Didn't I say that I would never do the Triple Crown again? I'm pretty sure the last time I did it I wrote a blog post very similar to the one I'll write today and I specifically noted that I never wanted to do it again. I know this because someone actually quoted it to me on Facebook. And yet here I am again, writing a report of an adventure I've now done four times. Yet, this one was different enough and in such a way that I might even be thinking about going back for a fifth time. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
After last week's amazing Quest for King's Marathon (for which I have not written a review; sad, I know) where I got to spend the entire weekend with my friends and family, I was approached by Jennilyn (who didn't run in the fun-run) to help her make the first woman's attempt at the Utah Triple Crown - summiting Utah's three tallest mountains, car-to-car. She asked MVH and myself to help play tour guide, but MVH was unable to come along so the role fell to me; one I was glad to take up.
Jennilyn writes an amazing blog at http://jennilyneaton.blogspot.com/. Check it out if you have the time. She is now a veteran ultra runner and an amazing adventure runner with grit, tenacity, and SPEED. The Triple Crown, while only being in the 28 - 30 miles range with 6000 feet of climbing, is actually very challenging, requiring several hours above 12,000 ft on rocky terrain where you have to boulder hop from one large, moving rock to another. It wears at the body and spirit, requires extreme focus, all the while continuing to maintain concentration on speed, nutrition, and route finding. But if any woman could do it, Jennilyn could and with some route management and efficient pacing she could even put up a solid number.
Not long before turning towards the ridge on the left
On Gilbert Peak with King's right behind her head
People always seem shocked when runners come by, dressed so minimally, carrying light hydration vests and no trekking poles. But then their jaws drop when they find out that not only did we start from the cars, but also climbed another mountain on the way to King's. And all of this from questions as we pass them on the rocky, boulder strewn ridge up to the top of King's Peak. I pushed the last 100m to the summit and hit the top in exactly 5:15:00. Jennilyn came in about 2 min later. We could see a darker cloud hanging over So King's, so we stopped only long enough for a photo and raced down the south ridge to the saddle. We spoke between in a dis-conjoined prayer, hoping that we that the inevitable storm would stave off long enough for us to punch to the summit of South King's. Jennilyn would ask every few minutes if I felt we should turn back to which I responded that I felt were safe. Even when it started to lightly hale at the saddle I felt comfortable we were still under passable skies. We touched the top at 5:48:00, just 30 min after leaving King's Peak. Then we turned around and flew back down to the saddle.
I'm still almost as tall. On the summit of King's Peak
Back on Anderson Plateau
There isn't much to say about those last five miles other than we just focused on keeping a good and comfortable pace. I tried to chat to pass the time, but eventually we just fell into a quiet pace, always hoping that the next corner would be our last. I knew better and felt bad for Jennilyn as I knew what she was likely going through. As the end came into sight though her arms went up, excitement took over as the reality of what we had done set in. I stopped my watch at 8:46:30, a monster time by anyone's standards and a time on the women's side that will be very, very difficult to beat. Congratulations to Jennilyn for her amazing abilities. She only looked tired up there for about 10 minutes. She never complained, and was ready to remind me on several occasions that "this isn't nearly as bad as you guys made it out to be". Thanks J-lyn for making it look easy.
All done, time to sit in the river