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December 3, 2013 - John Stack
One of my biggest disappointments this year was in not finishing the Saranac 6er on May 25th. I did make some new friends because of it, such as Mr. 6er Loring Porter and his wife Colleen. But, along with the 2013 Wakely Ultra, it is some real unfinished business. But, I now have opportunity to fix both of these failures. While the Wakely Ultra isn’t until July 19th 2014 (and I’m not even guaranteed a spot in the race), the Winter 6er is scheduled for less than 3 weeks from now – Saturday December 21.
I’ve been training very specifically for this winter “race”. Thinking all the time what to wear on my feet – trail sneaks? Hiking boots? Yak Trax? Micro spikes? Also, what to wear overall. The May 25th race was a total washout – literally and figuratively. The 80% DNF rate can be completely attributed to freakish weather. Short of a “warm day” – 32+ degrees, it shouldn’t be anywhere as tough as May 25. I will bring multiple changes of clothes and multiple hats and gloves. This time though, we won’t be “running” the course, so Loring needn’t worry about Me, Phil and Beth taking his crown.
The weather will make a difference, but probably not much. More, I think it will be maneuvering up the rocks and ice, specifically on McKenzie, Ampersand, and one part of Scarface. Baker, St Regis and Haystack shouldn’t be too tough. But, the top of Ampersand was very treacherous Sunday, with the whole bald summit cover in ice. I was the only one brave/stupid enough of the three to go to the top.
What have we been doing to train? Lots of hikes on the 6ers. We’ve been knocking off the whole 6er group every week or 2. We do a bunch of double – Ampersand/St Regis, or any mountain then run up Baker afterwards. On days that I don’t run long, I zip up Baker. I live nearby and from my house up and down Baker is less than 3 miles. On the in between days, we have just been running 6-9 easy miles (no real hills). Also, having Phil and Beth work with me is incredible. If Phil can’t run, beth will. If Beth can’t Phil will. Sunday, both were at my house at 7AM, and again to run St Regis later that day at 3:30. We’ve been training at 1 degree , in wind, in snow, in the dark.
Last week, Beth and I rang the 6er bell. Phil stayed in the car. He won’t ring it until we finish on the 21st. I respect that. When we didn’t finish back in May, we all were unhappy. We didn’t run a 6er for months. Our goal was to be ULTRA 6ers, not just a 6er. Now, when our names go on the list, they will be for Winter Ultra 6ers, nothing less.
It’s going to be a longggg painful day. The worst parts are getting out of car between segments. We will be cold and wet. Our muscles will be tightening up. Going from warm car to hiking a cold mountain 4 different times will be tough. On the bright side, it may be easier than a summer 6er. The trails, if there is a good snow cover, may be much easier to hike on without all the roots and rocks tripping you up. Hopefully there won’t be a river coming down McKenzie this time…
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