The Resurrection of the Crown King Scramble

Jamil Coury News 0 Comments

The road to the 2013 return of the Crown King Scramble was a long one. I ran my first ultra in 2005, the first year the Crown King Scramble wasn’t held since it’s inception in 1987. For some reason it was never on my radar to enter the race when it made its return in 2006 and 2007 under the direction of Gary Culver and the Arizona Road Racers, so I never toed the line. I did run the Castle Hot Springs “fun run” a couple times and even directed it one year, so I was familiar with the first 9 miles of the course. I remember having a conversation with Gary Culver in 2007 after he announced he was no longer interested in directing the race and the Arizona Road Racers were seeking a new race director. I took two full pages of hand written notes, but after hearing about the multiple complicated permits, course issues with dirt bikers and the complaints about the dust on the course, I tucked away those notes and wrote off my involvement in ever directing the race. I mean who wants to run uphill on a dirt road, sucking dust and fearing being run down by dirt bikes and ATV’s?

Directing the race in 2008 didn’t interest me and nor anyone else associated with the Arizona Road Racers and the race would again go on hiatus. However, 9 runners did go out in mid-March of that year to do an out-and-back 50K from the mile 15 aid station up to Crown King and back, organized by this year’s French Creek aid station captain and former winner of the race, Laura Nagy.

In 2009, there was again no formal Crown King Scramble, but a “ghost run” was organized by a local runner Christopher O’Loughlin. There wasn’t a lot of notice put out there, and only two runners showed up greeted by eight volunteers!  There was talk of bringing back the full race the following year and ambitious plans to add in 25 kilometer, 50 mile and 100 mile distances.

It seemed things were moving forward for a 2010 Crown King Scramble with plans for the 25K to be an out and back from Betty’s Trail Rides (the start of the 2006 & 2007 CKS) and a 100 miler with a 33 hour time limit continuing past Crown King along the Senator Highway towards Prescott. Permits were in the works, but ultimately plans for even the 25K and 50K fell through and there was no run in 2010.

Fast forward to the summer of 2012 and the requests from a multitude of runners and board members of the Arizona Road Racers reached a fever pitch. There was now some serious consideration of taking on the task of resurrecting the race. I vaguely remember driving back to Phoenix from Silverton in a caffeinated state, glancing over to the Bradshaw Mountains and thought to myself, “those mountains look cool, what the hell, maybe this would be worth it”. The challenge was made and thanks to the urging of ARR president Trent Collicot and the willingness of the Arizona Road Racers board of directors for entrusting the classic race to myself and Aravaipa Running, Aravaipa agreed to take on the race. The board made an initial approval for the transfer of the race to Aravaipa Running in late September at their board meeting and it was finalized in December.

Those two old crumpled pages of notes were dug out from my file cabinet that I had saved from my conversation with Gary Culver in 2007 and work began  on contacting previous race directors and volunteers. A date of April 6, 2013 was set for the return of the race but the work had just begun with 5 land permits from various agencies, some that were foreign to me. A written proposal for the race was created, information on permits was gathered and everything was submitted in November. It was going to be tight with only about 4 months to go through all of the approval process and then obtain permission to open registration in time for runners to plan. On the event planning side, I asked James Bonnett a long time runner of the race to help with crafting the right atmosphere and feel for the event as well as help with the race day logistics. James and I finally drove the course together (my first time up there) on the same morning that the permits were submitted!

To save you from the intricacies of the lengthy permitting process, everything came together from all agencies with the verbal go ahead to open registration in mid-February.  All permits were finalized come the week of the race and with all of the communications, medical and aid station captains set and James being there on race day, I was happy to be able to enter in the race myself for the first time. The town of Crown King was excited to once again welcome those crazy runners who ran up the hill from Phoenix. It was truly a rewarding experience for me to be able to run alongside everyone, experience this richly historical race myself and enjoy the finish line in Crown King with all my friends in the running community. The 2013 return of the Crown King Scramble drew 137 finishers which was just 10 shy of the 2007 race when it was last held. Look for the race to be held for many years to come under the Aravaipa banner as it is now apparent that running up an old dusty 4×4 road can actually be a lot of fun! Hope to see you all again next year at the 2014 Crown King Scramble and you never know, I may just have to toe the line again!

-Jamil Coury

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