Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Runner is Born

At the alternative high school where I teach we have experiential learning outings at the end of each six week term for students who pass all of their classes. Yesterday, they chose from a vertical wind tunnel, a tour of Invesco Field where the Denver Broncos play, slam poetry at downtown cafe, a scavenger hunt at the Denver Museum of Natural History, or mountain trail running with me. Needless to say, my offering wasn't many kids' first choice. They had to rank their choices 1-5. I didn't ask but it occurred to me that maybe the four that signed up for me got mixed up on whether 1 was the top choice or 5 was the top choice; I know I've done that on surveys before. By the departure time yesterday morning, two had been disqualified, one showed up after we had left to catch the bus, so it was just one student and I.

We took public transportation to Boulder and were in downtown at 9:50AM. We dumped our backpacks where I store our vending cart, made a pit stop, and head out walking and connected up with the Boulder Creek Path. We reached Settler's Park where we were going pick up mountain park trails but they were all blocked with police tape because a helicopter was loading power line parts and flying off with them. We bypassed the whole area by walking through a historic Boulder neighborhood.

We arrived at the Mt. Sanitas Trailhead and started to jog. My running buddy for the day had run the Bolder Boulder when he was in middle school so although he wasn't in runner shape, what to expect was not unfamiliar to him. We alternated between jogging, walk, climbing, hiking, and taking an occasional brief breather. At one point after I took off jogging on a flatter part of the trail I noticed he hadn't followed. When he caught up, he said he didn't feel so well, that maybe he should have eaten something. I had advised him beforehand and also offered the option again before heading out. I gave him a gel, which he didn't enjoy but it seemed to revive him. Before too long we finished our ascent of 1400 feet at the summit of Mt. Sanitas. We caught our breath and started down a steeper trail than we had taken going up. In some places we had to climb down facing the mountain to avoid slipping and becoming our own personal mini avalanche.

We made it down without incident and took the gently sloped Dakota Ridge valley access road down to the trailhead. At one point as we're cruising down the path he punches out at the air and declares, "I feel like Rocky".

Perfect. Mission Accomplished.


  1. That's killer! Sign that kid up for some races. Kudos for giving the student a challenging and rewarding experience he'll always remember.

  2. Too bad the other kids were DQ'd. Perhaps it would have helped whatever their issues were. However, that you may have gotten even one interested is very cool!

  3. I'm going to propose that the kids who aren't eligible next time are allowed to go with me.