I signed up for this race because I was looking for a 50K to run as a training run before the Miwok 100K in two weeks. It's much easier to do a 6-8 hour training run when there are aid stations, volunteers, and other runners sharing the road with you. This weekend was also close to my birthday so when I found the Red Mountain 50K near St George which is less than a two hour drive from Vegas, I knew my birthday weekend plans were set.
Packet pickup was Friday night and the guest speaker was world class ultra-runner Krissy Moehl. She and Devon Crosby-Helms had just set the women's record for the Rim-2-Rim-2-Rim crossing of the Grand Canyon earlier that week!
Race start was at 6:05 AM, but before that we had to meet at the finish at 5 AM to board buses for the long drive to the start line. It was a little chilly at the finish, but the start line was 2000' higher elevation and it was almost cold. I'd guestimate the temperature was about 35. I immediately got into the porta-potti line. I looked behind me, and the gal behind me sure looked like Krissy, but I thought to myself, nah, she just set a record a couple of days ago, there's no way she'd be running in this little 50K. Now, days later, I realize that it was Krissy and I'm kicking myself for not say hi and congratulations and all the other stuff you mumble to rock stars.
We lined up at the start line and the race director attempted to play the Start Spangled Banner but encountered some technical difficulties, so instead, we all recited the Pledge of Allegiance. I don't think I've done that since grade school and it was kind of cool. Right after that we were on our way. The sun wasn't up yet, so I used my light-weight headlamp for the first 30 minutes. I was also wearing a throw away sweat shirt I had bought at K-Mart the night before. My fingers were getting numb in the cold, so I just curled them up inside the sleeves.
This race is advertised as 12 miles of trail and 19 miles of road. The trail part is more gravel road than trail, but the scenery was spectacular. The course starts at about 5000' elevation and ends at about 3000'. Even though it is net downhill, there were still a couple of 200-300' climbs that got your heart pumping, especially when you come from near sea level.
Everything was going fairly smoothly until the 9 mile point. Apparently some vandals thought it would be fun to mess with the course markings. Not only did they remove the correct course markings, they placed new markings directing runners in the wrong direction. I ran about a quarter mile in the wrong direction when I came to a group of 12-15 runners near a knee deep stream crossing. Some of them had run over 2 miles and came to a T intersection with no markings telling them which way to go, so they had retraced their steps. A race official came by and helped us sort things out and we were soon all headed in the right direction. Sometimes it does pay to be slow, I only added an extra half mile to my race while the front runners added up to four.
Soon after, we were on the road section. Runners were given the opportunity to have their road shoes delivered to this aid station. I just ran the whole thing in my road shoes, since there wasn't really any "trail" trail that necessitated the use of trail shoes. I think I passed at least 5 people at this point who took time to change their shoes.
The road part was much like any road marathon, except that the aid stations were much better with lots of food and beverage choices and encouragement from the volunteers. Somewhere along here I found myself yo-yo-ing with another gal. We'd exchange a word, then go on our way, then see each other again. Eventually our paces matched up and we got to chat for a mile or two. Janice has been running ultras for over 20 years and she has run all the big mountainy 100 milers like Leadville, Western States, and Wasatch. It was fun sharing the road with her for a few miles. Eventually she did drop me as I took a little longer at an aid station.
Some time in here I passed a young dude who was having some difficulty. I offered a word of encouragement and then continued on my way. As I was googling for race results, I came across this blog. I have mixed feelings. I feel good about being called fit by a young man that I am old enough to be a momma to. But did he have to call me an old lady? No hard feelings Cory, but if I see you at another race and you are hurting, don't hold it against me if I pass you again, OK?
The day started heating up, so I was glad to see the finish line. In a pre-race email we were promised root beer floats, so for the last couple of miles that was all I could think about. Finally I saw the park, and just before the final turn I saw Jerry. Jerry is an online friend that I've met a couple of times in person and it was nice of him to show up for the finish.
All-in-all this is a fun race. If you are a road marathoner looking for a first ultra to make the transition, I'd highly recommend this race. The pluses are many: easy course, awesome scenery, great volunteers, well stocked aid stations, laid back atmosphere. The negatives: too much road for someone used to trails. (I can't believe this used-to-be-almost-exclusive-treadmill-runner just said that!)
Oh, the official results are on the website now, I finished in 6:51:26, 55th out of 65 finishers.