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.
Heading over to Memorial Park on race morning of this year’s Silverton Alpine Marathon & 50K, I was hit with a few drops of rain. The skies were cloudy and dark in the pre-dawn hours leaving me wondering what the runners would be in for during the race. As darkness gave way to light as runners checked in and prepped for the day’s event, the skies looked ominous, but were holding out. Nineteen 50K runners took off at 7am for the short out and back on the last part of the course. The first runner, Dennis Pollow Jr. was back through the start/finish line in Memorial Park at 7:32 and was off to complete the marathon course.
Marathon runners took off at 8am, set to chase down the 50K runners who had all made it back through Memorial Park by the time they started. The course follows the Alpine Loop jeep trails in the San Juan backcountry through the old mining towns of Howardsville, Eureka, Animas Forks and Gladstone. En route, runners climb over the 12,960 foot California Pass at mile 16 and the 12,730 foot Hurricane Pass at mile 17. One of the unique parts of the race is the marathon & 50K times are typically about 1 hour apart, meaning it is truly a race to see whether a marathoner or 50Ker will finish first!
Runners were treated to aid stations spaced 4 miles apart on the course staffed by experienced and enthusiastic volunteers, runners themselves. Leah Fein from Durango who has previously won the 50K has staffed the Animas Forks aid station the past two years and even went for a run to the top of California Pass before her shift started! Dan Novak of Ouray has been helping at most of the Kendall Mountain Runs for the past 15 years and also the Silverton Alpine events for the past 4-5 years.
Heading down from Hurricane Pass, our lead marathon runner and now Silverton local Andy Wellman passed the lead 50K runner and went on to win in a time of 3:39:36, a great time on this tough course! He was followed up by Marco Zuniga of Durango who finished in 3:55:52. He recently placed high at the Pikes Peak Marathon and was contemplating whether or not to run almost up to race start. Our first female marathon runner was Keri Nelson of Gunnison who won in a time of 4:44:35. Keri holds the course record at the Kendall Mountain “K2″ Double. Elizabeth Davis was not too far behind, finishing second in 4:57:52.
There was no stopping Leila Degrave of Leadville who ran a very strong 50K to set a new course record in 5:04:23, placing second overall. She handily beat out the lead female marathon runners. There were a total of 19 finishers in the 50K, our ultimate finisher being Hurricane Carter of Crested Butte in 8:13:32. The marathon saw a total of 28 finishers and everyone enjoyed a great post run barbecue in Memorial Park. Thanks to Julie Danjou and Blaze Braford-Lefebvre for helping at the barbecue, Montanya for donating a free Coor’s beer to all finishers, Ken Webb of Quiet Bear Art for the race awards, Megan Kimmell for holding packet pickup at Mobius and Rodger Wrublik for the equipment used at the finish line and aid stations.
The clouds built up around the course most of the day, but it didn’t rain until the last 30 minutes of the race when we only had 2 runners left out on the course. Thank you to all of the runners and volunteers for making this summer’s Silverton Alpine Running events a fun recreational opportunity for the town. We’ll be back next year. Until then, Run Steep and Get High!
The Estrella Mountains stand as looming giants south of Phoenix, the rugged peaks jutting high in the sky. nestled below the majestic giants are the single track trails located in the Estrella Mountain Regional Park, not as daunting but not to be underestimated. Like the rest of the night series, the temperatures were warm but manageable as the sun sunk in the sky. Runners who had participated in Sinister, Adrenaline, and Vertigo had an idea of what lay ahead. With options of 15k, 31k, and 62k, over 175 runners arrived planning to run between one and four loops.
The loop’s elevation profile.
The course rolls through the foothills of the Estrellas, climbing gradually for the first half and descending the second half, with a few extra hills thrown in for good measure. Total climbing for the loop is around 700 feet. The trail is rocky like the mountains it is born from, with both wide and narrow single track sections. The winding stretches on the back side make the course compact together, giving runners lots of opportunity to see each other on the loop.
The 62k field was filled with ultrarunning veterans, including Siniser, Adrenaline, and Vertigo ultra winner Cristian Rios alongside Adrenaline and Vertigo ultra winner Jenn Thompson. Lisa Raykowski returned after her victory at the Vertigo 31k, and Amy English was back after winning the short distance at the previous two Insomniac races. The ultra competitors lined up as the sun dipped low in the sky before sprinting off to catch their only trail miles in the light. The 31k runners followed as the last streams of sunlight escaped over the mountain silhouettes. Finally, the 15kers clicked on their headlamps with the last glint of the day faded as a muted glow. With the sound of the horn, all of the races were underway.
The 15k race begins.
The trails at Estrella are rocky like the mountains they’re born from, and tough like the runners that tackle them. The course is full of open expanses that allowed runners to see each other for miles, headlamps bobbing across a wide landscape.
Runners start as the day finishes.
The sky turned to black and the runners continued on their first loop. Cristian is first through the start area as usual, with a quick transition and several minute lead on the field. A few more men follow before Jenn comes through as the women’s leader. The rest of the 62k runners continue to come through as the time ticks on.
Lights stream in to the finish area.
The 31k runners hit the halfway point as they arrive at the main aid, Andrew Builder and Lisa Raykowski leading the men’s and women’s races. Spectators sit back and enjoy the new “Aravaipa Cafe”, lit with overhead light ropes and situated with bistro tables, cool refreshments, and even minty treats. They cheer on the runners coming through, venturing back into the darkness for more.
Refueling at the aid station with Fluid.
The first 15k runner to finish was David Fiesoli from Italy in a time of 1:09:42. On the female front and clocking her third consecutive win was Amy English in a time of 1:30:19. As more runners finish the atmosphere builds, runners enjoying the post-race refreshments of iced coffee, mac & cheese, and vegan quesadillas. Cristian comes in from his second loop with an even bigger lead in the ultra, but is forced to stop as the result of injuries a week earlier when hit by a car while riding his bike. The lead is quickly picked up by Trent Peelle, veteran of the Javelina Jundred. Jenn holds strong to the women’s lead. Andrew Builder comes in to claim the 31k crown in 2:54:24.
Flying Miller Kick!
Everyone is having a good time out on the race course, especially Michael Miller with his gravity-defying finisher leap to 3rd. Shortly Lisa Raykowski comes in to win the women’s 31k in a time of 3:14:44.
Lisa Raykowski takes the 31k title.
Mark Cosmas and Jay Danek have a photo finish.
More and more runners finished as the clock flipped past midnight. Runners having a great time and cheering each other on.
The girls come in together!
After Trent called his race at 3 loops, the men’s lead was taken by Paul Bonnett, who kept his lead the final loop to win in a time of 6:47:46. The indefatigable Jenn Thompson three-peated for a winning women’s time of 7:46:39. Her boys volunteered throughout the race, and jumped to greet her at every lap.
Iced coffee bar at the finish line.
At the end of the night, John Vanderpot rounded out the 8 finishers of the 62k, taking the remainders of the iced coffee with him to make the long drive home to California.
All had a great time at Hypnosis and we look forward to next year.
The final race in the Insomniac series is the Javelina Jangover on September 21-22, featuring distances of 7k, 25k, 50k, 75k, and 100k. Come out for a full-moon night run!
Recognition goes out to our sponsors for the race: iRun for their continued support of the trail running community, Nathan providing gear and 20% off products to the race, Fluid for providing the sports drink, Black Diamond for providing discounted headlamps to runners, and Activate for handing out samples.
I’ll start by saying there were two things I failed to execute on this run… I needed two water bottles (only had one) and needed to fuel at a higher level, in spite of a good finish.
All week the monsoon effects were drying out and temps were looking favorable for better conditions than Vertigo two weeks prior. Check; great. This holds up to be true. The start temp is lower and the air is drier. Compared to Vertigo, a 6.5 mile loop, this is 9.5ish. Each had an aid station midpoint or so. Check; great. I’ve run the course before with Xterra, and while this is backwords of Xterra, this is still a plus. Check; great. Since fall 2012 I’ve been running in Saucony Xodus 3.0 trail shoes; a 4mm drop, the shoes felt great from the start, even though I previously had been wearing Brooks Cascadia’s. Current pair has 200+ miles on it, so I inspect the shoes and while a few lugs are missing on the Vibram sole (have learned this sole is not ideal in wet conditions), good to go. Check; great! First Endurance EFS electrolyte mixed in bottle… good to go! J
Beautiful desert evening, dry compared to previous weeks, and a meteor shower on tap to boot. I arrive at Aravaipa City 6:45PM; get badge, find some shade. Legs feel good, no stomach knots, just a desire to put in a long run. Following the 7pm ultra start, we line up and get the go signal at 7:30pm.
The first 4 miles were wide track, fairly smooth, some sandy sections, with a gradual uphill climb to highest elevation on loop. Carried a modest pace, and time went by quickly listening to Jay Danek chat with Paulette Zilmer. True to form, Jay flies downhill… tonight was no different, as my headlight filled brightly with his dust. Trail became more technical at this point, with some gnarly ankle twisters waiting to ruin your night… found that downhill I had to adjust light more down on trail for these rocks, only to lift at the subsequent uphill (glad I put new batteries in before race). Into the aid station we went, greeted by wonderful volunteers yet again. Refilled the bottle, scooped up some potato, and off to finish lap 1.
Trail had a lot of U-turns and S turns (with them gnarly rocks in wait) that makes one feel like you are going more backwards than forward. A very sandy descent down into the wash, a short ascent back up across a service road, and more S-turns leading to final loop switchback. It was great during the climb to look back into the valley and see the march of headlights; at this point the ¼ moon was nearly gone on the western horizon. After cresting the climb, one can see the Start/Finish line with all the lights aglow, but careful. The initial downhill had some rocks in strange places, so attention is required. Once off the steepest part, the runner is free to fly to the finish.
Lap 2 was a repeat, and par for the course, all the hills seemed longer and taller. I came up to Pat Devine, his first race adventure, first distance past 14 miles, first night run, and we chatted into the aid station. I didn’t stay long at the aid station, and headed off to finish the course.
Overall, I like this course. I ran my 20oz bottle dry prior to final ascent, and finished dehydrated. Elevated temps and I just don’t agree, so I’ll either carry two bottles next time (and fuel better) or run the shorter version. Undecided!
NOTES / THOUGHTS on HYDRATION and FUELING
This is the 4th night race I have done, starting with the Javelina 25k last fall. The desert dry heat and winds can play on your mental state and lead one into a false sense of hydration; one would think that I know this at 49, but I still make bad choices. Mrs Coury summed it up best after a visit to the first aid tent at Cave Creek Thriller in 2012, saying ‘it’s not just how you hydrate during the race, but how you prepare your hydration 24-48 hours before the event. I like my coffee, but this means day before and day of race, no coffee. She mentioned that on the day before, drink some electrolyte. I’ve learned to watch the fiber in the diet; too much means a visit to the PJ more times than necessary. And for me, no yard work day before; it takes too much out of my hydration effort.
Friday I ran 5 street miles with 3 miles 12x repeat fartlek (200m at 10k pace with 200m jog) to keep legs loose for race day. It was nice out Friday morning, and I always drink a 16oz glass of orange juice before early runs. However, I did have a cup of coffee, and with temps being cooler (so it seemed) I failed to drink any electrolyte. Saturday morning I decided to trim a few bushes that were annoying me… I had light sweat, but came in and drank 12oz liquid after 15 minutes exposure. No big deal, right? Tried to take early afternoon nap; nothing doin’. Just can’t sleep. At 4pm, I eat a large baked potato, and have a glass of electrolyte. This time is was 12oz with Nuun active hydration, while during the race, my first water bottle is always filled with First Endurance EFS electrolyte; this has worked well for me to keep legs from cramping (not a pleasant experience).
I believe I started the race rested, fueled and well hydrated. I sipped on the bottle every mile, and made sure it was empty at every aid station. Given the demise at the finish, two water bottles (one with water, one with electrolyte) would have worked much better.
As for fueling, I did eat at the aid stations; mostly diced boiled potato, but also chips and pretzels. I had a liquid shot with me, but chose not to use it; bad choice. I had some other goodies in the pack as well, but as they were on the backside, chose not to swing the belt around and get them out; another bad choice. So I am now going to be looking for belt that will hold 2 large bottles in back, with snack pouch in front. I just don’t like carrying the bottles… but I know this is another option.
Live, learn, move forward! Happy trails to all. J
I had two completely different experiences between running the Adrenaline middle distance race and the Vertigo shorter distance 10K race. At Adrenaline, I felt great through the first 8 miles, not so great at miles 10-12, and then ended up jog walking miles 12 through 16 due to stomach cramps, dizziness, and exhaustion. The only thing that worked for me was consuming ice cold water. After I finished, drank a ton, and drove home I felt so much better. I realized that I must have had mild heat exhaustion. I had focused on eating a lot prior to the race and didn’t drink enough before the race and during the race. I also did little to cool my core temperature during the race.
For Vertigo, I decided to run the 10K at the last minute. We had driven back from San Diego that day and had already run a 26 mile training run during the week. However, my 15 year old high school cross country runner son Jonathan wanted to run the 10K so I signed up with him. We both hydrated a lot during the afternoon and before the race. We followed Nick Coury’s advice from the Scottsdale Beat the Heat race and pretty much stayed inside our air conditioned car except to watch both earlier races start and to register. We quickly stretched and kept drinking. We both soaked bandanas and tied them around our necks. My son decided to run shirtless since that is how he normally trains. I decided to completely soak my shirt in cold water prior to the start of the race. I also completely soaked my head in cold water. We both took one handheld bottle with us to the start as well as our lighting source.
My plan for the race was to take it easy and not over heat. I definitely did not want to end up dizzy and jog walking this race, even though it was only a 10K. As the race started, my son quickly moved to the front and I plodded along. Many younger runners passed me in the first half mile. As the trail started to climb, my legs began to loosen up and I pretty much kept my pace. I passed quite a few runners until about 1.5 miles when I didn’t see any more 10K runners until right before the finish. I realized I must be somewhere between the lead runners and the rest of the pack but I had no idea how many runners were ahead of me. I greatly enjoyed running the course through the still of the night and occasionally passed a few runners who were in the longer races. The only person who passed me at about two miles was Jamil Coury who was absolutely flying down the trail with his camera and bright light!
As I approached the aid station, I felt great but was starting to get a little hot. I dumped my remaining water from my handheld on my head, resoaked my bandana, filled up on fluid and ice, thanked the volunteers and ran off down the trail. The miles were clicking off slightly faster after the aid station as the course seemed to be more downhill and I knew I was unlikely to overheat before the finish. I passed one 10K runner with around a quarter mile to go. I almost caught the 4th place finisher but he saw me coming and then left me in the dust. I crossed the finish line and had no idea where my son was or what place I was in. I was told I finished 5th which was hard for me to believe. I finally found my son (turns out he had gone to throw up in the desert) and he told me he finished first! We cooled off, ate some food, watched some more runners finish, and he collected his awesome plaque and loot. We then headed for home as he was not looking too well.
Our first eating place after leaving the park was a Burger King. Jonathan quickly went to use the bathroom and was looking pretty pale. I felt great and grabbed a shake and a burger. As we made the drive home, I was feeling awesome but Jonathan was curled up in a fetal position and felt like he had a fever. When we got home, he looked absolutely terrible! After we got him inside the house, we covered him in cool towels and gave him some more liquids until he eventually felt better and then he went off to bed. He woke up fine the next day although I did check on him a couple of times before I went off to sleep.
I definitely learned that keeping the body’s core temp cooler by soaking and resoaking clothing and by going out slowly was a key to me not overheating. For Jonathan, that was his first 10K race. In fact, the longest he had ever raced was the typical 5K cross country races and never in a race this hot. He definitely had enough to drink and even felt like he had too much fluid in his stomach during the race. But running shirtless and not cooling during the race may have resulted in him having heat exhaustion after the race. But who knows, as there were plenty of other fast runners that night who were running shirtless and didn’t get into trouble. I plan on using the same cooling techniques for the middle distance upcoming Hypnosis run and am looking forward to another great Aravaipa Running event!
The sun sets as the races begin.
Storms brewed in the afternoon to the East of White Tank Mountain Regional Park. But as runners begin to arrive the weather dissipates, leaving a light breeze and cooler than expected temperatures to run in. After the mild-mannered Sinister and the constantly rolling Adrenaline, the course at Vertigo promises a good mix of flat and smooth trails coupled with a short but steep climb and rugged descent halfway around the 10k+ loop. Runners choose between the 10k, 31k, or 63k races run through the starry night.
The Surprise Running Club made a strong showing.
The pre-race atmosphere is electric, with a village of runners, crew, and volunteers assembling among the Aravaipa Running and sponsor tents. The 63k begins with an hour of daylight left, allowing a quick but hot beginning to the race. Winner of the previous two Insomniac ultras, Cristian Rios is the clear favorite with a few more experienced ultrarunners coming close behind. The Women’s race is a battle between Adrenaline winner Jenn Thompson and Holly Miller, doing the race as a birthday run.
The start of the 63k.
After some raffle prizes courtesy of Nathan (who also provided gear to our winners), the ultrarunners in the group take off. Runners continue to arrive, many picking up their bibs and many more registering on-site. The Aravaipa Running Shop is active and selling apparel including our new trucker hats, each one hand-decorated with inspiration from the sonoran desert. Runners are checking batteries, filling bottles, and watching the clock count down the minutes until their race begins. Soon, the 31k assembles and takes off into the setting sun.
63k runner Andrew Heard comes through his first loop.
Before the 10k can begin, the leaders of the 63k begin streaming through. Michael Farris is on the mic shouting words of encouragement to the runners as they come by, as well as the ones about to embark. The last runners line up under the last rays of sunlight, and are off!
10k runners toe the line.
As the darkness engulfs the race, runners continue to stream through lap after lap. The 63k and 31k show themselves as competitive races, the leaders of each division coming in within minutes or seconds of each other. Many more runners appear in the distance as bouncing balls of light, growing until their smiling face are visible by the glow of the finish line. Crews fill the area, cheering and clapping as each new body arrives.
Jenn Thompson and Holly Miller arrive neck and neck in the 63k.
Some mid-race encouragement!
Soon, our 10k champions arrive with Jonathan Palmer winning in 51:59 and Amy English following in 53:49. Thomas Riggs finishes second for the men and Miguel Moreno takes third, while Eve Renneback and Ash Montoya secure second and third for the women. The 31k leaders come through 3 minutes apart for the men, and only 4 seconds apart for the women. Cristian Rios and Jenn Thompson are opening gaps in the long run by their 3rd loop, but other runners are hungry to catch them.
Our 10k winners!
Meanwhile, many more runners are finishing end enjoying the post-race refreshments. The mason jar finisher awards make the perfect cup for a refreshing cup of iced coffee, and runners snack on lots of fresh fruit and vegan Daiya quesadillas. Dan Springborn pulls away in the 31k to win in 2:42:13, and Lisa Raykowski wins for the women in 3:04:24. Ryan Warren and Paul Bonnett round out the men’s podium, and Margaret Smith and Michelle Sager place for the women. The races continue on, with upbeat music meaning crews and finishers alike are partying all night long.
Bust a move Miguel!
We pass midnight and the run starts to thin out. Finishers head home for some well deserved sleep, while others continue to circle the competitive loop. Cristian is slowing drastically, with his lap splits of 0:46, 0:52, 0:58, 1:06, and now 1:22 makes us wonder if his 4 minute lead is enough for the final loop. We notice his splits would have won both the 10k and 31k, but can he take the 63k over the fast-approaching Sion? Jenn on the other hand is looking strong in the women’s race, powering through her 5th lap after a nasty fall earlier in the race.
The moon shines brightly in a cloudy sky.
Finally Cristian comes in, securing his third Insomniac victory with a dominant 1:01 final lap. Good thing, he needs some sleep to get to work at 5 AM! Sion falls back due to cramping before being caught by Andrew Heard. They come racing around the final stretch, Sion taking the silver by only two seconds. Jenn follows shortly as the women’s winner, taking her second Insomniac victory in a row. Holly Miller takes second for a satisfying birthday run, and Vanessa Jones takes third. By the 5 AM cutoff, 14 runners finish the 6 loop ultra course.
Cristian Rios gets his award and Nathan Minimist pack.
A big shout out to all of the sponsors who have helped enhance the experience at Vertigo: iRun, Black Diamond, Nathan, Fluid, and Activate. Results are now available for the 63k, 31k, and 10k. Pictures from the event are available in our Aravaipa Photo Gallery. Please share your own race report with us here.
The next race in the Insomniac series is Hypnosis on August 10, featuring distances of 15k, 31k, and 62k. I hope you will join us for an all-night party!
Over 150 runners lined up on Saturday for the 36th Annual Kendall Mountain Run and 4th Annual “K2″ Double. Both races start at 12th Street and Greene and follow the Kendall Mountain Road 6 miles up to within 250 vertical feet of the 13,066 foot summit of Kendall. Runners then scramble up a steep trail to tag the summit marker before flying back down to town the way they came up. K2 Doublers make the ascent to the top twice for a little more than 24 miles.
The race was first held in 1978, started by running enthusiast Bill Corwin who modeled the race after a famous bar bet made back in 1908 which sent runners climbing straight up the front face of the mountain and hurling themselves down the avalanche chute facing town. That first runner made it to the top and back to town in 1:31:42. Rick Trujillo, a legendary Colorado mountain runner won the first edition of the modern day race in 1:40:01 and the current record is held by Sheldon Larson who ran a 1:35:07 in 1985.
After experiencing a deluge of rain during packet pickup at Smedley’s on Friday afternoon and a thick fog in town on Saturday morning, the skies cleared out and runners were treated to a perfect day on the mountain. Clear blue skies in the morning and several clouds rolling in by early afternoon, but we didn’t receive a drop of rain all day.
The first runner to the top was Daniel Kraft, 24 from Telluride who summited in 1:05, 11 minutes ahead of the second place runner. Daniel flew down the mountain for a first place finish in 1:44:54. Daniel won the Imogene Pass run this past year as well as placing 4th at the highly competitive Chuckanut 50K. Second place went to Logan Ott of Los Alamos in 1:54:28 and third was Drew Stimson of Colorado Springs in 2:07:38.
The women’s race was won by 23 year old Margaret Harkins of Telluride in a time of 2:16:13 with Becca Tudor also of Telluride finishing second in 2:19:38. Sarah Slaughter of Durango rounded out the top 3 in 2:26:06.
For those runners looking for a bit more of a challenge, the K2 Double is quite the mountain running feat. Runners ascend Kendall twice for close to 7,500 feet of climbing and the same amount of knee crunching descent over 24 miles of jeep roads and trail scrambling. Erik Skaggs, a recent Durango transplant who has won the Kendall Mountain Run before was the winner and new course record holder for K2 finishing in 4:09:26. In the women’s race, Jenn Shelton conquered the mountain twice in a time of 4:57:04 for the win finishing 3rd overall.
Runners were treated to a barbecue in Memorial Park post race featuring hamburgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers on a beautiful Silverton day. All finishers received a commemorative glass pint glass and a wood token for a free Coor’s beer at Montanya’s! We hope to see you out for the 37th Annual Kendall Mountain Run and K2 Double next year on July 19, 2014. The next running race in the Silverton Alpine Running Series is the Silverton Alpine Marathon & 50K on August 24, 2013. Check out SilvertonAlpineRunning.com or call 602-361-7440 for more details!
Moving step by step along a dusty road winding several hundred feet above a roaring river over 10,000 feet above sea level, I was struggling to keep my pace at a something resembling “running”. I was still hiking strong on the ups, but when the road flattened, it took every ounce of my will to shuffle my feet into a run. I was queasy and not eating. Even water tasted bland and un-refreshing, not a good sign just 30 miles in to the 2013 Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run. Three weeks prior I had bounded up this road fresh and fit on a 56 mile dress rehearsal training run. Soon the road gave way to the steep trail leading up Grizzly Gulch towards Handies Peak, the high point on the course reaching over 14,000 feet. I stumbled up the trail in 7th place, but feeling extremely nauseous. I sat down on the side of the trail sick and defeated. Then I threw up the contents of my stomach, a lot of not so tasty salty warm water. I wondered, had I done too much in training? Had I completed too many hard workouts and long runs too close to the race? Why was I feeling so terrible and now that I threw up, would my stomach settle and I could turn this thing around?
Just when I thought I had everything figured out with my nutrition and racing during 100 milers, I’d been thrown another curve ball. My dream race was crumbling around me and there was nothing I could do at this point; I had stepped beyond the tipping point. I got up and trudged on. I sipped water as I knew I needed to stay hydrated going up to the highest point on the course. Each time, I would be nauseous within minutes and again be stopped on the side of the trail, sitting down or laying down trying to keep the water down. Then I would throw up again. I tried drinking just a little water or a lot of water, I marched on. But every few minutes I was back on the ground in agony. My pace was terrible and the mountain seemed to rise insurmountably up in front of me, touching the sky. I made progress forward, but it was stunted and slow going. After what seemed like a half hour I finally looked back and could make out a couple of dots moving up the trail – runners were now catching up to me. I long ago lost sight of those ahead of me and was now going to be falling back in position, not the way I envisioned things going so early in the race.
I crawled up and over Handies, being offered all kinds of snacks and pills from passing runners. I knew there was not some simple fix, as I had a similar episode after my training run on the course from Silverton to Ouray a few weeks prior to race day. I was throwing up salty water just as before and it took hours of just resting to finally get any calories or water to stay down that previous time. My race was basically over at this point and I was in pure survival mode. Jared Campbell and Karl Meltzer sat down with me when they passed by, offering their support and condolences. I remember when Karl got up to leave he told me to get up and follow him, but I couldn’t. There was just a small 20 foot climb up a boulder field and it seemed impossible. I just couldn’t do it. A little while later, and further down the trail on the climb up to Grouse-American Pass I received some heavy motivation from fellow race director James Varner. He stopped and offered a ginger candy and told me I was still on 35 hour pace and things don’t always get worse. I sucked on the candy, drank a full 22 ounce bottle of water and got up, connecting with his words. He had to be right as I know I’ve even given that advice to other runners in the past. Not 20 yards later, I was back on the ground violently yelling at the mountain, eliminating a large and scary amount of water from my insides. At this point I was honestly scared for the first time. How would I ever get up and over that pass and back into Grouse where I could possibly be seen by the medical staff or worse, drop from the race?
At this point I decided to not eat or drink anything and see if that would help. I was weak from my two hour episode over the past couple of miles up and down Handies, but my nausea subsided enough for me to finally crest the pass. I awkwardly stumbled my way down the other side, slowly making my way towards Grouse. I was extremely thirsty and had no energy, but finally arrived into Grouse – two hours overdue.
My amazing crew – Sabrina was waiting patiently for me. She had caught word about my condition and was already preparing with a plan to help me. I told her I was going to sit at the aid station. She helped me into there and soon I was laying on a cot under three blankets. She had me sip water slowly over the next couple of hours, sitting by my side the entire time, alternating with a little bit of Ginger Ale and Sprite. I took a short nap in there and when I woke up (but still lying down), I asked for something plain like a cracker. She brought a tortilla and I nibbled on that for a few minutes. With the final piece I asked for some mashed potatoes and she made a little roll-up. It tasted so good that I asked for a whole mashed potato burrito. She made one up for me and I soon finished it and asked for another. She said not so fast and made me move back towards the fluids. I had to drink a whole bottle of water before I would get another one, her ultimate goal being to have me pee. She knew I needed to be hydrated and filled up with food before she would let me think about continuing on. Fast forward to 10pm (over 4 hours after I arrived) and I had eaten 4 1/2 mashed potato burritos, drank 3 bottles of water and several cups of soda. I felt like a new man and was released by my tireless partner!
Short story through the rest of the race was that I went on to smash the course, running the fastest split of the race from Grouse to the Finish and covered the final 43.5 miles over 40 minutes faster than the race winner and course record holder. I ate more mashed potato burritos at basically every aid station (along with a few energy drinks – Monster & Red Bull). I hardly had to eat any gels in between crew points because the burritos were so filling.
So what went wrong? In the first 30 miles of the race I relied mostly on my mix of gels, chews and gummy snacks that had worked fairly well in some of my shorter races. I unfortunately was very worked up about performing well at this race and placed a lot of stress on myself to perform well. I think this negatively affected my performance and my stomach. I was already dealing with anxiety, added a lot of simple sugar snacks and was hit with some early race queasiness. I added on top of this a bottle of sports drink I had tried in my long dress rehearsal training run that had led to my previous episode of puking. This product which contained a very high amount of salt that my body was just not used to. I should have learned from my dress rehearsal run that this product was just not for me and stayed away.
So what did work? I switched to non-sweet real foods and performed very well. I still ate some gels and chews later on in the race, but these were a welcome addition at the top of a big climb after my burritos had time to digest. I don’t know how well burritos will work in races that aren’t Hardrock (where I have a large amount of time to slowly hike them off up a huge climb after aid stations). I was clearly not over trained as I had suspected since I was able to run so fast for so long in the second half of the race. And so the learning continues.
I never thought that amount of solid food would digest so easily and fuel me for such fast splits late into a race, but because I stayed open and flexible, I found something that turned my race around and worked wonderfully for me. I’m still hungry, onto the next one!
A smoky morning greeted runners at this year’s 2nd Annual Silverton 6/12/24 Hour Mountain Runs held at the Kendall Mountain Recreation Area. The run takes place on a 1 mile loop on the Kendall Trail which was hand built by Rodger Wrublik and Jamil Coury in 2010 specifically for the Silverton 1000 mile challenge. The loop is not easy enough being at 9318 feet above sea level, but also climbs 250 feet up to the top of the ski lift on single track trails and a small section of dirt road. This is no Across The Years! The loop was accurately measured with a Rolotape surveyor’s wheel to be exactly 1 mile and runners aim to complete as many loops as possible in their set amount of time. An aid station was setup along with Aravaipa Running’s chip timing system at the base of the hill under a 30 by 60 foot white tent where runner’s kept track of their mileage for the day and replenished themselves with food and drinks.
The Silverton 6/12/24 was created as a sister race to the Silverton 1000 mile challenge which has been held on the Kendall Trail loop for the past 3 years under the direction of Rodger Wrublik. Runners start in the clockwise direction of travel, switching directions each loop, much to the dismay of most entrants who find one direction of travel much easier! The trail features sections through the trees, two stream crossings, a series of tight switchbacks and a series of fun rollers on a steep hillside.
Packet pickup was held on Friday afternoon at Cafe Mobius which is owned and operated by elite mountain runner Megan Kimmel. Runners filtered in throughout the afternoon, a mix of locals signing up for the race and friends from Arizona and Nevada arriving into town for the weekend. The new Run Steep, Get High shirts made their debut and friends gathered in the coffee shop chatting about the run.
All races started at 8am on Saturday morning with only a few entrants opting for the “night option” which began at 8pm. Local residents Anthony Culpepper and Cody Braford battled for the first couple of hours running laps together, pushing the pace in the 24 hour event. Others took a more conservative approach based upon their own race goals. Anthony ended his run early with a bit over 30 miles, but Cody held strong in the 24 Hour race, staying ahead of last year’s winner Vlad Henzl of New Mexico. Vlad ran 83 miles last year to set the event standard in the 24 hour with Cody taking second. This time, Cody (who was also celebrating his 37th birthday) finished with 91 miles and a new event record, pretty good for a course featuring 22,750 feet of climbing! Cody’s run proves a sub 24 hour 100 on this course is definitely in reach, maybe Cody will return for his 38th and go big? In the women’s race, Silverton local Ivy Lefebvre handily won with 76 miles and placed third overall while Anne Pence of Eagle, CO ran strong for 2nd. Other Silverton locals include first time racer and local photographer Criss Furman who ran 48 miles. He just started running last year at age 66 after being inspired by while taking photos at the Silverton 1000! Blaze Braford Lefebvre (12 year old son of Cody and Ivy) ran 30 miles and blacksmith artist Ken Webb not only ran 10 miles but also created some really cool awards for the top finishers. Friends Ethan Pence, 15 and Brandon Sheard, 16 both ran stride for stride to complete 50 miles sporting their CU Buffalo hats on the final loop. There were a total of 17 runner in the 24 hour race.
The 12 hour race featured a large contingent of Arizona runners including the Redden kids (Tajh, Teagan and Tayer) as well as Silverton locals Bob Boeder and Tanner Paxton. The winner, Justin Lutick of Fountain Hills, AZ ran a total of 55 miles looking strong all day. Although Stephanie Buettner of Scottsdale, AZ led the women with 37 miles after the 12 hour day run finished, Rachel LaGrandeur of Denver, CO put in 40 miles at night to take the win. Tajh age 10 and Teagan age 8 both ran a total of 31 miles, completing many miles together while their younger brother Tayer ran 12 in between playing around all day. It was amazing to watch these kids so effortlessly put in the miles and run with ease even at altitude.
In the “sprint” division, our top 6 hour runner was Aaron Keller of Durango with 33 miles which set a new event record, followed in 2nd place overall by Erin Churchill of Rio Rancho, NM who won the women’s field with 25 miles. Everyone had a great time looping around the course and meeting new people. The smoke from fires in the area was an unwelcome addition to this year’s event, but just another challenge that proved to be no match for these endurance runners.
On Saturday I ran the Scottsdale Beat The Heat 11.22k, a race touted to be the “hottest race on earth”. As a tribute to the record-setting 122 degree record Phoenix heat on June 26, 1990, the race date is chosen to coincide with the corresponding weekend in 2013. With a prize purse of over $8500 for the top 10 finishers, the field arrives hot and ready. Standing at the start line with James Bonnett, we feel out of place among the ranks of Andrew Lemoncello (2008 Olympian, 27:57 10k), Nahom Mesfin (2008 Olympian, 13:29 5k), Fernando Cabada (2:11:53 Marathon), and many others.
I am under no illusion I will place in the top 10. When the entire elite field is capable of jogging a 30 minute 10k on a bad day, and I struggle to run under 34 on my best, a reality check is in order. Despite this, I am confident I am more capable of handling the heat, and curious where I will stack up.
The race begins and ends at Westworld of Scottsdale, with the start in an air-conditioned stadium for spectators to watch. Though the temperature of 104 Fahrenheit is no record, it’s nothing to scoff at on the exposed course under the beating sun. The starter counts us off and the race begins, the front runners predictably blasting out at sub-5 minute pace. I settle back into a quick but comfortable pace, and am passed by the lead pack of women at half a mile in.
I’ve been counting the runners in front of me, and at this point find myself around 20th place. I hadn’t come to the race to take it easy, and kick up my pace enough to glide past the women. By a mile and a half, the carnage is already unfolding as pick off another runner. Soon I come upon James, who is struggling at the foot of an arch injury, but making the best of it. Slowly but steadily I pick off a few more runners as we curve around an adjacent golf course, twisting and undulating along the cart paths in a roller-coaster rhythm.
By the halfway mark, I’ve worked my way up to 11th place by my own count, and can see two runners a ways ahead of me. I set my sights on catching them, but my progress is slow. Running side-by-side and clearly working together, they appear a force to be reckoned with. I inch my way toward them, closing the gap over the course of a mile. Finally, I see my opportunity. A steep drop in the course followed by a sizable incline, I use the momentum to slingshot past them by the top of the hill. Neither can go with me, the heat taking its toll on two more. I push harder as the last two miles approach opening a gap on those behind me. On a straightaway I see a blip on the road ahead of me, a runner too far to be within reach. I hold my position until the finish line, coming in a final placing of 8th.
Looking at the leaderboard today, I still feel out of place among the top 10. The runner in front of me, Yonas Mebrahtu, is a 1:05 half marathoner, 8 minutes faster than my best.
The strange thing is, I finished feeling like I could do it all again. Scarcely had I exited the finishing chute and the pep in my legs was back, my temperature was stable, and I didn’t feel a hint of fatigue. In fact, the only reason that I didn’t go faster was my raw leg speed – at a bit over 5:30 pace, I would struggle for a better time on a cool day.
What did I do differently than these elite runners that allowed me to perform in their realm for the afternoon? The secret is thermo-regulation.
The ideal racing temperature has been found to be around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (speed and distance dependent), meaning runners are often overheating at 70 degrees without realizing it. Add 34 more to the mercury, and suddenly it’s a major performance detriment. Knowing there was no way for my body to keep its core temperature low enough unaided, I took a number of precautions before and during the race to keep myself cool.
1. Leading up to the race, I kept as cool as possible. Blasting the AC and sipping on ice-cold beverages to get hydrated helped, along with staying out of the sun as much as possible. I also iced a towel down in a cooler an hour before the race, and put it over my shoulders 15 minutes before the race to further shed excess heat.
2. Sunscreen. In direct sun exposure, sunscreen can help reflect the sun’s rays (especially UV). This not only prevents burns, but can keep the body temperature from further increasing. I’m not a sunscreen expert and different types may work in different ways, but I’ve had luck with Banana Boat Natural Reflect. I primarily use it because it doesn’t contain as harsh of chemicals as most sunscreens, but it helps with keeping cooler as well. Apply at least 30-60 minutes before running and rub in thoroughly, so it doesn’t sweat off.
3. Early race. Ice can be a godsend in the heat, and it played a critical role in my race. I started with ice on my head, held in place by my hat, to siphon off heat from my head and melt down the back of my neck. I also started with a hand bottle filled to the brim with ice water, sipping it conservatively through 3.5 miles.
4. Mid to late race. It’s been said that in a hot race, water is better on you than in you. When we drink water in the heat, it must travel through our digestive system, into our veins, then out our skin before it can evaporate to cool our skin. Throwing it directly on the skin is much more efficient. Even better, holding the moisture against the skin allows the effect to continue over miles. I sported a pair of No Hands Arm Warmers that would be better labeled Arm Coolers. The North Face rep sold me on the idea of these last year before I crewed at Badwater. The sleeves are ultra-thin and breathable, and don’t hold much heat in. On the contrary, throwing water on these leaves my arms feeling almost icy. About every two miles I would soak the sleeves with water from the aid station, along with my singlet and the bandanna around my neck. In effect, my clothing was a giant swamp cooler for my body, keeping my temperature under control and allowing me to keep the effort high.
Ultimately, heat races are as much about strategy as speed. Keeping cool won’t make you run any faster, but overheating will take you out of a race quicker than anything. Looking ahead to the Vertigo and Hypnosis night runs, racers could be hitting temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. What will you do to stay cool this summer?