The morning of the race I woke up, and started my pre-race prep. Bagel, Yerba Mate, Banana. Clothes. Gear.
I was frazzled from the night before, but I had otherwise planned out what I needed. I decided because of the aid stations/drop bag and weather, a hand held would serve me just fine for this race.
I knew there was going to be a lot of sand going in. A LOT OF SAND. Something I am an old time friend of. No worries.
We lined up on top of the hill, watching the sunrise over the valley and mittens below. Lots of runners hopped around and snapped photos while we waited for our start times. The 50 mile went first followed by a start of the 50k racers. We crunched up and then snaked out when the path turned to single file. I had begun near the middle, and ended up toward the back to take photos. I happily ran into Ben and Mark along the way.
I tried to stick with Ben, but admittedly I was feeling unconfident and nervous. I had been sick and fatigued all week. The sudden endorphins and pull of the pack soon wore me out and I decided to prompt Ben to push on and go to his happy pace. I was better able to keep pace with Mark, whom I had befriended a year prior at a different race, was good company.
I kept honest with how I was feeling, we made it to the first aid station and I was having some serious doubts and nerves. We saw some beautiful horses, and I slathered with some sun screen ( I missed some spots) I had a couple pickles, a gel, and a few more snacks. I checked out the map and learned what we had ahead. This aid station was an out and back.
So back we went. Next aid station was Adriana, Wally and Aaron! Hoooooray!!!! My GOTR pals and good friends. I was honest, and told wally I wasn’t feeling well, he got me a whole glass of pickle juice which I think saved me. I had some fruit, some snacks. I attempted a ginger chew, but it was too big and sticky and I couldn’t get it to swallow. Adriana took a photo of me and we pushed on. Along the way Mark and I picked up a runner named Dirk. He ran with us for a while. It was a nice chat, through a long shitty sandy wash. We finally made our way up to the road.
Lots of vehicles and 50 k runners/half marathoners were running by. Then I saw Cait followed behind by DJ. Cait was winning the 50k women race! That was exciting to see.
3 Sisters Aid-Station. Awesome! Dennis did an amazing job manning the grill and pumped out so many great quesadillas, made sure the avocado was chopped. It was a crowded and busy aid station as everyone passed through multiple times.
It was a bit chaotic, but I took some time to have snacks, refill and say hellos before Mark and I began the red loop.
Red loop was great! The hill at the beginning led to a beautiful hard packed single track trail with scenic views. This loop was beautiful. 6 miles.
Back to 3 sisters. More snacks, more questions. more drinks. Onto the white loop.
White loop. SAND SAND SAND! A couple very beautiful stopping points, Big Hogan, and some others, many horses, a water crossing and a couple pals I made. Ivy from Germany, and two Baltimore guys. We plodded along. I got ahead of Mark and as I arrived into 3 sisters again. I was greeted by a fresh Cait and DJ willing to help me in whatever way they could. Cait helped me with drinks while DJ grabbed me some Ibuprofen. Nothing was hurting yet, but things were starting to have feels. It’s best to avoid the feels.
Cait and DJ did a great job hustling me out of 3 sisters and up to the blue loop.
Mitchel mesa… this is where it gets interesting.
I am happily plopping along taking my time, I run into Jill. Jill is in a little fuss about Zion, oh hell no. It’s ok. It will be ok. Just keep on plopping along.
I catch back up to the Baltimore pals. We make our way up the thousand foot climb to the top of the mesa. Then a switch back above I hear Ben’s voice. I would have thought he had finished. But nope. His race had blown up and I was getting the opportunity to help him just like he helped me through the Grand Canyon.
He was with this great woman named Jessica. Yes!!! Another new friend. Then Mark caught up. It was a party. A plopping party. We made our way up the mesa and caught all the beautiful views before sun set. We punched our bibs and headed back.
The sun was setting. We were soooooooo close.
Back at the 3 sisters aid station again. Final miles ahead. Yes yes yes yes!
We just had a short hike up the gravel road and we would be done.
Long story short. We finished with 10 minutes to spare.
I wanted a long run and I got one.