"Dale, do I get a medal?" The first words out of my mouth after collapsing at the bottom of the Hardrock 100 finish rock. Followed by the sound of everyone at the finish exhaling.
In 1957 my Dad, Jerry Hewey and three of his ski instructor friends from Aspen took two canoes and paddled from Denver, Colorado to Old Town, Maine using only human power. It took them 6 months of bug bites, leaches, treacherous waterways and a lot of will power and beer. This is in my vernacular. They could have, but did not, quit. I have always seen my Dad as a superman. I hope to be the same for my son. Hardrock 100 2013 was a solid test.
My race was going so good. I had an arrangement with my wife Jane and kids to go it alone this year at Hardrock. Ultrarunning is a selfish endeavor and to be able to spend two full weeks in Silverton, at altitude, previewing the course and soaking in the very essence of this epic race was amazing. I did trail work with Rick Trujillo, I hung out with the trail marking crews and soaked in the Ouray Hotsprings with other grizzled Hardrockers. I stopped on dusty street corners and talked running with Fast Eddie and The Matt Hart. I drank beers at the Avon Hotel with legends. I camped by Mineral Creek for a week. Bathing in the river and stewing in altitude. I moved into a rented house for race week and had my crew trickle into the one bedroom cabin until it was full of gear and bodies and laughter. It was absolute joy. I wasn't nervous, just ready. Race day dawned and I hit the dirt roads of Silverton with 140 hearty souls full of hope. 104 would find their way back within the 48 hour limit.
I had a pace chart to get me to the finish at 29 hours. Within the first two miles I had managed to lose both my sunglasses and my interest in said pace chart. I climbed the first 13,000 ft pass with Darcy Africa and Jon Robinson (the best Seattle ultra runner you've never heard of). Dropping into Chapman aid station I was surprised to find my crew of Annie and Jeason Murphy ready and waiting. I rolled on from there over the miles passing the time and topography pleasantly enough until I missed a turn on the way to Maggie's aid station. I went about a half mile too far, saw Karl Meltzer crest a ridge and not reappear. Damn it! I lost three placings. By pole creek I had gained back two spots. I ran into Sherman aid station a bit worked but alright (mile 30). Next up: 14,000ft Handies Peak. I was feeling great ascending Handies, passed Jared Campbell who was yodeling to the wildflowers, and was soon above timberline. It was hot and it was humid, very humid for the mountains. By the time the cold rain took hold of the peak, I was glad to have its bracing sting. Everyone else changed colors as their rain gear appeared. I pulled up my arm sleeves and hiked on passed Jamil Courey who sat like a statue on the side of the mountain. By now I knew I was sitting in the top 10, probably top 8. Nick Courey and Ted Mahon were just ahead of me and I kept them in sight as I descended from the heavens into Grouse Gulch aid station where I picked up pacer number one Tonya Hoffman.
In the days since Hardrock 2013, I have received a lot of attention for my finish. It was hard. I dug as deep as I've ever had to dig to finish a race. Ultrarunning is a selfish sport but I felt like I was running for the team of people who supported me. My wife Jane, my kids, my parents, my pacers, my crew, my friends, my family and the entire Hardrock community. This race, this finish, means more to me than all the belt buckles in Texas. I aspire to be the superman Dad to my kids that my Dad is to me.
I have recovered well during a week off, and am now back to training for Wasatch 100 in September.
Photo credits include: Durango Herald, Irunfar, Bob Macgillivray, Tonya Hoffman, Allen Skytta, Jennifer Hughes.