Saturday, April 07, 2007

Annals of Obsession

Tuesday, April 10, is the 100th day of 2007. For Boulder’s Scott Elliott, the day will mark the successful conclusion to his campaign to run up 8,461-foot Bear Peak 100 times in 100 days. These past few days have brought a spring storm with persistent cold and a glaze of ice over every street and trail. But only a fool would bet against Elliott’s success.

Elliott, a 42-year-old Macintosh computer tech, is no ordinary mountain runner: He has won the 13.3-mile, 7,815-vertical-foot Pikes Peak Ascent eight times. If not for a certain Pikes Peak runner named Matt Carpenter, Elliott would be the most famous name in that brutal race’s history.

Bear Peak is the middle of a trio of high peaks over Boulder’s beautiful Flatirons. The shortest route up the peak is up Fern Canyon: approximately 2.7 miles and 2,700 vertical feet, with most of the gain coming in the second half, on a seemingly endless series of punishing stone steps and switchbacks. In normal conditions, Elliott usually runs the round trip in about an hour and a half, according to a Clay Evans article in the Daily Camera. (Evans also took the photo here, showing Elliott fastening his Kahtoola crampons for the icy trails.) Unusual conditions—and there have been a lot of them this winter—might slow him to two and a half hours. Elliott has encountered chest-deep snow and nearly 100 mph winds during his “runs.” Because of work commitments and the short winter days, he often goes after dark.

With the 100-day mark approaching, Elliott has had to make up for some missed days because of work and races, and so he’s been doing two-a-days. As I write this, at around 11 a.m. on Saturday morning, it’s 25°F with freezing drizzle. At least the trails won’t be crowded.

No comments: