Renown running journalist Mike Sandrock was among the first people to evacuate his home when torrential rains turned into flash flood conditions in the creeks around Boulder, Colo., last Wednesday.
For several days, Sandrock crashed at a friend’s house, wore borrowed clothes, hung out at coffee shop and wondered if his house — located at the confluence of raging Fourmile Creek and Boulder Creek about 2 miles west of Boulder — had survived. In the meantime, he helped other friends bail out their basements and pondered the power of Mother Nature and the unfortunate deaths the massive storm brought.
The devastation from the flash floods has been overwhelming throughout Colorado. Boulder is one of numerous towns that is just starting to dig out from the mess now that rains have finally subsided. In five days, the Boulder area received more than 18 inches of rain, wiping out homes, roads, bridges and most of the popular running trails in and around town. Six deaths have been reported so far, but hundreds of people are still unaccounted for as of Monday morning. Authorities believe more fatalities will be discovered once access is gained to remote mountain communities.
Sandrock is the author of “Running With The Legends,” but he is a bit of a legend around town himself. A former 2:24 marathoner, he has run with and written about all of the great runners who have lived in Boulder over the past 35 years, including Frank Shorter, Steve Jones, Rob DeCastella, Uta Pippig, Lorraine Moller, Rosa Mota, Colleen de Reuck, Adam Goucher, Mark Coogan, Benji Durden, Alan Culpepper and Melody Fairchild, to name a few. In the early 1990s, he started “One World Running,” a non-profit that has collected and distributed tens of thousands of pairs of used running shoes to people in need in Africa, Central America and numerous Caribbean countries.
With the canyons closed to vehicle traffic because of washed-out roads, Sandrock finally decided to run back to his house on Sunday morning with Fairchild, a former teen prodigy who won an NCAA title at Oregon and last year helped the U.S. win a gold medal at the U.S. Mountain Running Championships, and her fiancé Glen Delman, a trail runner and noted running photographer. They went over trails, or what was left of them. (Fairchild also ran up the canyons the previous day, in search of her childhood home.)
What the trio encountered was amazing, even if the results were completely contrasting. The story Sandrock wrote and the blog Fairchild posted about each of their experiences are worth reading, even if you don’t know anyone suffering from the floods in Colorado or have any connections to the Boulder running community.
Although rains are supposed to subside and sunshine is expected the rest of the week, the people of Colorado haven’t yet weathered the storm. As helicopters head to the hills to reach stranded communities, the stream of sad stories is likely to continue. In all, more than 18,000 homes have been damaged or completely lost in the floods, while more than 50 bridges have been washed out.
Read Sandrock’s story: A Run Through Devastated Fourmile Canyon
Read Melody Fairchild’s blog: Where The Runner Is Born
More about Colorado’s flooding disaster: The Daily Camera