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Coldwater Rumble 100

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I again ran Coldwater Rumble 100 in Goodyear Arizona, near Phoenix, put on by Aravaipa Running, the same group that puts on Across the Years, Javalina Jundred (100), and others.  Last year I ran this race and finished in 29 hours.  I went away humbled, knowing that I didn’t run well, and thought I wouldn’t return to this race.  But I did return and was determined to do better.

Coldwater Rumble provides races of various lengths: 4 miles, 20K, 20 miles, 52K, 52 miles, and 100 miles.  They all start on the same day with staggered start times.  About 400 runners would be on the course that is laid out on various desert trails in Estrella Mountain Regional Park.  You could clearly tell which race a runner was in by the color and number on their race bib.

The venue for the race is Estrella Mountain Regional Park, nearly 20,000 acres of beautiful Sonoran Desert set aside to be used by hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.  On this weekend, the runners took over the trails. continue reading…

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To close out 2015, I again ran in Across the Years (ATY), a fixed-time race held in Glendale, Arizona at Camelback Ranch, the spring training facility for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. Last year, after completing a 24-hour race there, I noticed that I was just 132.24 miles short of earning my 1,000 mile ATY jacket. I groaned, knowing that if I wanted it in one more year that I would need to enter the 48-hour race this year.  Running for that long has been tough on me and I’ve come away injured after piling up miles before. But after an injury-free year, and solid training, I decided to go ahead and enter the 48-hour race.

At ATY, there are four different races, running concurrently, 24-hours, 48-hours, and 72-hours and an incredible six-day race.  The objective is to run as many miles as you can during your time period.  You can rest all you want, but the clock is always ticking.  Many ultrarunner friends turn their noses up to these fixed-time races, running in circles for hours and hours.  But to do well in these type of races requires mental strength and solid training, that for me transfers over to doing well in mountain 100-mile races.

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The Javelina Jundred was run on Jalloween this year.  This desert 100-mile race is run in McDowell Mountain Park near Fountain Hills, Arizona, at the base of the McDowell Mountains. The course is a loop format that runs on the 15.3-mile single-track Pemberton Trail.   We would have to run six loops in alternating directions and then run a shorter loop to bring the distance up to about 101 miles.

I have a love/hate relationship with this race.  I ran it for the first time in 2009, finishing pretty good with a time of 23:47.  However, in 2012, I returned and my race fell apart because of the heat and I quit after 100K with a slow time of 19:37, more than three hours slower at that point than my first year.  After the poor experience that year, I vowed to never return again. continue reading…

Kodiak 100

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I ran Kodiak 100 which is in the San Bernardino Mountains at Big Bear Lake, California.  This was the third year for the race that by name makes you think it is run in Alaska.  I don’t know why this race is called Kodiak, perhaps because grizzly bear cousins of the Kodiak bear were once found in these mountains.   With all the 100-milers I have run, this would be my very first time running a 100-miler in California.

Two weeks earlier, I had a poor race at Wasatch 100 and dropped out at about mile 75.  The unusual heat affected me poorly and I was sick for the next few days from heat induced difficulties.  I realized that pulling the plug on that race was the right thing for me, but I was anxious to make amends and get my next finish soon, so I signed up for Kodiak 100 just a few days before the race.

I would classify this 100-mile course as one of the easier mountain 100-milers.  It has about 16,000 feet of climbing along the way and is run most of the way above 7,000 feet.  It has two steep climbs of about 3,000 feet and one of 2,000 feet.  What keeps its difficulty down are the miles of dirt roads and quite a few miles of pavement thrown in.  The finishing rate was only about 62%, pretty low, but fairly typical for newer races that attract newer ultrarunners.  Tahoe Rim Trail 100 to the north has a similar difficulty level to this 100. continue reading…

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I ran the very challenging Capitol Reef 100.  This 100-mile course runs on the Aquarius Plateau which rises about 6,000 feet above Capitol Reef National Park which is off to the east. The Aquarius Plateau is the highest plateau in North America and covers more than 900 square miles.  Little did I know how tough this race would be for me.  I had hoped for a 27-hour finish, but I tossed away that hope about 25 miles into the race.  What makes this race so tough is the altitude (all but 12 miles above 9,000 feet), boulder-ridden trails, and constant route-finding (even with good markings).

I’ve run many adventures in nearby Capitol Reef National Park so I have a great fondness for the region.  I have driven the highway below the Aquarius Plateau, have seen the trailhead signs for the Great Western Trail, and have always wanted to experience the trail in this section of Utah.This was my chance. My experience was unforgettable. continue reading…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squaw Peak 50 is a classic and tough 50-mile race held in the mountains above Provo, UT.  During the early miles, the course climbs the slopes of Squaw Mountain (aka Squaw Peak) a prominent peak that rises above Rock Canyon, frequented by day hikers and rock climbers.  It received its name back in the 1800s for “Big Elk’s squaw” who died in the canyon following a battle with pioneer settlers.

This year was the 19th running of Squaw Peak 50, one of the longest running ultras in the country.  Before this year, I had run it seven times, and my personal best time is 10:56. It is a tough 50-miler because of the climbs, about 11,000 feet (according to Garmin).  The most difficult climb starts at mile 39.5 on a rough trail and climbs about 1,400 feet to the high point of the course in just 1.6 miles without the aid of helpful switchbacks.

Over the past several years I had wondered if running a double Squaw Peak 50 would be possible and how tough that might be.  I put it on my “bucket list” to try some day.   I knew it would be rough, requiring 50-miles of solo running and about 22,000 feet of climbing along the way. continue reading…

logoThe Grand Canyon certainly needs no introduction. It is one of my favorite places to run.  I’ve run more than 1,000 miles in and along the canyon and I jumped at the chance to run an official 100-mile race along the North Rim.  As tourists visit the North Rim, it is common to feel some disappointment at the views as compared to the South Rim.  From the South Rim you can view the canyon from many points but from the North Rim, in the National Park, you really just have one view from paved roads.  But the Grand Canyon 100 took us to spectacular viewpoints outside the park, that tourists miss and opened my eyes to a section of the canyon I had never seen before. continue reading…

Salt Flats 100

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For the fourth time I went to run the Salt Flats 100 near Wendover, UT/NV.  I really like the course which combines speed with some serious challenges.  The Salt Flats 100 (and 50) starts on the historic Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway.  The actual salt flats are 12 miles long and 5 miles wide covering just over 46 square miles.  Near the center, the crust is 5 feet thick in places.  That is 147 million tons of mostly table salt!  It is the site of some astounding land speed records of more than 600 mph.  continue reading…