The 6th annual Mesquite Canyon Trail Runs are upon us. I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. Not just the time this year, these first two months of 2015 but even the last 5 years! Just 5 years ago I was preparing to direct my first ever 50K that I created from scratch at a mountain park that I’ve been hiking, camping and mountain biking in since I was a kid. This would prove to be not just your ordinary 50K either. I was sending runners through two “hazardous” sections of trail, deemed the “most extreme” by the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation department. So much so that they highlight the Goat Camp and Ford Canyon Trail on their park maps with a very appropriate “double black diamond”.
The Mesquite Canyon Trail Runs take place in the White Tank Mountains which run North / South along the western edge of metropolitan Phoenix. The great thing about the trails at this regional park are that they actually climb up to the top of the mountain range. They rise sharply out of the saguaro studded desert floor through several named canyons riddled with boulders, rocks, differing species of vegetation and plenty of wildlife. I’ve seen families of Javelina, lizards and snakes in these mountains and I remember seeing a photo posted at the front of gate of a wildlife camera in the high reaches of the park capture a mountain lion on film.
I’ve always loved the White Tank Mountains and the ability to share their beauty and ruggedness with others really gives me great joy. I like hard, tough and adventurous places to explore and the White Tank Mountains offer that all on marked trails (ok and the occasional creek bed).
Mesquite Canyon also marks the conclusion of Aravaipa Running’s annual Desert Runner Trail Series which I created to highlight the best of trail running across the Maricopa County Regional Park system. I wanted to get people out to the parks and on to the trails. I’ve been given so much by them that I wanted to share that with others. We offer an opportunity for participants of all abilities from hikers to elite mountain runners to test themselves on these amazing trails and locations on the edge of our city.
If you haven’t yet checked out any of the Maricopa County Regional Parks, I encourage you to give this one a try. Come camp with us, run, hike, or heck even volunteer. Get outdoors and experience what nature has to offer. Getting away from the city for a night or even a few hours can be a restorative experience for the soul.
If you are serious about getting involved here is our schedule leading up to the 6th edition of the Mesquite Canyon Trail Runs which is sure to be an amazing day of trail running:
March 6-9 – Hauling water up to Mesquite Canyon Aid Station (required hiking a 50 pound pack up 1.8 miles)
March 7 – Mesquite Canyon Training Run #2 (Goat Camp Trail)
March 11-13 – Course Marking
March 13 – Race Setup & Camping Pre-Race
March 14 – Race Day & Camping Post-Race
March 15 – Final Cleanup
If you’d like to help haul water or course mark I’d be glad to exchange volunteer credits for this or a future race.
This is the first in a series of “Adventure Run Reports” that we will be hosting on the Aravaipa Running blog. Our first comes from Aravaipa Ambassador Amber Fifield who regularly seeks out adventures in remote mountains and canyons across Arizona. Here first report comes from the Black Mesa Loop in the Superstition Mountains.
Sometimes I need to get out into the wilderness and enjoy a little quiet wild-time. However, I don’t always have time for a long jaunt, and need to just “get my fix” and get home. This morning was one of those days.
I met a few friends out at the FIRST WATER TRAILHEAD, which was fairly busy since the weather is nice and the population in the Valley has seen its usual winter influx. My plan for the day was just to do the 9 mile (my Garmin gave me 9.2 miles) Black Mesa Loop (Dutchman Trail #104 > Black Mesa Trail #241 > Second Water Trail #236 > Dutchman Trail #104). One of my friends was getting over being sick and was out to simply enjoy some desert time. The other two were looking for a longer run and would be heading out to the Canyon Lake Marina and back after running Black Mesa. After signing the guest register, we began from the trailhead on Dutchman Trail (#104) with a nice, fast, gentle downhill. The desert was looking lush from all of the recent rains! About a quarter of a mile in the trail makes a fork. We went right to stay on Dutchman. Most people tend to stay left at this fork onto Second Water Trail which is wider and smoother, so we quickly had our solitude.
The Dutchman Trail through here is very clear and easy to follow, plus quite a bit of it is nice, tight single track. Because we have had rain recently, we had numerous stream crossings this morning, which is always a treat in Arizona! When crossing the streams it is important to look up to see the cairn on the opposite side marking the trail. I often run with my head down watching my footing, so sometimes I end up doing slight side jaunts until I regain the trail. Dutchman Trail has nice rollers giving you some climbing to keep it interesting, but nothing major. In general, the rocks are also not too bad, just watch your footing.
I think in the next week or two it will be the perfect time to head out to see the wildflowers. If you don’t know, as I did not know for years, Arizona has an incredible wildflower season. Each spring, the desert is absolutely blanketed with delicate flowers: oranges, yellows, purples, whites, reds, and pinks carpet the landscape. Different areas and elevations get the flowers at different times. This morning the Black Mesa loop was just starting to get a few flowers poking their heads out. I think any rain we get will cause an explosion of color!
The next trail we came to was the Black Mesa Trail (#241) which cut back to the left. One of these days, I plan to stay on Dutchman and head out towards Weaver’s Needle, but that will have to be a different day and different blog entry. Weaver’s Needle is very prominent here and the mountains surrounding the area feel welcoming.
We met some campers back on Black Mesa and said hello, and then proceeded up the one “big” climb on the entire loop. I think the toughest part of this climb is the rockiness. If it weren’t for that, it would be much easier for me to run up; it certainly isn’t very long. As it was, today I hiked it. It was here that my friends and I completely split up, and I didn’t see them again (but I checked in, and we all had a great run!). Once I got to the top of the hill, I began running again. It was cloudy this morning, with all the hallmarks of a storm rolling in, and on top of Black Mesa itself the wind was gusting and I felt a deep chill try to crawl into my bones. Thankfully I was quickly off the mesa where the wind was not quite so strong.
Running down the west side of the mesa is a blast! It’s fairly rocky in places, but the downhill just sings. Plus, the views here are gorgeous- they look out onto more wilderness, which at the moment is incredibly green.
The base of the mesa to Second Water Trail (#236) is smooth and easy to run. I was at the intersection in no time, where I turned left back towards the First Water Trailhead. I knew I had about 2 miles left to go, so I began to push.
As I mentioned at the beginning, most people who hike from this trailhead head out on Second Water Trail. I had to slow down quite a few times for groups of people who were also out enjoying the outdoors. I saw a father and his children, a group of campers, a boy scout troop, and numerous other small groups of individuals all soaking in the beauty of the day.
Second Water Trail is relatively smooth. It does have some rocky areas, but nothing too major. It has some fun places to hop over boulders and a few corners to zip around. The way back to the trailhead has one climb up out of a wash, but it’s perfectly runnable, unless you’re tired, as I was today. However, before I knew it, I was back at my car where a friend of mine who is injured was hanging out waiting with donuts!
This loop is a great trail for a quick run, or a relaxed hike. My Garmin read 1,068 feet of elevation gain over the entire 9.2 miles. This trailhead is a great place to start at if you want to enjoy some time out in the desert with your children, or introduce visiting family members to the beauty of Arizona. You could of course do a simple out and back if you are looking for a hike or run that is perhaps not quite so long, or that is a little easier.
The only amenity at the trailhead is the pit toilets which are kept clean and well stocked. There is no water, so make sure you bring plenty of your own.
THIS LINK will take you to a map showing the trails we ran today. They are on the left side of the image.
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”
Aravaipa Running is incredibly excited to announce the 1st annual Big Pine 108K to be held June 13-14 in Flagstaff, AZ! We will also be offering a 13K, 27K and 54K that morning and hosting the Blackout Night Runs as a new addition to the Insomniac Series that evening! In scouting race courses we are always on the lookout for something new and exciting and a location that allows us to make the race a community affair. We have found just that with Big Pine and its location at Fort Tuthill County Park.
All runners will get to experience the Soldiers Trail and Highlands Trail Loop. The course is mostly graded wide forest paths within the shade of the ponderosa pines. However, as you reach Highlands Trail the views open up at the top of a wide and expansive mesa that draws back the curtain to miles of mountains and rolling forested hills. With only 4160ft of climbing in the 108K it is designed to be a fast course and one that would work well for beginners. However, do not be fooled into thinking there is no challenge, as almost the entire course is over 7,000ft total elevation.
For runners coming from the Phoenix area this will be a great reprieve from the summer heat with the likelihood of temperatures dropping into the 40s in the evening! However, for runners across the country this is a great chance to explore Flagstaff – the mecca of distance running – and bring the whole family along for the ride. That weekend boasts a beer festival and a horseshoe tournament at the park. Camping will be setup with the convenience of tent and cot rentals available. Camp games, a bike park, and a ropes course are a small portion of what this race location can offer!
We are pleased to be able to partner with Team Red White & Blue for this race and the entire Insomniac Series to help create an event where runners of every level can participate. The cutoff for the 108K will be 24hours and is optimal for those who have yet to step up to the distance for fear of stricter time limits. In fact, every distance has until 7am Sunday morning before final cut off and is a great opportunity for first-time ultra runners!
Experienced endurance athlete? Looking to test your limits? Look at our 162K Challenge. Runners must complete the 108K Big Pine in less than 12 hours in order to start the 54K Blackout Night Run at 7pm with the rest of the field. Total cutoff time will still be 24 hours. Runners completing the 108K in fewer than 12 hours must wait until the 7pm start of the 54K but will be given a cumulative time based on their true finish. Email email@example.com for registration instructions!
Here were text submissions on Instagram & Facebook:
coffeeandtrails “Training for Arizona Ironman?” “Sure beats tempe town lake”
wandering_coconut “They said tubing down the Salt river would be fun”
fleetfeethkry “So, I asked for a bottle of Perpetuem to be ready at mile 23, and I get Sustained Energy! I mean, how do you…” “Man, I feel you. That’s uncalled for. Did you fart?”
biror1″I’m back stroking this section!” …”Butterfly, butterfly, butterfly!”
radrunner1 “The river is really flowing this year.” “Yeah, next year they should use a raft crossing here.”
stillrunning39 LEFT “Ummm coldwater rumble…”, RIGHT “wasn’t this fun…”
debrunsfar “I’ve got you man, hang on!”…”Help”
Mike Pagano “Bro I sware to God if you turn this water blue. Relax buddy just cooling off the “boys”
Jared Yanniello “I had doubts when you said there was a river crossing in Arizona, but this is just stupid. Just keep swimming.”
Melissa Dietzman Shoulders “Showering is so overrated!/ I know! I bet we’ll be able run an extra 40 or 50 miles! Where did you put the baby wipes again?”
Jacob Puzey “We’ll do anything for a little attention.”
Laura Reyburn “‘Let’s run 100k in AZ,’ you said. ‘It’ll be fun,’ you said.” “I’m going to take up triathlons. Is that your pack or mine escaping downstream?”
Aimee Kokubun “I think I’m done on this side. Maybe I should turn over to even out my tan?” “Don’t worry about being even, my chick totally digs my chest strap tan. She thinks it’s sexy!”
Ken Ellis Dude! Are you SURE this is how that old dude Ken Ellis hydrated when he ran the inaugural BC100K last year?…yeah dude, because he didn’t have a UD vest:)!
Michael Johnson “I thought this was a triathlon…..”
Nadine Stewart “Did you bring any body wash with you. I don’t smell so good. What are you talking about, I smell like I haven’t run at all yet.”
Matt Terminel “Oh Man!!! I need to cool off! Did you see how HOT the Pixie Ninja is?”…..”Why do you think I’m laying on my stomach!!!”
Nathan N Crystal Simpson “Marco?!? Polo?!?!”
Michael Tatham “I told you not to bring the Irish whiskey…. It’s better then the wine you brought last time….”
coffeeandtrails “Just keep swimming”
wandering_coconut “Damn fire ants!”
happytrigirl “It’s so freakin hot!!”
tonytrombone “Look!! Fart bubbles!!”
luism457 “I have seen this done on Jackass”
stillrunning39 “Woo! Now that’s a hydration pack!”
Photo Submissions from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
These two will win their choice of an Ultimate Direction Hydration Pack! Congrats Trevor and Steve!
We will send these four some Ultimate Direction swag!
Dan Keeler “Wait… What?! Where’s everyone goin’???” “Dude, I don’t think this is a tri…..”
Cory Axness “Backstroke? Breaststroke? Heatstroke!”
tonytrombone Guy on left, “Totally pooped em on that last mile”, guy on right “it’s cool, I’m taking a leak”
Now that the dust has settled and I can move around without any fear of the tendons in my feet ripping apart, I think the time is right for a Black Canyon 100k race report.
A little background: I am not an elite runner. I am a hobbyist who started running a little over two years ago, and entered the trail running and ultra scene a year ago. Black Canyon 100K would just be my second 100k race. I am what Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab For Cutie fame) jokingly referred to as an “elite mid-packer.”
Also, I spent much of November and December with a nagging IT band issue, so my training was not what I was hoping for. On January 24 (three weeks before BC100k), I put together what I considered to be my strongest race ever in the Coldwater Rumble 52k, and followed it up later with a half marathon PR at Sedona a week later (which is not a course most would consider to be PR-friendly). So, despite the lack of a solid training cycle, I still felt like I was going into it in the best shape of my life.
Oh, and a week before the race, I sprained my ankle while goofing off in the Superstitions. Luckily it was mild, but it was on the mind.
One thing I did not have going into this race was expectations. I wanted to do well, obviously, but having only attended the middle of the three course preview runs, I didn’t have a whole lot of course familiarity. Also, Phoenix’s forecast high of 85 loomed as a potential game-changer – I expected a lot of carnage. As Michael Carson mentioned in his interview with Ultra Sports Live.TV, even those of us who live in Phoenix are no longer acclimated to hot weather at this time of year.
So, my strategy was simple: just take it easy. And take plenty of salt. I didn’t use any drop bags – just strapped on my Nathan hydration pack, threw in three or four chocolate Clif Shots (my favorite!), a bag full of salt tablets, an extra bottle (for electrolyte drinks), and a small flashlight.
I also loaded my GPS watch with the course map, but the course turned out to be well enough marked that I didn’t even have to look at it once.
At 7AM on Saturday, the moment arrived. It was more surreal than any race start I have attended. A full roster of elite ultrarunners were lined up at the front, with established veterans and young up-and-comers, and standouts in both the male and female division, hoping to claim an automatic bid for WS100. The figurative gun went off, and we started off with…a lap around the high school track. Nice touch!
To me, the most important part of any race is the beginning. The pace you choose makes a huge difference. And being very inexperienced at the 100k distance, I decided I should err on the side of caution, and go at a pace that feels very, very comfortable. No faster than 9:00/mile on a downhill, 10:00/mile on flatter terrain. I didn’t even think I could maintain those numbers late in the race, but at least they would feel slow at the beginning. It was tough watching a third of the field race ahead of me those first few miles. A mile in, while still on paved road, I looked down at my watch and saw 7:45, and immediately slowed down. Several runners passed me up during the first ten miles or so (spoiler alert: I saw all of them later on).
Because I was running at an easy pace, the first 20 miles were easy. After the Bumble Bee aid station, I continued to take it easy, but I started to pass people. This became the theme for the rest of the day. Runners slowing down, soaking in the creeks, gathering themselves at aid stations… And here I was, just having a great time!
I’m not saying that to brag, as much as I am to illustrate a point: patience early on in a race really pays off. I found the Strava activities for a lot of the runners I passed, and most of them were averaging between 8 and 9 minutes per mile the first 20 miles. I felt like I went out too fast, and all of these runners went out faster than I did. When you look at the math, you can run at an 11:30/mile pace the whole race, and still finish under 12 hours. And for those of us who are hobbyists, that’s a really solid time.
Anyways, back to the race… After that beautiful stretch from Soap Creek AS (half way point) to Black Canyon TH, I hung out at the aid station for a few minutes eating food, drinking liquids, etc., it was off on the run again. This was the part of the race I was most worried about, but I felt solid going up the big hill after the creek crossing. Passed a few more people in that stretch, and actually created some space behind me, when by mile 43 or so, I started to get fatigued. I stopped to use a bush, and noticed my urine was bright yellow. I ate another Clif Shot, took a salt tablet, and started drinking a lot more water. This stretch into the Cottonwood Gulch aid station would be my slowest stretch of the race. Once I got there, I stopped and ate for a few minutes. A lot of bean burritos, and some potatoes, mostly.
This seemed to do the trick. The four and a half miles to the next aid station were a breeze. I ran most of it. At one point, Julio Palma, who was the only runner who passed me after the 20 mile mark, caught up to me, but I actually beat him to the aid station by a minute or two. Feeling pretty good with just 11 or 12 miles in the race, I thought I had this one in the bag. I even did some math in my head, and sub-12 even seemed like a possibility! Honestly, going into the race, I would’ve been happy with sub-13!
Unfortunately, a mile after leaving the Table Mesa aid station, my hamstrings started to cramp…both of them. And my groin muscles started to cramp. I trudged on, trying not to overexert those muscles. Palma passed me (for good) going up that hill, but I still felt like I was doing OK, as I started coming up on another runner.This was Jesse Alexander from Camp Verde, AZ – I passed him before the top of the hill, but he caught up, and we even chatted a bit as we approached another runner. At this point, the cramps entered my diaphragm, and I had to do something. I looked at my sweat-crusted shirt, and speculated that I needed more salt. I hiked for about 30 seconds, took a salt tablet, and struggled into the final aid station just as Jesse was leaving.
At this point, I learned that it was just four miles to the finish. The sun was just starting to dip below the horizon, so I readied my flashlight, looked down at my watch, and saw… 11:19. Even after a rough stretch, 12 hours was still a possibility! The first mile and a half or so was easy, on a flat fire road – I think I actually managed to hit a 9:00/mile pace at one point (which now, unlike at the start of the race, seemed fast). It was then back onto single track, and now I was running by flashlight. Through a couple of washes and up a short hill (the only stretch I hiked after the last aid station), and I finally heard the cheering from the finish line. Almost there! Then I caught a visual on it, and ran on in… Looked at my watch, and it said – wait for it! – 12:00.
My official time was 12:00:22, for a 20th place finish. I was immensely happy about it (but still thinking that maybe – just maybe – I could’ve shaved off 23 seconds somewhere), even if it was three and a half hours slower than Ford Smith’s extremely impressive winning time.
Two days later, I’m having a few thoughts on this race:
Race report written by Jeremy Pager, 2015 Aravaipa Running Ambassador.
I’ll start this post by being honest. There was pretty much nothing about Crown King Scramble that ever interested me. I had no desire to run uphill on jeep road for 31 miles.
That was until today. I’m not sure my preconceived notions about a race course have ever been so wrong.
Jamil and I spent the day driving the Crown King Scramble course so I could learn the layout and we could post signs reminding users of Aravaipa’s race on March 28th. My contribution to the outing was to exclaim “Unbelievable!” or “Stop! I need another picture!” at almost every turn. It was love at first sight.
The race begins at Lake Pleasant and winds its way through Sonoran Desert, climbing into higher desert landscapes with purple hues and expansive panoramas of the Bradshaw Mountains and the valley below. From there, the road climbs further into pinyon-juniper woodland and crosses multiple flowing creeks before entering the Ponderosa Pines on the final miles into the town of Crown King. There is almost no portion of this race that does not boast spectacular views; nor can one become bored with a singular backdrop as there are so many to choose from along the way.
It is fitting that the end of this historic race (celebrating its 24th running this year) is at the Crown King Saloon. The Saloon was built in 1888 in the, now, ghost town of Oro Belle before it was moved piece-by-piece in 1916 to its current location. On race weekend the town is transformed from tiny mountain community (inhabited by 133 residents according to the last census) to a festival of ultra-runners celebrating their achievement. From live music to ample amounts of food and beer the post-race festivities are not lacking at this event with numerous runners and their crew choosing to stay the night for the full experience.
Many runners have their own storied history with the race and their own personal obsessions. Aravaipa Racing Team member, Kristina Pham, is one example of someone who has made it her mission to challenge the course record; a record set in 2002 by none other than Ann Trason in a time of 4:34:13. Kristina is the only woman in the last decade to post a top-ten finishing time on the course! Aravaipa Running has decided to up the ante for this year’s women with an updated Course Record Bonus of $1,000!! That’s right ladies, a race that is going to pay more for your record than for the men’s. Not to worry, gentlemen there is still $250 in prize money for first place (same for women) and a $500 Course Record Bonus for besting Dermot McGonigle’s 1996 time of 4:00:27.
With less than 100 spaces still available the race is already set to be a fast and exciting year. Runners with an unrelenting passion for fun looking for an epic race with history, challenge, and breathtaking views should click here to start their journey.
February 20, 2015 – Phoenix, AZ - Aravaipa Running is pleased to announce the hiring of Hayley Pollack as Director of Events & Operations. Hayley comes to Aravaipa with a background in retail management & operations at Best Buy for the past five and a half years. She brings an education in Strategic Leadership and experience in management to help lead and improve Aravaipa’s existing and future events.
Hayley has been transitioning into this role for the past month, but will now be working full time along side Jamil & the rest of the Aravaipa Running team to continue to produce top notch events in Arizona and across the Southwest. Don’t be surprised to receive email correspondence from Hayley or see her as a visible part of all aspects of Aravaipa events going forward.
In addition to her education, experience and leadership, she is a long time runner and someone who is deeply passionate and knowledgeable about the sport of long distance running. She previously worked with the Kansas City Trail Nerds with marketing and other event needs. She has been running ultras since 2010 and has completed many ultras including the 2013 Bear 100 Mile (which she is also registered for in 2015).
Hayley may be reached at: hayley @ aravaiparunning.com
Thanks to our friends at Ultimate Direction, we have some hydration packs and bottles to give away to the winners of our Black Canyon photo caption contest.
“How do you stay hydrated on the trail?”
Use your creativity to tell us what these runner are saying as they are “running” at mile 39 of the Black Canyon 100K this last weekend. Best submissions will win!
Create your own and post to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtags #udhydrates & #bc100k to enter.
Winners will be chosen based upon Aravaipa Running favorites and most likes or shares.
This Sunday, January 18 will the the third and final preview run for the upcoming Black Canyon Trail 100K which will take place February 14. This section will resume from the Black Canyon City Trailhead and continue to head south towards New River & Phoenix. We’ll head back into the canyons and across several more creeks before the trail generally becomes flatter towards the finish at Emery Henderson Trailhead where the 100K, 50K & 18K all end.
Sunday, January 18, 2014.
Mile 0 – Black Canyon City TH (Start)
Mile 13.3 – Table Mesa Road TH
Mile 24.5 – Emery Henderson TH (Finish)
7:00am Meet at Emery Henderson TH to carpool
or 7:30am Meet at Black Canyon City TH
Directions to Emery Henderson Trailhead (end of run, park here to carpool to Black Canyon City TH)
3.1 Miles West of I-17 Freeway exit 232 on New River Road
Directions to Black Canyon City TH (start of run)
1. Take exit 242 off the I-17 towards Rock Springs / Black Canyon City
2. Turn left at the stop sign onto Velda Road Road
3. Turn right at the next stop sign onto the Old Black Canyon Highway and then an immediate left onto Warner Road towards the Black Canyon City Trailhead
4. Follow Warner Road for 0.3 miles to the trailhead and aid station. There is a restroom located at this trailhead. There are also dining options and a General Store in Rock Springs and some more options a couple miles north on the Old Black Canyon Highway in Black Canyon City as well as a gas station.
This is a no fee, limited aid, limited to no course marking training run. You must plan to be self sufficient in terms of navigation, personal safety and aid between stations. We will have water & some food at Table Mesa Road TH. Please study the maps in this post, utilize the posted GPS files and follow signage for the Black Canyon Trail.
The course on principle will be unmarked. There is signage for the Black Canyon Trail at most questionable junctions, but we recommend studying and printing maps to bring with you. Jamil will not be at this run, so pay extra attention!
Post Run Gathering:
Bring a camp chair, some snacks and beer to share old school style!
Some of us may check out Roadrunner Steak House, Bar & Saloon after the run: http://www.roadrunnersteakhouse.com/
We’ll be carpooling from the finish line of the run at Emery Henderson Traihead to the start of the run at Black Canyon City Trailhead.
I’ve often dreamed of writing regularly but with so much “busyness” I never seem to make the time. I enjoy sharing bits and pieces of my racing and training, but it is challenging to keep momentum for writing with so much going on. I’d like to change that in 2015 and therefore will be publishing a weekly article right here on this blog about the happenings at Aravaipa Running. This will not strictly be an article about what races are coming up or a race report from last weekend’s training runs, but instead a forum for me to share my thoughts about anything related to Aravaipa Running and even some bits and pieces of my personal life. After all, these are so very much intermingled that it is truly a part of my identity. I’m not sure where the balance will hang between personal or business but hope it will be insightful and a fun way to stay connected with Aravaipa on a weekly basis that is a little less formal. I welcome your comments and feedback.
With this first posting comes great change for Aravaipa Running. My co-race director, brother and friend will be pursing other professional goals starting in 2015. Although this is a necessary step for Nick in his own path and happens in business regularly, it does not come without great sadness. Nick was by my side from the beginning of this journey and our friendship goes back decades. Our own birth into this sport happened at the same race and we’ve run many training and racing miles side by side – too many to count. We’ve build up so many great things in Aravaipa Running together over the years that it will be very different not having him there to call up about that new exciting idea I’ve got brewing or get stoked on his new development for the timing system or the latest entrant to sign up for a race.
I will miss working with Nick and having him at every race and there will be a huge void not easily filled. Although sad, I am excited as ever for the future of the sport and what Aravaipa Running can bring to the community.
With a New Year comes the completion of one of our most rewarding events that we produce, Across The Years.What began on a high school track in Phoenix as a 24 hour race back in 1983 has evolved into a multi-day running festival at a world class venue (Camelback Ranch) featuring some of the top 6 day running performances of the year (not to mention many other great personal performances at all distances, friendships and memories). This is only the second year featuring the re-birth of the 6 day race and we’ve already seen back to back years with two men going into the mid-500 mile range. Dave Johnston’s performance this past week (551 miles) was mind-boggling to me as he seemed to run with complete easy to almost 500 miles in just over 5 days. Once he sensed his true goal was out of reach (we can only speculate what that was) and looking no worse physically, he let down his guard and drank a beer while walking some laps, talking to new friends and marching his way to keep ahead of second place. He could have easily surpassed the event record and US Road Record set last year at ATY by Joe Fejes (555 miles), but that was not important to him. I am both baffled and a bit in awe of this.
No less impressive was the runner up performance by Christian Mauduit of France. He is a deca-Ironman finisher and had a personal best of 504 miles in 6 days leading up to this race. He told me post race he was disappointed there were not more runners in the 500+ mile range. Without skipping a beat he professed that if an “average” runner like himself can run 540 miles, some truly great runners should easily be able to run many more. To me that seems incredibly humble and likely a contributor to success at the distance.
I also have to mention Sue Scholl who set the event record for women and also looked fresh and strong well into the last day of running. She won and set the course record at Vol-State last year and has many great performances ahead of her.
The camaraderie at an event like Across The Years is truly amazing and to see so many runners come back year after year is a treat. There are true living legends of our sport that attend each year and I treasure each time they come back.
As we move into this next week, it is a quick turnover from the roads to trail as we unload, clean and reload the trucks for the San Tan Scramble Trail Runs out in Queen Creek. This trail race is a true “hidden gem” of the desert runner trail series and one of my favories. Dense saguaro forests and stunning views of the Malpais Mountains will have you thinking you are literally miles away from civilization – that is until you hit the Goldmine Trail. That steep climb will snap you back to reality with a heart pounding steep climb to the pass with fantastic views of the entire South East valley. I want to thank in advance all of our outstanding volunteers that will make this event fun and memorable!
If you’d like to join us for a run this week, we’ll be out with the Aravaipa Group Trail Run at Papago Park for a 1 hour run and follow up social at Brat Haus. I’m looking forward to getting in a run with everyone this week and will look forward to greeting those racing at the finish line on Saturday.
Other Aravaipa Running news: