The Killer B's Tackle Mt. Washington - 2008       Picasa Photo Album

Seven Gonzos (and Tess the wonder dog) arrived in Gorham for the 48th Annual Mount Washington Road Race. --a 7.6 mile, steadily climbing, average 11% grade, with a number of 15%'ers and a couple 18% and 22% thrown in for fun.

The Killer B's, Bruce Duffy, Bruce Murphy, and Bruce Levy (formally known as Bernie) drove down Thursday to allow a rest day Friday before the June 21st, Saturday, run. BruceM and BruceL decided they couldn't just sit around Friday so went on a 4 hour hike.

Upon their return we met up with the boys that just finished doing 'trail maintenance' for a couple days on top of White Cloud Mountain in Maine, a section of the AT Gimp and Scrounger have chosen to do spring cleanup on each year. This group, none of whom are named Bruce--yet--included Greg Vail, Ross Mitchell, Gordon Warnica, and James Balcolm. They had come to Washington to provide one of the water stops, half way up the mountain, complete with Santa, his elves, and Christmas music.

Dipper's BRUTAL attempt to run up Mt. Washington

Watching Chris Hollebone power up the mountain last year in 1:43:13, I decided that I really wanted to try and do the same. It was such a fun day and well-run event. Duffy and I entered the lottery and each got a spot in the 1000 person field. My training started a bit back in December, started in earnest on mid-March, missed a bit in April when I was away and continued in May. The training was sporadic and leaned towards short, intense hills. Those same workouts beat up my legs so bad that I couldn't run hills or walk stairs the 3 weeks before the race.

Not good prep for Mt. Washington as it turns out.

My time up the mountain was 1:52:31, with at least 535 out of 1000 or so people finishing ahead of me. The time does not really reflect just how difficult time I had. The event was quite a bit harder than I imagined, and my training was really off-base.

I struggled from about 2 miles in and ended up falling out of my hang-on-for-dear-life jog into a forced-march-walk before the 5 mile mark (the start of the dirt-road section). All the runners around and behind me were doing about the same thing. Jog 15-20 meters, fall into a forced walk for maybe 100 meters and try again, and again, and again. Absolute torture. I checked my heart rate while I was walking a few times and it came out around 170! That is intense and still hard to believe.

I have had races in the past that pushed you to your physical limits. Doing the PPP relay solo, you are at the edge of your ability to breathe and clear off your muscle fatigue throughout the entire race. MTB races usually start up a big hill, putting you in serious oxygen debt from the get-go. This race was different. I have never been this far past my ability to handle the stress on the energy and breathing systems. It was not a pretty sight.

Would you do it again?

Unfortunately, walking in the middle of a race is actually quite embarrassing. I now have 3 items on my   "Failed to Complete Properly"   list and that's too many:

  • Long Trail from Western Brook Pond to Gros Morne
  • East Coast trail south of St. John's, NFLD
  • Walked 1/4 of Mt. Washington
I may have to sign up and try again. Damn!

All in all, I was very pleased with the whole affair. Nice to have something to train for, a very unique, well-run event and a great way to spend a weekend. The very first time I was in this area, we were getting ready for a bike trip New Hampshire Bike 1995. I had driven to the top in my car, seen the Lakes of the Clouds for the first time and swore the next time I saw that view, it would be after hiking up instead of driving. I've now seen this view 5-6 times, stayed in the hut a few times and did a Gonzo Splinter Group swim in the Lakes. With this race, I got the same view...after running up the beast. Too cool!

Bruce aka 'Bruce'

DUFFY's RUN, better known as his SUMMIT SHUFFLE

5:00am, Saturday, June 21st, 2008---why am I here in the Top Notch Inn in New Hampshire?

-Am I looking forward to my legs and lungs screaming at me?
-Is there even a chance this old, beat up, but still moving, body could imagine doing this thing?
-I didn't have to put in my name! I could have supported BruceM the same as we supported Chris Hollebone last year-waiting in reasonable comfort at the half way point to yell and scream and throw water in his face

When Bernie, now known as BruceL, asked me that question for his video, the only word I could come up with was anticipation---being neither positive or negative--just that I have been anticipating this day for 3 months now and here it was.

Training? Whether it was enough, or even the proper type, I had met my schedule, getting in over 90 kms of 9-10% hills and some long climbs. Those days hurt.

BruceL dropped BruceM and I off at the base of the mountain at 8:00am and took our 'return' vehicle up to the summit (walking down the 3.6 kms to join the water stop guys who went directly to the 4 mile spot.)

BruceM and I lolly-gagged around, hydrating, choosing what to wear, waiting for the 10:00am sharp start. It was a perfect day, 60* at the bottom, 40* at the summit, clear but cloudy day, with slight 20 m/h winds--this was fantastic for this mountain.

BANG! Good night nurse, they started the race with a cannon--anyone who was having any trouble with their constitutional that day was instantly fixed, we were off! With no visions of grandeur, I immediately placed my self at the back of the 1,000+ pack, or so I tried, there were still 100 or so to yet pass me, including BruceM before the start of the hill, 200 meters into the race.

I maintained my schedule 15 minute mountain shuffle until about the 1.5 mile mark, when I realized:

-If I tried to keep my 'original' plan to 'not walk' until the half way water stop I would be in big trouble the second half.
-I started to walk for a number of minutes and then shuffle for a number of minutes.
-Any semblance of specific times immediately went downhill and I walked when I wanted. I wanted to a lot.

I reached the half way in 1:13--right on 'perceived' schedule---feeling OK. The second half was not so OK, obviously walked more, or shuffled slower, since my time was 1:28--13 minutes below plan.

Did I meet my goals, yes and no.

-Goal I was to finish before cut off time--did that by 21 minutes--almost 100 people didn't.
-Goal II was to enjoy the 'whole' weekend--Excellent.
-Goal III was to enjoy the run, I think I did though at times I was concerned as to Goal I.
-Goal IV was to break 2:30, which I missed by 11 minutes--probably was an ambitious goal.
-Goal V was somewhere around 2:15--that was a STUPID Goal.
-Side note--In the last 3 miles above tree line I passed 9 people and NO ONE passed me.

The good news--I was tired but not hurting after the race and the next day I was not exhausted and had no 'hurts.' I guess that means I was well trained.

Would I do it again?--nope--I realize this old body has other things to accomplish and it is not worth putting it through the training required to better what has been done.

But as BruceM and I have discussed, we hope someone takes up the challenge and goes down next year--we would love to go down as support.

Sun god aka 'Bruce'

IMAX - The Weekend I became a Bruce

The “Killer B’s” head for Mt. Washington and I signed on for support, not really knowing the full extent of my duties or benefits, I would be called upon to do or receive.

As usual Duffy had everything in and had even a planned hike for me on Friday, I should say a selection of hikes. The Arethusa Falls was settled on after some discussion as what was the “Best Bang for the Buck”. Bruce D drove us to the base, after picture taking, Bruce M who decided I needed a guide headed out with me but insisted I go first, who was leading who. This was a hike the Killer B’s have done before, and according to Duffy 2 ½ hr’s if you take the scenic loop which takes you to the Frankenstein Cliffs over looking the parking lot where Bruce D sat waiting patiently.

We were off, and Bruce M with his mind running a half second ahead of himself realizes that him and I still qualified as the Killer B’s, the first indication I may become a “Bruce”.

The temp was mild, slightly overcast with sun in and out. Lost of deadfalls on the trail but we still made the Falls in about 60 minutes. Spent 30 minutes or so enjoying the view, taking picture, video, and trying to get a little snack of trail mix which Bruce volunteered to carry for me. We then headed across the ridge to the cliff. This proved to be tougher than my guide who was behind me remembered. We hit one section that was 100% grade and which most likely contributed to Bruce’s performance the next day. We finally reach the Frankenstein Cliffs, after some discussion whether or not we missed them. The cliffs where worth the climb, great view, very neat, and quite a risk factor being there. There was a 20-30 foot long rock face about 12 degree slope and then a flat line………

On the way out a little rain was encountered, enough to hold up under leaf cover for 5 to 10 minutes. We made pick-up car around 4 hrs, Bruce was ready to send out the dogs. Well with all that overtime, we had to change plans and head for Eagle Lodge for the Killer B’s packets. Lots of new stuff to look at, Bruce D sees me eyeing a high-tech long sleeve “Only One Hill” shirt, next thing it’s mine, thanks again Bruce.

Saturday 7:30 am duties unfold, I got to drive the car to the top of the Only One Hill, no guard rails, don’t look down, get behind another car so you won’t have to look ahead, oh yeah, walk back down and work the half way water stop and try to get some film as runners fly by. I resisted the urge to wear a read dress but gave into the blue sequin jacket and Cat-In-The-Hat hat. My first water stop, picked up cups, got some footage of the Killer B’s, and tried to give Bruce’s car away to anyone who would listen to what lot it was in and where the keys were.

Saturday evening back at the Top Notch Inn after a run, two showers, swim, hot tub, supper, and final video shoot, we’re chatting with fellow runners from Quebec, Bruce D introduces himself as, “I’m Bruce and this is Bruce” and I say “I’m Bernie” Bruce D replies “ We call him Bruce for short”…..

I made it, that’s how I became a Bruce. Thanks Killer B’s for a great trip.

Imax aka 'Bruce'