In March of this year, I got revenge on the Mesquite Canyon 50K. Then, in April, I was able to take on the Crown King Scramble. A couple weeks later, Laura and I ventured to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back in a single go (rim to river to rim). Lastly, I had committed myself to a third ultra within a 9 week period by agreeing to join Tom in May for the Jemez 50K in New Mexico.
Why not throw in a fourth ultra for good measure? For my 35th birthday weekend, I decided that I shouldn’t think too hard about it and just run the Sinister 54K out at San Tan Regional Park. The course looked relatively flat in comparison to the other races on my schedule, so I should be able to get a decent time out of it. Let’s see what I could do!
All in all, this race consisted of six 5.6-mile loops.
The first loop
I ran most of the first loop with Raul, as we chatted about our other races and life in general, as trail runners often do. It was pretty enjoyable, and I was pleased with the pace we kept. By the end of that loop, Raul began to drop back a bit, and I could tell he may be in trouble of dropping from the race at some point. This race was in the midst of some heavy training days for him as he was preparing for a 100 miler.
The second loop
The next loop was just plain nutty. As I came in to finish my first lap, the 9K runners were lining up, preparing to start their race (a single lap of the course). I slapped hands with everyone as they made a tunnel for me to run through en route to the start / finish aid station. By the time I got back onto the trail, I could hear the crowd counting down the start timer behind me. I proceeded to spend the rest of that lap being chased (and often being passed) by this large group. It was pretty fun being caught up in the excitement of what was the first trail race for many people!
…and the rest
The rest of the laps sort of blend together in my head. It became a bit monotonous and grueling to see the same scenery over and over. On my fourth lap, the awesome Team RWB people at the remote aid station pretty much force fed me a Red Bull. Man, what a game changer. It pretty much powered me through the rest of that lap, and I yelled for more Red Bull as I approached them on lap five. Luckily, they had one can remaining at that point!
Motivation to finish within a certain time went out the window somewhere around the start of my last lap, but in my head, I did calculate that I could still finish the initial 50K of the race under seven hours, which seemed pretty appealing. I did, in fact, manage to accomplish that en route to the remote aid station – it was pretty damn rewarding to whoop and holler at that milestone all by myself in the dark. Ha.
I got to the remote aid station one final time to find a fellow runner seated with a beer in hand. That looked great to me. I didn’t dare sit down, but I pounded a Founders All Day IPA and continued down the trail to finish strong. Not a bad way to start my 36th year on this planet!
Feature Photo Credit 📷: SweetM Images
Also published on Medium.