With no winter in sight I couldn't ski much! My mental health suffering immensely without an endurance outlet, I asked my friends Cory and Graham if there was any race we could run soon. Cory offered up the Arches Ultra near Moab, UT. Perfect I thought, I can run the 50k distance, and started to train. This wouldn't require as much mileage as training for the 50 mile distance and long training runs can be trick up here in the mountains come January.
Fast forward a couple months and the three of us were cruising over to Moab in my Subaru the day before the race.
The temperatures were a bit chilly at the start and warmed up to sunny 40F's during the race. Perfect running weather. Kyle Pieatari, Andrew Vargo and I pulled ahead in the 50k and helped guide each other through the circuitous slick rock sections of the course. I must say, it was market extremely well, especially considering the difficult nature of marking typical Moab terrain with all the washes, trails, roads, slick rock, etc. Kyle and I pulled ahead slightly by mile 23 and Kyle started to gap me shortly after. Coming into the mile 26 aid station it looked as if I could finish 50k in about 3:40, not quite a PR, but close and I felt like I was running well for a January 50k. Thought I had 5 miles left of pushing to the finish... only to be told by aid station volunteers that we went 9 miles off the 50k course.
Kyle Pieatari, esquire, spoke with the volunteer, who radioed the RD Justin Ricks and we were given two options: run 9 miles back to get back onto the 50k course, or continue on the 50M course for a chip time. We gladly continued on our merry way on the 50 mile course. I immediately slowed down by 3 minutes per mile, realizing that I had not trained for running 50 miles, nor had I paced myself for 50 miles. Kyle wasn't ready for 50 miles either, but his legs didn't seem to mind as he quickly gapped me even further. I know his race at Western States is quite a ways off, but I expect a solid performance from him there, podiumish? He has two top ten finishes there so far.
I couldn't for the life of me remember any possible place where we missed the turn. Turns out an aid station volunteer accidentally sent us the wrong direction out of the previous aid station. I probably would have been more upset if I had another race coming up soon, but I didn't. Nothing to save my legs for so instead of hammering for 5 more miles to the finish I shuffled for another 24. I ran a 7:19, finishing with the 3rd fastest 50 mile time, but I was not the 3rd 50 mile finisher as the 50 mile racers started an hour and a half before us 50k runners.
Graham took 9th overall in the 50k and Cory gutted out a cramp ridden race to finish solidly (they were sent the correct direction out of the aid station to stay on the 50k course). While Cory and I didn't really have the races we expected, we all had a good time on our weekend trip to Moab and it was a good first step for San Juan Solstice training as we're all signed up to run that magic loop in June.
Sponsor shout outs:
VFuel: I started of the race with a gel mixed into my little water bottle, and popped a gel every 30 minutes, until I ran out. At which point I grazed at aid stations. My stomach was solid all day.
Drymax: My Speedgoat socks were perfect. Just thick enough to keep my toes warm in the early morning and no blisters or hot spots at all. I have been using this model of socks for years and have absolutely no reason to ever change.
Julbo: The Aerolite's were super comfy and the photochromic lenses adjusted well from dim morning light to bright reflection off the slick rock.