Yeah, the race was two weeks ago. I am posting this race report pretty late, but come on, those new miles really kicked my ass and it has taken awhile to wrap my mind around what actually happened down there in the desert. There is one thing I know for sure- when I finished the race I told my crew I never wanted to run again.
When Bobby G and I decided to do this race it was partly because of the terrible taste left in our mouths after the Sean O’Brien 50 in February. We wanted adventure, we wanted redemption and we wanted more miles! As we scrolled through Ultrasignup.com we landed on Zion after this brief discussion-
Bobby- Dude, it’s only 6,000 feet of vert! That’s nothing bro!!
Me- Sick! Perfect for our first 100k!
Haha, it was just about 6,000 feet of vert (when my Ambit died at mile 50 it had registered 6,119 ft of vertical ascent) but it was really technical and really steep and felt like way more than 6k.
Right after the super mellow briefing from the race director, (The only thing I remember is him mentioning something about closing a gate somewhere on the course so cows couldn’t get out.) we all headed out into the darkness. Halfway up the first climb, the sun began to rise revealing the immense beauty of Zion. I was so interested in looking at the scenery it almost caused me to fall off the 6-inch wide trail- 2,000 vertical feet back to the valley floor. In my defense, it was possibly the most technical trail I have ever ran on, one woman was so sketched out she held up traffic for about 15 minutes clinging to a rock in the middle of the trail. Luckily we didn’t get stuck behind her; Bobby would have started to free solo the cliff to get around her.
By mile 20, my stomach was giving me fits- luckily Mrs. Wasatch was there with my mom. As my mom was force-feeding me Pepto and salt tabs, Mrs. W was squirting ginger ale down my throat. It seemed to work, I started to feel quite a bit better. Just in time for a fast 8-mile section. After pushing pretty hard through that section, I realized we were running straight into a mesa. A mesa that had to be climbed, an insanely steep 2,000 ft. climb over a half-mile ensued. At least there was aid at the top. I could hear cheers from way below the rim.
From aid at 28 we did a 6-mile out and back on Gooseberry Mesa, incredible views but brutally uneven rocks as a running surface, I felt this section in my ankles for about a week after the race. The markings were pretty tough to find and quite a few people lost their way. Bobby G was up ahead of me and he beat the volunteers to the aid at the point of the mesa. No food. Just Coke.
When I came cruising into aid at 40 I was in a pretty crummy mood, it didn’t improve after my mom, trying her best to encourage me, mentioned that I only had 22 miles left! Just 17 more until I got back to this aid station and then back down that hill I came up earlier… Wait, WHAT? Hearing that I had to go back down that hill, most likely in the dark, after 17 more miles- was too much for my fragile psyche. I looked at her like she told me I had to hop the rest of the way on my left leg and it was all her fault. It wasn’t, she was just trying to help me but I was feeling pretty sorry for myself at this point. *
Fast-forward 7.5 miles to the halfway point of the longest 5 miles of my life (Honestly, I haven’t been alive very long and I haven’t been running for most of it, so take that for what it’s worth.) it was starting to get dark and mentally I was having a pretty rough time. The sun setting was a very demoralizing experience. When I got to aid at 51, my crew and Bobby G were waiting for me. (Yeah, Bobby was already done. He is the most hardcore person I know.) I couldn’t eat anything but warm broth and some sort of espresso chocolate Bobby convinced me to eat. After walking a quarter mile Mrs. W, I took off. Flow was with me for the next 8 miles, even down the section my mom had warned me about. It didn’t matter I felt like I had just started the race it was magical. It made all the pain I had suffered through up to this point worth it. I was happy, really freaking happy.
When I crossed the finish line, all I wanted to do was get into the car and lie down. That’s when I told my crew I would never run again. I said it again later that night when I was lying on the pool deck at our hotel puking, trying my best not to get it in the hot tub. In that moment I was positive I never wanted to run again.
The next morning as I hobbled around I remembered the feeling I had when I found Flow at mile 51. As I thought about those 8 miles of bliss, I turned to Bobby and said, “So, when is our next race bro?”
* A special thanks to my crew, my wife and mother. You guys are endlessly patient and kind even when I am being a total ass. I couldn’t do it without you.