Barefoot Rick's Old Fall River Road Run - July 24, 2007
This was truly an amazing run! Ever since I started planning for this run a couple of weeks ago in Kansas City, I have been excited about the challenge of this vertical 4,000 foot ascent from 8,000 feet to nearly 12,000 feet on a mountain dirt and gravel road. It was everything I expected and more. I knew that my goal was to run the entire distance (which I did), but more importantly to enjoy the journey with the spectacular beauty of the Rocky Mountains all around me! It was truly awe inspiring.
Rebecca dropped me off at the start of the dirt road, approximately 2 miles west of the Alluvial Fan Junction in Rocky Mountain National Park. I knew my early start of 9:30 a.m. and my projected finish of noon gave me plenty of time to stop along the way, taking water and air breaks. I had told the photographer that I thought I would finish at the Alpine Visitor Center around noonish. I should have told him, however, that I am usually early or at the latest on time for most things in my life. So, my journey up the 9 mile vertical ascent started by immediate and constant uphills. The terrain of the road was pretty good -- mostly light gravel with some hard packed dirt areas. The one way ascent road offered plenty of room for motorists passing by to roll down their windows and wish me luck on my way up. Several had read the story in the Estes Park Trail Gazette and were like spectators at a race encouraging me on.
I continued on my way, passing such beautiful sites as Chasm Falls and sheer drops of thousands of feet just a few inches from where I was running. Sometimes, if there were a lot of cars coming up I would wave them through as I sucked air and water. Folks were very nice, waving and smiling as I waited for them to pass. Once up and around the Chapin Mountain Trailhead, the trees grew sparser and stubbier, a sure sign that I was about to cross timberline. I am so familiar with this road because I have driven up it so many times, but there were so many things I have missed by always being the designated driver. Lots of chipmunks, picas, and marmots along the way who were most curious, I believe, in this fellow unshod mammal traversing their territory. The wildflowers in the tundra above timberline were also stunning as I just drank in the beauty as I continued onward and upward.
I had ran over 8.5 miles and was close enough to the Alpine Visitor Center that I could see that Walt Hester, the photographer previously mentioned, was not set up nor was he visible. No matter. It was about 11:40 a.m. and I did tell him noon. I just stood there by the side of the road enjoying the abundant beauty all around me. The snow fields under the Alpine Center were magnificent and the verdant valleys below were spotted with small herds of elk moving about, oblivious to all the watchful gazers above.
At approximately noon, I see a guy lugging camera equipment coming down the road toward me. Sure enough, it was Walt. I told him that I didn't want take his moment so I had waited to finish until he got there. Walt snapped a few pics as I finished up my 9 mile ascent, stopping in the Visitor Center parking lot. We chatted for a bit about his triathlon aspirations and his disciplined approach toward biking, running, and swimming. My hat's off to Walt! Running is enough for me.
The wife and extended family met me up at the Visitor Center later and we all headed down the Trail Ridge Road. It felt good to sit and reminisce about a wonderful experience, a run that I will always remember and treasure!
Below Photo Courtesy of the Estes Park Trail
Gazette - July 25, 2007
Click Here for Larger Pic of Above - July 25 2007 Estes Park Trail Gazette
Estes Park Trail Gazette Article - July 20, 2007
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