Last Saturday I ran the Kite Lake Triple in Alma, Colorado. The race is a similar atmosphere to The Quandary Crusher. It’s mostly a locals race, that is free and very unofficial. There’s no sign up, you just show up on race day and run to the summit’s of Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross, which are all peaks over 14,000ft.
A few weeks before the race while Matt and I were on our road trip, he saw the post on Facebook with the date, September 12th. This was pre-Squamish so we both said “let’s do it!”. Matt ended up injuring his ankle during Squamish, so he couldn’t race, but my friend Amy said she wanted to, so we decided to run it together.
Friday night we loaded up the car and met Amy at the grocery store, bought a ton of pasta for dinner and hit the road. We got to the trailhead just before sunset and it was super windy and cold. I bundled up in every layer I had, and knew the next morning would be even colder.
We met our friends Reid and Ella up there too who were also running in the morning, so we all made dinner together and went to bed. The night was chilly but not as cold as attempting to get out of my sleeping bag in the morning.
At 8am, a group began to gather at the trailhead and sign their names on a small notepad that Ian, the race director had brought. Ian talked about the past four years, told everyone the rules and then pretty much just said “go” and we all started running.
Amy and I kept a slow pace for the climb up to the saddle. I apparently forgot what altitude was and had trouble breathing for the first 10 minutes. I hadn’t run since Squamish and my legs were screaming at me. Amy had just finished doing lunges a couple days before and had a similar feeling. We pushed through it though and by the time we hit the saddle between Democrat and Cameron, we both felt great.
It was a Saturday morning so there was a long line of people attempting to summit Democrat and running past them was an extra challenge to the terrain. We managed okay though and hopped past people when possible. We made the summit of Democrat in about an hour.
Running down proved to be more tricky then up. We politely would yell “on your left” but a lot of people just stayed in the middle of the trail and stopped, so we did some off trail rock hopping to get around and were stirring up the rocks quite a bit. We may have annoyed a few people but I felt comfortable with my steps and we made our way back to the saddle very quickly.
The climb up to Cameron was tough but I ate a Honey Stinger gel which gave my legs an extra boost. The ridge was super windy and cold, so we put our jackets back on and kept moving. We made it to Cameron at in about 40 minutes from Democrat. I knew at this point that we would not make my lofty 2:30 goal for the race, so we settled on less than 4 hours and kept moving.
Lincoln is only a half mile away from Cameron and is a relatively easy climb. We had a nice running section down from Cameron on singletrack and the climb to Lincoln was short and sweet. We hit the summit of Lincoln in about 10 minutes from Cameron.
From Lincoln to Bross is the best, runnable section of the whole traverse. As soon as we hit the flat saddle we both took off running at about a 10 minute pace. The summit of Bross is private, and it is not unheard of to get a ticket, plus Ian asked the racers to not hit the summit to ensure we can keep racing, so we took the lower route to stay on public land and avoided it.
The scree on the south side of Bross is the worst that I have ever endured. It was a lot of scree skiing, and just plain sliding out. It was slow going and at times I was on all fours. But we finally made it out of that and onto steep dirt. I fell at one point during this section and bruised my hip but it was nothing big and we made it back to the finish line at right around 3:22:37 for a total time (unofficially – my watch time).
It was such a fun race to be a part of, and big thanks to Ian for putting it on! I got to add three 14ers to my slow growing list and I met a ton of cool people. I had a great time running with Amy and I hope she did too! I already can’t wait until next year!