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Preserverance - The 2018 Imogene Pass Run

This is from Merideth - her story of perseverance despite crazy odds to reach the finish line. 

Like the sun, we must always keep moving. Sunrise on the road to Imogene Pass
Imogene Pass. A little slice of heaven that separates Ouray, CO from Telluride. I was privileged enough (thanks to a dear friend) to secure a highly coveted place in a 17.1 mile race that goes over this 13k foot high pass. (All 1.6k-ish slots sold out in less than 30 minutes). 5,363 feet of constant and unrelenting elevation gain while climbing for 10 miles, and then descending 7.1 miles back into Telluride. There were 3 cutoff points where the race officials reserve the right to turn runners around based on weather and elapsed time. The first cutoff for this race was 7.65 miles in.  Runners have 2.5 hours to get to this cutoff point, and “all” runners who arrive at this point after the 2.5 hour mark were supposed to be turned around to trudge back to Ouray with their tails between their legs.

On the road up to Imogene
Luckily, beautiful weather and forgiving volunteers let me continue even though I arrived 10 minutes after the cutoff. I only continued because I had no way of getting a hold of my husband (who was in Telluride) until I got back to Ouray or to the summit of Imogene. Cell service isn’t a thing when you’re 7.65 miles into a slot canyon in the middle of the San Juan Mountains. I sat on my butt and cried. I was so frustrated. Down or up - it was going to be a long and grueling journey, and I had just lost any semblance of adrenaline or motivation that I had.  The 2.3 miles from that point to the summit of Imogene were merciless.  The few of us that were “fortunate” enough to be allowed to continue were all broken. “One and done” was said by many of my cutoff friends as we hiked to the summit.  (Most of us were racing this for the first time.).  I laughed at the thought of making up my 10 minutes and getting to the summit by the second cutoff time- noon.  You don’t “make up time” on elevation like that. I reached the summit at 12:15. Luckily they still had water at the aide station there, but no food or anything substantial that I could use to replenish. The summit photographer had even left already!
Had to be my own summit photographer!
Feeling small in the huge mountains.
I was hoping the downhill would be more relenting since it was.... down. Uh, no. The next two miles down were rocky and potentially ankle-breaking-if-you-try-and-run miles. I feel like I was lucky to not slip and fall. After the aide station at the 12 mile mark, I was walking by two ladies who were hiking casually and chatting like they were out for a walk in the park. I asked if they had missed the cutoffs and they said, “No” - they had made the summit with 4 minutes to spare.  What?!  I was cutoff at BOTH points and I was passing them. Also, the course was clearing off enough that there was about a 1 foot wide path through the rocks so I could actually RUN. I checked my watch and did a little math - I could still make the cutoff at the finish. 2:30pm. I had an hour and 15 minutes to run 4 miles. Easy. Off I went. 

I passed runners, cars and dirt bikes passed me.  But 48 minutes and 36 seconds later, I crossed the finish line. I made up my 15 minute deficit and finished with about 20 minutes to spare. You wanna know the best part about finishing so close to the back of the pack? You get a solo photo finish just like the winners do. But only if you keep running.  🏃‍♀️