“When I was a little kid we had a sand box. It was a quicksand box. I was an only child… eventually.” – Steven Wright
I was about 5 miles when I first thought to myself, “those poor bastards running the 100 miler are going to die in this sand.” I was making my way out to Antelope Canyon and was quickly coming to terms with the loose footing we’d be traversing over the next 45 miles. This was not a course to attempt to set a 50 mile PR, despite the almost zero vertical gain we would be experiencing. I knew this going in, so I did my best to embrace the uneven, shifting surface.
The 50 mile race consisted of three major scenery related high points. Antelope Canyon (not on the 55k course), Horseshoe Bend, and Waterhole Canyon. The miles in between these incredible slot canyons and stunning overlooks was rough going at times. Even with all the sand on the course, there was no denying the fact that this is a great race. Matt Gunn has his races dialed in. The aid stations were well stocked, volunteers were wonderful and the finishers awards were beautifully hand made.
My race started out well. I ran with Jon for the first few miles. Antelope Canyon was sweet, although it was pitch black in parts due to how early we arrived there.
Around mile seven there were six wild horses that ran in front of me. At roughly mile ten, my right ass and hamstring started to tighten up. This would continue for the next forty miles and eventually render my right side utterly useless. Damn sand.
I don’t remember much of the rest of the race. Horseshoe Bend was incredible.
Waterhole Canyon was also amazing. I climbed a ladder.
Throughout the race I bounced around from 3rd to 8th place. Around mile 38 we reached the Page Rim trail. These 12 miles were easily the most runnable on the course. At this point my right ass/hamstring was in rough shape, but I attempted to run it the best I could
After some meandering through a golf course, the last aid station (mile 49.3) and finally the finish came into view. I walked it in. 8:23:25 for 7th place overall.
– That race hurt a lot. Sand now takes my top spot (previously held by slick rock) as my least favorite surface to run on.
– I had zero stomach issues. Fueling was almost exclusively Tailwind and Coke.
– A young man at the finish saw me eating a pop tart. He excitedly asked me where I got it. He looked crushed when I told him I brought my own…
– The pack I used was my newly purchased UltrAspire Revolution. The single bottle in the back is perfect for me. I finally had a race where I didn’t transport excessive amounts of water from aid station to aid station.
– My ass/hamstring needs to be fixed. (I’m looking at you Joel Hatch)
– Antelope Canyon is a must do. I never would have seen these slot canyons and horseshoe bend without this race.