Quad Rock 50 Race Report

Dan took some photos along the course during his run.
This past Saturday I tested my limits, my progress at the Quad Rock 50 miler. Friday Dan, James and I headed up to the Fort for the race. When we got into town I dropped Dan off at the Horsetooth Trailhead so he could check out some of the course and get in a good run. James and I went to meet up with an old friend, Rachel. It ended up turning into a hectic night with me grabbing my race packet at 7:50 and then trying to find something for dinner. Dan was starving from his big run and wanted a hamburger and I love Five Guys grilled cheese. So a bacon cheeseburger for Dan and two grilled cheese for me with an endless supply of fries, a couple beers and it was finally time to crawl into bed. Unfortunately James had other plans and was restless and woke up several times during the night. Before we crawled into bed Dan turned to me and said "just think...tomorrow you get to run all day, people filling your water bottle and feeding you! What can be better than that? Well besides a hug from James."

After a high quality dinner and a total of about 3 hours of sleep my alarm went off at 3:40am. I seriously long for the race morning when I don't have to pump before the race! I downed a nutilla, some water and by 4:30 we were out the door heading to Lory State Park for the start.

Dan and James dropped me off with hugs and kisses and promises to see me at the 25 mile turn around. I grabbed my handheld water bottle, 3 gels, a fruit straw, waved goodbye and headed to pick up my bib. I turned on my GPS watch...oh and it just kept turning off then turning on. A few years ago I may have been completely lost, but going into a 50 with the experience I know have I just shut it down and let it go. I scanned the crowd for anyone I knew, looking in particular for Nick. I finally spotted him a bit in front of me and knew I'd meet up with him once we got going.

10, 9, 8....go! And we were off! The first bit was a course change due to the recent fire, but in all honesty I didn't really go over the route like I should have so I just followed the crowd. We headed down a dirt road on the back side of the hogbacks. I looked to my left and saw a beautiful sunrise, the sky brilliant shades of pink behind the hogbacks. It was hard not to smile. I kept an easy pace and quickly caught up with Nick. He was running with another friend, Jeremiah, who turned to me and goes "Ah, you're the girl from Apex! I knew you had to be training for something." We ran together for a bit before Jeremiah took off. Nick and I ended up running nearly the entire race together.

We turned and headed up some single track running when we could and hiking a good bit of it. I knew this first climb was the worst. We pulled into the Horsetooth aid station after the first climb and all I could think was "this is going to be a really long day!" My legs were tight and sore and my stomach was beginning to fall apart and we still had 39 miles to go. Needless to say I was ripe for a bonk and on the third climb I definitely bonked. Nick got ahead of me, but I kept him in my sights, determined to catch back up. I finally caught back up to Nick around mile 20 and we cruised into the start/finish together around 5 hours and 10 min.

James waiting for me at the 25 mile turnaround
By the turnaround I knew I really needed to see James and Dan. The first 25 miles had gone by relatively uneventful, but I wasn't feeling great and wasn't enjoying the race and the trails as much as I should have been. I spotted the bright orange Bob and knew everything would turn around right here. Dan asked how I was feeling and definitely gave me a hard time for complaining about my stomach. I filled my water bottle, grabbed more gels, fruit straws, Dan's watch, and tore into a pack of Honey Stinger chews. Then I was off, heading up the next climb with Nick. He heard me complaining about my stomach and told me I needed to eat more. Not really what I thought would be the answer, but decided to try. I had been going with a gel every hour and a fruit straw at every aid station. The problem here was I hadn't packed any Heed in my drop bags and there wasn't any electrolyte mix at the aid stations. I began to add the EFS gel to my water bottle and take salt pills, I have to admit this helped tremendously.

I knew the first climb out of the turn around would be tough, you have about 7.5 miles to the next aid station, the longest section without aid. But I also knew once I made it past this section everything else was split into manageable sections. I pushed this climb hard as I was starting to feel much better. Just before the aid station this woman, Beth, met up with us. The three of us hung pretty much together to the first aid station. On the next climb that would take us beneath Horsetooth summit I was really feeling great, Nick was  bonking, and Beth was slowing a bit. I had found my second gear and was just "in the zone" powering up the climb and by the time I got to the aid station at the top Nick and Beth were no where in sight. I just kept pushing on. Everything was coming together, I was running well and really enjoying the trail.
From near the top of Horsetooth
I knew I had some rollers and then the decent down to Horsetooth aid station and some pretty dark clouds were moving in fast. And then a light rain began to fall. Just as I looked up at the Horsetooth summit above me the lightening started cracking and the rain turned to hail. I knew I still had a few miles to the aid station where my sleeves were stashed so stopping or slowing wasn't an option. Of course there wasn't another runner in sight at this point and running through the lightening had me a bit on edge. I know I ended up slowing down pretty good as my mind wandered to the lightening. The next thing I knew with about a mile and a half to the aid station I heard Nick calling my name. He came charging up next to me and we took off together. In retrospect we probably bombed that downhill a bit too hard, but we were determined to get in to that aid station fast!

Nothing celebrates a good run like a Dales!
As is typical in Colorado as we pulled into the Horsetooth aid station the rain stopped and the sun came out. I grabbed my sleeves, tucked them into my shorts, a few more gels and fruit straws, downed some ginger ale, filled my water bottle and we went charging off. After about a mile our charging caught up with us and we were reduced to a slow hike up the last climb of the race. The rain came back and we just chatted and hiked the whole way up. Finally we reached the Tower aid station and I knew it was all downhill from here. It was pouring rain again and everyone was huddled under the tent. Nick sat down because he knee was bothering him. I loaded up on gummy bears and ginger ale and was ready to go. I checked to make sure Nick was okay and he promised to catch up. Beth had caught back up to us so we took off out of Towers together. It was a long downhill down Tower Road and I just let my legs run. Beth and I hiked a short uphill just after we turned back onto single track and then started bombing the decent again. When we hit the meadows Beth and I glanced behind us and saw another woman coming up on us. She just looked at me and said "she is NOT passing us!" So we took off again. Somehow I managed to find yet another gear, honestly I have no idea where this came from. There was no way I was going to let this woman pass me, and really I didn't want to let Beth pass me either. I slipped in some mud, but managed an awesome save and continued to run. I ran every uphill, downhill, turn and twist the course threw at me. As I approached the last aid station (Arthur) I saw Nick's wife, Laurie, and friend, Leila. They started cheering me on knowing I was close to the finish, 2 miles left. I quickly told them Nick was having knee troubles and they just waved me to keep going. I did just that. Now I was back on the dirt road. One guy passed me here, the only person to pass me during the back 25 miles! With about a mile left I turned and looked over the hogbacks and was delighted to see a rainbow leading me to the finish line. I broke into a huge grin. The lighting was gorgeous and the rolling green hills with the rainbow were an amazing site! As I turned into the parking lot I stole a glance over my shoulder and knew neither Beth or the other girl could catch me. I cruised across the finish line grinning ear to ear!

James tailgating at the race!
My goals for Quad Rock were to run sub-11:00, top 10 finish and mostly to learn from this race, to prepare for Leadville. I didn't go sub-11:00, but I did take 8th in a very strong field. But what these numbers don't tell you is this was my best race. I dialed in my nutrition, I really came back from an early bonk and I raced. I didn't give up and resort to just finishing at the end. I charged! I enjoyed the race, the course was amazing, the trails beyond awesome! I really couldn't have asked more from this race or my performance. This race also reminded me how much running ultras is like raising James. There was a little bit of everything...beautiful sunrise, rain, heat, hail, thunder and lightening, gorgeous meadows, tough climbs, sore quads, huge smiles, unbelievable views, and it all ended with a beautiful rainbow! And I certainly feel even more confident heading into Leadville. I know I can push myself, I can conquer my demons, I can comeback. Quad Rock...I'll see ya next year!

Week May 6 - 12

Miles Running: 62.6
Hours Hiking and Running: 14



  1. Great job, Siobhan. Thanks for coming out, and good luck in Leadville.


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