Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

I like to Run Insanely Long & Crazy Distances                                                                                                             Pony Express Trail 100

For this adventure run, I again traveled to Capital Reef National Park, only three hours from my home.  I had always wanted to run Spring Canyon, which is a hidden deep and narrow canyon that runs west to east.  It starts near Thousand Lakes Mountain and ends at the Fremont River.   Towering above the canyon are Wingate cliffs and Navajo domes.  To run Spring Canyon downstream, there are two trailheads to access it.  Upper Spring Canyon is accessed via Holt Draw/Sulphur Creek.   Lower Spring Canyon is accessed via Chimney Rock Trailhead.   The entire length of the canyon from the entry point above Sulphur Creek is about 18 miles.  Add on to that about 5 miles to reach the entry point.  In my case, I added on another seven miles for side trips and wrong turns for a rugged 30-mile adventure.   It turned out to be an amazing all-day adventure.   I was able to quickly hitch a ride back 13 miles to my starting point. This video tells the story

Cathedral Valley is a spectacular desert valley on the North end of the park that does not see many visitors because of the long dirt road access.   I visited Lower Cathedral Valley containing the Temples of the Sun, Moon, and Stars.   These spectacular monoliths are made of pink Entrada Sandstone.  Before returning home, I did a quick seven-mile morning run around these remarkable monuments.  With no trails, I did a random run up and down dry washes and across sandy desert mounds. This video tells the story

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In 2004, at the start of my first 50-mile race, I listened to a runner giving advice to our small group of early starters about pace. This runner was trying to finish his 50th ultra in 50 states and he sported the bib number 50.  Clearly he was experienced.  He advised us to use a run/walk strategy – running for a set distance and then taking scheduled walks.  We started and ran all together but after a mile all the others slowed down to walk.  I just couldn’t do it.  I pushed on and was soon far ahead of everyone.  I wondered if I was doing it wrong. Later most of this group took a wrong turn, so I was glad I didn’t stick with them.  But I was left wondering what the right pacing strategy is for an ultra. continue reading…

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You would probably expect that trail ultrarunners avoid treadmills like the plague. Yes, I have been known to refer to running on them as wimpy, when I could be running outside.   I called that machine the “dreadmill” or the “hamster machine.” I watch shows like Biggest Loser and yell at the people on the television telling them to go outside, to get out of the stupid fitness rooms.

In my housing development we have a small fitness room and a 25-meter pool that I have access to.  It opens daily at 4:30 a.m.  When the sun is up, out the window as I run I can see beautiful Utah Lake and the snow covered Wasatch Mountains. I have a few friends who have worked out there year-round in the morning for the past ten years.  I usually only see them there during the “winter” months when the trails start turning muddy and the mornings become very cold.  I make my appearance in November and bid good-bye in May. continue reading…

To make some adventure runs even more interesting to me, I enjoy running around big things.  Running around is fun.  I also like to give people the runaround.  I started that crazy practice back in 2005. I can’t explain my fascination for running around stuff.  Perhaps as a child I enjoyed getting dizzy.  But there is some level of satisfaction looking at a giant landmark like a mountain or a lake and knowing that you have run all the way around it.

Here’s a list of my runarounds:

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In 2008, I ran my first fixed-time race, a 24-hour race in Buckeye, Arizona, Across the Years (ATY).    Instead of a fixed-distance like 100 miles, there is a fixed time to run, and the winner is the runner who rus the furthest. Since my first race, as of 2014, I have now run nearly 1,000 miles in this type of race. I am not really a veteran yet, but I do have some good experience now, and I was the overall winner in two of the races.

Over the years I’ve come to deeply respect the athletes who run this type of race and have learned much from them.  When I got involved, there were only a handful of runners who ran both mountain ultras and fixed-time races, but now the cross-over seems to be larger.  It truly is a different type of running that requires different skills, a different mental toughness, and a boat load of strategy in order to do well.  With each race I have gained more experience and now know what it takes to excel in them. continue reading…

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Even more fun than running 100-mile races for me is doing solo adventure runs.  My first long solo adventure run was in 2002, to Kings Peak in Utah.  Over the years I gained more and more experience and learned how run with minimal weight on my back, but enough food and emergency items to keep me out of trouble.  I’ve now run thousands of miles solo in the back country in Utah and Arizona.  I’ll routinely do runs of 50K to 50 miles and at times up to 100 miles.  continue reading…

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In my early years of ultrarunning, at times well-meaning friends would confront me to let me know that they thought I could be ruining my life and the lives of others by participating in, and encouraging ultrarunning.  As of 2014, after nearly ten years in sport, my family and friends know now this is part of my life and it seems like concerns have decreased because my happy life goes on.  But all new runners in the sport will probably be confronted by similar concerns. I don’t claim to be a doctor or family therapist of any kind, but I can offer opinions that comes through my experience after nearly ten years of ultrarunning. continue reading…

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Because of its impact on my running development, I must include an entire chapter on Mount Timpanogos (locally in Utah referred to as “Timp”). For more than 100 years, Mount Timpanogos (11,749 feet) has been the most popular hiking destination in Utah.  Timp towers over the valley floors below by more than 7,000 feet – an impressive sight that draws hikers of all ages to its trails.  A single round trip to the summit on the trail covers about 14 miles and climbs almost 4,700 feet.  (Compare this to about 4,460 feet elevation change hiking down into the Grand Canyon from the South Rim (Bright Angel trail) and back with about the same mileage). continue reading…