Note: This excerpt picks up where yesterday’s left off. Thanks for reading…Kyle
Butch went with us many days. This bulldog ran farther than any other dog I’ve ever known and made it look simple. He’d fly up the steep mountain trails ahead of us, even surpassing the speed of his handler in the process. Gall had placed 2nd in the Pikes Peak Marathon in ’97, even as a newcomer to the high altitude, but his dog galloped ahead, proving he was born to run. Periodically, he’d stop, turn around, and give us some time to catch up before continuing on up ahead. He was a muscular, brown and white mix. If I’d seen him alone in an alley at night I would’ve been frightened but there was nothing scary about Butch. He was all love; but tough as nails.
The crushed red soil of Happy Jack was a favorite place for us. I was new to the area but quickly realized why the Three Amigos made their home here. Crisp, clean air filtered by Lodgepole Pine, Aspen, & Engleman Spruce.
Shrubs such as Chokecherry, Serviceberry, Thimbleberry, & Red-osier Dogwood lined the trail passageway, greeting us upon our entry to their world. The smell: G-d’s Country. Wild red raspberries, red elderberries, & sagebrush all around. Elevation at the trailhead: 8,372 feet.
Wyoming has a fairly expansive geographic area but also the smallest population of all fifty states. About 586,000 people, in 2016.
These guys really put me through the grinder. About five days or so after arriving in Laramie, we took a road trip to Vail, Colorado. It was time for the annual Vail Hill Climb. Not having had enough time to adapt to the average elevation in Vail of 8,150 feet, I was nevertheless expected to run a 7.5 mile race straight up the side of a mountain. Oh, with an elevation gain of 2,500 feet.
I just The first mile began more on flat ground, relatively speaking, before climbing straight up for the next 6.5 or so miles. We followed an emergency access road of switchbacks all the way to the top of a seemingly never ending ski slope. I gasped for air the entire way and my legs became leaden. It was the first race of my life in which I walked, albeit for just a few steps here and there. It was quite the horrific experience.
Today, I have a picture on my bedroom wall from this race with Wabash alum Greg Berk and I climbing the switchback road, pine forest layering mountain ridges in the distance.
Clear, starry skies. Long neighborhood streets descending to the base of Pikes Peak. Manitou Springs. Scar trail. The United States Air Force Academy. The Family Research Council headquarters. The historic Kimball’s Peak Three Theater in downtown Colorado Springs. A wonderful place to live, for the most part.
1999.I arrived very soon after coming home from my semester abroad in Botswana. It was early July. Warm but chilled by cool mountain air. Nice to be out west again. Sometime in the past year, two of the Three Amigos migrated from Laramie to the Springs and once again reopened their invite to current Wabash runners to come out and train with them. I lived in a house with Busch, his girlfriend, Gall, Candice (a non-runner), & Wabash teammate Augsperger, of all people.
I moved into the basement. Candice had one room down there while another guy, who I cannot quite remember off hand now, had the other bedroom—complete with a five-foot-tall stack of Playboy magazines displayed prominently. Someone, Gall? Augs?, had set me up with a space on the floor of the open area in the basement. There was a blanket over the decades-old carpet with a sleeping bag on top. God only knows if any of these things had ever been washed. And I would most likely be panic-stricken to know what lay within that carpet. I would be far more paranoid now about this type of situation but then I was a twenty-one-year-old bachelor who was running as a full-time job (a dream job, actually).
Best of all, there was an old stereo system against the wall, just across from my bag, and a stack of someone’s CD’s. There was a bunch of music I was mostly unfamiliar with including Third Eye Blind. From the first time I put in that CD, I became hooked on songs such as “Losing a Whole Year,” “Narcolepsy,” (which really spoke to my own propensity at the time to fall asleep at any given moment), “Jumper,” “Graduate,” “Semi-Charmed Life,” & the song which would stick with me for years afterwards: “Motorcycle Drive-By.”
Summer time and the wind is blowing outside
In lower Chelsea and I don’t know
What I’m doing in this city
The sun is always in my eyes
It crashes through the windows
And I’m sleeping on the couch
When I came to visit you…
Eat-sleep-run. Eat-sleep-run. That was our daily routine. It was wonderful. Once again, I was the one without a job. Each day, Gall went off to his part-time job at a local running store. Busch was managing a Joe’s Crab Shack and not training a ton, but was beginning to get whipped back into shape again thanks to Gall. He was also riding around town a lot on his black Harley bike. Augs had gotten a job via Busch at Joe’s.
For a week or two, I spent my spare time as I often do– reading and writing. I remember vividly spending extra time contemplating what I was reading in Peter Singer’s seminal work Animal Liberation. I had just become vegetarian the year before and was now thinking of cutting out eggs and dairy. Little did I know that one day two years from that point in time I would be living in Boston and a friend named Eric & I would be driving the famous Australian professor Dr. Singer around town in Eric’s parent’s station wagon.
To be continued in Part III this Saturday…
 Vail Daily, by Randy Wyrick 1/05/05. Accessed on 11/08/15.
 “Manitou Rail Scar Unlikely To Heal Soon,” Todd Hartman, The Gazette, 12/10/96 http://www.inclineclub.com/incline_gt.htm, accessed 11/11/15.