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OVER MONARCH PASS AND INTO GUNNISON

My hosts from the night before Warren and his son Mike drove Nirvana up the beast of Monarch pass.. Well almost about 15 miles up as far as the Monarch Mountain Lodge. The Lodge is 4 miles from the summit. So I ran all the way up route 285 and then switched onto route 50. Half way up the pass I met my old friends Anne and Kent Lewis from Colorado Springs. I raced with Anne many times and sometimes she even crewed for me. I stayed in their home many times when travelling through the Springs.

Anne and Kent were taking advantage of discounted rates for the last weekend of ski season.

I went into the reception of the Lodge and there was Nirvana waiting for me to push her the rest of the way up the mountain. Sorry pal I just got a great idea. Think I will take my first half day of the run on road day 144.

I flashed the Magic Letter to the lad on reception after we got talking about how hotel business needs ‘ good word of mouth ‘ from guests.

I told him I would put a posting on my blog. So I waited an hour making the best use of wifi in the lobby while waiting for the manager.

Till I got the keys to room 321… Take off!

Later in the restaurant I got to 2 businessmen Andrew who works for some type of a pharmaceutical firm and Michael who has a business leads business. Both of these lads are serious outdoors enthusiasts. Andrew mentioned he is just about to complete climbing the highest mountain on each continent challenge. The lads gave me $180 between them for new running shoes, paid for my dinner and breakfast. Thanks lads.

Next morning I had only 4 miles to run to the summit. There was a bit of light snow and as usual a head wind. After about half an hour running I came to the ski lift area. For last day of skiing there was a big cook out party. Many of the skiers had cooked up dishes for a competition while a very hungry judge was followed around by Mangan labrador nose sampled all the lovely nosh :)  The skiers were invited to walk around and stuff their faces with lamb,beef,pork, kebabs, stews and kebabs :)

A little bit further up the pass a woman with shoulder long blonde hair stopped her car to talk to me. She looked like an ex of mine, a woman called Lisa.

I asked her if she knew of anyone in the next town, a place called Seargents.

She spoke in a child-like way and said she only knew the people in a restaurant. They were a nice couple she said.

” Please phone them and tell them you met a man running around the world looking for a place to stay! ” I said as bold as brass.

She asked me to hold a cardboard cut-out of an angel. And then in that child-like voice again said.

” I want to photograph you holding the angel. I will be your angel and protect you on this journey. ”

” What’s your name? ” I asked.

” Lisa. ”

I nearly passed out. Only last week I heard my ex had taken her own life last year. May God rest her troubled soul. And she was obsessed by angels too.

I ran on reaching the summit at 3,447 m / 11,312. Then amazingly my camera would not work when I tried to take the summit photo. A couple of skiers took one for me and emailed them to me. Thanks!

So over the top of the pass, avoiding the snow plows that had to dig out the summit elevation sign!

On the way down I was stopped by a friendly state trooper who took my picture and said he would follow the run on the blog. Nice guy.

On into Seargents I went to the cafe Lisa spoke about. I was met at the door by the owner. I think she saw I was disappointed it was only 15 miles for me so far for the day and I wanted to go further. She didn’t offer a place but mentioned Lisa had phoned.

I went inside to the cafe for a coffee. Nobody was drinking any coffee so she obliging put on a fresh pot. Many places just say they don’t have any on. The cafe was being refurbished as I sat there I listened to a compressor cranking up as nail guns pounded nails into the walls making me jump in my seat.

Two locals sat there drinking Busch beer.

” So what’s the population of Seargents? “ I asked.

” 40. ” Said an elderly man named Kip. He was wearing a Seargents Volunteer Fireman’s shirt.

” So what happens if the town goes on fire? I asked.

Kip lifts up his can and says… ” I am off duty! ”

I turned to the owner. I think her name was Meg.

” You know anyone that lives in any of the farms around here? ”

” Well there is so and so about 3 miles away. ”

” No that’s not far enough! ” I said.

” Anyone else? ”

Another name about 5 miles away.

” And the next? ” I persisted.

” That will be Dino, he is Italian you will like him and he is about 8 miles away. ”

” How will I know Dino’s place? ”

” His place is on the right. You will see two big hearts on the gate. ”

” Will you do me a favor please? ”

” What? ”

” Can you phone Dino and tell him I am a nice guy and am on my way? ”

” Suuuuureee. ”

I never made it to Dino’s. An hour down the road towards Gunnison a black pickup pulls up. A guy called Sean shouts over.

” Hey dude where you headed? ”

” Gunny. ”

” You want a ride there and need a place to stay? ”

” Can you take me back in the morning please? ”

” Sure. ”

I can see mile marker 184 about 300 meters away so I run down to it and log my finish there. So they don’t follow me and even though I wave them towards me they wait for me to run back!

There is a cab on the back of the pickup and we have a bit of bother pushing Nirvana in between ski poles and boots. As we are doing this Sean tells me they also picked up two hitchhikers who are stoned and acting a bit strange, as he called it.

I didn’t know what he was talking about till I got in and between kissing the face off each other the two girls asked me why I was running around the world and where I was from.

We drove into Gunnison. The place was still the same as  when I lived here many years ago, except The Cattleman’s Inn and A&W were burnt down. I never went into Timbers Bar. I am sure the same people are sitting on the same barstools.  

We drove to the west end of town. It turns out Sean was staying in his mates house, a guy called Brian. It seemed to be an open house. I don’t think Sean even asked Brian if I could stay but they were all cool ski and outdoors people. The two girls disappeared. There was a lad called Jay from Crested Butte. Jay is an ultra runner and had done well in the Leadville 100 race. We had a good old talk about mountain races.

Then Sean says his engine burning indicator is flashing on his pickup dashboard.

” So will you be able to bring me back to my marker in the morning Sean? ”

” Sure will, don’t worry dude I will get you back. ”

Next morning Sean drives me the 27 miles to my finishing spot from last night. It doesn’t seem to bother him.

” Don’t worry I will have it checked on the way back. ”

Sean is from Reno, Nevada, he is  here for a months vacation with his friends. Back in Reno he is a surveyor.

It turns out the lads know my friend Eric who lives up on 14th Street. I leave Nirvana with them and they say they will drop her over to Eric later.

Its a nice Monday morning and I start running towards Gunnison. I stop at Parlin village  and see the general store has not yet opened for the season. I went into the post office to ask. The assistant, a woman called Shirley makes me a pot.

She tells me there is now huge unemployment in the area. The wages construction workers earn has been beaten down from the time I lived in Gunnison County over 12 years ago. She tells me there are moves to try to close the post office now. There is an important meeting on Wednesday. I wish her luck and make a move out of my chair. I had been sitting in a chair in the lobby beside the villages 48 mail post boxes.

The last two days I am got mental snap-shots of two villages I used to drive through without batting an eyelid when I lived in the area. I am seeing America like very few people, even Americans have seen.

I run into Gunny and stop in McDonalds just to reminisce. I remembered sitting here looking at maps of the world many years ago.

I don’t recognize the interior anymore, it’s changed but the outside is as I remember,

Then I  run down Tomichi Ave,the main road which is also US 50 as it winds through town.

It is obvious the town has made a huge effort with its image, a good first impression. I have run through hundreds of towns and villages in this country. Many have been unkempt and grubby. When I ran into Gunnison I felt an ‘ aura of cleanliness ‘ Whatever about other roads in the town the main road is well kept. I was proud of it. On my right as I ran on was Western State College with its great sport and leisure facilities and right beside another park which had a floodlit basketball court, picnic areas with ample children’s play facilities. Literally across the road was another large park, Jorgensen Park.

I made my way over to Eric’s place. I used to work with Eric in Lake City. In fact I also worked with Eric’s housemate, Josh Gray.

Josh’s father, Jerry is the race director of the San Juan Solstice 50 mile mountain race. This race was formerly known as the Lake City 50, it was my very first ultra race in 1998.

Colorado is home to 54 peaks over 14,000 feet high / 4,267m. The state is unique as there are very few states that have mountains this high. There are probably hundreds more peaks between 10,000 and 14,000 feet. Here tree line is as high as 14,000 feet. It’s unique around the world for this. Josh and his father want to capitalize on this. They have a passion with yurts. They want to build a network of yurts all over the area  for hunters and ultra runners to stay in. Jerry even has a yurt in his front garden and when Josh goes to Lake City he sleeps in it.

Initially I had planned to run from Gunnison to Lake City but because Engineer Pass is closed till mid-June.  I would not be able to continue south without a major detour. I understand the paramedics found a dead man that had been missing for six months last spring. He tried to make a crossing when the pass was closed and ran into difficulties.

 So I have decided to just make a side trip there for a rest day. I will return to Gunnison, running to Montrose, and then south to Arizona.

Tomorrow Josh will be going to Lake City, 55 miles away. I will go with him.

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3 Responses to “OVER MONARCH PASS AND INTO GUNNISON”

  1. Ralph Kinch Says:

    Hi Tony,
    Great read as always. Happy birthday by the way. Just as a query, how do ya remain mentally focused to complete the mileage each day?, Your an inspiration to a novice runner. Very glad to hear the body is holding out.. In Tenerife at the moment myself on a weeks Holidays with the missus, can’t beat a nice bit of sunshine, brought the runners with me as well, have the get the few miles in.. The few glasses of vino at night and the early morning runs are havin a bit of a battle… All the best and keep the stories coming.

    Regards,
    R

  2. theworldjog Says:

    Thanks Ralph.
    Probably because I made this run the most important thing in my life at the moment. My life is totally dedicated to it. Like a mother to a young child, if I dont nurse it, well it wont survive. Enjoy your holiday, Tony

  3. stewart cochrane Says:

    another great read tony…can’t wait to see what lake city is all about

    take care

    stewart and bernie

    newfoundland
    canada

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About Tony

I have always considered myself to be an average runner. In school, I was even bullied for I was a sports wimp. Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, self-belief and a strong mind I succeeded in not only running around the world but breaking four ultra running world records during my competitive career. Having previously cycled around the world I didn't start running until I was almost 30. Then I had a dream of running around the world. For many reasons, I waited for over 20 years. One reason was to establish my pedigree as an endurance athlete. I started and finished my world run as the current World Record-Holder for 48 Hours Indoor Track 426 kilometres (265 miles), a record I have held since 2007. I also broke and still hold the World Record for 48 hours on a Treadmill 405 kilometres (251 miles) in 2008. When I retired from competition, more pleasing than any of my world, European or Irish records I had the respect of my fellow athletes from all over the world - in my opinion, sports greatest reward - an achievement I am most proud of. Then I finally put myself out to pasture, to live my ultimate dream to run around the world! This blog was written on the road while I struggled to find places to sleep and to recover from running an average of 43.3 kilometres or 27 miles per day for 1,165 road days. There were many nights I typed this blog on a smart phone, so fatigued my eyes closed. Many journalists and endurance athletes have referred to my world run as the most difficult endurance challenge ever attempted. During my expedition I rarely had any support vehicles, running mostly with a backpack. In the more desolate areas I pushed my gear, food and water in a cart which I called Nirvana, then I sent her on ahead to run with my backpack once again over altitudes of almost 5,000 metres in the Andes. I stayed in remote villages where many people had never seen a white person before. I literally met the most wonderful people of this world in their own backyard and share many of those amazing experiences in this blog. My run around the world took 4 years. There were no short cuts, I ran every single metre on the road while seeking out the most comprehensive route across 41 countries, 5 continents, I used 50 pair of running shoes and my final footstep of the run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, (almost 31,000 miles) I eventually finished this tongue in cheek named world jog where I started, at the finish line of my city marathon. I started my global run with the Dublin Marathon on October 25th 2010 and finished with the Dublin Marathon on October 27th 2014 at 3 05pm! Thank you for your support, I hope you can share my unique way of seeing the world, the ultimate endurance challenge! Read more...

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