Googling for Pain:
The Kendall Mountain Run
July 15, 2005
Looking at the group assembling around us, we knew we were in for trouble. Twenty-year-olds wearing those really short running shorts and sleeveless tops idled on the starting line. Beanpole, 0% body fat dudes with water bottle belts and mesh hats compared their ultramarathon shirts, chuckling together at their past pursuits of pain. Hardened, white-haired gentlemen with sinewy legs of pure muscle ambled in the street with a self-confidence only decades of experience brings. We took it all in with knots in our stomach and dread in our thoughts. Josh said, “Holy shit. This is going to be tough.”
Me & Josh at the starting line
Josh and I stood on Main Street in the small mountain town of Silverton, Colorado. Months earlier, a google on my last name ‘Kendall’ had led me to an interesting discovery: that a mountain in Colorado shares my name. Not only that, "my" mountain serves as the course for a leg-busting 13-mile up-and-down race, the annual Kendall Mountain Run. Beginning in the town of Silverton at elevation 9,318 ft, the run climbs steeply up old jeep trails for most of the way and ends in a scree scramble to the 13,066 ft summit of Kendall Mountain. I somehow got it in my head that this was a challenge I had to experience.
Of course Josh was in as well. Josh is never one to miss a challenge, even though this one was perhaps the most random of all. So we set up plans to complete the run without dying. A two week acclimatization in Crested Butte prior to the race was the idea. Trail running, hiking, mountain biking, an occasional jaunt up a fourteener… that was our regimen. It was kind of like Rocky’s training scene in Rocky 4 without the barn stuff.
Training run up to Gunsight Pass, Crested Butte [Photo by Josh]
The starter fired into the air from atop his Segway(?) and we were off.
After a short stretch we immediately started the climb. I began with gusto, way too hard, it was unsustainable. Josh quickly left me behind as I started to falter up the never-ending steeps. After three miles, I had to stop running and alternated run/walk the remainder of the way. Almost at the top now, the course left the jeep road and headed steeply up a scree field. As I stumbled up the last bit, runners flew down past me (including Josh), on the edge of control, limbs flinging around like rag dolls. A near collision or two and then – the summit of Kendall Mountain!
OK, I barely remember anything about the summit. Someone wrote down my number and then I was: gone… careening down the scree with no sense of caution. After a bit I caught my breath and started to let it ride. I started to pass people, one after another, for the full 6 mile descent. Josh did the same, developing a huge blister on his heel and a knee injury, both good excuses for not being able to catch the woman who finished directly in front of him.
Ironically, the hardest part of the entire race wasn’t even on the mountain. The last ½ mile (maybe less) is completely flat as the course heads back into town. After the 4,000 foot descent, hitting the flat section is like slinging a ton of bricks over your shoulder. My pace slowed, stride fizzled, the finish line seemed unattainable right up until the point it was attained.
Glad to be done
What a great feeling it was to sit down on the grass at the finish, peering up at the summit of Kendall Mountain and knowing that all that tom-foolery was behind us.
An end of race BBQ finished things off the right way with all-you-can eat burgers and sundry other greasy options.
Our #1 (and only) fan Enmi Chowing down at the BBQ
This is a great race, well organized with a small-town feel. Thanks to all the race organizers and volunteers for making it happen… I will return with more Kendalls (some day)!
And to all you non-Kendalls out there, go ahead, don’t be afraid – google yourself and see what namesake challenges lie in wait. And then represent!
Event info from Town of Silverton
summitpost.org info on Kendall Mountain
Kendall Mtn Run origin from Silverton Magazine
Official Kendall Mountain 2005 Results [DOC]