Ever since Eric and Terry finished the full Greyrock Quad back in 2008, several of us have been talking about attempting the full “6 Pack” to complete 6 full summits in one day. I never completed the full Quad after taking a few nasty falls and skipping one summit. So the full 6 Pack seemed like the perfect way to redeem myself from the failed Quad attempt and it fit right in with my Hardrock base training plan.
Over the past week, just about everyone who had originally planned to attempt the full 6 Pack had either backed down or cancelled due to injuries, illness, and family obligations so I was a bit worried that I would spend the majority of my day solo. But thanks to our amazing FCTR group, I spent the full day on the hill in good company with friends. Nick, Sam, Bard, Victoria, Kristel, Ashley, and Steph all made it out for the 5am start. Slush, Jenn, Laura, Cherylin, Dave, Brian K, Gregg, Alex A, Brian, Aaron, and Eric all made it out later in the morning. Somehow I missed Chris out on the trail but found a note on my windshield that he’d run a lap sometime in the afternoon. And Mary made it up to meet Eric and I just below the summit of our last lap and jogged back to the finish with us. I’ve lost track of who ran what but most people ran 1 to 3 summits. Nick managed to get in 3 summits plus one partial lap excluding the final leg to the top before his 7 hour time limit was up. Eric joined in on my 3rd lap and completed 4 full summits.
For springtime in Colorado, the weather was actually pretty nice. We had some high winds at the top early in the day and later in the afternoon some nasty dark clouds blew over and started spitting snow. But as soon as we were half a mile from the trail head all layered up in warm clothes, the sun came back out and the skies cleared.
Here’s a video clip that Eric took of Steph, Dave, and I at the top on lap #3:
I was pleasantly surprised at how well I managed to hold together both physically and mentally for the entire day. I started the run extremely tired from a pretty big 2 weeks training push. On Friday, I barely managed to get through an easy recovery jog with Misty and was at the end of my rope barely able to stay awake and focus while trying to finish up my project deadlines for the end of the month. So it was pretty rough getting up and going for the 5am start but having good company to start with and a goal to catch the sunrise at the top helped get me off to a good start. I finished the first lap in just under 2 hours and took a short break at the trail head and headed back up just behind Nick, Sam, Slush, and Steph. I was feeling the fatigue from an early start after a hard week and since it was going to be a very long day I let them get ahead of me and decided to take my time. I finished this lap in about 2:10 and then took an extended 10 minute break to eat and refill water at the trail head. Eric, Steph, and Dave joined me for number 3 and we kept up a brisk social pace to the top. I finally got a little spring in my legs on the way back down Meadow and had fun cruising the final switchbacks down and finished this lap in just under 2 hours. After a quick 5 minute break at the trail head, I headed back up to grind out number 4 with Eric and Aaron. After a fun 3rd lap, this 4th trip up started to feel like work. But considering that just a couple years ago, I was completely beat after 3.75 laps I felt pretty good about my condition. And no matter how hard or tiring a run like this gets, it’s a great feeling to cross over into something new. After we cleared the meadow junction and made our way to the top of the 4th summit, every step would be a new furthest distance for me on this hill. I made it back to the trail head to finish the 4th lap in 8:38 – 10 minutes faster than the 3.75 laps I finished in 2008. The last two laps were a slow grind but I was still able to hike the steep sections fairly well and even managed to jog a couple of the easy switchbacks. The downhill off the summit was the worst part. There wasn’t any bend or spring left in my legs so I just had to be patient to slowly and carefully pick my way down the really technical sections. In the final descent off of the 6th summit, I managed to pick up the pace when the cows could finally smell the barn. I tried to imagine that if this were Hardrock, I’d only need to do 55 more miles of the same climbing to get to the finish. Honestly, that sounded downright horrible but it at least seemed doable.
The full Greyrock 6 Pack ended up at 45.25 miles with 15,361 vertical feet in 13:59:50. This ended my final 13 day vertical binge with 64,475 feet in 201.75 miles. On Thursday, I maxed out my 7 day vertical total over 40,000 feet. The full month of April ended up with 408.5 miles and 89,667 vertical feet. This included a 40 miles of Sanitas laps with 17,339 vertical feet and two other relatively easy 30 mile long runs. I slacked off a bit and didn’t keep up with my weight training as much as I should have. But I did manage to get a few good quality speed and hard hill workouts mixed in with the long slow miles and set a new 18:20 5k PR.
Overall I feel really good about my training progress for Hardrock. I’ve done some long hard trails that are probably much steeper and more technical than I really need to train on for Hardrock. But I think the long days and hard miles have really improved my strength and endurance. Spending 14 hours out on the trail on Sanitas and Greyrock this month really didn’t feel that bad. For May and June I hope to start getting up higher in elevation on the weekends and will start to mix up my training a bit more to add some more quality with a combination of uphill, downhill, and some flat speed work.
Here are some photos from the 6 Pack: