On Saturday, June 5, Trismarter.com coaches Lee Gardner and Lee Gardner toed the line at the Golden Gate Dirty Thirty’s 12 mile running race in Black Hawk, Colorado. The race boasts 4500+ feet of climbing and descending on mostly single track trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. With an average elevation of 8300 feet, two 1000+ foot climbs, and reaching a maximum elevation of over 9200 feet, this trail run was certainly a lung burner, not to mention the toll it took on the legs!
The race started with a .25 mile run up the dirt road to allow some room to gain position before getting on the single track trail.
Then a bit of single track turned into double track for about a mile. At about 2 miles in, a steady climb up the cool, lush valley as the trail crosses the stream 11 times. The climbing continued for about 2 miles.
“By the first real climb, I had settled in with a group of guys. We were all looking at each other and thinking ‘here we go!’,” reports Lee. “I quickly decided that attacking on this climb was suicide. I settled into a brisk walk, and actually gained a few positions by the top. Even walking those hills had my effort jacked way up t0 11!”
Regina concurs: “I was already red-lining when we got to the first big hill. My lungs were burning, and when I finally got to the top, all I could think was ‘Holy crap! The next climb is supposed to be bigger!”
At mile 4, the trail started down hill for two miles. Mostly uneven jeep trails, this descent was extremely rocky and technical.
“After the first climb, I wanted to settle back down, knowing that I had a ways to go. I took the jeep trails easier to prep for the next climb. A few people passed me going downhill, but I felt I was good enough on the climbs to catch back up,” said Regina.
The jeep trails turned back into single track, and began the second of two big climbs for the day. This one starting at 8000 feet, and ascending to 9250 feet in just over two miles, with the last half-mile feeling almost straight up according to Lee:
“Ya, that second climb was no joke. One guy who had passed me on the downhill was just in front of me for the longest time once we started climbing. I was reeling him in inch by inch, but our pace was down to nearly a crawl. I finally caught him about 10 feet from the top. I was feeling the altitude, and that last 10 feet seemed like a mile.”
The remainder of the course was down hill with the exception of a small climb at mile 10 to 11. The single track was back for the technical downhill finish, making the the last miles fast and dangerous. If you had anything left in the tank, this was the opportunity to make up some ground.
“Starting the downhill after climbing to over 9000 feet was scary! The terrain was real technical, and I was feeling the altitude. There was no way I could go fast and still feel in control. Once the we hit the single track section and the switch-backs, I got going again, and really made up some time, but it was still pretty dangerous.”
Lee summed this race up as, “the toughest 12 miles I have ever run! It was awesome!”
* Official results are pending, but will be poster here.