16, 2012
9.5 miles - 3:45

The Leadville 100 mile trail run is deemed one of the hardest 100 milers, simply because it starts at 10,200 feet and climbs to around 12,800 feet. And if you know anything about this race, you have no doubt have heard of Hope Pass. Around mile 40 at Twin Lakes, the runners make their way up to Hope Pass, reaching 12,800 feet and then drop down to Winfield. Then they have to turn right back around and conquer that pass again.

I had the opportunity to crew and pace Leadville last year. I fell in love with Colorado and the race. I promised myself I would be back to run it some day.

One of my favorite scenes from Leadville, Colorado - down the street from the Hostel
Martin and I decided to make a long weekend in Leadville. We climbed Mt. Massive the day before and I said I wanted to go up hope. We plan to run Transrockies next year and I wanted to get some experience at elevation and taking a stab at Hope. We also are running Squamish 50 in about 6 weeks and I really wanted to get some hill training in, which is hard to do in Texas.

I've been struggling with my knee. I've been going to PT twice a week to try to fix things. While at Western States training camp, I really did a number on it running downhill. My goal this weekend was to learn how to hike and run downhill.

We started on the Twin Lakes side and planned to hike up to Hope and then back down to Twin Lakes, as opposed to running down to Winfield and climbing it again. I was pretty tired from the Mt. Massive climb before and really didn't want another double digit day.

Stopped to tie my shoe. He said my hamstrings look good. 

The start of the trail is very nice. There are some sections that are runnable for me. As I was going up, I was thinking, this would be pretty crazy with the fast runners zipping down while you're trying to head up.

At almost 4 miles, I grew a little concerned how much further we had to go to get to the top. We had not even gotten to tree line yet. My knee was feeling good and I didn't want to screw it up again.

We ran into a couple who noticed my Zion 100 shirt. He had run it also and his wife had paced him. She is training for Leadville 100 as her first 100 and they were also doing a training run. We asked them how much further and they said only a mile. We were just about at tree line. 

Just out of treeline, I see the goal. I don't know if it was my warped sense of reality because just the day before I had climbed a 14er, but I got excited and thought "Oh that's all? Cake." 

Snow on Hope Pass

At the top of Hope Pass with Twin Lakes in the background

The back side of Hope Pass looking down to Winfield
I made it to the top of Hope Pass!
It took me 2:25 miles to get to the top of Hope Pass, about 4.75 miles. I wasn't the fastest, but I felt pretty good about this. Martin and I both wanted to run down. I told him to go ahead of me and to meet me at the bridge.

I focused on quicker turn over and shortening my stride. What a difference! I was not only faster, but I had no knee pain. Previously, I was over striding and breaking. All that downhill pressure went straight to my knee.

I was having a blast and passed the bridge where Martin and I were to meet. Good thing he passed it too! I ran into him hiking back up. We hiked back up and then found the bridge to finish the run.

I had the grand idea of doing an ice bath in the river. Um well, that lasted all of 3 seconds. That water was 20 degrees, I swear. Much colder than the American River!

The Leadville weekend was a perfect training run for Squamish 50. I feel a lot better about my knee and my ability to handle a 50 miler with 10,000 feet of climbing!


  1. Great shots. Looking forward to it in two months. 61.22 days actually.

  2. That looks like sooooooo much fun! Wow! Great photos, too!