High Lonesome 100: It’s Happening!

Bryon Powell writes of starting his journey to run the High Lonesome 100 Mile this summer.

By on February 9, 2022 | Comments

After a down year for my running in 2021, some may have noticed that I’ve been running with a bit more purpose in the past two months. There’s a good reason for that. I’ve got to get in shape for the High Lonesome 100 Mile in late July. Yup, I’ll be running what looks to be an amazing 100 miler in Colorado’s Sawatch Mountains thanks to* High Lonesome presenting sponsor Laws Whiskey House.**

While I’ve barely been on the course, I’ve spent some time in the area. First, I’ve been there a couple of times while crewing Meghan Hicks’s Nolan’s 14 runs in 2016, 2017, and 2020.

I’ve also been there to scout and attempt a Troutman (which combines running a marathon and catching Colorado’s four trout species along the way … among other things) and again when I ran my own Troutman 100 miler (entraining a Troutman in a 100-mile effort) in October 2020. From what I’ve seen of the area centered around the Chalk Creek drainage (home of Princeton Hot Springs), I can’t wait to check out the course, which tackles higher terrain than I’ve spent much time on in the area.

Bryon Powell - Wright's Lake

Me fly fishing Wright’s Lake during my Troutman 100 miler attempt. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

I’m particularly looking forward to a couple of sections along the way. From miles 25 to 35, there’s a double crossing of Laws Pass from the tiny high-altitude town of St. Elmo to Cottonwood Creek, where I’ll hopefully take in some stunning panoramas of the Sawatch.

While I’ve not looked at the timing, I hope I catch both sides of Chalk Creek Pass around mid-race in daylight so I can check out some headwaters that I’m unfamiliar with. Finally, there’s the last 30-mile, net-downhill stretch from Monarch Pass back to the finish, the running of which I’m taking as a personal challenge.

Aside from the race and the scouting, I’m so excited for the motivation that the promise of the race is providing me, not only in my training, but also in hopefully improving some areas of weakness in my past ultrarunning and current fitness.

I’ve got four bullet points on my whiteboard guiding my journey:

  1. Many long runs – I’ll talk more about this in a future article, but being competent (or better) on the runnable sections of High Lonesome will be a key focus.
  2. Retrain hiking – Hiking the climbs is normally one of my ultra strengths. In chaining myself to my desk last year, vert wasn’t a thing. This should come easily enough (both in physiology and in motivation), but I’m consciously aware that it must be done.
  3. Achilles rehabilitation – Yeah, both my Achilles are garbage (improved from hot garbage) at this point. I’m being more diligent in my stretching, adding in some percussive massaging of my calves, and will be doing some more targeted bodywork on my Achilles.
  4. Learn fueling – This will likely be another standalone post, but, in short, I’ve mostly been good on fueling in ultras through 16 or 17 hours and, then, I more or less stop eating. I’m working with nutritionist Meredith Terranova on some in-race fueling adjustments in the hope of fueling and feeling strong in the later miles of High Lonesome.
Meghan Hicks on HL100 course during Nolans 14 2020

Meghan Hicks on the High Lonesome 100 Mile course during her September 2020 Nolan’s 14 attempt. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Admittedly, there’ve been some highs and lows in my running over the past two months, but many more highs and the lows I can and have rationally attributed to other outside stress or overreaching a bit on the training side of things (like two pairs of 20 milers within a few days). Still, the big picture and little detail motivation is there.

Last Saturday, I jumped in the Silverton Whiteout, a mostly fat bike race that allows runners to join in on what was an 11-mile loop this year, with plans for a 22 miler and hopes for a 33 miler … but as lap three rolled along, I felt good and got the itch for a fourth lap to bring me up to 44 miles. As I was confident I wouldn’t injure myself or set my training back too far, I tacked on that extra lap, finding my weak spots and working through them. I could hope for nothing more from the day.

So, here I sit in my office on a sunny February morning in Silverton, Colorado, dreaming of running High Lonesome this summer and all the steps along the journey to get there.

Call for Comments

  • What 2022 event(s) have you motivated to get out there and train right now?
2022 Silverton Whiteout

Running the early miles of the 2022 Silverton Whiteout with Karl Kamm. Photo: Eszter Horanyi

* The vast majority of High Lonesome’s entries are split evenly between men and women in a lottery. There are a few additional entries outside the lottery, including five sponsor spots, of which Laws has one. (Entry details.)

** I know the good folks of Laws from their support of the conservation non-profit that I’m a part of called Running Rivers and the Flyathlon (run/fish) races the organization puts on. Cheers to Laws!

2020 Troutman 100 - Laws Whiskey

A celebratory swig of Laws Whiskey after finishing my Troutman 100 miler in 2020. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.