Saturday, September 13, 2008

Imogene Pass Run

This last weekend, my good friend Jorge and I (and our wives and my kids...his are grown) ran the Imogene Pass Run from Ouray, CO to Telluride, CO over, you guessed it, Imogene Pass.  This was my third running of the race, and his second, and we had a great time.  Here is a general overview of the run from the website:

The Imogene Pass Run (IPR) is a 17.1 mile point-to-point mountain race within the western San Juan mountains of Colorado, run along a route which connects the towns of Ouray (7810 ft.) and Telluride (8820 ft.) by way of 13,120 foot Imogene Pass. The IPR is held on the first Saturday after the Labor Day holiday, at the seasonal transition from late Summer to early Fall. Mountain weather at this time is famously "squirrelly" (rapidly changeable), and participants through the years have encountered a variety of weather conditions ranging from virtually perfect to terrible. This spectrum of weather during the race is in fact part of its lure and mystique. In good weather years the challenge of the mountainous traverse is rewarded by unsurpassed vistas and no small feeling of accomplishment upon crossing the finish line. In bad weather years, the wind, fog, rain and/or snow along the course make the successful arrival in Telluride a virtual rite of passage into the realm of true mountain running.

Each participant should keep in mind that the IPR is a mountain run in every sense of the word, and that "The Mountains Don't Care". The reality is that despite whatever emotions we may have for the mountains and their environment, they are in fact unfeeling objects and they follow the natural rules of physics which are not always benevolent toward living creatures, great or small. It is up to the participants themselves to be properly prepared for the challenges of this alpine foot journey, fair weather or foul. Despite the enthusiastic volunteer support at intervals along the course, each participant is ultimately responsible for his or her own safety and risk.

Except for short pavement stretches at the start and finish and a short trail section immediately below the pass, the IPR is run along a course consisting of normal to 4x4 dirt road. This is a traditional summer travel way between Ouray and Telluride and there may be minor vehicle traffic during the race. A total of six aid stations will be manned during the race (including one at the summit), support personnel will be stationed at critical junctions along the course, and numbered orange traffic cones will be placed at every mile interval from the start to the finish.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The VW Westfalia & Women

This post will be mostly unintelligable to most readers. Only those who have owned a VW Westfalia, or know someone well who has, will get this...

Recently I was trail running with some good friends. One of them, Jorge, has a '91 white Westfalia affectionately named "Vanna White". My wife and I own a dark blue, '90 Westfalia named, Van More-is-fun" (most VW owners have names for their cars and vans). We got to Barr Camp up on Pikes Peak (the big mountain here in the Colorado Springs area), and got talking with Neal Taylor, the camp director, who also has a Vanagon Westfalia. As we talked, we noticed a common thread between our lives, beyond simply being trail runners (Neal is an accomplished ultra-marathoner with multiple 100 mile races under his belt...Hardrocks at that!) and VW camper van owners. That common thread was how much our wives loved our vans. Neal said he would have parted with their's years ago, but his wife wont let it go. We are on our third VW Westfalia, and to obtain our current one, my wife flew to California, and drove it back with her sister (who we then flew back home to California). Jorge recently blew the engine on his, and when discussing whether they should invest in a new engine with his wife, learn that she intends to be buried in it!

There is an unnatural relationship between some women and the VW Westfalia. I do not know what it is (although I really like these vans as well), or how to explain it, but that little illustration above is the best attempt that I have seen. That might as well be my wife, or Jorge's, or Neal's, etc...