Race Report: Sinister Night Runs 54K

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

Race Report: Crown King Scramble 50K

The Crown King Scramble: an infamous race that takes place every April, from Lake Pleasant up the mountain to the town of Crown King. To me, this became a sort of bucket list race – one that I’m not sure I would’ve wanted to do more than once, but also one that I wasn’t sure how to get it on my schedule.

This is happening!

Logistically, it seems to always be scheduled the same weekend as WrestleMania. My friends and I have made a habit of traveling to Mania, thereby eliminating this race as an option. But as fate would have it, I decided to skip this year’s big event – which freed me up nicely to run Crown King.

I talked it over with Laura and she decided she wanted to take her Jeep up the very roads we’d be running, so she could drop me off at the start in the morning and then we’d get together with our friends at the top for celebratory beers that night!

The Race

I sort of went into this race with a similar mentality as the Mesquite Canyon 50K, running at whatever pace felt comfortable. That worked out pretty well for me.. for about the first half of the race. Then it became tough, and power hiking became my MO for the rest of the race pretty much.

I was a bit disappointed in my inability to muster out much uphill running after a certain point, but my power hiking skills are (I’d say) above average so I still kept pace pretty well in relation to the people around my position.

Crown King 50K: The ultimate uphill battle! Happy to have been able to do this race this year.

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When all was said and done, I was happy enough with my finishing time. I know I could do better, and I’ll admit – part of me wants to give it a go again to see what I’m capable of. We’ll just have to keep an eye on that WrestleMania schedule!

via GIPHY

Post-race shenanigans

After the race, a group of us got together to run a beer mile. For the uninitiated, a beer mile consists of: (1) Chug a beer (2) run a quarter mile (repeat four times). I’ve done some pretty quick beer miles (sub ten minutes – nowhere near record setting, but I’d consider it to be pretty quick) – so this was nothing like that. I pretty much chugged beers and hobbled my way around the pseudo-course we had made up. Others with fresher legs were quite a bit speedier. Luckily (or not) this whole thing was captured for posterity:

…and for some reason (*cough* Erica *cough*), a human pyramid seemed like a good idea at the end. Don’t mind my poor form here – it’s the best I could muster!

Beeramid. #CrownKingScramble #beer #beermile

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To cap off the weekend, Laura took us home on the dirt roads en route back to the I-17. It wasn’t anything like the steeper uphill trails we took to get there, but it was still pretty fun to blast some country and kick up some dust!

Thanks for the hospitality, Crown King! We had fun running and Jeeping and eating and drinking!

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Let it be known: I survived the Crown King Scramble! Also, I apparently survived Jurassic Park!

Feature Photo Credit 📷: SweetM Images

Race Report: Mesquite Canyon 50K

Last year, I attempted running the Mesquite Canyon 50K as my first ultra-marathon. It uh… It didn’t go quite the way I hoped it would. I linked up with some runners to listen in on some interesting conversations, but we all ended up taking a wrong turn that would cost us the race.

I was confident that would not be a problem this year, and I could focus on battling the trail itself. The race started off rather quickly, as they tend to. I told myself I would just run at whatever pace felt comfortable, and so the first third of the race was faster than I expected it to be. That would back to bite me in the ass.

The descent to Goat Camp is a rather steep one, but I managed well enough. The sun was out and it started to heat up quite a bit though, and I’d guess it was nearly 100 degrees by the time I got to that aid station. I loaded up my bandana with ice and turned around to head back up from Goat Camp. That climb was BRUTAL.

By the time the trail started to flatten out, I was toast. It was the hottest weekend of the year, and it sort of came out of nowhere. There wasn’t an opportunity to do any heat training, and for someone like me – that can be particularly detrimental. My pace slowed down, but I knew I had PLENTY of time to finish the race, though maybe not as fast as I had hoped I would.

It felt like I was wandering through the desert mountains for quite some time by the point where I got to the wash and then the white tanks. Man was that ever a nice change of pace, though! The sand made for not so great running conditions, but it kept me engaged. Then the rocks and the water were just something really neat to see. I scrambled past a troop of boy scouts as well as a few other day hikers and was soon on my way to finishing this race.

By the time I got to the end, the heat was really getting to me. Thankfully, I had some friends at the end who made me sit down and rehydrate / get some ice on me to bring my body temperature down and keep from overheating.

I was happy to get my revenge on this course, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be back for another dose!

Feature Photo Credit 📷: SweetM Images