Mother Nature Dooms Grand Junction Couple’s Record Breaking Attempt
A Colorado Trail running record for a local couple will have to wait thanks in large part to Mother Nature.
Grand Junction's Doug and Melinda McCaw were hoping to set a new FKT (Fastest Known Time) record on the Colorado Trail, but Mother Nature did not cooperate. After nearly 3 days of battling the elements, the running couple was forced to abandon their recent record-breaking attempt because of heavy rain that poured down as they started out on their 490-mile trek from Durango to Denver.
Running 70 Miles A Day to Break the Record
The McCaw's had previously run the Colorado Trail in 18 days. No easy feat. It was like running a marathon every single day for 18 consecutive days. To break the Colorado Trail record they would need to cover about 70 miles every single day while navigating about 90,000 feet of elevation gain. It seems crazy to think that anyone could do it, but Doug and Melinda were determined to give it a shot.
Hitting the Trail
The McCaw's hit the trail at 4:30 in the morning in late July, and the first 51/2 hours were great. But, then it began to rain - which, ultimately proved to be their undoing.
Here's how Melinda described running in the rain.
I was using a lot more different stabilizing muscles than what I was used to and over the hours that really took a toll on my left knee. By the time we reached the 35-mile aid station it really hurt. I limped through the next five miles and then we had to make a decision.
Running With Pain
At this point, the McCaw's were about 30 miles shy of their daily goal, but decided to stop for the night and give Melinda's knee a chance to recover. A massage, some food, and a little sleep and they were back at it early the next morning.
Melinda says her knee felt better for the first mile or two but then started hurting badly just as it had the previous day. Although in great pain, Melinda had to make it to the next aid station 12 miles down the trail. The first few hours of the morning were rain-free but by the time they reached the aid station it was pouring rain - and there was no shelter.
Everything Was Hurting
The couple pressed on with another 20 miles to cover until the next aid station. By this time, Melinda was doing more hiking than running as her knee continued to be a major problem. She said over the last few miles "everything" was hurting, plus she started to feel hot spots on her feet. It's a runner's worst nightmare - blisters.
It was at this point Melinda realized she was only slowing them down and they would never make it to the record at the current pace. Consequently, she made the tough decision to drop out and let Doug continue the trek by himself.
Going Solo On the Trail
At this point, Doug is determined to continue on and tried to make up for lost time, by running all night. He was having some physical issues of his own with his hip and knee and started feeling pain while climbing as well as on descending sections. Doug had managed to do about 70 miles during the day, but with 110 total miles traveled, he was way behind the necessary pace for a record.
The End of the Line
The lack of sleep and the physical toll on his body finally convinced Doug it was time to stop and give up on the record quest.
It kind of came down to not feeling like I was where I needed to be to finish in the time I was after. So with that goal slipping away...won't get the goal we're after... and I'll probably destroy a lot - because of injury and what I have to push through.
Will There Be A Next Time?
The McCaw's continue to recover from their record-breaking attempt on the Colorado Trail. While disappointed by their recent venture on the trail, Doug and Melinda have their sights set on another attempt at the record, perhaps as early as late summer of 2023. "There will be a next time," Doug says, but exactly when depends largely on Melinda's rehabilitation process.
Chasing the Sky and Elevate Kids
Below you can check out the Chasing the Sky documentary that was created from their 2020 run on the Colorado Trail. While Doug and Melinda's team was unable to gather enough footage this time for a second documentary, you can see a few glimpses of their adventure here. You can learn more about Doug and Melinda's non-profit Elevate Kids and follow their future endeavors on the trail.
Mountain Images From the 485-Mile Colorado Trail
Hiking the Scenic Ice Lake Trail