Discovering La Sportiva, Centennial Cone and RE-Discovering Running

By Bill Plock

Last Friday I discovered and re-discovered a few things. First of all, for whatever reason I had lost my desire to run. It’s probably in part due to the fact that once COVID hit, I gave myself a challenge to ride everyday for the month of April. Well that turned into May and as of today, I have only missed two days of riding since the virus invaded and changed our lives.

But, something was telling me to run Friday, so I decided to go. I think another deterrent to running was my running shoes were very worn and while I love my Colorado based Newtons, the pair I have, have a couple of IRONMAN’s on them and really aren’t great for trails–much more of a road shoe.

A couple of years ago when I pretty much stopped racing, I also pretty much stopped running on the road–for a couple of reasons. First of all the road just hurts a bit more, especially as I edge towards getting asked by merchants if I would like the senior discount. But, secondly, and admittedly the bigger reason I run on trails, is that it is much more peaceful, more beautiful generally, and I love the varying terrain. I also don’t care about my pace and I don’t find myself frustrated by constantly comparing my pace with my younger, faster self. Trail variability is the great ego neutralizer!

So here I am, wanting to run, needing shoes and still not sure where to run. My first stop was in Wheat Ridge at the Sierra Trading Post. They have some good bargains there, and lets face it, frugality is part of my DNA, more-so than ever these days. I realize the importance of good gear for sure, but was hoping to find a diamond in a sea of mostly older models of shoes on the bargain shelves. And I did. Sort of tucked in the back, I found a pair of Lycan’s made by Boulder’s La Sportiva. I am not a climber but certainly know of the high quality gear made by La Sportiva and course, if I can support a Colorado company (ironically located across the parking lot from Newton), that’s even better. I have never worn their shoes but these looked pretty awesome and they were marked down to $59. Whats to lose right? Neutral fit, wide toe box–perfect for me? So there was discovery number one.

Now where to run. I looked towards Golden and it hit me to go try Centennial Cone Park. It’s part of the Jeffco Mountain Park system and is located about 10 miles west of Golden on Highway 6 heading towards Central City. I have passed it thousands of times in my life. I have been to all the Jeffco parks, Apex being my favorite to run, but had never been to Centennial Cone. OMG, discovery, major discovery number two. What a spectacular park with super smooth, flowy trails and great views and nice and quiet. On weekends they alter days where one day is for bikes only and the other is for hiking/running–so check before you go if it’s on a weekend. But for a gorgeous Friday afternoon, there weren’t many people on the trails. I definitely am coming back with my mountain or gravel bike. Yes, gravel bike, as there are hardly any technical spots that I saw. I didn’t run the entire 17 mile loop but from what I read, the whole park has mostly smooth trails. This is a great park for those who don’t love technical riding like many of the Jeffco parks offer.

I tore off the LaSportiva tags, laced up my brand new shoes and ran for 6 miles. These shoes felt AMAZING. I know they have some fancy features like an Impact Brake System, Rock/Ground Frixion sole, and anti-abrasion micro fibers and TPU toe cap, which frankly didn’t mean anything to me at the store– I just liked how they looked and felt and the price was right.

I have enough miles on my feet to appreciate quality and performance and for these to feel so great “out of the box” and perform so well surprised me. Maybe all those “fancy features” make the difference. They feel very light but rugged at the same time. That is a rare combination I feel. I have a little bit of a wide foot and these have a generous toe box. I had a pair of Altra Torin’s I really liked for that reason, but wore those out and frankly I don’t like the way they look quite as well. Not that looks really matter to me. Those who know me would laugh at the thought of me even mentioning I care about how something looks that I wear. But hey if all else is equal it might as well look good right?

One might say in the beautiful woods overlooking Clear Creek Canyon, I re-discovered my love of trail running, and discovered a new (to me) brand of shoes and an amazing park so close to home!