Ask the Goat: Six days at Silverton Part 2/3

Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series on the Silverton six-day race. Part one was published on Sept. 25. Part three will be published on Oct. 9.

Originally, Silverton was to be a 1,000-mile Challenge race.

More specifically, it was to be my attempt to loosely recreate the accomplishments of Captain Robert Barclay, “an English gentleman and sports enthusiast. He was the first recorded person to complete 1,000 miles in 1000 consecutive hours.

Ask the Goat by Chris Knodel

Ask the Goat
by Chris Knodel

Beginning June 1, 1809, and ending July 12, Barclay walked one mile each hour for the 41 days. The course was on U.S. soil, and was a half mile out-and-back. He would walk a mile at the tail end of one hour and immediately walk a second mile at the beginning of a second hour. The period in between usually would yield an entire rest hour to sleep or consume food. The rules stated that one mile need be completed each consecutive clock hour, regardless of weather, fatigue or other ailments. Upon completion of the task, Barclay became an international legend. He had shattered the 18th century distance [record].”

As the race drew near, I became involved in directing a local San Antonio Head for the Cure Event scheduled for September 27. After wetting my feet in Race Director duties, it became apparent that missing 5-weeks straight (6 days to TransRockies, 6 days idle in CO & 18 days to Silverton) leading up to my event would be catastrophic. So I took a hit and dropped down to the 6-day race.

After TransRockies, I stayed in Colorado to keep my altitude acclimation high. Kristine and I spent a week in Denver with family and as she flew home to San Antonio, I wound my way through the Rockies to the San Juan Mountains in Southwest Colorado. Silverton, as the name suggests, was a thriving mining town. Now, it is a recreational venue touting ski slopes, ATV rentals and an operational narrow-gauge train that goes between Silverton and Durango once a day. The town is similar to Leadville and Buena Vista in that it is small, compact and rustic. I could easily disappear in its mountains and live happily in a tent.

Photo by P. Sweeney View from the highest point of the loop.

Photo by P. Sweeney
View from the highest point of the loop.

Photo by P. Sweeney Ed "The Jester" Ettinghausen

Photo by P. Sweeney
Ed “The Jester” Ettinghausen

I got to the venue a day early and was happy to help setup the base camp. There were several early arrivals, most notably the Luna Sandals Ambassador athletes Jess Soco, Patrick Sweeney and Tyler Tomasello. Later, celebrity runners Maria Walton, Joshua “Run it Fast” Holmes & Ed “The Jester” Ettinghausen would also make appearances. I did a preliminary run-through of the course and immediately realized how brutal it would be. The clockwise direction was faster, but would potentially wreck the knees; the counter-clockwise direction was a long, uphill monkey-punch to the cardiovascular system.

The day before the race ended with a 6-person beer run orchestrated (and won) by Patrick Sweeney. He even led the ceremonial oath: “I can drink more than I think I can. I am drunker than I think I am. I will not puke. rAmen. (Not a typo. It ends with the phonetic sound Ramen).” We then hit a local brewery/restaurant and nestled in for the next day’s start.

Historical facts from “Runners & Walkers,” authored by John Cumming in 1981. Quote from paragraph #1 previously published in Sanford Herald and “More, Better, Quicker: The Irish Goat –A Fat Boy’s Path to Ultra-Distance”

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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