By: Cassandra Henkiel

The count down is on. Come the end of the month I’m off to Colorado. The anticipation is killing me. I cannot wait to get into that clean, cool mountain air. For about  the last 9-10 years now, I’ve been heading back to Colorado during the Austin summers to get out of the heat to train for several weeks. I ran cross country, indoor/outdoor track at Western State College in Gunnison, CO. So, I enjoy returning back to the state I called home for 4.5 years. I usually split my time between Gunnison, Crested Butte, Aspen and Boulder.  Depending on the year, if I drive or not, I don’t make all my rounds. Due to the fires on the front range this summer and air quality, I’ll be sticking to the western slope.

This summer will be a special return being my college coach(now retired), Duane Vandenbusche is turning 75.  The alumni from Western are hosting a reunion for all the cross & track teams to join in on his celebration. It’ll be a great weekend spent in Gunnison hanging with all the young and old runners of past & present. Oh, the stories…..I can just imagine the rehashing of some of the epic workouts, races, crazy trips & experiences that we all shared over the years. There were many great highlights as well as low lights in my 4.5 years living and training in Gunny! Goodness, let the good times roll!

Prior to the b-day bash re-union, I’ll be spending several days up in Crested Butte (CB) with some Austin friends who have been slowly migrating up to CB in the last several years. A few have been staples for many, many years, others are newbies.  So it’s fun to hang and train with some familiar faces in my old stomping grounds.  Although, in all the years and miles I’ve run in that area, I’m still exploring a ton of trails I never got to explore when I was in college. So, it’s a total kick in the pants for me to take off in the morning – in long sleeves & gloves in July – and explore for a couple hours random mountain biking trails all over, up & around Crested Butte mountain!  I love it!  High altitude and all, it’s awesome, truly God’s country!

I am now trying to nail down my actual departure date for my drive.  For anyone who has read any of my prior blogs knows my love of sport. I do have one dilemma: do I leave pre or post the start of the Olympics?! Decisions, decisions. I don’t want to miss anything! Well, whatever date I finally decide, it cannot get here soon enough! I’m ready for that drive out of the huge state of TX and onward into the changing of the temperature and topography. I’m due for a few weeks of mountain bliss!


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