Barely a week before the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run, Kiwi Grant Guise is settling in to the simple van life nudging the nose of his mobile home higher into the mountains to acclimatise for what is ahead…
I awake in a confused haze to the sound of car doors slamming and talking…
It’s daylight out and clearly I have slept in, but looking at my watch another “WTF” slowly passes through my barely functioning brain. It’s just past 5am. I roll over and try to sleep more. The car doors slamming and talking continues on and off for another hour or two before I finally drag myself out of the little nest I have made for myself in VannaWhite. Opening the van door I slip straight into my running shoes and am greeted by a perfect day in the mountains. A trail head, with a beautiful single track is just meters away from my “front door” and after a coffee I set off on said single track.
I am not sure what day this was – they are all blurring together now, in a truly positive way. I go up for a few hours, tapping away on my wizard sticks, silently rolling up behind those people that hours early were slamming their car doors – oh how I wish I had a car door now so I could return the gesture… But a friendly “hello” is far more appropriate, and often I stop and chat. This week is more about acclimatizing to the altitude than climbing hard and after travelling solo for two weeks I enjoy the social interaction.
Another “14’er” summit is reached and I take a quiet moment and sit at 4200+ meters, sometimes for 20-plus minutes, before returning to my van, parked at around 3000m. Once there I wash off in an icy cold river, make breakfast and consume more coffee. I feel as if I am living out the “Get Ready For Trail” episode “American Style”, when Sebastian Chaigneau and Joe Grant prepared for the 2014 Hardrock Hundred, only they are way more hardcore and have their shirts off more than I do…
The routine plays out daily – woken early, coffee, a summit well above 4000 meters, and breakfast back at my van. I then drive to another trailhead and prepare to repeat the next day. Somewhere in there I track down some wifi or cell coverage to do some work and make a video call home to check in with Jane and the kids.
It has taken a few days but I am slowly settling into a very simple daily routine.
But one thing I am still having trouble excepting is just how good the Leadville area is! Damn – this place is next level. There are pretty much limitless amounts of great camping, peaks and trails. And Leadville itsself is a pretty sweet spot too. At first, I was not too sure about it driving through town, but once I got out of my van and walked around the place quickly grew on me. The fact it has a great café and a great brewery might have helped… But it also has a big supermarket and reasonably priced gas – it ticks all the boxes.
This week wasn’t all running focused. A few weeks before I came over, on a hope, I checked the tour dates for my (current) favourite band, the Drive by Truckers (DBT) and as luck had it they were playing a show at Snowmass – about an hour drive from Leadville. In truth, had DBT not been playing there, I may never have travelled up to Leadville at all. It was pretty exciting to see a DBT live and I also got to check out Aspen and catch up with Ted Mahoe, who is a eight-time top 10 Hardrock finisher.
The ’Truckers show was a total blast, but I was keen to get away from all the lights and traffic of Aspen and made my way back towards Independence Pass and the Leadville area, where I got out for a run up Colorado’s highest peak, Mt Elbert, with one of my Hardrock pacers Clark Fox.
It was a big week by my standards and I am a tag excited by how good I felt during it:
- Monday- Mt Yale 4323m -15km, 1366mD+
- Tuesday– Belford 4310m, Oxford 4298m and Missouri 4280m- 24km, 2489mD+
- Wednesday– Mt Massive 4389m- 21km, 1500mD+
- Thursday– Mt Elbert 4393m (highest peak in CO)- 18km, 1813mD+
- Friday– La Plata 4366m- 15km, 1422mD+
- Saturday– Hope Pass out and back- 19km, 1385mD+
- Sunday– Mt Elbert 4393m – 20km, 1779mD+
For the week– 132km, 11,762mD+
- Number of times visited “City on a Hill”: 4
- Number of times visited “Pb Brewery: 5
- Number of hot showers: 0
- Number of ice cold river baths: 7
I am super lucky to be working with and distributing UltrAspire in New Zealand. Bryce Thatcher has been designing running vests for 30+ years (he started UD and worked at Nathan before starting UltrAspire around 6 years ago).
I am lucky enough to get my hands on sample and prototype vests and have even had Bryce do some small modifications just for me! Last year I used a ALPHA2.0 vest at Hardrock and this year I will use the newer ALPHA 3.0 version. Like last year Bryce added the super easy and simple pole attachments to the ALPHA for me (this is the same system that’s on the EPIC and ZYGOS2.0 vest). Hands down the easiest pole carry system I have used, with no need to remove my vest to get poles on or off.
I have a thing with shorts…. I am a little particular about them. Not sure why, but I just am. I guess it is a comfort thing, but also how functional they are. Luckily for me I discovered the Patagonia Strider Pro 5 inch shorts. Super lightweight, comfy and with 5 big pockets! I can load them with food, but also during a race like Hardrock, I’ll stuff gloves and a “buff” in these pockets as they are so easy to get to. Possibly best of all they come in colour! Lots of options other than boring black….