I was exhausted, tired and dammit my feet hurt. I was trudging through dry grasslands not sure of why I had even decided this was a good idea. I was in the foothills of the mighty Santa Rita Mountains South of Tucson, walking along the Arizona Trail bound for Kentucky Camp, under the shadow of Mount Wrightson and just a couple small towns and a few dozen miles from the Mexico border. I had put myself through an ordeal and at the end of the day had absolutely nothing to show for it except a stinging, biting DNF. No, this was not the 2013 Old Pueblo Endurance Run, I am rewinding back to April 2011 when I thought it would be a great idea to enter myself in the solo “foot” division of the Arizona Trail 300 – an endurance mountain biking event held annually on a 300 mile stretch of the Arizona Trail from Parker Canyon Lake to Superior. I thought if I had a light enough pack and slept only a few hours here and there, I could make the trek in just over three days, maybe even beat some of the bikes. Instead, I had traveled 65 miles in about 20 hours including 4 hours of sleep shivering on the side of a frozen dirt jeep trail with only a thin space blanket between me and the elements. There was a nasty 12 mile road walk between Patagonia and Sonoita and I was not having fun. I didn’t have the drive or desire to continue and called home for a ride at Kentucky Camp, the site of my AZT300 drop. This was all in stark contrast to my first time at the Old Pueblo 50 Mile which turned into a redemption run for me this time around.
Driving South out of Phoenix is quite different than driving North. The highways North of Phoenix weave up into the mountains, lending immediately to higher RPM’s and higher elevations. The highway routes were blasted out of the mountains, sometimes clinging to cliffs, bridges spanning over canyons and leading towards the pines. Not so heading South. The road to Tucson is flat, straight, maybe some say boring in comparison. I zone out as I leave the large metropolis of Phoenix behind, but soon find my mind wandering towards the wide open landscape. Although I’m not driving through the mountains, my sight is upon them. I look to the right and see the dominating, rugged and jagged knife edged ridge of the Sierra Estrellas rising several thousand feet out of the Gila River valley. Memories take me back to an ill-fated attempt at a traverse. To the left are the San Tan Mountains, the site of our San Tan Scramble race and some great memories. A while later I look left towards Pinal County and the Superstitions. I am surprised as I cross the Gila River and approach Casa Grande that I catch the glimpse of snow capped peaks to the SouthEast. I can already see Mount Lemmon and the Santa Catalinas. After a bend in the highway, stark Picacho Peak comes into sight in the distance, memories of my younger scouting days ebb and flow through my mind. The ropes and chains to the top of the peak are a lot of fun. Soon enough I am in Tucson and I make my way over to the packet pickup and straight on through to the small town of Patagonia about 20 minutes from the race start.
I ran in to Lisa Ann Kravetz and Susan Kramer at packet pickup and they offered to let me crash in their hotel room in Patagonia (I chose to join them in lieu of camping in my truck at the start). I joined them at dinner at the Velvet Elvis pizza place and I drank a couple of Breckenridge Vanilla Porters before heading off to bed.
I awoke the next morning after a good nights rest and drank a bottle of Vitargo and a little coffee before heading over to the starting line. We had to pick up our race bibs there at the start, so I pinned mine on and lined up shirtless at the frigid start line (there was still snow on parts of the course!).
We took off in the pre-dawn darkness and I immediately let a front pack of about 10 run away ahead of me as I settled into a comfortable rhythm. I was excited to be running this race for the first time and I wanted to run smart and have fun. I chatted with Chase Duarte who I believe was also running his first Old Pueblo – hard to believe considering he lives in Tucson. I ended up running with Oracle resident Nate Polaske back and forth for about the first 17 miles as I let the front pack of Todd Braje, Michael Carson, Korey Konga and others duke it out, hoping to pick up some of the carnage later in the day. The course was a mix of dirt roads, single track trail (Arizona Trail) and sandy washes for the first 13 or so miles and mostly downhill. It was easy to keep things rolling and Nate asked more than once if I thought the pace was too quick. I commented I wasn’t breathing hard, so it should be fine. It was cool out so I drank my first sip of water around mile 13 and took until 19 to polish off that first bottle. Thanks to a hearty meal the afternoon before, I also only ate a couple gels the first 20 miles.
I was surprised by the climb and subsequent giant downhill around mile 17 and savored the awesome views looking North towards Tucson. I was feeling good and it was a great day to be running in the Santa Rita Mountains. The scenery is high desert grasslands and very unique. It has a very old west cattle ranching kind of feel to it and I was digging it. Mount Wrightson (high point of the rage) was even snow capped to boot.
I caught back up to lead female Polly Campbell and a couple other runners as we made our way through the mile 25 aid station in something like 3:25 elapsed into the race and worked together up one of the biggest climbs on the course. While the other 3 ran every step of the climb, I mixed in a fair amount of walking whenever I felt like I was redlining. It almost felt like I was just screwing around, taking walking breaks haphazardly. Whenever I ran again however, I quickly caught the pack. Coming into the mile 29 aid, just before re-entering the Arizona Trail section our pack caught up to Korey Konga and another runner. Several of us were still together at mile 33 where Korey finally sat down for a break (he had a sloshy stomach) and Polly took off ahead.
I at some potatoes and salt and gave chase. I finally caught up to her on a technical section of trail, not one of her strengths. I passed her and soon was winding through a wash. I caught a glimpse of Michael Carson up ahead who was in 2nd place at the time and thought to myself, “Crap how am I catching him, he shouldn’t be here!”. He was having a rough day with nutrition and said he started to quick. It was nice to have familiar company (we’ve paced each other at several hundred milers) and we joked about trying to stay ahead of the surging Polly.
We passed some guys shooting guns and on a steep climb that we were content to walk up, we yelled back and encouraged Polly who was just crushing up that thing at a full running gait. Coming into mile 40 aid, it was all 3 of us together and I saw this as an opportunity to make a move. I slammed a Red Bull, ate a handful of potatoes dipped in salt and took off fast. This next section was a gradual uphill on a dirt road that meandered back and forth through the forest. Energy drinks in ultras are glorious! I wanted to get out of sight of them around a bend so they didn’t know where I was at. I succeeded and soon felt the hot Arizona sun beating down. Fortunately, there were some snow banks on the side of the road and I repeatedly grabbed some and placed it on my neck.
The next section became surprisingly technical and there were abundant stream crossings. I at some point didn’t really see any footprints on the dirt road and wondered if I was still going the right way. I consulted my map I had folded in my pocket and I was still good. I came into the final aid at mile 46, ate some blueberries and potatoes and just happened to ask as I was leaving how far ahead the leader was. They replied that I was in fact the first through! Turns out the leader Todd Braje had gotten very lost somewhere past mile 40. This got me pumped and I took off for the finish at Kentucky Camp.
The final couple miles were hot and I just keep dumping water over my head and looking over my shoulder. The worst part about this race is you can see the finish line from about 2 miles out, but then have to keep running AWAY from the finish before dropping into a series of canyons to bring you back up there. I was looking over my shoulder the whole way until I got sight of the end and cruised in for a 7:42 victory. Michael Carson was just a few minutes back and Nate who I ran with early on ran a smart race for 3rd. The amazing Polly Campbell crushed the women’s course record to finish in a time of 7:55 and 4th place overall.
I went into this race with little expectations, ran my own race and disregarded much of the advice one might follow in a typical race: I didn’t take salt caps, didn’t wear a watch, no shirt at the freezing start line, drank very little, had a carefree attitude about the whole thing and went in on minimal training. Sometimes experience and a little scrappy running pay off! I was quite pleased and honored to come away with first place in this historic AZ ultra.
The Zane Grey 50 Mile Endurance Run spans the length of the historic Highline trail beneath the Mogollon Rim, an escarpment on the edge of the Colorado Plateau. The entire Mogollon Rim stretches for over 200 miles across Arizona, but our little run along the highline trail spans a mere 51. While dense Ponderosa Pine forests cover much of the land above and beneath the rim (pretty much as far as the eye can see), the 1990 Dude Fire burned over 28,480 acres of land beneath the rim (affecting many miles of the highline trail between Washington Park and See Canyon), destroyed 63 homes and claimed the lives of 6 firefighters. This fact is important to the toughness of the race as the trail is now exposed to the beating sun, dead-fall and major erosion.
I’ve been camping beneath the Mogollon Rim since I was a kid, attending scout summer camp at Geronimo, backpacking into Horton Creek and even a couple of winter time “snow” camps at Geronimo. I hiked several of the trails leading out of Geronimo to earn patch segments, went horseback riding along parts of the Highline and even drew water from Horton Springs. But my first encounter with the legendary course and ultra that is Zane Grey came in 2007. I was coming off my first “100 miler” which I completed at the ’06-’07 Across The Years 24 hour race and suffered from an intense case of Iliotibial Band Syndrome that plagued me from January, through my trip down to the Copper Canyons in March all the way up until Zane. That year the race was run “in reverse” so we started at the 260 Trailhead and I suffered my way through an intense 12:50 finish at the Pine Trailhead.
I would have run in 2008, but I was in the midst of an 800 mile long hike the length of the Arizona Trail. I actually made it to the Highline Trail section of the AZT just days after the race and remember seeing all of the footprints from the race still fresh in the dirt. I returned in 2009 with a few more miles under my feet as well as some extensive course knowledge (I spent 4-5 days doing trail work on all parts of the course leading up to the race that year) and ran easy for the first 30 miles before taking the lead and cruising on to my first ultra victory in 9:34. This of course filled my head with all sorts of grand visions of success going into the 2010 race. I took off fast from the start and imploded by the time I hit the Fish Hatchery at mile 33, limping in for an 11:49 finish (2 hours 15 minutes slower than the previous year). I then decided I needed a break from the race, from the pounding rocks and beating sun. I continued to do trail work in 2011 and 2012, cutting away all the fallen trees between Geronimo and Washington Park, but on race day I instead manned the Washington Park aid station with Aravaipa Running.
I knew I had to return in 2013 as the trails were calling my name, especially after my 2012 victory at the inaugural Mogollon Monster 106. My training since MM106 had been less than ideal. I limped along through October and November, running through a lot of pain and took off almost 6 weeks between Thanksgiving and early January completely from running. I raced a 50K in Central America in February, Old Pueblo in March and Crown King in April, but my mileage has been quite low (30-50 mpw) compared to last year(100+ mpw). I went in with a casual attitude and a determination to run a smart race.
I camped out at the Pine Trailhead the night before the race, which was a surprisingly popular spot this year. I pitched my tent a few feet from the start line and rolled out of bed at 4:30am just in time to hit the restrooms, check-in (after they started calling my name), stuff about 10 gels into my shorts and eat a few bites of cold mashed potatoes from the previous nights dinner. I walked up to the start line with less than a minute to race start sporting my most ridiculous race day outfit to date – a circa 1999 Scott Jurek style cut-up belly shirt (I chose my bright yellow Mogollon Monster shirt), devil monkey board shorts and bright pink knee socks. Not sure how I’ve evolved to this point, but there I was….
As Joe counted down from 10, I stepped right up to the start line and shot out into the lead for abut the first 50 yards before letting Dominic Grossman take over in the early morning darkness. I quickly felt my heart rate shoot up, my breathing become labored, so I just eased off the pace and let what seemed like 20 guys and gals pass me. I knew the first few miles don’t matter all that much and I focused on keeping my breathing under control, thinking about all of the tough, hot miles ahead. I was just ahead of James Bonnett for the first short climb, but as I continued to hike as we neared the top, he passed by and I was by myself. I just jogged along as I took a few glances over to the right to catch a view of the early morning glow hit the ponderosa pine forest below. I passed two more runners along the section of trail to the first aid station at Geronimo, but was mostly just alone. I ate 3 gels along this section and drank about a half bottle of water.
Coming into aid stations is always a huge mental boost for me. I tend to go into a tunnel vision, focusing on getting exactly what I need and getting through as quick as possible. I had my bottle topped off and was off to make the climb out of Geronimo, still running alone. Just 5 days prior, I had been running along the same stretch of trail lugging my chainsaw to clear any downed trees. It was much nicer to be running with just a couple of bottles of water on race day! The Highline Trail through this segment has been receiving some extra attention over the past year and several sections of the trail have been rerouted past some bad erosion. The new trails were nice and smooth, but seemed to meander more than the old “direct” route. I passed David Metzler and Anthony Culpepper through here and caught up to Van Patterson as I was entering Washington Park.
I exchanged bottles with Sabrina here and finally took off my “belly shirt”, not breaking stride. I was pumped, feeling great from taking the early miles so easy and sprinted towards the creek crossing, noticing that I had passed Michael Carson and Kerrie Bruxvoort at the aid station. Michael yelled ahead to me, and honestly it would have been nice to run with him, but I was in the zone at this point. I kept a solid pace of running and speed hiking the uphills as I made my way towards Hell’s Gate. This section had been in the dark for me at the Monster in September and super overgrown with thigh high grasses so it was nice to see it in the day. I continued to drink well and I was eating gels or chomps about every 20 minutes. I started to feel the heat through this part as it becomes more and more exposed. About a mile out from Hell’s Gate aid I passed by Jason Leman and Dominic Grossman (who was having some knee troubles).
I still felt good, chugged an entire bottle of water, filled up both of my 24 ounce bottles I was carrying, grabbed one potato chip and headed up the short but steep climb out of the aid. I glanced back and saw Jason Leman coming into the aid before I crested the top, but that would be the last time I would see him. I suspected I was now likely in 5th place behind Chris Price, Mike Foote, Scott Jaime and James Bonnett. I had a pre-race goal of top 3 and sub 9 hours and was feeling like I might be able to pick off a couple more runners before Fish Hatchery.
Those next miles between Hell’s Gate and Fish Hatchery are always a blur to me… it is hot, rocky and nothing really changes all that much to me. I just focused on running as much as I could, hike as efficient as possible when my effort level rose, drinking water and eating gels. My knee was beginning to give me some trouble here, but never got too bad. I approached one of the radio checkpoints 2 miles out from Fish Hatchery and one gentleman asked me if I had seen bib number 8. I told him I hadn’t passed anyone and figured someone out of the top 4 was lost… one down. I rolled into Fish Hatch soon enough, sucking the last few ounces of my water bottle dry and quickly ate 3 potatoes with salt and drank two big cups of GU Brew. Sabrina helped me with my one bottle waist pack, handed me two fresh water bottles and I was off to chase down the leaders. Joe informed me somewhat confusingly that I was now in 3rd place, but I wasn’t sure if he said Chris Price or Mike Foote had somehow dropped behind me.
I ran strong through the next section and the miles flew by quickly, especially after hitting a Red Bull Energy Shot. I crossed Horton Creek with news that #9 was 10 minutes ahead and #6 was up by 20. This gave me a boost now that I had a confirmation that I was in 3rd and some solid numbers to go by. A couple miles later another radio operator let me know that I was now only 4 minutes back of the next runner. I surged ahead at this point, hoping that I was also closing in on the lead runner. I didn’t wear a watch in the race, so I had no way to gauge how I was doing split wise between sections. About a mile before the See Canyon aid station at mile 44 I saw Mike Foote ahead and after a while passed him up. He wasn’t looking all that good and said he was just kind of out of it. I hit the final descent into See Canyon and bombed down to the aid station, switching bottles for the last time and took off without even grabbing a bite to eat (like I had planned). I called out “How far behind am I?” as I was leaving and received the devastating news of “21 minutes”. I hadn’t gained at all and with only about 6 miles to go, it was almost hopeless…
I still continued to run strong for the next 2 miles, wanting to be done more than anything at this point. I had forgotten about Mike since he was looking so bad when I passed him and figured 2nd would be a wrap at this point. I had quit eating gels before the last aid and thought maybe I could just go off adrenaline. Well that plan fell apart when all of a sudden Mike shows up and surges past me. Crap. I quickly slurp down 3 more gels and feel a noticeable boost. I run as well as I can, but my knee continues to bother me and only worsens… I finally see the 1 mile to go sign and before long turn the corner on the finish line to cross in 9:04:59, just 2 minutes behind Mike.
In the end, I came away with a 30 minute personal best on the course, and a 3rd place finish and I’m pretty damn happy about that. The post race finish line festivities were a lot of fun, with beer drinking, antics and some great finish line food. Not sure I will make a repeat appearance at next year’s Zane, but I will be back for my sub 9 in some year to come.
April 8, 2013 (Phoenix, Arizona) – The 2013 resurrection of the Crown King Scramble did not disappoint in either fast times nor good times. With registration opening just 6 weeks prior to race day, a field of 147 runners signed up for the race from Lake Pleasant to Crown King up the old Crown King Trail 4×4 road. With a total of 6,750 feet of climbing along a point to point course from the Sonoran Desert to the ponderosa pines of the Prescott National Forest, this is a classic and tough ultra. The starting line was moved to the shores of Lake Pleasant, giving runners at the starting line a nice view of the Bradshaw Mountains they would be climbing to the top of all day.
The race would start at the top of a boat ramp overlooking the lake and begin with a 1.1 mile stretch of pavement through Lake Pleasant Regional Park. Trent Briney (2:12 marathoner and 2004 Olympic Marathon alternate) and Kalib Wilkinson (2:19 marathoner and McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50K runner up) took to the lead, casually chatting away as they gapped the field in the first quarter mile. They were completely out of sight of a large second pack of runners by the time their feet hit the dirt just outside the park. Josh Trevino, another local favorite for the race ran conservatively in what would be his first ultra. Briney and Wilkinson ran together through halfway with Kalib pulling away from Trent up the big climb of the race beginning at Mile 15. Kalib reached the mile 27 Oro Belle aid station in 3:32 with a solid 13 minute lead over Trent, but struggled in the final 4 miles. He held off Trent and finished in a time of 4:10:40, the 4th fastest time in the history of the race. Trent held off a surging Eric Bohn by just 30 seconds, finishing 2nd in 4:16:26. Trent & Eric had the 5th and 6th fastest times in the history of the event!
In the women’s race, Pemberton 50K course record holder Kristina Pham ran strong early on, staying in the second pack of men for the first few miles. She was two minutes up on three time Crown King finisher Tracy Shank at the mile 27 aid station and went on to win the race in a time of 5:39:46. Tracy was just behind her, finishing 2nd in a time of 5:40:19. New to the trail & ultra running scene and in 3rd place was Mel Branta in a time of 5:49:47.
The race finish line was once again located at the Crown King Saloon where runners were greeted with mason jar beer mugs, “I Survived the Run” stickers, a BBQ lunch provided by the local café and plenty of opportunities to swap stories about the days adventure in the large outdoor seating picnic area next to the saloon.
The aid stations on the course were staffed by long time volunteers and past race directors of the Crown King Scramble. The mile 8 Cow Creek station warned that “runners are welcome, but bandits will be shot”, mile 15 was themed as a Hawaiian Luau, mile 19 Silver Mountain was put together by the local Bronco 4×4 club, mile 2d2 Fort Misery was reported to be serving margaritas and mile 27 Oro Belle won the best aid station award with their “best support aid station” featuring bra’s hanging from the bushes lining the course.
A total of 137 runners made it to the finish line in Crown King under the overall 10 hour cutoff. Thanks to GU Energy for the awesome nutrition support all along the course, Maricopa County Emergency Communications Group for the radio support, Phoenix Rescue for medical, Yavapai County sheriff’s department for sending a deputy out to monitor the race, all of the amazing volunteers and the town of Crown King for the amazing finish line setting. Hope to see you all next year for the next edition of the Crown King Scramble!
The Elephant Mountain Trail Runs were born out of the unique nature of the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, one of eleven Maricopa County Regional Parks. Spur Cross Ranch is one of the newest Maricopa County Regional Parks and features almost 11.5 miles of trails including the steep and rugged Elephant Mountain Trail, connections with the Maricopa Trail and the Cave Creek trail system within the Tonto National Forest. Spur Cross is a perfect place for an afternoon hike and picnic along the Cave Creek, or a jumping off point for an all day rugged trail run in the Tonto National Forest.
The original concept for the race had the start/finish at Spur Cross and a multiple loop course featuring multiple trips over the gnarly Elephant Mountain Trail, the highlight of the park. Further discussions with the park supervisor and the more sensitive nature of Spur Cross Ranch’s “conservation area” status led us to our current course with a start and finish within Cave Creek Regional Park and an out and back along the Maricopa Trail. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to include the Elephant Mountain Trail within the race, but it is highly recommended to check out on your own.
On race week, Arizona was hit with a very rare snow storm that brought accumulated snow to the streets of Scottsdale and Phoenix, while dusting the mountains and peaks surrounding Spur Cross Ranch. On course marking day, there was even snow alongside the trails within Spur Cross and Cave Creek Regional Park!
Race day turned out to be absolutely beautiful with clear skies, a cold start and comfortable daytime temperatures. At the top of the first climb over the Go John Trail a pack of 8-9 runners led the 50K and began their journey across the Maricopa Trail between the two parks. The sun was just hitting Elephant Mountain in the distance, providing a stunning view of the races’ namesake feature. The 50K runners return through the start/finish line after mile 24 before a final 7 mile loop all within Cave Creek Regional Park. Two Colorado runners, Jerry Armstrong and Ryan Lassen were in 1st and 2nd, with 1 minute of each other while Marie Repac of Scottsdale who was leading the women’s race had a comfortable lead over Deva Lingemann of Cave Creek. Jerry and Marie both held on to their leads, finishing first in 4:37:36 and 5:16:12 respectively. Ryan Lassen was just 23 seconds back of Jerry at the finish!
The 35K was a hotly contested race between previous DRT trail series race winners Joshua Trevino, Jules Miller and Brian “Supertramp” Folts. All three were close together at the Spur Cross turnaround, but Josh turned on the heat in the second half and ran away with the win in a speedy 2:26:55. Miller was second in 2:35:27 and Folts who took a spill out on the course rounded out third in 2:38:01. Gudrid Espensheid of Big Piney, Wyoming took first place for the women in 3:09:53, Kelly Patterson of Flagstaff was second in 3:20:06 and Ariane Buser of Sausilito, California rounded out third in 3:22:20.
The Elephant Mountain Trail runs will return next year on February 22 with the addition of a 22K!
February 2, 2013 (Queen Creek, Arizona) – Jay Jump made his Arizona ultra running debut at last month’s Coldwater Rumble 50 Mile, placing second to winner Dave James in a time of 8:03:45. Jump returned this weekend to take on the San Tan Scramble 50 Km, a three loop course in the foothills of the Goldmine and San Tan Mountains near Queen Creek. This year would be the course addition of a new trail – Dynamite which was installed by the park around the time of last year’s race. The original course featured an out an back trip over Goldmine Pass on each loop which is the most technical, steep and challenging climb in the race. The new Dynamite Trail created a new connection, allowing for a full loop to be incorporated into the race.
Jump took an early 9 minute lead on loop 1 and continued to pull away through the rest of the race, winning in a time of 4:13:15 setting a standard for the new course. Only Matt Schmitt has run faster, with a time of 4:01:40 on the old course. On the women’s side, Shanna Ailes Isnick flew in from Ohio and proceeded to fly away from the competition. She was hot on the heels of Jay after loop 1, just 10 minutes back. Shanna was the 2012 50 kilometer USATF road champion and went on to break the previous 50 km event record with a finish time of 4:41:55, knocking 5 minutes off Paulette Zillmer’s time from 2012.
There were a total of 247 finishers between all three distances this year, the largest San Tan Scramble to date! Stay tuned for next year’s race which will be moved a month earlier to January 11, 2014 to make room for the Coldwater Rumble 100 mile at the end of January. There will also be a new 17 kilometer distance.
Just days after a cold snap hit the Phoenix area, freezing pools and bursting water lines, we found ourselves with some beautiful above average temperatures in the mid to upper seventies for the inaugural Coldwater Rumble 50 mile & third annual 50 km trail runs. The races are located within the Saguaro cactus studded foothills of the jagged Sierra Estrella mountain range which rises to over 4500 feet in elevation above the sprawling suburbs of Phoenix. Estrella Mountain Regional Park plays host to this race which is also the 4th in Aravaipa Running’s Desert Runner Trail Series (7 race series with 50 km & 50 mile distances).
Thirty hearty souls took to the trails in the 50 mile as twilight spread over a beautiful cloudless Arizona sky from the park’s rodeo arena parking lot and within sight of a handful of horse properties on the park’s boundaries – a reminder of the area’s “Wild West” roots. Dave James, two time defending USATF 100 mile national champion battled on the first of three loops of the course with an unknown long haired Alex Lopez of Temecula, California who took an early lead on James. At the mile 19.5 turnaround, which was also the start/finish, James had regained a 1 minute lead on Lopez with both runners barely stopping for a quick bottle fill before heading out on the reverse of loop 1. Turns out this was Lopez’s first attempt at the 50 mile distance, not to mention he is only 18 years old and a Senior in high school. James was trying to explain the finer points of gels, glycogen and pacing to the exuberant Lopez, but soon his 2 hours of sleep the night before the race and lack of water & calorie consumption caught up to him at the mile 27 aid station. Lopez later dropped at the mile 34 aid station, but we are sure we will be hearing that name again after his final high school track season this Spring.
James powered on ahead for the win with a time of 7 hours 11 minutes followed by local Jay Jump in a time of 8:03. Brian Ortell of Iowa followed up in third with a time of 8:19. In the women’s race, Sherianne Nelson of Scottsdale led Tempe’s Magi Redlich by 20 seconds after loop 1, but Magi pulled ahead by a large margin on the second loop. She maintained her lead on the final 11.8 mile loop to win her second 50 mile race (her other was the 2011 Man Vs. Horse 50) in 9:39. Sherianne held off Jennifer Thompson to finish 2nd in 10:50. A total of twenty three runners finished the 50 mile under the 14 hour cutoff.
In the 50K, which this year featured several miles of improved and reworked park trails on a two loop course (19.5 miles & 11.8 miles) there was a 3 way race between Brenden Halpin, Brian Tinder and Michael Versteeg who all came through loop one within 90 seconds of each other. Tinder stayed close to Halpin, but couldn’t overtake him on loop 2. Halpin won in a new course record of 3:57 with Tinder 2 minutes back. McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50 mile winner Korey Konga of Tucson cruised in for third place in a time of 4:03 posting the best second loop out of the top runners.
While the men’s race was closely contested, the women’s 50K was a whole different story. Master’s speedster Polly Campbell of Tucson dominated the field. Polly won the 2012 Avalon 50 mile in 6:55 which was good enough for 3rd overall that day and a scant 4 minutes off the course record. Oh, and she also placed 5th woman at this past year’s Imogene Pass run in Colorado. She smashed the women’s course record by over 30 minutes and had a winning margin of 45 minutes all while making it look easy. Michelle Hawk, also of Tucson took 2nd in 5:15 and Deb Hamberlin of Phoenix rounded out the top 3.
What began as an informal full moon night training run for the Javelina Jundred, has evolved into an event all its own. I ran the Javelina Night Run back in 2005 when it was a completely self supported affair, loosely organized by Javelina Jundred founder and race director Geri Kilgariff. It was my first true night trail run and I remember the magic and adventure of running around the Pemberton Trail under the full moon with friends. Coyotes were howling, I could shut off my headlamp halfway through the run and there was even a night mountain bike ride going on in the opposite direction we were running. That was back before I ran my first ultra, but it helped to pave the way for my introduction into the sport. Running further than a half marathon at night completely self supported took me outside of my comfort zone.
After we took over the Javelina Jundred in 2008, we decided to put a little more into the night run and it has slowly evolved into what it is today, a 25 Km, 50Km, 75Km and 100Km around the Pemberton Trail at night under the full moon. This year was our largest showing ever, with 257 runners taking to the trails around sunset. Just as this was my first introduction to night trail running and my first exposure to the ultra running community, we hope this event will pave the way for many runners to get out of their comfort zones and experience something amazing.
The new format this year replaces the previous 12 hour format in lieu of defined distances. We now have separate start times for each distance and an overall 14 hour cutoff for the 100 Km. Drop downs (or upgrades for those brave enough) are allowed and results are posted reflecting the switching. There is also now a full aid station at the Pemberton Trailhead, full aid station at Granite Tank half way around the loop and pizza and pint glasses for all runners at the finish!
The men’s 25Km race was close with the top three finishing within 4 minutes of each other. Brian Folts (multiple time DRT trail series race winner) crossed the line first in 1:44 followed two minutes later by Nick Goodman and then Ryan Petry. The women’s race wasn’t quite so close, with speedy Lauren Besenfelder taking the top spot with a 2:08 lap followed by masters runner Lisa Raykowski in 2:13. A total of 169 runners finished one loop, many whom experienced their first night trail run!
The 50K with its 13 hour cutoff is a nice option for runners who want a generous cutoff and ideal running conditions for unique night ultra. There were 74 finishers in the 50K with Trent Taylor of Mesa taking first, sneaking in under the 4 hour mark with a 3:57. Bret Sarnquist of Flagstaff was second in 4:05. Jumping from a half-marathon up to her first ultra distance race and taking the win was 22 year old Erin Lostracco of Scottsdale who finished in 4:42. She was followed up by Laura Encinas of Phoenix who finished with a 5:05.
In the unique 75Km distance (about 46.6 miles) we had a dozen finishers, two of which were women. Jason Underwood of Casa Grande took the win in 8:26, followed by Daren Sandbank of Oro Valley in 8:48. Our first female finisher was Becky Iammarino of Surprise who was 3rd overall in 8:50.
Out of 21 starters in the 100 Km race, we had a very low finisher rate of only 3 runners! Most decided to drop down to shorter distances for one reason or another. This makes the Javelina Night Run 100Km come out with a lower finisher % than the same day’s Mogollon Monster 100 mile! Dov Greenberg was our top finisher in 12:21, followed by Eric Bonilla in 12:41 and Matt Long in 12:53.
With the night run complete, we now turn our attention towards our premier event on the Pemberton Trail, the Javelina Jundred which will be held October 27-28 under the full moon!
All we could do was laugh out loud as we trudged and waded our way through a chest high sea of grasses which had completely covered up what was left of the eroded, rocky and deteriorated Highline Trail. It was dark and eerie, with a full moon overhead and who knows what types of creatures rustling in the bushes all around us. Any attempt at running was futile as we would either roll an ankle on a hidden rock, slip on a large tuft of grass or step on one overhanging stalk of grass and stumble as the other leg tried to lift through the tangled mess of vegetation. We would always be scanning for the next piece of orange ribbon hanging from a high branch, but our true lifeline turned out to be the white reflective diamonds, the signature trail marker of the Highline Trail, many of which had fallen off or been damaged from years of neglect on what is supposed to be a National Recreation Trail. Thanks to the hard work and dedication over the past couple years of one Justin Lutick, a fresh batch of these markers had been tacked into trees every 100 yards along the trail providing the perfect trail of breadcrumbs for us to follow. Even with my extensive knowledge of running on the Highline Trail, I was having a tough time finding my way while still moving efficiently. I knew that others would fare far worse…
I first found out about Jeremy’s dream to organize a mountain 100 miler in September of 2011. I stumbled across his sleek looking website and intriguing race name – very fitting for the type of course he had designed. Looking over the route, I knew it would be a tough race, but wasn’t convinced it would be as difficult or as slow as much of the pre-race hype had led one to believe. I didn’t really know what to think of all the talk of how the race was a cross between Zane Grey and Speedgoat with a little Hardrock thrown in or some calling it a double Zane Grey. No one had yet run the entire course in one go and although I hadn’t run all of the cabin loops, I felt like the significant time spent up on top of the much more mellow rim would at least make for a reasonable winning time. Plus, I much prefer having a solid climb and descent (there are 4 each of these in the race going up and down the rim itself) to the momentum busting ups and downs of the Zane Grey course.
Since this was an ultra in Arizona that I wasn’t having to direct, I was definitely intrigued about entering it myself and as I finally got into shape this year, I knew that there was a good chance I would be lining up myself for the inaugural running of this Arizona mountain 100 miler. With a less than stellar summer of training leading up to the Leadville 100 and what I felt was a mediocre performance, I recovered quickly and set out to really get myself in shape. I had two 100 mile weeks along with a 47 mile / 15 hour pacing job out at the Wasatch 100 that ended up being 3 weeks out from race day. With that in the bank, I started my taper, adding in one final hard workout with a mountainous 26 mile night trail run out my back door at South Mountain which I completed in 3:55. With the work done, I really took it easy the final two weeks, only running a couple miles a day with the exception of a 28 mile three day weekend marking and sweeping the Flagstaff 50 course.
There is something captivating about inaugural races in general, especially first year 100 mile races. There is so much unknown out there that is very exciting to me. No one knows exactly how tough the course is, what kind of times will be run, whether the aid stations will be setup on time, or how good the course markings will be. There is a lot of room for adventure that just isn’t quite possible when running well established races where everything has been so dialed in that all you have to worry about is putting one foot in front of the other until you are done. It seems there have been a lot of new 100 milers popping up all over the place, many organized by enthusiastic runners who have never directed a race before and who have only been in the sport a short while, lacking much experience in racing longer distances themselves. There is not a perfect substitute for experience, but hard work, dedicated research, passion and enthusiasm can go a long way. I’ve now directed over 40 ultras in the past 4 years and personally run 40 in the past 7 years and I know that I have learned a lot over this time about how to deliver a safe, quality event. I knew that Jeremy was coming into this with limited experience, but he did have a passion and put in A LOT of work to ensure that the event went as well as it could. I also knew that Jeremy often gets lost as his website emphasizes (www.getoutgetlost.com) and he has been lost at one of my events where he went right past our course markers at a junction. Nothing against Jeremy, but I wasn’t going to take any chances and made sure I knew the layout of the course and carried laminated course description cards with me for each section of the race.
My one other experience at an inaugural 100 (The Moments I Live For Part I – Grand Mesa in 2010 – Race Report) taught me how important it was to study course maps and race descriptions, to trust my instincts and be prepared mentally for anything. A certain section might take a lot longer than anticipated, mileages might be off, the trail could be rougher than you thought and there may be some unanticipated cross country sections you weren’t expecting. All in all, Grant Mesa was way tougher than I thought and it humbled me a lot. I also had the time of my life and had an authentic adventure. I was prepared for the same at the Mogollon Monster.
Going into this race I definitely was on top of my mental game. I was hungry to run fast and run hard and I was confident in my training and my ability. After 7 years of running ultras, I’ve finally exercised some consistency to my training in 2012, starting out the year with a solid buildup with a 50 day run streak and then having many weeks of 100 plus miles. I also moved to within a mile of trails at South Mountain which has revolutionized my training, offering the ability to run steep, technical trails on a daily basis. With two months at altitude, living in Silverton, Colorado this summer and a countless number of long runs 4-8 hours coupled with several key pacing jobs through the night in summer hundreds (Hardrock, Grand Mesa and Wasatch) along with my own run at Leadville, I was super stoked to be running long and going all night. Basically my stoke meter was at an all time high to be racing for 100+ miles and my body was tuned to do just that.
I decided to sleep at the Pine Trailhead on Thursday night, setting my tent up within feet of the start line to keep everything low key and focused. The elk calls throughout the night was eerie, but didn’t keep me up too long as I dozed off to sleep. I woke up at 8am, ate some breakfast and just sat around, chatting with others arriving until the 10am start. I tried not to think about what we were going to do… its really hard to conceptualize running for that far and that long. Better to just focus on the stretch at hand and enjoy the surroundings, making sure to take care of eating, drinking and route finding.
As Jeremy counted us down, the typical ultra “space bubble” formed around the starting line – no one wants to step up to the line! So I just walked right up and when he said GO, I took the lead out of the awesome metal starting gateway. I was followed by Brian Tinder and Sean Meissner, both favorites in the race and we took it out at a reasonably casual pace for a 100 mile race. Just jogging along, joking and keeping things easy. It was kind of nice to be heading out of the Pine TH on a different trail than the Highline. I commented to Brian that it was going to be fun seeing so many new trails on the course. Within a mile of the start, an anxious Alex Kaine decided our pace was too slow and literally sprinted past us, heading out of sight within minutes. He said as he went by he would be the guy we would be passing at mile 12 when he blows up… can’t say I could argue with that assessment. 100 milers are often times about patience and this was not a showing of that.
I led the second pack of Tinder, Andy Pearson and some other guy whom I didn’t catch his name to the base of the big climb up Pine Canyon and then dropped back a little bit, just trying to keep things easy. I hiked strong, kept dumping water on my head to keep cool and retook the lead of the second group by the aid station at the top where I didn’t break stride as I exchanged for a single bottle with my crew of Sabrina and Michael Carson. After a short but fun cross country section along the highway, we took the General Crook Trail across the the Milk Ranch Point Road. Tinder and I ran this section together all the way to the next aid station at Dickerson Flat at a fairly fast pace. I didn’t feel like I was keeping with my typical conservative mentality, but it felt good to just open up the legs so I went with it.
After Dickerson Flats, we turned onto the Turkey Springs Trail for the descent down to Geronimo and I commented to Tinder that I was just going to relax and take things easy and I wasn’t going to bomb down this. Well I did relax, but just letting gravity take me down the super rocky and technical trail, but soon gapped Tinder as my technical skills are a little more in line with this type of terrain than his. I soon recognized this section of trail as I had done a hike with Nick, James and our friend Jake here a couple Decembers ago. This would turn out to be a very valuable memory when I came to the junction with the West Webber Trail (where we would climb back up to the top of the rim at mile 97 in the race). When I came to the juncion, there were about 7-8 flags all going right (up West Webber) and only after stopping for a minute did I see the one flag down to the left around a bush. I knew Geronimo was down to the left, so I took off in that direction. I thought for a second about waiting for Tinder, but I didn’t know if he would be one minute or 10 minutes back. I decided to go and I kept whooping for a minute or two down trail in case he heard me. It was at this point I noticed I was making fresh tracks on the dirt and suspected Kaine had taken the wrong turn back there (turns out he never made it onto the Turkey Springs Trail after the Dickerson Flats aid station).
When I arrived at the Geronimo Aid Station at Mile 18, they confirmed I was in the lead and I let them know that there was a questionable junction that people would likely get lost on. I felt bad for not trying to fix the markings, but there was little I could do and I was in the racing mentality. I felt a huge boost knowing I was in the lead and ran quite a bit of the climb up from Geronimo. I was feeling really good and I knew this next 9 miles better than any in the entire race since I do trail work here every year. I had never run along the Highline Trail in the fall and was surprised at how different it looked with tall grass, ferns, and trees in full growth. Everything was a bit tougher to get around, but I still made good time and was soon coming into Washington Park at mile 27 for the first time, still in the lead. I made a quick transition and headed out for the second climb to the top of the rim.
As I began the ascent up the Arizona Trail, the first thing I noticed was the lack of any markings… not a single flag. Fortunately I had done this trail once before in my 2008 Arizona Trail Thru-Hike and I knew it was the only way up. I continued to climb – mostly hiking and still never saw a flag the whole way up. I knew many would be questioning this section later in the day. I hit the rim road, turned right and read on my course description that I had 4.5 miles to go to the turn off for the Houston Brothers Trail and aid station. About a half mile later I pass a car pulled off on the side of the road where an older couple was attempting to change their blown out tire. I bit my lip as I passed by and finally succumbed to asking them if they needed any help. The woman instantly took me up on my offer as she though her husband was going to have a heart attack. I stopped, went back and jacked up the SUV all the way until we could get the new tire on, tightened the lug nuts and dropped the car, all the while looking back over my shoulder to see if anyone was catching up. The woman finally asked if I was out hiking with a friend and I told here I was in a race. She then gasped and told me to get going… her husband trying to offer me money for my time, which I declined and headed back on my way.
The rim road was a bit hillier than I expected, but the views were amazing. It went by quickly, but I was soon feeling very sleepy… not a good thing to be feeling at mile 32! When I got into the Houston Brothers Aid Station staffed by Grandpa Jim, his wife and Matthew Schmidt, I decided to slam one of the Monster Energy drinks supplied by the race. This turned out to be a good call, since I instantly perked up and ran every step all the way to Pinchot Cabin aid station at mile 41. This was a beautiful section of trail, especially with all of the fall colors – red, yellow, orange everywhere in some of the small canyons! One of my pre-race goals was to get to mile 50 back at Washington Park by dark, so I was pushing pretty hard through here. I hit the Pinchot Cabin Aid Station staffed by ultra veterans Linda Van Tillborg, Kate Hansen and Tom Ford right around 5:45pm and knew my goal of darkness by WP would fall short. I still wanted to get as far as I could before turning on my light, so after slamming back some mashed potatoes and guacamole, I hit the short road section before joining the Fred Haught Trail. I ran most of this section, taking in the last bit of light filtering through the tall Ponderosa Pines and still feeling really good.
Darkness fell upon me as I was on the Arizona Trail just before I hit General Springs Cabin and I clicked on my light for the steep descent down into Washington Park. It was here that I started seeing runners coming towards me who were climbing up at about mile 29 in the race. They were startled to see me ripping down the trail and asked if something was wrong or if they were going the wrong way. I don’t think they quite believed I was already almost to mile 50. I hit the aid station, ate some mashed potatoes, drank a Red Bull and picked up my pacer, Michael Carson who was fresh off a win at the inaugural Flagstaff 50 Mile the week prior. We headed out on the Highline towards Hells Gate and ran most of the first few miles until we hit the dreaded seas of grass which halted us to a stumble through the darkness and killed our momentum. It was all about trying to not lose too much time and not get hurt. The rustling in the bushes turned out to be a bunch of harmless cattle who would dart across the trail and sometimes run in front of us, unleashing some horrific farts along the way. After an eternity, we finally saw lights for Hells Gate and fueled up, thanking Noah and his crew again for being out there. We next just focused on not missing the turn for the Myrtle Trail which neither of us had been on before. We found the turn easy enough, and hiked up, following the maze of a trail to the top, avoiding wrong ways by steering clear of the blue flagging along the way.
Once on top of Myrtle, we had a short cross country section to the Rim Road and after a left turn and a half mile of road, we turned right on Forest Road 321 for a 3.5 mile sprint to the Buck Springs aid station. We just absolutely crushed this section, but started to question the route when we didn’t find a single confidence marker. I wondered at one point if the aid station crew was late setting up, but then we finally saw a light and a well staffed aid station in the middle of the forest with a roaring fire and lots of hot foods. I taped a hot spot on my foot, ate some cold potatoes, and a bowl of fresh fruit all while sitting next to the fire. I still wasn’t wearing a shirt at this point and figured as long as we were moving well, I would stay warm. It was at this point that the stated mileages between aid stations in the course description and aid station distances given by the volunteers weren’t quite adding up. I just told myself it didn’t matter and it was what it was. We took off for the U-Bar trail and our last visit of Pinchot Cabin. After about a mile of really good markings, they soon became less and less frequent, to the point that we would run 10-15 minutes without seeing anything. But then we would reach the next trail junction and a small piece of reflective tape would guide us onward. I’m pretty sure someone pulled the flags in this section and there were some turns we made by directly following the course description that I’m sure would be virtually impossible to find without. As we came out of one canyon, we hit a barbed wire fence where the trail appeared to dead end. No sign of a marker, ribbon or trail beyond the fence or to each side. We stopped for a few minutes, contemplating whether to drop back into the canyon and re-reading the description several times. Finally, I took a chance, went through a gate in the fence and picked up a VERY faint trail. This went on for a while and we finally found a ribbon! We were still on track, but wondered if ANYONE would find their way past that one.
When we go to Pinchot Cabin at mile 72, I wolfed down some food and finally grabbed some warmer clothes after an extended stop to visit a little and get a better flashlight for Carson. We were soon on our way to Houston Brothers, but I was starting to get stiff and lazy. I did manage to run quite a bit of the gradual climb, but it wasn’t as effortless as before. We didn’t stop long at Houston Brothers where I drank another Monster drink and we then took to the rim road. We turned off our lights here for some long stretches, just running by moonlight.
The drop back into Washington Park was uneventful except for passing a few runners who were pushing the cutoff into mile 50. I sat down at Washington Park for a few minutes to eat more mashed potatoes, tape my ankle which I had rolled, and eat some nori rolls made by Traci Danek. Only about 20 miles to go at this point and it was about 3am! From here we set back out on the Highline and it was slow going. It was warming up again and I was just feeling the effects of the miles and time on my feet. I wasn’t as nimble as earlier and I had to stop after 4 miles to fill my bottle up from a stream. We were really looking forward to the daylight at this point even though that meant I wouldn’t be finishing before the sun came back up (one of my other pre-race goals). The tall grasses through here were quite annoying and my mind was playing tricks on me. I kept forgetting sections of the trail through here and what came next. We finally crested the last uphill before the long descent into Geronimo and dawn was starting to break.
A final fill-up at Geronimo from Sabrina and we were off to tackle the final climb. I was a bit frustrated that we had to do the 6 extra miles and giant climb, but one we made the turn for West Webber, I kept telling Carson that we were just out on a training run and enjoying a new trail. This helped me mentally to distance myself from what I had done so far and enjoy what I think is the most beautiful section on the course. We finally topped out, and headed down towards the super rocky Donahue Trail. This thing was insanely rocky… way worse than anything on the Highline (or maybe it was just that I was now over mile 100!). We hit the Highline Trail fairly close to the bottom and cruised into the Pine TH and our last crew spot before the finish at mile 104. From here it was just a victory jog under the highway, some super soft pine covered cross country section and finally pavement to the finish. Jeremy drove ahead of us, making sure we didn’t miss a turn and finally came around the final corner to the “finish line” which hadn’t been setup yet. Jeremy gave me a high 5 and I was done! 22 hours 24 minutes for over 106 miles… my first hundred mile win and first course record!
I had little information on how far ahead I was and was even looking over my shoulder coming through Town. I found out at the finish that 2nd place Andy Pearson had just gotten into Washington Park at mile 85, where I had passed through 5 1/2 hours earlier. Turns out he finished 5:41 behind me in 28:04 and a total of 9 runners finished, some within 15 minutes of the 36 hour cutoff.
This was definitely the most solid race I have ever run. I typically would stay a lot more conservative through 50 miles, but I was basically hammering it starting at mile 8 and I didn’t really let up until Mile 75 when I started to get lazy. I never got lost once on the trail thanks to my extensive course knowledge and pre-hikes, laminated course description that I carried, general navigation skills, and intuition.
I have to thank my incredible crew Sabrina Redden for being up all night feeding me mashed potatoes and driving all around the course and my awesome pacer Michael Carson for giving me company through the night and sharing an incredible experience. Jeremy did a great job with the race considering this was his first gig as race director. His dedication to pull this event off was evident and I know he learned a lot after this experience. I’m really looking forward to see how my time stacks up in future editions, but I can’t say I will return next year. I would hate to ruin my incredible experience I had this year by bombing out next time! Best of luck to Jeremy with next year and congratulations to all of the finishers! Thank you for a great adventure.
Results – 2012 Mogollon Monster 100
1st – Jamil Coury – 22:24
2nd – Andy Pearson – 28:05
3rd – Jerome Jourdon – 29:32
4th – Marias Toma – 31:05
5th – Shane Peltonen – 33:49
6th – Danny Speros – 34:21
7th – Rudolph Palmer – 34:48
8th – Alexander Kaine – 35:38
9th – Deron Ruse – 35:49
Running in Arizona isn’t limited to hot, desert trails winding around saguaro cactus and ocotillos. Although that is the typical scene around the Sonoran Desert surrounding Phoenix and Tucson, just a couple hours north brings higher altitude and the dense Ponderosa Pine forest surrounding Flagstaff. The town itself is at 6,910 feet and is situated at the base of Arizona’s highest mountain range – the San Francisco Peaks which rise up to 12,633 atop Humphreys Peak. Flagstaff is well known in the running community as a hotbed Olympic caliber athletes looking for high-altitude training. Flagstaff also offers one of the best mountain trail systems anywhere, with a local urban trail system, trails in the Mount Elden / Dry Lake Hills area right next to town, access to the 800 mile long Arizona Trail which runs through town, and the Kachina Peaks Wilderness which encompasses the San Francisco Peaks.
There is a very passionate and active community of runners in Flagstaff, but opportunities to run ultra distances in the surrounding areas have been limited to solo training runs and loosely organized group runs. Our hope with the Flagstaff 50 Endurance Runs was to create a tough, rugged ultra starting in town and traversing as many of the local mountain trails as we could fit in.
After over 2 years of planning, it was tough to believe that the inaugural weekend had finally come. With aid stations setup, course markings in place, communications teams assembled, and runners checking in at the local running store Run Flagstaff it was all coming together. The race was set to start out of Buffalo Park, a multi-use park near the center of town operated by the City of Flagstaff, which is also the site of the local cross country meets. The 50 mile runners took off into the Coconino National Forest just after dawn, heading for the first climb up the Oldham Trail. Michael Carson who placed second at this year’s Zane Grey 50 Mile led to the first aid station near the top of Mount Elden. Runners traverse north along a ridge offering up spectacular views of the rising sun and golden aspen leaves off to the East before dropping 1800 feet down to the Little Elden Trail below. A gradual climb up to Shultz Pass ensues, encircling the Mount Elden range before runners go right up to the Kachina Peaks Wilderness boundary.
Carson continued to hold his lead along the 9 mile out and back section of the course to the Rocky Moto Trail within the Fort Valley Trail System. Korey Konga was running about 15 minutes back in second place along this section before eventually trailing back to join Adam Barstad. Carson continued to build his lead over the final two big climbs of the day up to the top of Mount Elden and then the exposed Heart Trail. He finished in a time of 8:41 on a course that many called tougher than Zane Grey. Adam Barstad finished second in 10:27 and Flagstaff local Jason Henrie finished third male in 11:06. In the women’s race, Katherine Metzger of Prescott ran a strong race to finish 3rd overall in a time of 10:33. Maggie Beach of La Crescenta, California came in second place in 11:31 and Flagstaf local Janet Bain finished 3rd in 12:12.
The 50 kilometer runners enjoyed the same course as the 50 milers with the exception of the out and back to the Fort Valley Trail System. The race shaped up to be very competitive with 2:19 marathoner Kalib Wilkinson who recently moved to Flagstaff going up against first time ultra runner and local pizza maker Caleb Schiff, and Flagstaff local Karl Jarvis. Kalib led to the top of the first climb followed closely by 22 year old Prescott runner Zac Mendenhall and then Caleb. Kalib ended up dropping later in the day and Caleb rolled his ankle, paving the way for Zac to take the win in 5:12. Karl finished second in 6:06 and Seth Redden was third in 7:17. Our top women was from Flagstaff with Leslie Grabel winning in 7:56, Shannon McQuaid of Tempe was second in 8:01 and Renee Stevens of Tucson was third in 8:28.
The toughest section of the day turned out to be the 8 mile loop going down the Elden Lookout Trail and back up Heart Trail where runners faced a technical descent and steep climb along exposed trails that burned back in the 1977 Radio Fire. No runners missed any cutoffs during the day and our final runner in the 50 miler, Greg Grady finished in 15:37.
Thank you to the Coconino National Forest and City of Flagstaff for permitting this event, the Coconino Amateur Radio club for providing communications all day along the course, our volunteers from the Sedona Running Company who ran the Sunset Aid Station, Ian Torrence and his team of volunteers at Shultz, Bret Sarnquist for taking photos, Run Flagstaff for hosting the packet pickup, Flagstaff Brewing Company for offering $1 off beers for finishers, David James for helping to mark and sweep the course, and all of our volunteers on race day. We hope to see you all next September for the second running.
The 3rd annual McDowell Mountain Frenzy trail runs again featured 50 kilometer, 25 kilometer, 10 mile and 5 kilometer courses primarily on the rolling and technical competitive mountain biking tracks. These courses feature tight banked turns, lots of rolling hills, desert wash crossings, and several “stunts” along the way to keep things interesting. In its second year, the Frenzy 50K leaves the competitive tracks and heads out towards the foothills of the McDowell Mountains, turning around at the Dixie Mine.
Runners couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day, as the glow of dawn revealed a beautiful cloudless sky and cool temperatures. The 50 K runners gathered just before the 7am start as Nick gave out the final race day instructions. Next thing we know, over fifty 50 K runners are heading off on the sport loop!
By the time I saw the 50 K runners for the first time around mile 3, the front pack had already disintegrated as the front runners were really pushing the pace on the super runnable mountain biking courses. Tony Delogne from Sedona was in the lead, followed closely by Fred Thompson from Helena, MT, Scot Bajer of Flagstaff, Michael McCorgary of El Paso, TX and Jeremy Schmuki of Tonopah.
As the day wore on and the quick pace took its toll, it was Fred Thompson who came through the start/finish area in 1st place after mile 26. He came through in 3:11, but was trailed closely by the Flagstaff duo of James Willis in 3:13 and Scott Bajer in 3:14. Michael McCorgary was just being them in 3:18. It was ultimately Willis who pushed hard on the final 5 mile stretch to finish 1st in a new course record of 4:00, followed by Bajer in 4:03.
In the ladies race, Aravaipa team member Kat Metzger of Prescott led early on and came through mile 26 in 4:05 just a few minutes ahead of Chrissy Parks of Tucson. Kat was able to hold off Chrissy in the final miles to finish just under 5 hours in 4:59:28. Chrissy finished 2nd in a close 5:03 and Lori Hickernell was 3rd place in 5:31, bettering her ’10 finish by almost 15 minutes.
The 3rd edition of the Frenzy 25K produces some great competition and fast times, with new course records for both men and women. Paul Kramer led early on for the men, but was chased closely by Stephen Hannaman of Scottsdale and Jules Miller of Madison, WI. By mile 10, Jules had taken the lead, followed by Kramer, Kevin Tuck of Salt Lake City, UT, and Hannaman in 4th (all within 4 minutes of each other). In the final 5 mile loop, they all maintained there positions, with Miller setting a new course record of 1:42:25, taking 2 minutes off of Ian Moore’s time from the inaugural running. Kramer and Tuck finished just 5 minutes back and within 20 seconds of each other!
The women’s race started with Lauren Besenfelder of Scottsdale taking the early lead followed closely by Brittney Orkney of Tucson. Lauren was out of reach by mile 10, coming through in 1:16 and Brittany 4 minutes back. Lauren finished in a new course record of 2:00:44, taking over a minute off of Angie Kell-Robertson’s time from ’10. Brittany finished just 4 mintues back, not losing any time in the final 5 miles.
The 10 mile Frenzy course takes runners on a combination of the Sport, Technical and Long loops. The course is also the first loop of the 25 kilometer course. This year ASU runner Josh Walker from Tempe won the men’s race with a new course record of 1:05:26, taking almost 4 minutes off the previous record. Boris Granovskiy from New Haven, CT finished second in 1:09 and Cam Hill (who won the inaugural MMF 10 mile) was third in 1:10:29.
Lisa Raykowski came away as the women’s winner by finishing in 1:23, 7 minutes ahead of second place Lindsay Cavner of Colorado Springs, Colorado. This was Lisa’s second win at a DRT series race (she previously won the 10K at Cave Creek).
Last, but not least, the 5 kilometer race takes place exclusively on the sport loop. Just 31 runners joined us this year, but we had a good battle up front between Dan Brinkman and Tim Merritt who finished just 22 seconds apart. Unfortunately, the rest of the field took a turn down a service road, adding a bit of distance and time to their run. Sarah Kuzmiak of Tempe was the first female finisher in 31:00.
We’d like to thank Rand Hubbell and the staff at McDowell Mountain Regional Park for their continued support of this event and for helping to deliver aid station supplies out on the course. Our amazing volunteers were an integral part of our aid station and on course support. We’d like to thank Justin Lutick for not only staffing the Dixie Mine aid station but also sweeping the back half of the 50K course!
We have some exciting changes in store for next year’s McDowell Mountain Frenzy scheduled for December 8, 2012 including a new 5 mile course replacing the 5K and another surprise that we can’t quite announce yet! Hope to see you all back in the desert in December!
I was exhausted, tired and dammit my feet hurt. I...
The Zane Grey 50 Mile Endurance Run spans the length...
Fluid Sports Nutrition is partnering with Aravaipa...
Black Diamond Equipment has stepped on board to sponsor...
April 8, 2013 (Phoenix, Arizona) – The 2013 resurrection...