2022 Creede 100 Race Report
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The high average elevation is a defining characteristic of the Creede 100 and runners should be ready for the challenge! I felt the impact at mile 80 and struggled in my finish for 2nd place. 🥈
The Creede 100 is one of the highest average elevation races in North America put on by Tempest Adventures in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Except for the start, finish, and a short drop in the middle, almost the entire course is above 11,000 ft! Other races such as the Hardrock 100 may have higher points in the course, such as Handies Peak at 14,058 ft, but do not stay at high elevation for the same duration as the Creede 100 course. Do not underestimate this! ⛰️
I led the race for the first 80 miles or so and ended up with a 2nd place finish. Everything was going great until somewhere around 4 AM on a climb above 12,000 ft in below freezing temperatures when I starting having issues with my lungs and felt out of breath; taking breaks every couple hundred feet. Read more about this below! 🫁
Many runners had similar challenges and only 16 out of the 39 racers finished!
About the course
The course starts in the historic mining town of Creede, CO and follows some local gravel roads before hitting some singletrack heading up to the Colorado Trail. It stays at high elevation on the CT and eventually the Continental Divide Trail until just before the midpoint at mile 46 and the Lost Trail junction. Here the course heads down to the Lost Trail Trailhead for the aid station.
Key points about the course:
- Basically an out and back with a loop at the start/finish and midpoint. Most of it is on the Colorado Trail and above 11,500 ft.
- The Colorado Trail and Continental Divide Trail are both very runnable and have awesome views.
- Lost Trail is a bit more technical but still runnable on the down.
- The climb back up to Bent Aid Station is steep and was very muddy and slippery. It felt like forever!
- Hitting the high point at 13,200 ft for the second time is wearing on your body. Take it easy.
- Many sections of the last 20 miles have very difficult footing and grades. Some of these trails only exist on maps, but were flagged well.
- Storms could cause serious issues with the course due to exposure and high elevation. Be ready for this and the cold.
- Distance: 107.84 miles
- Elevation: 18,652 ft
- Time: 29:16:01
- Place: 2rd
See the activity on Strava.
Elevation and lungs 🫁
At mile 82, my lungs wanted to give up. I was still motivated and my legs felt great, but I was just out of breath. It hurt to breathe. It was so bad that I thought about quitting and heading back down to the last aid station while I was still in first place! My mental clarity was also struggling as it was almost 4 am and 20 hours into the race. I was concerned I might be suffering from High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), but the there were a few symptoms lacking, particularly the lack of cough.
I decided to keep going, but keep the exertion down. While walking across the mesa at 12,000 ft, the second place runner and his pacer passed me. It was demoralizing, but I had already decided I wasn’t quitting. Instead I put a buff around my face to warm and moisten the air I was breathing and slowly keep moving until the sun came up and warmed my lungs up!
Apparently, ultras are really hard on the respiratory system. More so at elevation and even worse in the cold.
Basically, protect your lungs from cold, dry, dusty air. Wear a buff or face mask. I’ll be doing this for the Moab 240 in a few weeks!
Leading a race
I ran this race without crew, pacers, and by myself for the entirety of the course! It was an absolutely solitary experience. The first 80 miles I did so in the lead!
This is a newish experience for me and I never really know what to do. At one point I estimated my lead at about an hour, but this disintegrated after my lung issues. It’s fun being out ahead and physically pushing myself. The first 50 miles were probably the hardest I have ever run! Ultimately I ended up comfortably in 2nd place.
This is also the second race I have run in my Hoka Tecton X and so far the results are 1st and 2nd place finishes. Maybe it’s just because I’m not injured now…
The full results are on Ultrasignup.
Everyone should run the Creede 100. No lottery and a well run low-key event that will challenge you! Scenery is awesome and so are the race directors.
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