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!
The 15.4 mile Pemberton Trail within picturesque McDowell Mountain Regional Park served as the setting for this weekend’s Javelina 12 Hour night run hosted by Aravaipa Running. This gathering of Arizona’s ultra and trail running community kicked off at 6pm, just as the sun set behind the McDowell Mountains to the west of the park. Runners ranging in age from 15 to 76 set out to tackle anywhere from 1 to 4 loops on the trail. One of the unique features of this trail run is special permission to access the park’s trail system at night (trails normally close at sunset). Although flashlights were needed for the first two hours, the almost full moon eventually rose as runners neared the end of their first loop, offering spectacular views above Four Peaks.
Many runners used this event as training and simulation of the upcoming Javelina Jundred taking place on the same trail November 12-13. This is a great way to test out shoes, lighting, pacing strategies and nighttime conditions before the “big day”. Others were simply out to enjoy the trail or compete in their first ultra marathon. One other unique aspect of this event, is that runners do not have to declare how many laps they will be running in advance. Runners are free to continue accumulating laps up to the 12 hour time limit. As for top placing, if a runner continues on past a shorter distance, they are no longer eligible for that award, even if they technically had the fastest time of the night.
Now onto the race. 134 runners set out into the fading twilight promptly at 6pm with darkness quickly enveloping the dramatic mountain landscape in all directions. The first few miles of packed gravel trail meanders and rolls across the desert floor. The trail crosses through numerous dry wash beds that drain the imposing McDowell Mountains out to the Verde River.
As the runners made their way up the gradual first climb of the course, back at Javelina Jeadquarters, volunteers were busy preparing food, slicing pumpkin pie, and picking up pizza from nearby Fountain Hills. The normally quiet trail head was transformed into a colorful city of lighted tents, glowing orange, blue and white under the night sky. Family, friends and spectators assembled around the staging area, lining up chairs to watch the evening unfold and passing guesses on when and who the first runner would arrive over the hill. Time always seems to fly by at these endurance events, and before long shouts of “runner up” could be heard echoing across Jeadquarters. Tucson runner Brian Zacher came flying in just over 2:08 and Alex Kaine was one minute back. Loud cheering erupted out of the “stands” as bottles were quickly refilled and calories replenished. They both made a quick turnaround and headed back out the same way they just came in for their second loop (the course reverses direction each lap).
This year’s Angeles Crest 100 winner Paulette Zillmer was the top female in off the first loop and decided to call it a night, claiming the 25 Km award. Graham Bailey from Mesa was the top 25 Km runner, finishing in 2:22. Sixty runners returned back out on the course for their second lap. Geoffrey Foote was the top 50 Km finisher in a time of 5:10 and Rachel James completed her 50 Km in 5:17. A total of 32 runners completed the 50 Km ultra distance, including 76 year old Eugene Bruckert from Illinois!
Twenty-eight runners decided they didn’t get enough yet, and continued on. Brian and Alex who led on lap 1 stayed in the lead through 75 Km, but both had enough and decided not to head out on a fourth lap. Out of those 28, only three completed the 100 Km distance including winner Jay Danek who is training for his second 100 mile race next month at the Javelina Jundred, first time ultra runner Dov Greenberg, and two time Javelina Jundred finisher Mark Kirkby in a close third.
Thanks to all of the great volunteers who were out on the course and in the aid station serving up food and drinks for everyone!
To wrap up this year’s report, we’d like to give a few runner perspectives on the race. Jay Danek (who won the 100 Km), Christine Harrison and Nancy Ishizawa all offered up their take on the event: