Trail runner Alli Miles takes Polartec to the San Juans.
by Alli Miles
I recently made a trip to Silverton, Colorado, in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, to watch the Hardrock 100 trail race and get some solid training miles on steep, technical, and high-altitude trails. I was seeking inspiration from both the race and the mountains themselves.
Mountain weather always has some element of unpredictability. Trail runners putting in long miles in the high country face the challenge of having enough layers and gear to be prepared for the unexpected, yet carrying minimal weight and bulk. Colorado is also notorious for its summer thunderstorms that clear people off its high peaks by early afternoon almost daily.
Each day was a balance between trying to watch the race and getting in a long run before the storms arrived. I also needed to factor in the altitude. Silverton’s at 9,318’ and it’s in a valley, so every trail goes up from there, and of course a large part of my reason for being there was to get up high and see the views. When it wasn’t storming, the weather ranged from clear and chilly to overcast and muggy, but it was often sunny. The sun at 9,000’ can feel like it’s sitting right on top of your head.
For this trip, and any long days in the mountains, I reach for my Oiselle Flyout short sleeve shirts and tanks, made with Polartec® Delta™. I love Delta fabric because it feels cool without clinging. As my poor lungs are working to get me up to 14,000’, Delta keeps me comfortable, getting more evaporative cooling power from my sweat but also wicking excess moisture and enhancing the flow of air to my skin. It’s lightweight and airy, refusing to cling to my sweaty body or cause chafing. It can handle the stifling mugginess below tree line without causing me to become chilled in the crisp, breezy alpine, and it doesn’t restrict my movement as I scramble up rocky summits or bomb downhill.
When I can count on my gear, I’m free to focus on the reasons I’m there in the first place. The San Juans are a trail runner’s paradise, and I found the inspiration I was seeking — in Kilian’s shoulder sling, in Caroline’s bloody forehead, among the children that chased their parents down the final stretch to the finish, in the lush wildflower meadows dripping with blue colombine, in the turquoise alpine lakes, and in the unassuming, white puffy clouds that stacked upon each other through the day before turning the sky black and unleashing a torrent of rain, hail, lightning, and thunder.
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