Monday, May 20, 2019

The Ass Kicker Run: Boulder Skyline Traverse (5 peaks, 18 miles)

As I sit here writing this, my quads are burning. As in, the type of burning that doesn't let you sit down on the toilet seat without grimacing. This is the reward I get for the ball busting run I did on Saturday with Jeanne, my trail wife. It was the last big run before taper starts for the Dirty 30 50k coming up on June 1.

I really don't know why it's called the Dirty 30 (probably because there is dirt and it's just over 30 miles and it rhymes). I like to think there's some dirty hidden surprise I will find on the trails when I run the race. Like your dad's old Playboy magazine. I'll let you know how that works out.

Before I tell you about the nut busting run from Saturday - let's review the weekend long runs I did to prepare for this dirty event:

12 miles, 15 miles, 18 miles, 20 miles, 21 miles, 22 miles, 16 miles, 18 miles

All of these were done on trails with significant vertical. And, all of them were done with a longish run the next day (8-10 miles). My weekly mileage was 45-50 miles.

Moving onto the testicle busting run.

For our final hurrah, we chose the Boulder Skyline Traverse. This is a run known to locals, but not one that you'll probably find in many guide books. It is a point to point, that can be done north to south or south to north. The ascent and descent are fairly close regardless of which way you do it. We chose to start on the south end. In total our ascent was 5,823 and the descent was 5,858. All in all, you run up and down 5 mountain peaks over the course of 18 miles. I am not sure, but that might be why my quads hurt.

All I can say is thank God for my watch because it has a navigation option that is spot on. Without that I would have ended up in a bouncy house in someone's backyard. Or a brewery. Then maybe my quads wouldn't hurt so bad.

After leaving a car at the finish point (Mt. Sanitas Trailhead) we drove down to the Mesa Trailhead in south Boulder. I tried to shove some oatmeal and a banana down my throat. But, early morning eating is not my forte. After leaving some turds in the pit toilet (cause inquiring minds wanna know) we were off (7:45 a.m.). We started climbing immediately, which meant some power hiking. That gave Jeanne enough time to tell me about her in-law's bed bug infestation. The things you learn from friends on long runs!

The up was relentless. We veered into Shadow Canyon, which is a never ending trek over boulders and streams to the top of South Boulder Peak. In total - 3,000 feet of vertical over 3.5 miles. On the way up we caught up to a  woman hiking solo. I thought she was talking on the phone. Turns out she was yelling things to herself so that she would keep going. I know I have done that. "Keep going and you can wine later!"

How is this a trail?

Finally, we reach the summit of Boulder Peak I took a GU - I was a bit late as I try to GU every hour or so.

About 8,549 feet
We head down with our sights set on the next one - Bear Peak. This is a pretty well known hike in Boulder - in fact it is the run that Dave Mackey was on when he fell and had a rock crush his leg - leading to the eventual amputation of the leg. But now Dave is out there crushing it once again, running ultras everywhere and even being given the distinction of Leadman.

It's a pretty short jaunt up to the top and we get there at about the 2 hour mark - but only 5 or so miles in. 2 hours to go five miles! I am proud of that 24 minute mile!!

Top of Bear - 8,459 feet

From Bear Peak looking at Green Mountain

Next, it's onto Green Mountain. We took the saddle from Bear to Green. It was crowded going up a it was no mid morning. I love listening to people's conversations on the trail. Overheard two ten year olds.

Boy 1: I ate so much cake and pizza
Boy 2 : Dude! Did you get a sugar rush?
Boy 1: Yea man and I almost barfed.

Sugar rush? At ten are you really looking for a rush from things? What's next Fireball?

Top of Green - 8,150 feet
We topped Green and I quickly ate half of my turkey/cheese sandwich and we headed down towards Flagstaff Mountain and hopefully away from the crowds. We cruised down for quite awhile through shaded single track trails of pine needles before summitting Flagstaff.  There is no actual ta-da! summit on this one, so we just guessed it. We dropped down into the city of Boulder, stopping at the park to refill our water. There were birthday parties going on and I strongly thought about stealing some pizza, but ate the rest of my turkey sandwich instead because I am not a thief.

We were at about 14 miles at this point and headed towards our final summit. We actually had to run by my car, which was a huge tease because I really wanted to just get in it and drive away. But we had one more trail to conquer - The bitch - Sanitas.

I've hiked Sanitas multiple times, but never tried to run it and never after already climbing a zillion feet. It is a very rocky, VERY steep trail. As in, you gain 1,300 feet in about 1.5 miles. It hurt a lot and felt never ending. Plus, it was once again crowded. We reached the summit and were rewarded with a gorgeous view of the Boulder Valley and more crowds. Snapped some photos and headed on down to the car.

Finished product:

18 miles
~5,900 vertical gain
~6 hours (total time with stops)

I can't recommend this run enough if you come to Boulder. But plan for it to take most of the day. You see a vast variety of terrain from the views are awesome - not just of Boulder but you also get views of the Continental Divide to the west. However, hit me up if you want to do this route because it is very easy to get lost. There are some pretty good directions HERE.

Where'd you run/race this weekend?

Favorite run fuel? I do lots of Roctane GUs mixed with real food like a sandwich. I also really like my Nuun and Saltstick

Would you do this run with me?



  1. Wow! That's an amazing run. And nice training before it.

  2. It SOUNDS lovely...but reading this made me short of breath. Wow. Just wow. I'm kind of digging my flat midwestern runs... :p Nice work, Beth!

    1. Come out and I'll drag you along the traverse...we can bring an oxygen mask.

  3. I went to college in Boulder and I lived in the neighborhood that backed right up the trails going up Flagstaff and Sanitas. It was sooooo nice to be able to walk out my back door and go for an epic run/hike. I never did anything as badass as running along all these peaks, but it was still fun to read about! Brings back memories - I miss living out there!!

    1. YES! Such a perfect location to walk right out and should move back!

  4. We have plans to do this in July. Will be studying the link you shared. Also, I'll be the slow, foul- mouthed, old lady making sure it's called Dirty 30 for a reason. Hope to see you!

    1. Lol! If you need more specific directions when you are out here, let me know. It can be pretty confusing...You'll love it! If there is any way to do it on a weekday, do that to avoid crowds...and start early cause it will be hot!

  5. Death would certainly bestow me if I attempted running even one of those mountains. If the elevation didn't get me then the altitude probably would. I live in OC, MD (yep, your old party town) and if we want hill work we go to Assateague Island and run the bridge. You.are.a.b@dass!!!!
    PS - tooth looks great!

    1. Assateague!! I spent many a weekend camping there as a child and catching crabs (not THOSE kind of crabs - I'm talking about the kind you eat).

  6. I wish I could get on a plane right now and do this!!! Although terrifying it also sounds incredible!! Well done woman!!! You are going to feel amazing after that Dirty 30. And I really hope you are rewarded with some old Playboys - LOL!!

    1. Haha! Yes a cold beer and a playboy post race would be incredible!