Cast of characters
Our Fearless Heroine:
Katrin, ultra runner in pursuit of another belt buckle at the end of the rainbow, otherwise known as the 100-mile Leadville trail run.
Supporting characters and sidekicks:
Katrin’s Brain, convinced 100 percent that she is tougher than she thinks she is and can do more than she thinks she can
David, Katrin’s loyal crew/cheerleader/photographer/husband combo
Rachael, Katrin’s loyal ultra friend who has agreed to help crew
Adrian “Speed Demon” Stanciu, Katrin’s elite runner friend, who has agreed to pace her for 20 miles . . . and then for 37 . . .and in the end for 50.
Villains, adversaries, and monsters to be slain:
Hope Pass – looming and evil, a powerful enemy
The Neverending Trail to Winfield, which has grown two miles since last year.
The Powerline Climb – a shapeshifting hydra with five false heads
Katrin’s Finicky Stomach, a whining traitor who crosses into enemy territory after mile 53
Katrin’s Various Other Body Parts – legs, eyes, knees- who follow the traitorous stomach one by one onto the opposing side
Start to Twin Lakes
Soundtrack: A gunshot, then Don’t Stop Me Now (Queen)
Legs: We’re ready! We’re rested! We’re cold! We’re raring to go!
Brain: No, patience. We’ve got plenty of time . . .
Legs: We can run this uphill!
Brain: Really? Ok, if you’re sure . . . it feels good to pass a few more runners, hehe!
Stomach: . . . (content, happy gurgling sounds).
Eyes: Look! Turquoise Lake, how pretty! . . . Oooooh, Mt Elbert. Hey, our buddy Eric is up ahead, let’s go catch up! Hey, there’s an aid station!
David: You’re looking great!
Rachael: What do you need?
Brain: Should we stop and eat something? Nah, no time . . . Hey wait, why is the two-liter bladder still half full after 40 miles? Did I forget something?
Twin Lakes to Winfield
Soundtrack: You Can Get it if You Really Want it (Jimmy Cliff)
Hope Pass: I will make you suffer. Muahaha.
Brain: You don’t scare me. Up we go!
Legs: Ok. We still feel pretty strong.
Brain: I am superwoman. I can pass people while climbing Hope. Go Me!
Llama: Look at these pathetic things coming up the pass. Two legs. Inadequate. Phew. (spits in runners’ direction)
Friendly volunteer: Can we refill your pack?
Katrin: Yes, please . . . Oh crap, this is the first time since this morning. I ran 45 miles on less than two liters of water??? Why?
Lungs: Gasp . . . gasp . . . Still no oxygen up here, same as last year.
Legs: It’s still steep, same as last year.
Brain: Come one! Up and over! There you go!
The Neverending Trail to Winfield: Muahahahah . . . I am a mile longer this year.
Muahahah . . .one mile each way, makes two miles total. Not flat miles, no . . . Lots of uphill, lots of downhill. Runners can see the aid staton, and then I lead them away from t the aid station again. Complete despair is my goal, muahahahah! Muahahaha!
Katrin: Where is that (#%($^$ aid station?????
Never-ending Trail: I’m going to trip you, so you limp into Winfield with a bloody knee. Muahaha!
Katrin: Ouch! (^$(^^%#%
(an eternity later)
David: You look great!
Rachael: Do you want anything to eat?
Katrin: No time . . . one bite of sandwich will do. And one potato chip.
Winfield to Hopeless
Soundtrack: Everybody Hurts (R.E.M)
Adrian, fidgeting like a racehorse at the start of the Kentucky Derby: Let’s run!
Katrin, who doesn’t want to look pathetic in front of her fast friend: Sure!
Hope Pass: I am steep . . . I am endless . . . I don’t have switchbacks. Woe to all who climb my backside! Your hamstrings will hurt! They will cramp!Legs: We can’t go up there! Not again. Not without fuel!
Stomach: You should have thought of that 20 miles ago, when I still wanted to play this game. I quit. Bye!
Brain: You sorry bunch of losers! Come on, left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. . . we’re practically standing still! People are passing us! No!
Katrin, bonking: Ugh, wait. I don’t feel so good.
Adrian: (muttering to himself) I thought she was faster than a snail . . . (aloud): You’re doing fine.
Hope Pass: You shall perish! You shall suffer! You shall regret ever signing up for this race!
(an eternity later)
Katrin: Yay! Downhill! Oxygen! I am alive!!!
Llama #2: I am cuter than you, human.
Hopeless to base of Powerline climb (inbound)
Soundtrack: Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater
Brain: let’s catch a few people on this rocky downhill . . . we’re behind schedule. We want that big buckle!
Legs: ok, ok. We’re running on fumes here!
Stomach: I told you I quit. No, I don’t want another Stinger Waffle. No, not even a Ginger chew.
David: Let me take a few pictures! You’re doing great!
Rachael: Ok, headlamp, jacket, dry shoes . . . you should eat something.
Katrin: No time. I still have a shot at the big buckle if I hurry.
(Darkness falls. Our heroine and her valiant pacer/pack mule Adrian turn on their lights.)
Legs: Can we please, please, please have some fuel?
Stomach: I told you earlier, I quit. That means no.
Eyes: we’ve been wearing those contacts for, like, a long time now, and it’s dusty. And we’re really dry. Everything looks hazy.
Legs: Are we there yet?
Brain: Come on, stop whining!
Adrian: Wow, we just ran a ten-minute mile, 75 miles in. Maybe you can still get that buckle! . . .There’s Outward Bound. David! Rachael! Where are you?
(no answer). Ok, it looks like I’ll be pacing until May Queen. Eat something!
Katrin: Let’s go!
Powerline climb to finish
It’s dark. It’s cold. It keeps getting colder. All music has stopped, except for drumbeats in a slow, ominous rhythm
Powerlines: I am standing between you and the finish . . . (sounding like Gandalf talking to the Balrog): YOU SHALL NOT PASS!
Legs: No! Not another climb! We’re done! We haven’t seen any glycogen down here in, like, forever. We quit!
Stomach: Great! You guys can just hang out with me and no nothing.
Legs: Good idea. Excellent. Quitting time, yay!
Powerlines: I SHALL TRIP YOU! YOU SHALL SUFFER!
Katrin: Ouch! Not again! *$$*^@#
Eyes: We are seeing ghosts. Huh??
Brain: It’s ok, that’s the Space Station. Legs, it’s downhill to May Queen from here . . . Come on!
Legs: We’ll try . . . Nope, we won’t even try anymore. We’re done.
Stomach: Yeah, let’s party! Look, I am doing the limbo twist . . .
Eyes: Everything looks out of focus, but isn’t that May Queen?
Brain: Yes! And we’ve got three hours to still get that buckle. It’s not impossible. Come on! Move! Move, I said!
Legs: But it feels much better to not move!
Adrian: David! Rachael! Where are you? . . . It looks like I’ll be pacing you to the finish.
Katrin: I feel awful. I don’t care about the big buckle anymore . . .I just want this to be over.
Adrian: The faster you move, the sooner you finish.
(Several eternities later)
Katrin is dragging her protesting body parts behind her like a pack of unruly, spitting llamas. Her vision becomes more and more compromised.
Eyes: We quit! We’re joining the rebel side! Legs, stomach, here we come . . . yippee!
Brain: Hey! Get back here!
Legs: Are we there yet?
Brain: You ingrates! You lazy freeloaders! Keep moving! Come on. Left, right, left right . . .
Adrian: The boulevard goes this way . . . where on earth are you going?
Katrin: I can’t see a damn thing . . . everything looks blurry!
Adrian: You’re going off the road again . . .get out of that gutter.
Katrin: Where? Huh? What gutter?
Adrian: We’re almost there.
Katrin: Can I just lie down and die of hypothermia?
Katrin: Can you just shoot me?
(another eternity later)
The first hint of dawn inches up on the horizon.
Adrian, sounding relieved: Look! The finish line!
Soundtrack: We Are the Champions (Queen)
(The clock says 25:51. Thunderous applause from the six or so bleary-eyed spectators lining 6th street waiting to console other runners who have missed the big buckle cutoff by less than an hour)
Katrin: I sort of see it . . . let’s see if I can run across it.
(staggers across the finish line, veering off the red carpet)
David: You look . . . . finished.
Rachael: You look terrible.
Katrin (suddenly exuberant, though still half blind and barely upright): I finished! I finished!
My vision returned a few hours, two naps, and about a gallon of water later. Cloudy eyes apparently are a common condition among 100-mile racers. It’s harmless and temporary, but it did freak me out a little.
It’s a good time to be alive and running, especially in Leadville.