Ask the Goat: Six days at Silverton Part 3/3

Editor’s note: This is the third of a three-part series on the Silverton six-day race. Part one was published on Sept. 25 and part two was published on Oct. 2.

At 9 a.m., it began.

The Silverton 6-day racers blasted onto the looped course in the clockwise direction. Within minutes, most had slowed to a crawl. The first quarter mile is a rocky, brutally steep uphill section leading straight to the ski lift’s uppermost point. Then a ¾ mile descent that varies between steep switchbacks and long periods of moderate decent bring runners past the port-o-potties and back into the basecamp. One mile down. As runners cross the timing mat, a large-screen television provides times, laps and splits. As they pass through the tent back onto the course, a single sign provides a humorous truth –“Only One Mile to Go.”

Ask the Goat by Chris Knodel

Ask the Goat
by Chris Knodel

After six hours of clockwise running, I had logged around 25 miles. I felt strong and was in the top five positions when I decided to rest a bit and grab some food. After a delicious lasagna meal, I stood up to a dull pain in my left knee. Felt like the IT Band was a bit off. I decided to slow down a bit and shoot for 15 miles the second 6-hour set. I began the counter-clockwise loop at a solid powerwalking pace and managed 10 miles in six hours. My knee felt better in this direction, but the cardiovascular taxation was brutal. Every lap had me spending a ½ mile section wheezing up a series of switchbacks I dubbed the “Zipper.”

After only a single loop back in the clockwise direction, I knew my goal of 300 miles was not going to happen. It took me over 35 minutes to hobble through that lap. I reformulated my plan to socialize and rest every six hours during the clockwise loop, and then really push during the reverse laps. I was also able to help out at the aid table and really get to know the participants of the race.

Day #2 logged 30 miles during the “good” directional loops, and I had gotten to know everyone. I was in good spirits, not as disappointed as I thought I would be, and felt very rested. The race was shaping up, and a few of the 3-day folks had started to trickle in. The “every 6-hour plan” was starting to pan out, and it looked like a 72-hour 100 miler was going to happen. If all went well, the 200-mile buckle could still be mine –even only running half the race.

Day #3 ended with a solid 100 miles. In fact, my 100th was by far my fastest lap. I decided to shower after a quick “walkabout” in downtown Silverton and even got to see the Silverton-Durango train come in. I treated myself to a Cappuccino and then trudged to the Silverton Lakes campground for a good cleaning. On the way, I got a call from Texas. I was scheduled for a televised interview about the Race Across the USA. On Tuesday. In San Antonio. I got into the shower, and as the water cascaded over me, I made the decision to withdraw from Silverton as a 3-day racer and return home.

I plan to return. This race, those people and that mountain will also be a part of me. The Silverton 6-day Challenge is a must for any runner. Check it out for 2015. I have provided the website link:

Chris Knodel is a Mangum Track Club member and Sandhills Region native. He is the author of “More, Better Quicker – The Irish Goat: A Fat-Boy & His Path to Ultra-Distance.” His column will appear each Thursday on

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