Steamboat Springs There's something you ought to try this summer to see if you've still got it in you. But wait until just before dusk so no one catches you making a fool of yourself.
Put on your lightest pair of shorts and those running shoes that used to be white before you wore them to mow the lawn. Then sneak up to the high school track.
Go ahead and try to run 400 meters all out. I dare you.
In order to appreciate what Steamboat Springs' Jessica Peters and Soroco's Andy deGanahl accomplished at the state track meet over the weekend, you've got to step onto the track yourself and let it all hang out for a quarter of a mile.
If you don't pull a muscle, you might finish a lap in 90 seconds. The 400-meter dash is one of the most demanding challenges an athlete can undertake.
If you missed the Pilot & Today sports team's excellent coverage in Sunday's newspaper, deGanahl won the state 400-meter title in 49.53 seconds Saturday in Pueblo.
And Peters, just a freshman, claimed a state title over the same distance in Lakewood.
Reading about their accomplishments took me back to the golden age of Sailors boys track. That would have been exactly 24 years ago, when the Sailors won the first of three consecutive state track championships.
Steamboat had a dirt track in 1979 -- and before the team began workouts, coach Kelly Meek would hitch a section of hurricane fence behind a small tractor.
He dragged it around the track to bust up the surface and lessen the chances that his athletes would twist an ankle.
Of course, they were lucky if the snow melted off the track before May 10.
The pole vaulters, long jumpers and triple jumpers all went in to their first meet without practicing their event.
The hurdlers used to run in the school hallway, right in front of the trophy case.
Given that adversity, it seemed virtually impossible that the Sailors could ever dominate the Colorado 2A (that was their classification in those days) state track championships.
But that's just what they did.
And even when Steamboat was busy winning team championships, individual titles were not all that common.
The Sailors scored in eight of 11 events at Fort Collins in 1979 to smash Buena Vista High School's hopes of an unprecedented third straight team championship.
Buddy Bair got Steamboat going in the right direction, clearing 14 feet to win the pole vault.
Meek calculated after the preliminary heats on Friday that if his squad could scored 44 points on Saturday, the Sailors would win its second state title in four years.
Bredt Eggleston managed a third in the triple jump, Joe Ramunno was fourth in the discus and Tom Southall was fifth in the long jump.
The event that really wrapped it up for Steamboat was the mile relay (1979 was the last year track events in Colorado were measured in yards instead of meters).
Freshman Robert Southall, his brother, Tommy, Cliff Nordyke and junior Mitche Graf stole the show.
Graf was 20 yards behind the leaders when he took the baton for the anchor leg, and won the race with a split of 50:32.
The Sailors girls tied for sixth in 1979 on the strength of Rose Southall's win in the 880 (2:25.6) and Karen Price's third place in the 440.
With a snowstorm blowing in Steamboat, the Sailors went to Grand Junction in 1980 and scored a record 92 points -- they had the state title virtually wrapped up after the first day. Ramunno won both the shot put and discus that year.
Nordyke set a state record in the 200 meter run, but that was in the prelims -- he placed second in the finals.
The Sailors ran away with a second state title without winning an individual title in a running event.
The following spring in Brush, the Southall brothers each won a state championship, and big brother Tommy did it in record form.
Prior to the state meet, Southall had never jumped 22 feet in the long jump.
But he set a state record of 22-6 on his second attempt in the prelims.
On his final jump he went 23-4.5, establishing a mark that would last for a decade.
He never jumped in the finals -- Meek held him out to save him for the relays.
Robert Southall won the triple jump and Nordyke turned in a heroic effort in the high hurdles.
He had not competed in the hurdles prior to the conference meet two weeks earlier, but he qualified for state.
Then, nursing a pulled groin and hamstring, he shocked the defending state champion and won the title.
Steamboat's Dan Tomlin settled for second in the 1,600 meter run. He missed the championship by .001.
There were other Sailors heroes who competed in a driving rainstorm on the eastern plains that day.
And all the high school track coaches in the state were left to wonder how a ski town without a proper track could produce three consecutive state championships.
It's in the water that comes tumbling off the Divide.