Paul’s Boulder to Longs Peak Roundtrip Run

7 12 2011

Long Peak’s Roundtrip Run from Boulder

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In a previous post (Team Alchemist News), I mentioned Paul’s record-breaking Longs Peak run.  Downtown Boulder, to the top of Longs Peak, back to downtown Boulder, on foot.

Stats:  Just over 90 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing.  23 hours 17 minutes
It was on the the Trail Runner Magazine Website http://www.trailrunnermag.com/trblast/101411dirt.html

Here’s his account of that ridiculous feat and some additional pics and stats.  http://www.spotadventures.com/trip/view/?trip_id=278395

Paul's Long's Peak Run

Run, Forest, Run!

Here’s the entire article.  Hilarious and inspirational.

Long Day

After being waitlisted for Hardrock along with exactly one million runners, I
thought it might be fun to make it a year of independent runs. I made up several
little challenges in the form of 50 milers on trails and roads around my home at
Walker Ranch outside Boulder. Up and down Flagstaff 5 times, Myers Gulch
10 times, 50 miles across my basement (treadmill) where I had my wife pass me
off bottles while I yelled out things like, “Retrieve the blister kit!” to simulate
racing.

Many years ago when I first climbed the Keyhole route on Long’s Peak I was
convinced I had just conquered Mt. Everest. Now it seemed the next logical
step was to do the alternative, long approach, from Boulder. I did some Internet
searches to see if this had been done. Google introduced me to the “Fastest Known
Times”, a forum administered by Ultrarunning Legend Peter Bakwin that as best I
can understand was developed to nurture pathetic people like me with their illness.
Indeed, I discovered that Paul Pomeroy ran a 115 mile mostly trail version of
this route in 28 hours 44 minutes. After reading his report I understood this was
just a fun run for a runner of Paul Pomeroy’s stature that he did on a lark in 2003.
Something like, “Should I go to a movie or run to Long’s Peak and back?” I knew
right then it was my time to pounce and go for the FKT.

I have heard of too many ultrarunners eventually being unable to distinguish
between their spouse and a roving aid station and the subsequent DNF of
their marriage. I have not quite reached the point where I look into my
wife’s eyes and see only GU’s, powdered drinks and electrolyte tablets. When I
suggested I would be making drops to self-support myself along the way, Robin
my wife, insisted she be there. I was touched initially until she informed me,
sure she was willing to toss me the occasional bottle, but more importantly she
had tickets, popcorn and a front row seat to watch me suffer. She was not about to
miss this full day matinee, help or not.

With my extensive and supportive crew in place and all the confidence that I could
at least walk to the “Leaving Boulder” sign, I announced my intention on the FKT
website. I would take the most direct public roads and trails to the top. I decided
on the Pearl Street Courthouse, Old Stage, Jamestown, Peak to Peak, Highway 7
to Long’s Trailhead then the Keyhole Route. This came to a little over 90 miles
and 13,000 feet of ascending round-trip. For planning purposes, I consulted my
algorithm. The run calculated out to around 11 blisters, 3 breakdowns of “I can’t
go on”, and 1.37 vomits.

At 8:00 p.m. on Monday, September 12, 2011, I left downtown to the roar of
cheers from my own mouth and the irritation of passerby’s. As the website
suggested, I had been training for this since I took the first steps in my mothers
womb and I should document it as verifiable as possible. I had announced it on
the website, had witnesses, carried cards to pass out for independent verification
and wore a SPOT tracker. I also saved all my GU wrappers, lost toenails, and
bronzed my running shoes immediately afterwards.

I love the night. I work nights. Cool and calm, just like me, I thought. With
my torch in hand I glided through the evening out of Boulder. As usual, at
about mile 3 I hit the wall and stayed squarely pinned against it for the next 87
miles. Curiously, I discovered dogs don’t like people running by at night. They
all sounded like some mountain hillbilly’s Pit Bull /Wolf breeding experiment
with dinner held. As I scooted along I wished I had brought a gun to shoot
myself before they tore me to bits. I had the occasional thought about mountain
lions as well, but took comfort knowing that no matter how far it dragged my
disemboweled carcass, I would eventually be found with my SPOT tracker on.

I gained Peak to Peak Highway. It was surreal as I ran though the night. There
were spectacular views all around me with Pink Floyd now drowning out the
rare sounds of the night. I was astonished that only TWO cars passed me for the
next 15 miles on the highway. Robin crewed me from the window of the car
and sometimes drove next to me for extended periods while we talked. I love
Colorado. I love being able to run. I love being so ignorant to do this.

For 37 miles I averaged just under 12 minute miles with the difficult to watch,
shuffle, wobble, limp, thing I like to refer to as running. I had arrived at the
trailhead. Now a simple tag of the summit and I can skip home.

I passed out verification request cards to a few people along the way to the summit.
This was a little awkward as we both felt like I was a guy hawking free dinners
at a strip club on the streets of Vegas. I made my way up the Peak. Everything
was harder than I remembered. I was going so slow I was convinced I was going
backwards. Fortunately everyone else was going backwards faster than me and
I passed about 20 people. A thick black cloud descended on the peak. It started
snowing and the wind began to blow hard. I kept moving taking comfort in
the wise decision I had made to leave some of my critical warm clothing at the
trailhead. After achieving the keyhole the next couple hours is a blur of freezing,
hypoxia and exhaustion. I was the first that day to make it to the top. I took a
couple pictures with my phone and made an “X” on the register using the numb

stump at the end of my wrist and headed out the only way I could go, down. I had
made the summit in just less than 12 hours and was happy to be headed home.
Soon after I made it off the top, the clouds turned into sun and the wind all but
disappeared. I passed about 40 people on the way down. Word got around as to
what I was doing and everyone was very supportive. The rangers even took my
picture when I made it to the bottom. As I hit the trailhead again, I changed into
shorts and a t-shirt, grabbed my bottle, and headed out.

Did I mention I love the night? This was day, sun and cars. I was quick to realize
that the most dangerous part of this trip was not me stumbling along the narrows
on the face of Longs, but the 90-year-old lady that barreled past me in her truck at
1 second faster than the speed of light while drinking a beer and text messaging.
Eventually, the traffic lightened and the shoulder widened. I got into a rhythm; eat,
drink and pity myself. At the turn off to Jamestown I could not take it any more. I
sat down, put my feet up and enjoyed 180 seconds of pure bliss before returning to
my fate.

Robin was amazingly supportive, often stopping after just a mile. I would yell, “1
salt pill, 1 of the orange bottles, no sick of orange… I’ll try the lime one, and a
plain GU. I think maybe a Cup O’Noodles at the next stop.” It would have been
impossible without her.

I made it over Old Stage and was surprised by my friend Drew Geer greeting
me on his bike with his large camera. He followed me all the way into Boulder
snapping pictures. The break from my pity party was appreciated and he got me
in. About a mile out Peter Bakwin joined me. It was great talking with Peter and
we finished to my wife’s cheers back at the courthouse. The time was 7:18 p.m.
The run had taken me 23 hours and 18 minutes, comfortably under the 24 hours I
had hoped for. I had consumed just over 6 gallons of water and 10,000 calories.

An ultrathanks to my wife who made this possible, my friends cheering me behind
their computers watching my SPOT locations and Peter Bakwin for providing a
forum to encourage these personal challenges.

You can see the route along with pictures and download the KML or GPX
file from SPOT Adventures at: http://www.spotadventures.com/trip/view/?
trip_id=278395

Thanks,

Paul Hooge


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3 responses

7 12 2011
ken

And I thought my wife was a bad a$$! Nice Job Dr. Hooge!

7 12 2011
ken

Imagine the how fast you could have gone in a Alchemist gear!

4 04 2013
Sheila J

Paul is a personal friend of mine. We went to Nursing school together in San Antonio. Not only is his body and mind committed – he is a committed person all around. Ethical, moral, loving and kind – he has a precious wife whom we values more than anything. I am extremely proud of this guy!! He is as genuine a person as any I have ever met in my life. Run, Paul, Run! <3 Sheila J.

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