Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Zane Grey 50m

"This trail is like a Michael Bay film" was a comment that by another runner named Ted that aptly describes the highline trail located in Payson, Arizona. That comment was one of the very few dialogues I had with others during my 9 hours on the course. That may seem like a long time to be running to non-runners but it truly flew by for me. I really had a good time out there. I think I might be the first person to actually say that about this race.

Zane Grey has been on my radar ever since I volunteered last year. I didn't register in time to do it then but I think that's a good thing. I wasn't ready yet. I made it a point to run a couple sections of the course so I had some idea of what I was getting into. I was scared. I knew it was going to be rough. Given that I was excited. My brother was coming out from Seattle to complete his first 50. A stout challenge! I knew he could do it and as I ran sections I was trying to think what I'd think of this if it was my first one. "That's messed up!" is what I'd say I'm sure. I'm not saying I'm uber experienced but I think it's different when you're used to technical terrain that is typical in Arizona.

I really love Payson... I mean the town itself isn't much but what's around is special. It just holds the essentials that one needs and that's why I like it. Simple. A vast contrast to the surrounding Mogollon Rim. Plus I get tired of cactus and low desert drab.

5am, 126 starters. Quick breakdown:
Felt great at the start but realized when I get on the rim that I forgot my Nathan waist pack with all my GU. Must have left it on the car truck and that's the last of that. I realize now that I have to rely on carrying a maximum of 4 gels. Decided to only use 2 bottles, not the best idea.

The power of flannel

I don't like loosing the front pack for long as it makes me nervous being out of touch of the top 5. Caught up with Eric Bohn, a great Arizona talent so I was happy with my position. I recall making it down to Geronimo in 1:14. Kept moving along, caught up with Jason Koop, another great runner and coach followed that Karl Meltzer. No introductions needed there.

Made it down to Washington Park. Awesome aid with tons of friendly faces. Spared no time there... ran with Ted Howard for a bit. I think that was like mile 20-ish. After that I ran the entire race alone. I started taking advantage of creeks after Hells Gate to cool off as it was getting warm. Ran out of water on the two 10 miles sections. Got lost at mile 30-ish due to flagging which which I had met up with a race official shortly after I found my way, lol. That took like 5 or so minutes to figure out. I got lucky.

Great Scott! (Fish Hatchery, mile 33)

Shit hit the fan at See Canyon, mile 44. Finished in 9:09, good for 2nd. Pleased!

Fast forward 16+ hours: 84 finishers. Yeah. I think this course shows that truly anything can happen with the most experienced runner out there. Super proud of my brother for finishing his 50!!


This race definitely motivated and made me realize how much I enjoy 50+ mile technical courses. There is something very primal and intriguing that attracts me to it. Looking forward to more! A big thanks to all volunteers who marked the course, helped at aid stations, provided encouragement, stood around a lot, photographer Megan Powers and the RD Joe Galope. Bravo!

More pictures from my adventure:

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