**Flagstaff Extreme Big Pine 54K Race Report from Aravaipa Ambassador, Amber Fifield**
I am sitting on my couch, still sporting the slightly-stiff-muscles hobble indicative of a good tough running effort; in this instance that effort was Aravaipa’s Inaugural Flagstaff Big Pine 54K. The events of the race, and indeed, of the weekend, are still so fresh in my mind that I feel the need to put them to computer immediately. Even though I have other adventures still begging to be written, I feel this one must take precedence.
In the month after my Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim crossing, I took it very easy with my running, just doing a couple of easy miles here and there, letting my body recuperate. So going into this race, I was not as “trained” as I might like, but I knew I could finish the distance.
This running weekend actually began on Thursday, peak-bagging Four Peaks just outside the valley (which I will write about later). Then on Friday Matt and I headed north to Flagstaff (Flag). Neither of us had ever climbed Mount Humphrey’s, the highest peak in Arizona, so we decided to try to bag that, too, while we were in town. Do you see where this is going? Nearly two peaks in two days (we didn’t quite make Humphrey’s), and then a big race on the third day. Sounds like fun to me!
After our Humphrey’s adventures (which I will also write about later) we went to packet pick up and grabbed our bibs for race day. We then headed to the campgrounds at Fort Tuthill, just outside of Flag. We found our friends and talked and enjoyed ourselves until it was time to crash for the night.
My race began at 7:30 in the morning on Saturday. In order to get up as late as possible, I’d already packed my drop bag, and I slept in my running clothes. In the morning, my husband and kids surprised me by being at my race start! I hadn’t expected to see them until later on in the day. I lined up in the chute, along with my friend Kathi, for our race. The 108K racers had already taken off half an hour earlier, (there would also be a 27K and a 13K race starting after our 54K). Jamil (the race director) gave race instructions, the horn blew, and we were off!
The Race: Loop 1
As usual, I started out too fast, knew it was too fast, tried to slow down, but gave up, knowing eventually I’d end up slowing down. The race took place on an approximately 8.4 mile loop in the forest of Fort Tuthill, with an aid station about half way through on the back side of the loop. I rarely get to run in the trees anymore, so I immensely enjoyed this time in the big pines. The sounds of the birds were beautiful, and the smell of the pine needles under my feet was soothing. The wind whistled through the trees as I ran in and out of the sun splashes brightening the forest floor. The path we followed varied from forest service roads, to double track, to single track. Some sections were smooth and easy to run, while others were rocky and made great places to catch a toe and crash. Because I would have access to an aid station every four miles or so, I decided to run without my pack and instead run with just a handheld water bottle. This was the first long race I’d ever done that on, and it worked out really well.
The Race: Loop 2
I felt good when I finished my first loop, and headed out on my second. About 1.5 miles in, my toe caught and I crashed hard. My water bottle caught the brunt of my fall on my right hand, but I also landed hard on my left hand and both knees. To add insult to injury, a few people saw me fall, so my pride was injured. (On a side note, I don’t know why falling in sight of people hurts my pride, but showing the blood after a fall makes me feel badass.) Anyway, I immediately got back up and started hobbling. The pain was intense; I couldn’t use my left hand. I kept the tears at bay for a few steps, but then I couldn’t hold back any longer and I cried and felt sorry for myself for a few minutes. Once I was able, I started running, sort of, again.
That second loop was really hard for me. I wasn’t even half way done with my run and I was in pain with blood running down my leg and into my sock, and blood all over my hand and wrist. As I moved, I took stock. I was still able to run. Other than he obvious bruising and blood, I wasn’t injured, so I decided I didn’t have a good reason to quit. I had to keep moving and I was going to finish my race. Quitting just wasn’t an option if I could still move forward.
The Race: Loop 3
As I came into the start/finish aid station, Andy, my husband, was there cheering me on but when he saw me he said, “Hey! Your knee is leaking!” Thanks for that. I described what had happened as I snarfed down some food. Matt had finished his race (13K) by this time, and he let me know it had gone well. There were some black clouds building so I needed to get out on my next loop. I knew it was going to get colder, which was okay. Even at this higher elevation, it was warm enough on the course that I had stripped down as far as I could. I grabbed my tank on my way out for the third loop. On this loop I began feeling better. My pace wasn’t any better, but that was okay, I was now just in “get this done” mode. The monster storm rolled in and hit me about half way through this loop. It began with wind and huge thunderclaps, lightning, then rain. Then it began to hail. The temperature dropped significantly, and I was running through freezing hail balls in shorts and a tank top. I turned my trucker hat around front to keep the hail out of my face, and thought briefly of hypothermia, but I actually felt okay. I was generating enough heat from running that, while I was slightly chilled, I was relatively comfortable. I just knew I couldn’t stop running or I’d be in trouble. As I ran back into the start/finish aid station, Matt saw me and asked if I wanted my rain coat. I didn’t know, but said sure. He and Andy helped me switch into a dry tank and get the rain coat on. Andy grabbed my trash, Matt grabbed my food. I know between each of my loops they did so much more than I have mentioned here, they were an amazing crew. I was so completely in my one track mind of getting this race done that all I could think about was getting out of the aid station and onto my next loop. I’m afraid I can’t verbalize the full credit that is due.
The Race: Loop 4
Dry tank on plus rain jacket, I began my fourth loop. As I ran, I hopped around the mud puddles and thick soup that had collected from the deluge. The sun came back out, and I very quickly had to remove the rain jacket. I chugged along, figuring that slow and steady running was the fastest way to finish. Again I had just one thing on my mind, and that was to finish. I don’t have much to discuss about this loop other than that within the last couple of miles a second deluge began. This one didn’t have the hail, but it was directly over my head. The rain was very cold, and even though I had my rain jacket with me, I didn’t know how far back the other racers were and I didn’t want to waste any time to put it on. Somewhere in my last mile I began to inadvertently whimper. Then I was at the last turn towards people, then the campground, then the finish line was in sight. I heard people cheering me the whole way, and I ran as hard as I could across the finish line.
The finish is a blur. I was handed my finisher mug, and everyone came over. I started shaking from the cold. Kathi, (who finished the 54K as second place female- my friend is amazing!) completely understood and said that it was funny how during a race we can do whatever it takes, but as soon as we cross that finish line, everything immediately stops. It’s so true. My body was done.
I had a warm shower and dinner and felt a million times better. I had to say good-bye to Andy: he had to get back home, but I stayed to volunteer at the night race, the inaugural Blackout Night Run.
On an incredible side note, there was a unicorn sighting at the race! There was even the tell-tale rainbow poop of a unicorn found nearby. This is very exciting news!
I hung out with friends in the Beer Garden, cheering Kathi’s husband and son out on their race, the night 13K. I stayed up just long enough to see them both finish, and then I had to get to sleep so I could get up to volunteer at three in the morning. I slept well, had fun volunteering and chatting with people. I was there in time to see the last person on the course finish. He was finishing the night 54K, and I have to say, I give him props. I’m not sure I could run that long of a race at night. He did great. Afterwards I went back to sleep for a couple of hours, then packed up and headed home.
This was an incredible event and was everything that I love about Aravaipa events. The course was well marked and the food at the aid stations was excellent. As I have mentioned before, I love the running community here in Arizona. So many of my friends were at the race, some who were there to volunteer and cheer us on, others were there to run, and still others were with us in spirit, unable to make it up for the race, but thinking of us and hoping for good races on our parts just the same.
On a side note, I noticed during this visit to Flag that the elevation did not bother me like it has on other occasions. While climbing Humphrey’s I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary. During the race the only thing that really stood out was once I got tired, running up the little hills took too much oxygen. Even that, however, wasn’t bad at all. This is very encouraging to me because in the past I have really struggled to run at elevation.
So did my almost double peak bagging have an effect on my race? Of course it did, but it was worth it. Both Four Peaks and Humphrey’s were amazing, but so was the race. Even with the dual peaks, I still finished Big Pine as 7th female and 20th overall. Probably more importantly however is that I feel great about my effort. I gave it my all and I had a blast!
Adrenaline Night Runs are over, the course de-marked, and the truck all packed up ready for the next adventure. However, the performances of last night are still playing over in my mind. At a wedding reception today, with a table of runners, the conversation quickly turned to Sion Lupowitz’s domination of the course and his progression as a runner. It was a performance of strength and beauty watching him power through all 54K with no one in his rear view. With the new shorter distance (from 64K to 54K) there was no mark besides the “W” on which to set his sights; yet, he left the bar high in his wake running 4:00:09 (7:09/mile). Daniel Crane followed in 4:21:30 and RWB’s Tommy Lunetta in 4:59:16. The women’s race was won by Jane Larkindale of Tuscon in 5:29:27 who was 3rd female at this year’s Zane Grey. Speaking of Zane Grey, of the 6 podium finishers in the 54K 4 could also be found crossing the finish at last month’s Zane. Megan Galope, one of those 4, was 2nd in 5:56:33 and Elizabeth Forestell was 3rd in 6:36:33.
The 27K also saw some blazing fast performances with Adam Danks racing to the win and new course record in 1:54:49 (6:50/mile). 2nd and 3rd place was contested by 37 seconds by constant podium finishers at Aravaipa events: Van Patterson of Tempe in 2:00:14 and David Santiago of Mesa in 2:00:51. The women’s race showcased the power of trail-camaraderie: winner Jaclyn Knoll and her faulty headlamp were guided to the finish by Jess Adams with the two of them finishing side-by-side in 2:22:37. Amy Rasor, who just 2 weeks ago won Ultra Adventure’s Grand Canyon 100, was 2nd in 2:29:04 and Emily Gerlick 3rd in 2:31:44.
In the 10K Phil Slama, who before the start claimed not to be “racing,” couldn’t contain his competitive nature and broke the old course record of 40:28 by running 39:47 (6:24/mile). Alec Fillmore was hot on his heels and also came in under the old record with a time of 39:56. Aravaipa Ambassador, Jeremy Pager, was 3rd in 41:36. Jeremy is having a great year with not only a prolific racing schedule but some consistent performances including top 20 in a stacked field at this year’s Black Canyon 100K – we look forward to watching him compete at next weekend’s San Diego 100! The women’s race was almost as close with 1:02 separating 1st from 3rd. Lora Jones won in a time of 50:43 improving on her 3rd place finish at Sinister Night Runs 9K earlier this month. Melanie Spitalny decided her 4th place finish at Adrenaline last year wasn’t good enough and knocked just under a minute off her time to take 2nd in 51:38. Melody Pickard was only seconds behind her in 3rd running 51:45. Congratulations to all the runners! Full results can be found here.
The heat was a concern earlier in the day with temperatures settling to 100° for the start of the 54K but the night turned out to be beautiful and a near-full moon just added to the ambiance. There were two runners hoping for additional heat with the 2 oldest participants in the 54K (James Ehasz, 62 and Karsten Solheim, 78) both registered and training for this year’s Badwater 135. The Team Red, White and Blue charity beer garden was rocking from about 7pm until Midnight with a measly 3 cans of beer making it back on the truck. It was great fun to have the owners of Huss Brewing out to show us how it’s done and a big thank you to them for co-sponsoring the festivities with Blasted Barley. We will be at Huss Brewing after our June 17th Wednesday night group run at South Mountain. Join us for the run and a cold beer after to help say thanks to Huss Brewing for their support! Thank you to all the volunteers who helped make this event happen, many of whom volunteered from setup to breakdown and really helped make this event the party that it was!
Next up is a brand new adventure with Flagstaff Extreme Big Pine and Blackout Night Runs. We have so many fun options lined up for all the runners between a beautiful course, packet pickup Thursday at Wanderlust Brewing (including having them at the race selling beer for Team RWB), an opportunity to check out Run Flagstaff for Friday’s packet pickup, and of course the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course tempting you on each loop to test your limits not only on the ground but up in the trees. Online Registration is still open and will be closing at midnight on Tuesday June 9th (registration will also be available at packet pickups and on race day). Purchasing a discounted pass to the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course with registration will also earn you a $10 gift card to Run Flagstaff! Can’t wait to see you there!
What happens when you are forced to ignore heat training advice? You know, the articles where they give varying degrees of heat and what you are supposed to do in each scenario. Invariably there is a section that tells you to cut back once it gets too hot or stick to running indoors for faster recovery. There was a Runner’s World article I read not too long ago that described racing in 80° as “gruesome conditions.” However, as many of us know, living in the desert, trying to train for a fall race, and being morally opposed to spending hours on a treadmill leaves you with little choice about braving the heat.
I could listen to the “leave water along your route” recommendation (which logistically would work better if I ran roads) or run on small circuit trails, but that hardly mimics my race strategy. So I acclimatize as best as I can for 110°+ heat and I run in the heat and other like-minded runners do the same.
To rewards our efforts (or to punish… not sure which) Aravaipa Running puts on the Insomniac Night Trail Run Series during the summer months (and into the fall) where the unsuspecting believe the lack of sun will ease their passing though gnarly desert single track. Instead, they find large pockets of stagnant super-heated desert air, terrible footing with only a headlamp to illuminate the way, and the realization that 104° without the sun is still triple digit heat that the sane majority of the world seeks to avoid. With daytime temperatures reaching 116° just days before the 2014 July version (Vertigo), and minimum temperatures not dropping below 93° a runner isn’t going to find much solace in the dark.
The Aravaipa Running Insomniac Night Trail Runs are almost a monthly occurrence throughout the summer starting in May and not ending until mid-November. Usually 3 distances are offered: 10K, 25-30K, and an ultra-distance for those humans who suffer better than others. The competition in each distance can be as fierce as the heat. There is no getting used to one venue either – every month runners find themselves lining the start at a new trailhead, each with its own perils: some are sandy, some are entirely too rocky, some have imperceptible dips that the headlamp cannot catch, and all have cactus – so a fall isn’t exactly a nice little roll into the bushes.
Before working for Aravaipa, I made the Insomniac Series my reward for summer heat training: a good test of my fitness once or twice a month and a chance to socialize with friends from all over the valley. This year I get to be behind-the-scenes and my excitement is only heightened as I am able to watch these events come together into what can only be described as big parties in the desert. For 2015 almost all of the races except Blackout (duh!) will be near-full moons! If you haven’t already heard, the Insomniac Series is all grown-up and we are now offering a Beer Garden at our events to help support the local chapter of Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB). Both Huss Brewing and Blasted Barley have signed on to sponsor the Beer Garden and are generously offering multiple cold-beer options for runners at the end of their race (or in the middle… if that’s when you decide it’s necessary). A BIG thank you to our other sponsors: Black Diamond & Nathan Performance Gear. You can pick up a Black Diamond Spot Headlamp for a 25% discount when you register online or race-day ($30). Nathan will also be doing product giveaways at every race!
Team RWB will be hosting training runs for every Insomniac Series race so look out for Facebook events with further details on each one. Even if you can’t make the race, you can always go check out the training run for a minimally supported weekend long-run.
One of the great things about the Insomniac Series is how it allows for safe, fun, and effective night-time training that many of us who train for ultras seems to neglect. However, if it’s just not for you then make sure to check out some of our volunteer opportunities and be part of the fun while saving those race credits for a cooler fall race!
Can’t wait to see you out there for the biggest party on the trails this summer!
“So how does a 50K work?” I was asked this question the other day and it completely confused me; I didn’t understand what was being asked. “Well, I mean, you don’t run it all at once right?” Oooohhhhh. Me: “Well, yes. You do.” I think there was confusion on their face.
It’s mind-boggling to me that there are people who haven’t heard of ultra-marathons; it is what I breathe. All I seem to be able to talk about is either geeky immunology or microbiology (or some other “ology” entirely), or running ultras and the best trails. Everybody I know is the same… well, at least regarding the latter part. I’m always wanting to hit that next trail, it’s constantly on my brain.
Perhaps this is the beauty of the trail running community here in Phoenix. We actually are a community. There are so many people who love the same dirt baths that I love, who aren’t afraid to push their bodies and indulge their curiosity to see how far that trail goes. Every day I see posts on Facebook asking if anyone is free for a run at this trail or that trail, or at a completely new trail. Any time, day or night (more nights as the temperatures begin to climb) people are usually able to find someone who is willing to hop on the trail with them. There are people here who want to be a part of what I love to do, as much as I want to be a part of what they love to do.
There is something incredibly freeing about running long. I know my body now better than I ever have. I know how to fuel it and hydrate it so I can keep going strong. Running long has given me confidence in my physical abilities, and given me reason to believe I am capable of many other things as well. I am seriously incredible. No really, you are too! Look at how our muscles all work together to propel us up a trail. It’s amazing: the brain is firing, the heart is pumping, feet are carefully placed, muscles strain, and sweat flows, all in perfect harmony that feels like agony that is beautiful. Incredible.
As I pursue my dreams and try to encourage others to pursue theirs, I often hear, “Oh no. I’m much too old for that now.” Wha…?????? How is this a thing? I desperately hope that I never, ever find myself in a place where the only reason I won’t pursue a dream is because I believe I’m too old. Too old to climb a mountain? No. Just… no. There is a difference between age and physical capability. If I am unable to climb a mountain because some part of me doesn’t work anymore, or is otherwise not well enough to do so, well then at least I climbed as many mountains as I could while I was able. But to forgo climbing a mountain only because of my age? This is absolutely not acceptable. The same with any other dream- to skip it only because of a strongly held belief that I am too “old”? Again, no. Something I have learned is that our beliefs shape everything about us. They shape our outlook on life, how we view others, how we view ourselves. All of this is simply a belief. When we change our beliefs (No, I’m not too old) our whole world changes.
So this ramble of a blog begins with consternation at the idea of running a 50K, moseys along into my amazing, local trail running community, and culminates at pursuing dreams. How does all of this tie together? Running long is not everyone’s dream, in fact, it’s not most people’s dream (weird, I know). And yet, we all have dreams. Some we have left behind for whatever reason, some we set on a back burner as life rushes by. Running long is how I grow in strength and confidence. It is my foundation for pursuing life. I fully believe I am meant, we all are meant, to pursue life. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s really not, but give me my long run, and I can promise you, I will live this life to its fullest. You should join me.
We’d like to thank Amber and look forward to more of her adventures this year. You can read more at her blog: “Runner Girl Go”
Check your calendars, get rid of existing plans, and make way for the 2015 Fall Desert Runner Trail (DRT) Series! The series is an opportunity to experience the best parks and trails that Phoenix and the surrounding valley have to offer. Each race in the series highlights trail-systems, mountains, and parks to make sure runners are never bored and are given the chance to explore new ground while surrounded by family: the Aravaipa Run Tribe family.
The entire series runs from October 2015 – March 2016 and offers a point-series for runners in two different categories: Trail and Ultra. The Trail Series encompasses distances from 24 KM up to 35 KM while the Ultra Series has both 50 KM and 50 mile options depending on the race. Competitors can choose to sign up for each race individually or save some money by registering for each “set” (Fall and Spring DRT Series Passes). Spring Series Passes and races will open later in the year. Passes are offered for the middle and short series to save you money but do not count toward a point system.
The Fall Series Pass includes Cave Creek Thriller (10/17), Pass Mountain (11/14), and McDowell Mountain Frenzy (12/5). The races offer a multitude of distances ranging from 5 KM to 50 miles. These three races highlight the East & Northeast Maricopa County Parks with the events located at Cave Creek Regional Park, Usery Mountain Regional Park, and McDowell Mountain Regional Park. Both Thriller and Pass Mountain offer night time runs at the same location as part of the Insomniac Series: Thriller and Punisher respectively.
All Insomniac Series Races Now Open for Registration
Whether you are training for a fall 100 miler, want to race while escaping the day-time heat, or just want to experience the trails at night with good friends the Insomniac Series is calling your name! Nighttime running is an important part of you training for any longer events but it isn’t always safe or easy by yourself. Hence, the Insomniac Series to help make your training and racing in the dark just that much more fun! There are 8 races in the series with Blackout Night Runs new this year in Flagstaff!
Flagstaff Extreme Big Pine at Fort Tuthill County Park June 13th promises to be epic. Register for the event, and buy 1 or more Flagstaff Extreme Passes (discounted 10%) and get a free $10 Run Flagstaff Gift Card!
If you live in Phoenix make sure you join us for one of our weekly group runs!
Monday: 5:30 AM – 6:30 AM, Phoenix Mountains (32nd Street & Lincoln Trailhead)
Tuesday: Track Workouts, 6 PM – 7 PM, Camelback High School (4612 North 28th Street)
Wednesday: Rotates parks weekly, meets 6pm for a 1hr run, followed by social hour at a local restaurant. Join our Facebook group for more details!
The 24th Crown King Scramble 50K is in the books and ‘the hill’ was conquered by many with the sweet reward of beer and a festive finish line. This year had the noticeable disadvantage of high temperatures throughout the day but the advantage of flowing creeks from the rains earlier in the month. The starting line was relatively cool but as soon as the sun peeked its head above the horizon it started to scorch the trail and those on it. Almost 75 runners took advantage of the early start and an additional hour of darkness with the remainder of the total 234 starters heading out an hour later.
With the remote nature of the course the Maricopa County Emergency Communication Group was out providing radio support and being our eyes and ears as the spectators, volunteers, and event crew drove up to Crown King to await the first runner. The finish line came alive quickly with the help of our amazing volunteers which was good as it did not take long for Art DeGraw of Flagstaff, AZ to fly through the finish in first place with the 3rd fastest time ever on the course in 4:05:37! As Art was finishing Jacob Puzey and Dean Dobberteen were battling it out for second. Jacob Puzey, also of Flagstaff, bested Dean about 3.5 minutes in the end by seeming to fly down the final stretch to the finish in a time of 4:23:48.
In 3rd place (4:27:24), Dean may have been just as excited about getting to keep the $20 he had pinned to his shorts for beer (a reward he could keep for not letting Angela Shartel or Tracy Dimino beat him to the finish). Team Aravaipa member, Michael Carson, finished fourth (4:30:44), Harlow Robinson bested the men’s masters crowd, and Ian Torrence checked off ultra #190 with a 2nd place masters finish in 4:50:08.
Angela Shartel of San Diego knocked out the 8th fastest time ever on the course with 5:06:36 and an incredibly strong finish and win. In an emotional finish, Tracy Dimino finished second in 5:15:09 and was greeted to a big embrace from fellow San Diegan and friend, Angela.
Mary Houchin of Birmingham, AL rounded out the top three in 5:40:48. Laura Sweeney came through as first master’s female in 6:02:24.
As the runners rolled in, or cartwheeled in, the band, Cellmates Traveling Roadshow, kept the beat. Runners were treated to a lunch from the Crown King Saloon and the bar was packed with sweaty, salty runners who, from the seeming collective dismay of the town, were offered showers from a nearby hose. For the town of Crown King this is a community event and everyone from the General Store to The Prospector Mall came out to support the race in one way or another. Everyone (population 104) knows about “the race” and the crazy runners who run up the 4×4 road. Aravaipa is incredibly thankful to the town and its hospitality.
As the last of the runners crossed the line and the course sweeps and volunteers made it up to the top from their shifts it was apparent that the volunteers had stolen the show. From beer and whiskey offerings at Fort Misery to Ice Pops at Silver Mountain this race could not have happened without the passion and dedication of the volunteers out on the course and at the finish. The shuttles soon whisked away tired runners and family members packed drop bags and weary but victorious finishers into their cars and drove off. However, about 100 people still remained. Those lingering individuals danced the night away to a revival of Cellmates Traveling Roadshow that night inside the Crown King Saloon. It was a party worth the climb.
Thank you to Ron Ceton and Sweet M Images for being out on the course to capture the emotions of the day! Photos will be available within the next two weeks.
Are you ready to Test Your Limits? Big Pine just got even bigger with the official name change to Flagstaff Extreme Big Pine and some serious fun in store for all runners, crew, family and spectators!
If running at 7,000’ elevation just isn’t enough for you we have teamed up with Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course to take your journey higher: up into the tree tops! Zip, scramble, balance, climb… The Adventure Course is designed to challenge you both mentally and physically with courses that get harder the higher you climb.
Anyone registering for the race will receive a 10% discount off the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course Passes (Adult passes with discount are $44 and Kids are $22.50) – there is no limit to pass sales so bring the whole family! The passes are also good for the entire year so buy now to get the savings and you can store them for a future Flagstaff adventure! Just want the discount and don’t want to run? We call that crazy! Nonetheless, here is the link.
While we are incredibly excited about how many activities are available on race weekend, we do want to make it clear that hotel bookings and start times on the adventure course fill incredibly quickly. This is a busy weekend for Flagstaff and we don’t want you disappointed to find a hotel or the perfect Adventure Course time slot is sold out.
We have decided to help make your registration decision a little easier! Thanks to Run Flagstaff the first 50 people to register for the race (any distance) and purchase at least one Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course Pass will receive a free $10 gift card to Run Flagstaff!
Wanderlust Brewing will be sponsoring the Team Red White & Blue Charity Beer Garden at the event and hosting our Thursday Packet Pick-up at their Tap Room! Wanderlust is quickly growing their name in the running community and loves what we do as much as we love their beer! You never know… you might even find a running-celebrity pouring your drink!
Aravaipa has secured a $169 room rate at Little America Flagstaff Hotel for Saturday June 13th. However, Friday bookings are not guaranteed and need to be made ASAP as the hotel is almost sold out. Hotel Information: Little America Flagstaff, 2515 E Butler Ave, Flagstaff, AZ 86004 (928)779-7900 *Ask for the Aravaipa Room Block
Of course, we have tent camping options secured at Fort Tuthill County Park right by the start/finish. In fact, you will run past our campground each loop for easy access to your supplies and crew. Camping options are also available on Ultra Signup and we can make it even easier for you by setting up your tent and cot rental prior to your arrival if you don’t have or want to bring your own!
If I register for a Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course Pass how do I sign up for a time?
If I register for the race and purchase an Adventure Course pass how will I get my $10 gift card?
As a few of us sat around Friday night preceding the 6th annual Mesquite Canyon Trail Runs finalizing a few details for the race, drinking a couple of beers, we would usually be sitting around a campfire. With warm temperatures already greeting the Phoenix area in mid-March there was no need. We sat around in short sleeve shirts and took in the night. The race starts on the Eastern end of the White Tank Mountains, a range that marks the Western boundary of the metropolitan Phoenix area. Looking towards the peaks we could see hundreds if not thousands of stars, constellations and more. Gazing back towards Phoenix, the stars slowly give way to a soft bright glow that drowns out the night sky and instead we see twinkling city lights. It was going to be a hot one in the morning.
Runners began to arrive and check in at 6:00am to an already brightening sky. Our propane heaters stood silently inside of our box truck and the neatly stacked logs in the fire pit unlit. Friends greeted each other and pre-race rituals were performed. Volunteers checked in and loaded up backpacks of goodies to transport to our remote aid stations. This year they hauled shade tents too, a welcome reprieve from the coming relentless sun.
At 7am 22 hardy souls toed the line for the 50 Miler. Warnings of extreme heat and recommendations to carry multiple bottles and hydration packs fell deaf on some ears. A few runners left the start line with just one bottle in tow. The first few miles of trail along the Ironwood and Waddell Trails are flat and wind through giant saguaro forests – the signature plant of the Sonoran desert. At mile 2.5 things change as runners turn right onto the Mesquite Canyon Trail and begin a rocky climb up to the top of the range, passing one aid station and an old ranch along the way. Once along the top of the Ford Canyon Trail heading towards Goat Camp, the trail mellows out and a perfectly cut single track snakes its way in and out of canyons below the communications towers sitting atop the mountain peaks. Early leader Chris Palmer of Scottsdale was the first 50 miler into Black Canyon but he must already have been feeling the effects of the heat as he was beat there by 50K leader Charlie Ware of Tucson who started 30 minutes later. Palmer later dropped which opened things up for Ben Volk of Paseo, WA to take the lead and hold on to the win in 10:58. Michael Mayberry of Tempe was 2nd in 11:15 and right on his heels was our lead woman and 3rd overall, Jana Gustman of Pacific Palisade, CA in 11:16. The attrition on the 50 miler due to the head was especially brutal this year with exactly half (11) of the field finishing the full distance.
The 50K was next to go at 7:30 with 67 runners toeing the line. The race featured strong local runners from Tucson (Charlie Ware), Prescott (Michael Versteeg), Flagstaff (Bret Sarnquist), Waddell (Arrick Nietert) & Mesa (Adam Steidler). Charlie took the early lead and was the first runner into Black Canyon and Mesquite Aid Stations with Versteeg close behind in 2nd. The rest of the front runners battled close through the heat of the day as everyone descended into Ford Canyon, the most treacherous and hottest part of the course. Charlie emerged through the canyon first and held on to win in 4:24 with Versteeg 2nd in 4:32. Local Arrick Nietert placed 3rd in 4:43. On the ladies side, local Phoenix runner Laura Encinas was 1st woman in 6:18. Erica Smith was 2nd in 6:26 and Meggin Kirk of Scottsdale was 3rd in 7:02. The 50K finisher rate was much higher with a total of 60 finishers.
The 30K is comprised of a single loop utilizing the flatter Mule Deer trail before ascending the brutal Goat Camp trail at mile 7, a climb that is featured twice in the 50 mile race. Once runners top out, it is a fast section of single track along the top of the range with expansive views of Phoenix out to the East and a screaming 1800 foot downhill from the top of the Mesquite Canyon Trail down to the valley floor. 58 year old Kevin Tuck ran away with the victory in 2:34 ahead of Schuyler Hall of Tempe who finished 2nd in 2:38. Rock Steady Running founder John Storkamp of Minnesota rounded out the top 3 in 2:41. On the ladies side, Jane Murawski fresh of a win at the Elephant Mountain 50K a few weeks back took a commanding 1st in 3:14. Contance Wannamaker of Texas was 2nd in 3:37 and Jaclyn Knoll was 3rd in 3:39.
Over 100 runners participated in the classic 1/2 marathon course which completes a lollipop loop of the Willow & Mesquite Canyon Trails. This is not your average 1/2 marathon with over 1600 feet of climb! Ryan Warren of Litchfield won by a wide margin in a time of 1:43 with David Santiago 2nd in 1:52. Huffman Shorty was 3rd in 1:55. The women’s race was won by Kelly Nichols of Flagstaff in 2:08 who also won last month’s Elephant Mountain 12K. 2nd place was Jessica Goswitz of Houston in 2:09 and 3rd was Ashley Crump of Mesa in 2:14.
The 8K is our shortest offering at Mequite Canyon and features and out and back course along the flatter, winding Ironwood and Waddell trails. Brett Dubois won in 30:52, Blair Zimmerman was 2nd in 31:40 and Garrett Godoy was 3rd in 31:43. Deana Hall-Ollis of Scottsdale won for the ladies in 38:21, Erica Miles was 2nd in 38:41 and Jen Laughlin was 3rd in 39:31.
We want to thank all of our volunteers who really made this race a special one this year. Maricopa County Emergency Communication Group provided amateur radio support at all of our aid stations for the sixth straight year. Despite the hot temperatures we had a record number of total finishers for the event. This concludes the 2014-15 Desert Runner Trail Series. We will be posting overall winners of the series shortly and look forward to hosting the 6th year of the series starting with the Cave Creek Thriller on October 17!
Full Results are now available.
Photos will be uploaded soon here.
Sweet M Images was also out on the course – look for photos from them in about 1 week!
After a 4 year hiatus (it went off to college), the Copper Basin 50K returns to Prescott, AZ on April 11, 2015. Keeping in tune with the past two editions in 2009 & 2010, Aravaipa Running will be hosting this as an unsanctioned “fun run” on a new section of the Prescott Circle Trail that we’ve yet to incorporate into the previous two editions.
We created the Copper Basin 50K to introduce trail runners to the Prescott Circle Trail and to escape to the pines as the valley begins to heat up into mid-April. Now that the run has “grown up”, we’ll be starting and finishing downtown on Whiskey Row. A short mile or so through town and you’ll be on trails heading towards the South Eastern portion of the Prescott Circle Trail. The 50K will be an out and back course with some limited aid along the way.
If you don’t want to run the whole 50K, we won’t stop you. Well, we mean we won’t make you continue all the way to 50K. It is a fun run so we really don’t care what you do. Well, except have fun and run. The finish will hopefully be at a bar on Whiskey Row that has an outside patio where you can go immediately from a tasty finish to a tasty beer.
Write down your time when you are done and how far you ran. Simple.
Here are the basics:
In addition to this “fun run” there will likely be a happy hour gathering Friday night at a bar in town as well as bar hopping after the finish on Saturday night. We will be on Whiskey Row after all.
There are plenty of camping options both free and for a fee around Prescott and lodging options in town. Please consider joining this gathering of friends to run in Prescott and do a shot with us!
Team Red, White & Blue’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.
Team RWB members from the Phoenix chapter have been running alongside Aravaipa Running for a couple of years now. Our organizations typically cross paths the first Wednesday of each month at our Aravaipa Group Trail Run whenever we host a location at Papago Park in Tempe. Team RWB is easy to spot with their bright “eagle” logo shirts and positive attitude. Team RWB had a large presence at last year’s night run series and it is only natural to increase our partnership with them in 2015.
Aravaipa Running is pleased to announce Team RWB will be the official charity partner of the Insomniac Night Trail Run Series for 2015. With this partnership, Aravaipa Running will be serving beer at all series events with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Team RWB directly. Additionally, Team RWB will have a presence at all series events both on the participant and volunteer sides.
The complete race calendar can be found online at the Insomniac Running website or below:
If you are interested in finding out more information about Team RWB please come to our local group run the 1st Wednesday of each month at Papago Park, visit them at any Insomniac Night Run or find a local chapter to join. Remember, not just veterans can be members, but also anyone interested in connecting with veterans and encouraging them to become active through physical or social activity.
Founded in 2013, the Insomniac Night Run Series features eight night trail running races from May through November across Arizona. Each race features multiple race distances with courses completely on trail systems at regional parks.