Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

I like to Run Insanely Long & Crazy Distances                                                                                                             Pony Express Trail 100
                                                                                                                                                                            www.ponyexpress100.org

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I guess I have a strange obsession with running around mountains and mountain ranges.  Most people like to bag mountains by climbing to the top.  I like to bag mountains by running around them.  This Saturday I bagged another mountain range, the Onaqui Mountains in the west desert of Utah.  These mountains lie south of the Stansbury Mountains (Deseret Peak) and north of the Pony Express Trail.

This loopy obsession began on May 2004 when I ran around the mountain behind my home, Lake Mountain, a loop of about 32 miles.  That felt like an amazing accomplishment at that time.  Since then I’ve probably run around it nearly 15 times.   After that, for many of my solo adventure runs, I’ve chosen to run around a mountain or an entire mountain range.  My entire list is at the bottom of this article. continue reading…

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The San Rafael Swell is about 2,000 square miles of public land in Central Utah that is known for its scenic sandstone formations, deep canyons, and expansive panoramas.  The entire area has been lifted up and turned, leaving an angled reef displaying amazing rock formations, domes of sandstone, and rugged ridgelines. The area is harsh in the summer and is often overlooked to visit except for off-road vehicle enthusiasts and horseback riders.

A Wilderness Study Area has been established in the Swell and this has been somewhat successful in keeping the ATVs out of pristine canyon areas and high plateaus, leaving areas of solitude.   I was interested in exploring the Sids Mountain Wilderness Study area, a very remote area in what is known as the Little Grand Canyon of Utah.  Late winter is an ideal time to run in the area because of the spring-like temperatures, some flowing water and lingering snow patches. continue reading…

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Cathedral Valley is one of the great remote areas of Utah that receives very few visitors.  In 1945 the first superintendent of what was then Capitol Reef National Monument, christened this area of fantastically eroded cliffs, sandstone monoliths and panoramic views, as Cathedral Valley. To him, the scene seemed downright Gothic. Compared to the more popular Waterpocket Fold area to the south in Capitol Reef National Park, not many people choose to make this trip.  It usually requires a high-clearance vehicle and at times a 4WD vehicle.

During most of the year, a 64-mile loop (including a paved-highway connector) can be driven to view this spectacular area.  Last year (2015) I made a brief visit to Cathedral Valley and recorded this video.  This year, I decided that I would try to run the entire loop.  Instead of running the highway to connect the ends of the road, I would use a remote 4WD road (0146) to complete the loop.  This would make a loop of about 43 miles, most of it on fast maintained dirt road.  Surely no one had ever attempted this before and I would discover another epic long run.  With some sight-seeing detours along the way, my run would be 47.2 miles. continue reading…

Jackpot 100

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I ran Jackpot 100 held at Cornerstone Park near Las Vegas, in Henderson, Nevada.  I had never run this race before and looked forward to running in warmer temperatures away from the long, cold winter in Utah.  This race is a loop-format race on a 2.38-mile course through the park.  Various races are held concurrently, 48-hour, 24-hour, 100-mile, 12-hour, six-hour, and marathon.  I chose to run the 100-miler. continue reading…

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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2015 was a good running year for me.  For the past few years I have been slowed from continued consequences of the massive tibia stress fracture that I experienced in 2012. Opening 2015, I still was having some issues but as the year progressed, stability in that leg area returned and I worried less about it.  I still fear running faster than 7-minute pace, which seems to cause tears in the area so I’ve retired from face-pace running at short distances (5K, 10k, half-marathon, marathon, and even 50K).

With consistent training and long races I experienced a record year for me in miles, with 4,564 miles, far more than my previous best of 3,943 in 2011, one of my best years.  With new responsibilities at work in 2015, I found it more difficult to find time and motivation to do a lot of mid-week training and instead concentrated on very long Saturday runs, always taking off Sundays.  I probably averaged running less than three days a week.  I added many power-walks from the train station to work and back several times a week. 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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“Why drive if you can run?”

I am currently training for Across the Years, a fixed-time race on Dec 28th where you try to run as many miles as you can during a fixed period of time.  I entered the 48-hour race again this year.  For me, effective training leading into the race involves high mileage on mostly flat terrain.  Treadmill miles also helps, increasing foot speed.

So, my challenge is to keep motivation up and boredom down doing this training. I recently bought a good incline treadmill which is more convenient that using our neighborhood rec center with poor treadmills that seem to always break down often.  I’ve also grown weary of reactions as people come in, seeing me on “their treadmill.”

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As weather gets poor another option I’ve used recently is to run at the Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah.  That is the site of the 2002 Olympics speed skating events. There is a 442 meter running track around it. One day recently I ran 140 laps for nearly 39 miles in about seven hours. It was cool watching the USA teams train, including speed skating (with gold medalist Shani Davis) and short track teams. Some China team members also were training there. I mostly had the entire track to myself during that time.

This weekend, we had our annual extended family Christmas Party at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday in Midway, Utah (near Park City).   Wanting to still have a long run to finish off the week, my son-in-law joked that I should just run to the party.  To me, it wasn’t a crazy suggestion.  I looked at the route options and discovered it would be about 41 miles along familiar roads and trails.  It didn’t take long for me to decide I would do it. continue reading…