Just two weeks after FRXC's Golden Shower 50k lived up to it's reputation by dumping loads of snow and causing some to consider cannibalism to stay alive, the Falcon Punch 50k turned out to have wintery weather ups and downs of it's own. But, what's a Colorado mid-spring fun run without a barrage of snow, and a few moments of contempt for the Front Range Weather Gods?!
The bright eyed and cheery gang showed up and started from the Matthews Winters parking lot with a solid group of 17 to start the trek. (**The use of the term 'gang' here is very intentional, as I was unsure of each person's gender/body shape/number of limbs because everyone was bundled up so well**) The flurries were coming down at a generous rate, enough for someone in the crowd to mention the idea of electrolyte snow cones (yeaaa, that one got nixed quickly). The social pace of the rolling hills in Matthews Winters and Red Rocks were a pleasant start to the day as everyone got in their groove.
Now, I personally have a soft spot in my heart for Mt. Morrison in Morrison, CO. Cardiologists' CT scans show that this happens to also be the same area of the heart that triggers turrets style cursing, existential crises, and desiring to just be an infant again, securely wrapped in the swaddle of my mother....the doctors' words, not mine. Mt. Morrison did not disappoint with igniting all these thoughts and more as we trudged along the 1.5 mile/1800ft climb with snow coming down hard. Cypress (the first ultra running dog of FRXC) joined us here, and tales were told about how grown men and women had to literally push our four legged friend's ass up the mountain. Conclusion: man > nature (right?)
After a quick pause at the summit, a few turned back after having their fill for the day, while another ambitious group continued down the back side of the mountain. After some neighborhood running, we hopped into Lair O' the Bear, which provided a refreshing break from the weather, while we were under the tree cover, and a nice change of pace from Mt. Morrison. As we descended the roads after completing Bear Creek Trail, we rubbed our squinting eyes to figure out if the snowy mirage in front of us was in fact real. Why, yes! YES! That women in the parked car is signalling at us! Here, it was Peggy Emch who decided to meet us half way in the run, and to be the Good Samaritan/Saint Falcon Punch of the day by showering us with food and drink. Frank Towers quickly dubbed her "Fresh Legs Peggy" as she helped revitalize the group and lead the charge of the second half.
A little climb/dragging of the ass in neighborhoods got us to the top Mt. Falcon parking lot, where we each straddled the entrance sign like a Carousel ride, telling nearby children to look away, for a quality group photo with just enough indecency. The 5 miles downhill on the north side of Mt. Falcon provided a rejuvenating change a pace for most, while I believe it was Tony Monreal who muttered, "Why do my feet hurt running down hill too?!" as each step added to the longest run of his life to date. (if you know Tony, now's the time to start peer pressuring him into signing up for an ultra).
At the bottom, all that was left was a little jaunt through Red Rocks and over to Dinosaur Ridge to finish back at the parking lot. When I say "all that was left", I mean, the top of Dinosaur Ridge should've been bulldozed at a 0% grade and an airport-esque moving walkway installed to finish this route at this point. While we were all ready for the climbs to be done, the clan cheerfully and slowly made our way over the ridge line, everyone finishing with a smile on their face as we shared some homemade banana chocolate chip training bread that was made after I found a dozen bananas in the dumpster behind my apartment the night before....uhm...I mean...
After about 8 hours, 31 miles, mid 30s temps, and constant snowfall, most seemed happy to be back in their cars, holding a fist out the window, cursing Mt. Morrison as we drove away. Ah, who am I kidding...I enjoyed every moment of the Falcon Punch! Who can't love that devil of a mountain climb and all the fun the trails offered us on another entertaining outing with FRXC. It was great to see some new faces come out and enjoy the day, and later reading on facebook all the food Russ Rizzo savagely ate that night in celebration (starvation?).
Now, onto the sun filled runs around the corner, and hopefully never having to stick my or your hand on a dog's ass to make it through! Cheers!