Advice from Brett Harkey for the Never Summer 100k

Brett Harkey
First of all, congratulate yourself for signing up for a beautiful and rugged mountain race. This one is truly special! I think this race is best thought of in sections:

The first section of the race, from the start to the Diamond Aid Station is some of the finest terrain that Colorado has to offer: beautiful forests, high vistas, and jaw-dropping lakes. The excitement of the day, the speed of the other runners, and the distraction of the beautiful scenery may lure you into running this section too fast. Keep an eye on your effort level and/or heart rate and remember that there are many miles to go later in the day. Get in the habit of eating and drinking well here and it will set you up for a good day. Go out too hard or ignore your fueling and you’ll be in serious pain later. Hordes of runners can attest to learning these lessons the hard way.

The next section, from Diamond Aid to Ruby Jewel is a tricky one. Many people tend to think of the climb up North Diamond with fear or disdain. Just remember, it’s not really that long. Don’t get stressed about your pace, keep putting one foot in front of another, and before you know it you’ll be on top. And instead of thinking of the terrible things you want to do to Nick & Pete (the race directors) for including this climb in the race, think about what a privilege it is to climb a peak like this with a strong body. Remember that you GET to do this! After the summit, running along the ridge isn’t as easy as it looks - keep your feet under you and enjoy the views. The descent down Montgomery Pass Road can be punishing, so run smart and keep an eye on your footing. Once you’ve successfully made the right hand turn onto the Yurt “trail”, enjoy this interesting exercise in route finding by keeping your head up and your eyes peeled for course markings. Before you know it, you be at the Ruby Jewel Aid Station. Usually by this point in the day, things are heating up. Do what you can at Ruby Jewel to ensure you’re hydrated, adequately cooled, and have enough water for the long 10 mile stretch between Aid stations.

From Ruby Jewel to the Clear Lake Aid Station, the climb up and over the ridge above Kelly Lake is long. Run as much as you can, then hike with a purpose when you need to. The view over Kelly Lake is beautiful. Soak it in, then get running - there are several miles of really nice trail from there to Clear Lake Aid.

The out and back to Clear Lake is widely known as a real punisher. If you’ve raced smart up to his point, it’s actually possible to pick off runners who are starting to fall apart here - and many will be. Once at the lake, rejoice that all of the hard climbs are done (though there is still climbing to come).

From the Clear Lake Aid Station to the finish, there are lots of miles of runnable trail. It’s dusty and you might have to detour around some cows, but if you’ve kept some fuel in the tank, it’s possible to run every single mile. If you’ve underestimated the difficulty of this course and gone out too hard (easy to do), or forgotten to eat and drink well, you’ll death march to the finish. Keep this in mind for the first 45 miles and you’ll come though Canadian and Bockman with a smile on your face, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you get up the climb on Gould Mountain Road, you’ll bomb down the last descent and run the last couple of miles to the finish with a sense of satisfaction.

At the finish, eat some good food, drink some good drink, tell some good race stories. Then give Nick & Pete a thanks and a pat on the back for designing one of the best mountain races in the country.