The Red Mountain 50K I was told was a totally new course for the year. Looking at the map it is kind of like etch-a-sketch lines going randomly everywhere (luckily not anywhere) the lines appear to be on purpose.
Reviewing the run it consists of 5 colored sections and matching ribbons. It looked fun and relatively flat (less then 4,000ft of climbing, I think). I thought this will be fun and possibly fast and as long as I can figure out which loop to do in which order i’ll have a good time.
I thought this will be fun and possibly fast and as long as I can figure out which loop to do in which order i’ll have a good time.
After signing up we decide to make a family trip out of it. The start time was 6:30 and I figured that I may be fast and told the fam to be to the finish by 11:30 just in case. They did not make it there that early, but that was ok because neither did I , but i’ll get to that. At the start on some bridge in Santa Clara I met Matt Ricks and his son Connor. His son, 13 I think, was running the half marathon. They both were sporting jerseys featuring Twinkies.
We chatted, the RD – Steve yelled some directions and off we went, right as the sun began to rise (pretty sunrise btw).
This first section climbed a little up dirt roads until we came to some single track. All the runners were here, halfsieis, 30kers and the 30 or so, of us 50kers who singed up for the full enchilada. The high school kids were having fun, hooting and striping off their shirts as it reached a balmy 50°. The rest of the old guys were shooting the breeze and trying to reserve energy. I kept my speed steady until the downhill section, before the aid. And then I just had to let fly, it was fun, exhilarating and oh so enjoyable. I had to have some fun, I mean isn’t that what this is all for anyways?
Upon reaching the aid station (the only one setup for access through each loop) I grabbed a couple of GUs. The crew there was eager and helpful, they made sure to check my number each time I came through. Refueled I was pointed toward the Blue loop.
Early in the race I could feel the bumps and bruises I took to my body a week previous while playing racquetball with the boys. Specifically my hip really hurt. I leaned into the uphills to get that hip swinging. This was a big concern to me the couple days before the race. I was fearful of a DNF and even considered dropping to the 30k. But the day before I decided to just go for it. That was a good choice, one that tuned into the theme for the day. Long story short, I was feeling my hip early but luckily I found a friend to help distract me for the next 10 miles.
I was fearful of a DNF and even considered dropping to the 30k. But the day before I decided to just go for it.
My trail friend was Rachel. She is a Yoga instructor down in St. George and she was one tuff-as-nails chick! I was super intrigued when she told me about her stage race she had done in Mexico and the one she was planning this year in Iceland. What fun, I can’t imagine. I am still jealous. I was also super impressed with her recent come back from a car accident she had had two years back. And here she was leading the Women on a 50k race. Dang!
As we chatted about yoga, breathing and ruining I began to realize the spectacular beauty of the surrounding landscape. I stopped a few times to snap a picture and take it all in. Really a spectacular place to run.
After aid station stop #2 we took a stroll down the Pink loop. This was the shortest of the loops and I looked forward to the mental boost that it would bring. Conversation with Rachel made this little loop fly bye. She was familiar with most of the course and told me that the section coming up (red) would have the steepest and likely most technical sections. She said to be patient with myself and just understand what was ahead. It was nice to get a locals knowledge of the terrain ahead.
Red (10.2 if you stay on course, 5-ish if you don’t like me)
GUs, Oranges, bananas and as much water as my little pack could hold and I was done with aid stop #3. And began the huff up Red loop. It was good uphill with some switchbacks. I snapped some more pics along this early section as Rachael slowly moved further and further ahead. But I kept glimpses of her from time to time further up the bluff. Pushing up this hill was the first time I had to take little breaks on the steeper sections. That was nice to catch my breath but it was almost more painful on my hip to hike then run so I pressed forward. As I neared the top a dude in a red shirt came flying down. I then reached to top of the plateaus and enjoyed the well-earned view. With head down, feeling the pain I soldiered on. The trail took a left hand turn and I began heading back the way I came. I looked over my shoulder and noticed Rachael was zig-zagging up another bluff to the South. I figured the turn off must be a head a bit. I went until I came back to where I was just coming up. Other runners were heading up in the distance and I ran off the side of the trail for a bit trying to see if I had missed a turn off or where the trail was that lead to the other bluff. I could not see it and I asked some of the runners heading up, they of course did not know. When along came a runner from where I had just came. I figure this was perhaps the guy behind me. I tried to ask him about a trail that headed down to the other bluff. He said that there was one or something. I was not sure and thought It might be back down and then South, so I followed him.
I felt like there was no way I could climb back up and make the correct turn. I gave up and with my head down I walked back to the aid station ready to tear off my bib and DNF.
I thought that there were two trails and hoped I was going down a different one then the one I had come up. I kept looking to the south for a turn off but it never appeared. A mile from where I first took a wrong turn I realized my mistake, that is when I mentally lost it and physically responded in suit. I was about a half mile from the aid station and realized that I made a terrible mistake. I felt like there was no way I could climb back up and make the correct turn. I gave up and with my head down I walked back to the aid station ready to tear off my bib and DNF. As I approached the aid station Steve asked what was wrong. Before I could tell him he asked if I missed the sharp right hand turn off. I said yeah, and that I was going to just quit. I was so bummed I just collapsed on a chair and consigned myself to my mistake. Steve told me that it was ok and that another dude with a red shirt had just done the same thing. And that he sent him off on the Pink course again to make up the missed miles. He offered me the same option. As I sat there thinking about it the rest of the aid crew egged me on, “Its a ultra” they said, you have to dig deep and get past the setbacks. I decided that finishing was way better then a DNF, even if it took me longer the I had hoped, and I knew that it would bring my emotional state back from the dumps. So I said alright, i’m going for it, and I scooted on down the Pink loop, again.
Pink (4.3 again)
This looks familiar. Not more then half-a-mile into the loop I ran into the man in red, my wrong-turn-compadre. He asked me if I did the same thing which I acknowledged. He said doing this loop again sucked, but I thought at least it was better then backtracking 2 miles. We parted ways and soon I was the lone wolf on the mighty pink loop.
Honestly with the thought that I did not have to drop out and could still finish I was back to good spirits.
Honestly with the thought that I did not have to drop out and could still finish I was back to good spirits. And I did not mind that this was the shortest of the loops, it would pass quickly and I would still be somewhat on course to finishing at a descent time. The half mile walk at the end of red took its toll on time and my emotional state but at this point I figured I would have to finish the last section anyways, so why not throw in 4 miles and get a finish. My thoughts and pace were not terrible on this loop, though the last bit to get to the aid station for the 5th and final time took a bit of digging.
At the aid station for the final time I refueled on chips, oranges and bananas again. I did what I could to choke down one more GU and with that went for the final push. This section started good as it was downhill and I could faintly see the dude ahead of me (im now paranoid of missing a turn). But all good things must come to an end. As we got to a paved road I felt all the physical pains and multiplied it by the heat, I had not brought enough cold water. The course luckily veered off the road after a half mile and there I was all alone running through the desert. I was getting rather fatigued by this point. I tried closing my eyes on some of the flat straight parts and recall thinking that I was going to fall asleep and fall that way, so I kept my eyes open and just trucked along. The final miles were pretty uneventful, one last run on the road leading up to the finish line. As I got there the kids saw me and ran over to me, we all held hands and crossed the finish together. That was a sweet finish.
Recounting my tale of highs and lows I enjoyed a bowl of cheese potato soup, fruit leather, yogurt, a roll, pickles and other goods. How tasty it all was. My official finish time was 6:02:48 about the same as my first 50k.
This was my 3rd 50k. I am hoping to complete 2 more this year. We’ll see what craziness those races bring. My strava post. A shout out to the RD, Steve and all the support, the aid was great. The photographer (Santiago Photography) was awesome, he was like everywhere somehow. I can’t wait to see the rest of his pics. I would recommend this race. It was fun and challenging and well put on. I really am sure that missing the turn on Red was my fault, just not paying attention and that is how it goes sometimes.