Wednesday 8 August 2018

Race report: Xterra 5km trail race (and loads of holiday photos)

I like to look for local races to do on holiday - so was happy to find the 2018 20K/10K/5K Phillip S Miller Park XTERRA Trail Race, an Xterra branded event in Castle Rock, Colorado just an hour's drive from where we're staying in Boulder. The race was to mark the opening of several miles of newly created trail in the grounds of the park. Mrs and I signed up for the 20k event - but I dropped down to the 5km on the day. Why? Let me offer some background...

Mrs came to Boulder for work a couple of months ago and loved the mountains, we agreed to come back for a holiday. A quick check of the map showed two beautiful parkruns within easy driving distance (a rarity in the US) and so I was all-in! Let's go!

We arrived on Tuesday, and by Thursday afternoon we'd hiked to the top of Green Mountain at 6,854ft (2,089m) and I'd thrown myself head first down the other side and spent the afternoon in Boulder Medical Centre getting bits of mountain pulled out of a massive cut in my knee (laceration with complications, according to the paperwork), and then getting it put back together with ten stitches (my first ever stitches, very exciting!).

Almost at the top

The top of the trig point shows the other peaks you can see from Green Mountain

Last known photo of me before the tripping incident

I fell running down a path like this - long runable/fallable downhill trail

Fetching new pink bandage hiding a bit of a horror show underneath!

The following day I drove to Aspen so we could run Aspen parkrun on Saturday. It was my first run after my accident so I was prepared to walk the whole route. Turns out I was able to jog along a little, and walk the hills, so I finished third from last (still in 6th place!) in a parkrun career personal slowest time of 0:44:24 - but I don't care, because the course was staggeringly beautiful, the team were really friendly, and at 8,000 feet (2,438m) above sea level it's the highest parkrun in the world.

I love finding the parkrun flag on a Saturday morning, it's a high point of the week

The course starts on an astroturf sports field, they were warming up to play baseball after we'd run 

There were more than twice as many doughnuts as there were runners!

Just look at the mountains! I've honestly never seen a parkrun so beautiful

Jeff gives the run briefing - taking part are two Brits, two Germans, two Australians, and two locals

A bridge on the outbound leg of the out-and-back course

The whole course is on what they call "trail", well paved and maintained pathways

A bridge on the return leg with an old church to one side

A large painted Aspen logo on one of the walls of Aspen High School

We drove back via Mt. Evans, the highest paved roadway in North America, and one of the famous fourteeners in the Rockies (a peak of 14,000 feet or higher). We drove up a winding road with 180-degree hairpins and no guard rails to the car park near the very top. Up at 14,000 feet the effective oxygen level is just 12.3% (compared with 20.9% at sea level) and I really noticed it! There's a short hike to the peak, and I had to stop every minute or two to catch my breath, I felt like I was on the verge of passing out all the time! The view from the top was hazy but incredible.

The top of the world (almost) - Mount Everest is twice as high above sea level as this

My doing a good impression of someone not about to pass out

Mrs seemed far less bothered by the altitude, and even jogged down the path back to the car

Mrs, looking like she's in a fitness magazine photo shoot

The highest ground either of us have ever stood on

So, that's enough background and holiday snaps. Back to the race. I was signed up for the 20km but there was no way I was getting round that so I dropped on the day to the 5km. Registration was 6am to 6:30am with race start at 7am. They like it early round here, to get out and done before it gets hot. We got up at 4:15am and were out on the road by 4:45am (it's not a holiday without a stupid early start to get to a race).

The course was very up-and-down, and all single track trail (proper trail this time) so overtaking was hard. I was fine with that as there were no heroics required - I cringed inside whenever I imagined tripping and falling onto my leg again!

I trundled round the 5km and was really pleased that once warmed up I was running fairly well. I completed the course nearly ten minutes faster than yesterday's parkrun! Mrs was sticking to the 20km and ran a really impressive negative split with the second 10km lap 90 seconds quicker than the first.

Post-race, with free t-shirt...

...and a decent slab of bling

No more races, we've got the rest of this week out here, and then we fly back on Saturday after South Boulder Creek parkrun.


  1. What an eventful first week. Enjoy the rest of the holiday, and speedy healing.

    1. Thanks - I'm having a less eventful second week, thankfully!