The 2nd annual Cave Creek Thriller will once again jump start the Desert Runner Trail Series. The race is nearly a sell out, with over 190 runners currently registered. Although the distances are the same as last year, the 30 Km and 50 Km courses have been changed up to include some of the other trails within the park. An out and back spur along the Jasper, Slate and Flume trails will take runners to the southern reaches of the park and reduce the total number of loops. There will also be a new remote aid station (Flume) at the turn-around on the out and back. The main 10 Km loop of the course (utilized by all races) will remain the same combination of the Go John and Overton trails.
If this is your first time out to Cave Creek Regional Park, be prepared for a tough set of race courses! The Go John trail is especially hilly and rocky, while also providing the most secluded and stunning views that the park has to offer. Life gets a bit easier on the Overton Trail where the trail smooths out and is mostly downhill back to the finish line. Cresting the final hill of the course a 1/2 mile out, you’ll get a glimpse of the orange tents at the finish line and will have one last screaming downhill to the end.
As this race again falls on Halloween weekend, we are holding another costume contest. We’ll be giving out “Zombie” awards to the best showings!
Another exciting Aravaipa Running innovation that will make it’s official debut at the Cave Creek Thriller is the new “Ultracast“. Nick Coury, the developer of the project explains, “The Ultracast is the new standard in running webcasts. Updates and results are streamed instantly, without a second’s delay. Now, family and friends all over the world will be able to watch your progress in real-time!” Be sure to share this link with family and friends who will be able to watch a webcam of the finish line and see your results pop up instantly. This new feature will become standard at all Aravaipa Running events in the future.
We’ll end this year’s race preview with a summary of the top runners going into next weekend’s race.
50 Kilometer Race
This year’s ultra crowd should like the fact that there will be more than a dozen runners (last year’s field size), meaning more company out on the course. Last year’s winner Jay Danek is returning and we bet he’ll be looking to get a jump on the DRT point series. Jay is also coming off a win at the Javelina 12 Hour on October 15. 2010-11 DRT Ultra Series winner Michael Carson is a last minute entrant and with his recent wins at the Paatuwaqatsi Water Is Life 50K and Man Against Horse 50 Mile, is a clear favorite. Expect Alex Kaine and Tamas Varga to be within reach along with 1998 Hardrock winner Ricky Denesik from Telluride, CO. On the women’s side, Lori Hickernell (who also recently won the Javelina 12 Hour with 75 Km) will be back to defend her title from last year, but will have to contend with this year’s Lean Horse 100 winner Deb Hamberlin.
30 Kilometer Race
Out to test the new 2 loop course will be last year’s DRT Trail Series winner Bret Sarnquist coming down from Flagstaff. He’ll be going up against Tony Delogne from Sedona who won the inaugural Pass Mountain 50 Km, Jordan McKnight of Safford who placed 2nd at the McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50 Km and 4th at Pass Mountain 50 Km, and David Santiago who won the Master’s DRT Trail Series last year. Michelle Patuto, last year’s 2nd place finisher at the CCT 30 Km will be returning and is looking to be the favorite so far.
10 Kilometer Race
There are currently 77 entrants registered, so expect a bit of a crowded start as the course narrows directly onto a single track. The 2010 winner of the Mesquite Canyon 5 mile, Time Merritt will be racing, so we’ll see how he does on a much tougher course. For the women, Lisa Raykowski (2nd at several DRT Series races) and Jona Davis (3rd Mesquite Canyon ’10) should have a good battle up front.
Make sure to join us for packet pickup on Thursday at iRun from 4-7pm. Enjoy 10% off anything in the store when you pick up your packet. If you have any other questions about this weekend’s race, you can contact us by phone, email, or join us for the weekly Papago Park group trail run on Wednesday at 5:30pm.
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: