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Sheep Mountain 50Mi - Run

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Fairplay, Colorado
United States
Human Potential Running Series
75F / 24C
Total Time = 15h 13m 38s
Overall Rank = 36/52
Age Group = 40-49
Age Group Rank = 9/15
Pre-race routine:

Easy-paced 4mi run through City Park day prior before driving to Fairplay. Checked in for race around 6pm, before heading to Horseshoe A/S to camp for the night. Check-in was set-up extremely well to deal with COVID-19 precautions. Race Director provided just about everything that you could need beforehand; from Runner's Manual, to GPX maps, to crew directions, to camping locations. You name it, we had it! Pre-race meeting was held virtually on Facebook and a number of other platforms Mon before race so there was no need to congregate. Temperatures were taken at check-in and runners had to be below 100 to participate. Masks were mandatory and social distancing maintained throughout the process. RD obviously put a great amount of time and effort into ensuring runner safety during check-in and throughout race as a whole.
Event warmup:

Camped out at Horseshoe A/S night before race. It was a beautiful location, although there were quite a few mosquitos there. A bit of bug spray did the trick and I wasn't bothered throughout the evening. Got a decent night of pre-race sleep, and broke camp around 3:30 in order to make the 20 min drive to start line. Met with some friends there and had a relaxed chat before dropping morning gear. In order to maintain social distancing and ensure runner safety, race was started in waves of approximately 20 runners every 10 minutes.
  • 15h 13m 38s
  • 53.45 miles
  • 17m 05s  min/mile

Pound for pound, this was probably the most challenging race I have ever run; road, trail, triathlon, etc. Day started out well enough and I was in the front pack through the first A/S and onto the slopes of Sheep Mountain. The climb up Sheep is long, and unrelenting with about 2,500 ft of gain from mi 9.5 to mi 12, followed by an equally brutal descent with grades of up -36%. Once off the mountain at around 15mi there was some runnable single track, which I enjoyed immensely, but alas briefly. Real trouble started about a mile or so out from the Watrous A/S (mi 22). I had similar issues at Silverheels 100 in Fairplay, about three weeks prior. I think that it was combination of elevation and heat that simply had the engine running too hot. Anyhow, I rolled into A/S and found a tree to cool off under. One of the volunteers brought me a big block of ice that I put on my neck, but too late. I was greeted by morning's turkey wrap. A few more minutes to recover and I pushed on to Round Hill A/S (mi27) where I sat down for some cold Ginger Ale. It went down easy, but unfortunately came up just as easily, along with what I really hoped was Nutella (otherwise, I was really gonna need to see a Dr). As I left A/S someone commented on my great rally, to which I commented "Don't call it a comeback" (Yes Virginia, LL Cool J is on my trail playlist). Shortly after leaving A/S I came across the RD, Sherpa John Lacroix. We chatted for a min and he let me know that the next climb up Round Hill was really going to suck, but no way I was allowed to quit. He was definitely a man of his word and the climb kicked me squarely in the teeth. LL Cool J faded into "Oh, Susanna" and I was feeling pretty broken. (Can't make this shit up) About half way up the climb I was passed by my bud, Sam while I was crumpled on the side of the trail vacating watermelon, and god only knows what from my belly. Somehow, I managed to make it off Round Hill, and caught back up to a bunch of other runner's at Brown's Pass. By now my abs were screaming in pain from all of the puking, but we were blessed with some overcast skies and I was moving much better on my way downhill to Pasture. Caught Sam just before the A/S and as I ran by commented that this is where I should just relax and cruise, but I am going to push the needle anyway and blow up a few miles down the road. Well, that was prophetic, as I hit the wall full force as we got to the base of Sheep on the return trip. Mostly just air that I had probably been trapped in my stomach since Reagan was in office coming up now. Again, miracled myself off Sheep Mtn and made it through the last A/S (no more puke this time), up over the last little climb (OK, a little more barfing towards the top), and on to finish in the dark. Completing race took a lot of determination and focus, but I am super happy I stuck it out and will be back again in the future. Now that my catharsis is complete, here are some specifics that you might be interested in...
Terrain: A bit of everything! Blacktop, dirt roads, jeep trails, single track, runnable flats, unrunnable rock fall, stunning mountain views, steep exposed ascents, long arduous climbs, open meadows, rolling woods; so many changes it is hard to keep track of all the stuff you run through.
Course marking: Simply, on point. Never really had a moment where I doubted whether I was on course. Also, RD provided numerous mapping products pre-race including PDF map, GPX which I had loaded into AllTrails, and a link to route that had been uploaded to COTREX (Colorado Trail Explorer) App.
Aid Stations: Wow! These guys were around the board awesome. They knew all the right questions to ask, the suggestions to make regarding hydration/nutrition, and they really knew the course. Always spot on as far as distance to next A/S and the terrain that you would be working through en route.
Swag: 10L waterproof dropbag - BOOM!, dual branded HPRS/Orange Mud buff, can't have too many; trail toes sample - yep, I'll use that; T-shirt - not tech, but cool design, I'll wear it; Finisher's Medal - really cool wood cut - its hanging up.
What would you do differently?:

Need to find a better way to keep cool at elevation. Going to start exploring carrying ice on board during hotter segments in future.
Post race
Warm down:

I was smoked. Grabbed my award and immediately sat in the dirt for quite a while revisiting what I had just gone through. No post-race festivities due to COVID restrictions.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Plain and simple: overheating

Event comments:

Since moving to Colorado a year ago, I have run a number of races put on by Human Potential Running Series and RD Sherpa John Lacroix. I can say unequivocally that they will find a way to challenge you and enable you to grow through facing and overcoming adversity. Sheep Mountain 50 is no different. Sherpa John will give you all the tools that you need to be successful, but he won't hold you hand, or wipe your butt for you (He will give you a big hug when you cross the finish line, or at least once we are past this whole COVID thing, he will). HPRS races have an old school, small town, family feel to them that you don't find elsewhere. Bottom line, if you want a race that will test your metal, force you to grow, and surround you with instant friends while doing it; I highly recommend signing up for an HPRS event!!!

Last updated: 2020-08-03 12:00 AM
15:13:38 | 53.45 miles | 17m 05s  min/mile
Age Group: 9/15
Overall: 36/52
Performance: Good
Avg HR: 134 Hi HR: 172
Course: Course description from race website which pretty much sums it up: "Make no mistake, the elevation profile for The Sheep Mountain 50 mile and 50k are docile looking. However, the average elevation of over 10,500’ and copious amounts of aggressive terrain, will see you waddle away from this race in shock. Come ready my friends, this mountain throws everything it has at runners, challenging you from start to finish. We run amongst these “beautifully difficult” mountains and hills lining the western slope of the South Park Valley. This is the race where you carry #Adversity on your back, if you can handle the burden, you can win the day! Runners looking for a wilderness experience, stunning views, opportunities for technical terrain mixed with remote forest service roads… will fall in love with this course. (It’s more of a love-hate relationship, really)."
Keeping cool Bad Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %3%
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2020-08-04 8:56 PM

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Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Subject: Sheep Mountain 50Mi
2020-08-07 9:25 AM
in reply to: #5271815

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, Minnesota
Gold member
Subject: RE: Sheep Mountain 50Mi

Wow, great job. That took a lot of mental fortitude to keep going!

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