Nature can be “spectacular, amazing and scary, all at the same time,” as avid runner and Boulder Daily Camera journalist Mike Sandrock reminds us in a somber but ultimately uplifting first-person story posted earlier this week.
That nature quote comes from Sandrock’s friend and fellow running enthusiast Glen Delman, the fiancé of Melody Fairchild, a former University of Oregon track star. On Sunday morning, September 15, the three laced up their sneakers and went for a run through Fourmile Canyon, an area devastated days earlier by a "100-year flood."
On Wednesday, as Fourmile Creek spilled over its banks and sent flood water racing downhill, carrying homes, cars, and trees with it, Sandrock was forced to evacuate his home. As his Daily Camera story opens, he hasn’t yet been back to check on his belongings, and thoughts of what he might find weigh heavy as he traverses the slippery ground.
But that’s not all Sandrock thinks about. Giving “no thought to being tired or hungry,” he’d spent the days before the run helping friends get water out of their house, and as he, Delman, and Fairchild move through the mist, he worries about neighbors and mourns the young couple killed Thursday on nearby Linden Avenue.
“On Saturday night, I had been at the wedding reception of a running friend, celebrating the marriage of two soulmates,” Sandrock writes. “That young couple caught in the flash flood on Linden will never have the chance to celebrate and to possibly grow old together.”
Fairchild hails from Fourmile, and on Saturday, she went for a run to check on the house she grew up in. A new family lives there now, and the house, like many homes in the area, was empty, having been abandoned for safety purposes.
“Today, as I ran against the force of the water, I felt so small, and my long run to see the results of Mother Nature’s power made me bow down to her in reverence, and with complete surrender,” she wrote in a blog post that morning.
At the end of the piece, just before bumping into University of Colorado track coach Mark Wetmore and learning that he’s okay, Sandrock gets home and finds that the waters never made it inside. He lost some trees and shrubs, but his possessions were dry, and there was fresh produce to be had.
As Sandrock sits down for a bite, he savors his snack perhaps a bit more than usual.
“A feeling of exultation,” Sandrock writes. “Going inside, the floor was dry. A cut-open watermelon sat on the counter, along with some organic peaches from the farmers’ market. They were just ripe. I grabbed a bunch, put them in a plastic bag and went back out. “