Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Trip 2016: Everything is Ultra (Part 5, Hardrock to Home)

Continued from Part 4.

After Rob finished pacing Ryan from Ouray to Grouse, there had been talk of him jumping in again at the last aid station, Cunningham Gap, 10 miles from the finish. Ryan had another friend pacing him starting at Grouse, but none of us were sure if his pacer would be able to make it all the way to the finish (that would be over 40 miles of pacing. At Hardrock).

Rob missed the call from Katie in the morning, and only later received her message saying that she was in Silverton and could give him a ride to Cunningham.  Damn. Rob briefly considered just running over to Cunningham on the road (6 miles away) so I could stay in Silverton with Will and the van, but we didn't know how close Ryan was and we were concerned that Rob might not make it there in time if he ran.

So we loaded up the van and drove.  I paid very careful attention to the road, as it deteriorated from asphalt, to gravel, to rutted out dirt and rock.  Parts of it were a little steep and scary, but it wasn't anything like the terrifying mountain pass between Ouray and Silverton.  I convinced myself that I'd be able to drive the RV back to the Silverton after Rob left to pace Ryan.

Cunningham Gap was beautiful.

Friends at the aid station explained that runners would have to go up and over this mountain in order to reach the finish.

William made friends with Ryan and Katie's dog while we waited, and they played together in the stream.

We had no cell signal at Cunningham, so we couldn't track Ryan.  All we could do was wait, and watch, and wonder whether his pacer John would feel like continuing to the end, or whether Rob would jump in again.

Waiting and cheering on other runners as they came into the aid station.

At last we spotted Ryan and John descending into the aid station.  They were walking, but Ryan had a smile on his face as he went to the aid tents.  John looked very tired and and seemed glad that Rob was there to take over pacing.  He'd been with Ryan for almost 15 hours by this point-- all night long and most of the next day.  It was now 3:30pm, and he was done.  He updated Rob on everything he needed to know, and then said, "Bring a headlamp."  There was still over 5 hours of daylight left and only 10 miles to go, but the terrain was difficult, and you never know what might happen.

Getting ready to go.

Ryan and Rob leave for the final 10 miles.

Tiny figures heading up a very tall mountain.

Ryan and Rob took off, up the final mountain.  I was just in total awe and amazement that Ryan was still going, still smiling even, after all this time and so many miles on his legs.

All that was left to do was wait.

Well, wait, and drive the RV back down from Cunningham Gap to the finish line at Silverton.

There were some steep and rocky parts out of the aid station.  I would have been a little bit nervous even in a car.  With the RV, I just had to Lamaze breathe and hope I didn't meet another vehicle coming around any of the corners or sections where there were drop offs on one side.

Will stayed very good and quiet, and eventually we made it off of the dirt road and back to the smooth, paved highway.  It was a straight shot back into Silverton, and I had no trouble finding a place to park the van right by the finish line.

My sweet little co-pilot

I had thought that we might have a very long time to wait (what with Rob having taken the headlamps and all), so I wasn't in a hurry as I chatted with people, tidied up the van, and made something to eat for Will and me (we had kind of forgotten about lunch, might as well move right on to dinner).  Then I got a text from my mom, who was tracking Ryan from her computer at home.  "They're at mile 97!" she said, and I thought, holy shit, they're going to be here soon.  They won't need headlamps after all.  I'd better get to the finish line.

Will and I grabbed our camp chairs and went over to hang out with Katie and the rest of Ryan's crew.  My phone buzzed and I saw this text from Rob:

Everybody cheered.  We tracked them on my phone as they got closer and closer.

At last we saw them coming down the road.

Ryan had done it!! He was a Hardrock Finisher!! 

I was so, so happy for him!

The sun set over Silverton that night, and we went back to the van to get some sleep.  We were so close to the finish line that every once and a while, I would wake up hearing cheers as another runner kissed the rock.

By the next morning, Hardrock was officially over, and it was time for us to head home.

We took the long way, stopping by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

We finally made it back late that night.  What a trip it had been! I would go back to Hardrock anytime.  



Anonymous said...

What a beautiful read!!!! I am very glad I didn't know you were driving the RV down the scary slippery mountain side!! At least until I knew you made it safely!,, ! sooooooo proud of you ! grampy george must be smiling thinking of what His " little so big " has done!,, you could now drive BIG RED!!!! What a lifetime of beautiful Memories you are making!, may the path you take be smooth and not full of too many ruts!!! Will is such a trooper!! Luv him to pieces!! Miss you all ! Hugs and luv mama

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