Saturday, June 16, 2012

2012 Mount Evans Race Report

A quick recap of today's Mount Evans Ascent, an challenging 14.5-mile race to the top of Mount Evans. Evans is a glorious 14,265-foot peak just outside Denver. The race is on all road and is a 3,500 vertical-foot climb with no super steep sections but a fair number of switchbacks with which to contend. The last three miles are pretty challenging.

Makes Heartbreak Hill look like a parking lot speedbump, eh?
All photos by Jim Petterson.

First off, all things considered, the weather today was great. The temperature was maybe in the 40s up top and the wind was no where near as bad as last year. I finished 22nd out of 369 finishers (top 5%) with a 2:17:19, which breaks down to 9:34 pace. That's a 24-minute improvement over last year, when I averaged 11:09 pace. I'm pleased with the improvement, especially considering my goal was break 2:30 today. But I'm also aware that the conditions today were far better than last year, and so I should have improved if for no other reason than I wasn't running into 30-50 mile-per-hour winds.

Taken at about 14,000 feet.
Still, I feel like today I took a step forward in learning how to run mountains. I went out conservatively, maintained even splits, and used my new heart rate monitor to stay within the right zone (for me) for the first 12 or so miles. If my heart rate started to get too high, I slowed the pace until I was back in the right zone. If my heart rate was lower than necessary, I sped up. As you'll see in the attachment below, my heart rate never went over 156. I stayed right in the 150-155 range and ran strong pretty much the whole way up, except for walking (really fast) through the aid stations and on some short stretches above 13,000 feet. The last two miles, when it pretty much comes down to desire, I ignored my HR monitor and just ran as hard as I could. I felt strong and confident and I'm happy with my time, especially as I'm training for a 100 and am not exactly Mr. Fresh Legs.

  • Heart rate monitors work in high-altitude mountain races--if you allow them to guide you. I'm going to use my HR monitor to keep myself in check for the first 13.5 miles of the Leadville 100, when I tend to go waaaaaaay too fast, and maybe also for the Hope Pass section.
  • Going out conservatively in a high-altitude race pays off big time in the end. I never got into oxygen debt and was able to move strongly all the way to the top, though of course the last 1.5 miles were a struggle (as they are for almost anyone).
  • Hill repeats pay off. I've been doing them and today felt strong on Evans. There were a few climbs above 12,000 feet where I felt like someone was pushing me.
  • I also think all this walking is paying off. I just seem to move better and more efficiently.

2012 Mt. Evans splits

2011 Mt. Evans splits
(Note: Last year's time was 2:41, but in the splits below it says 2:47 because I missed stopping my watch at the finish)


  1. Wyatt - glad you had a race that you are happy with. Congrats.

  2. Thanks, George. The conditions this year were infinitely better than last year. I figure that alone made me at least 1 minute faster per mile. I do think I was smarter and in better shape this year, but I wasn't 24 minutes better. I think the weather made a positive difference, for sure. Next year I'd like to go for sub 2:10. Missed seeing you there yesterday. Lucho, of course, had a great race and is positioned for an amazing run at the Leadman record. All he has to do is stay upright on the bike.


  3. Good Job! Adding the Takeaways is a nice touch Wyatt!

  4. Great run! You said you were going sub 2:20 . . .

  5. Nice job Wyatt. Whatdya say next year we both knock off a bit more and run 2 hrs?