It is July 17,
1982 and the day has dawned clear and calm, but here in Silverton, Colo. at
9,302 feet, the temperature has dipped into the 40�s. The alarm goes off at
6:45 and I struggle out from under the covers and stand at the window looking
south at the mountains enclosing this small valley in the Rockies. Peering up I
see the summit of Kendall Mountain, 13,000 feet high, where I hope to be in a
couple of hours. My stomach pitches at the sight. The room is chilly and I am
nervous, so I begin to dress, trying to select the right combination of clothes
for what I have come to refer to as "the ordeal." I settle on a T
shirt, turtleneck, shorts, socks for feet, socks for hands, and a pair of
durable running shoes. I do a few push-ups and sit-ups to awaken my muscles,
hit the bathroom and then head off for Greene Street, the only paved road in
The ordeal is the
annual Kendall Mountain Run, in which, for no apparent reason, people run some
six miles—and 3,800 vertical feet—up a rocky road out of town, scrambling madly
to the summit of the mountain, and then descend by the same route. Compared to
other Colorado mountain races like Imogene Pass and Pikes Peak, Kendall is
shorter and steeper. Note that it is called a run, not a race. The sponsors
deliberately downplay the competitive aspect of the event. Some good runners
come in for Kendall, but by and large the competitors are from the Silverton
As my girl friend,
Becky, and I go to the starting area I chatter away, trying to vent nervous
energy and in this way assuage my doubts about the venture.
"Tell me again
whose idea this was."
"Well, it was
a bad one."
And, "If my
mother were here, she wouldn't want me to do this."
"I realize now that I don't have to go through with this thing. I don't
have to pit myself against that mountain. I don't have anything to prove to
But of course I