November 6, 2011

Slickrock 50 or 75?

 On October 8th 2011 Lisa, Chloe and I embarked on our first journey after moving to Missoula.  With work starting on the 10th, this would be our last taste of freedom and we were going all out.  Chloe, who loves to go for the ride, watches as the we headed south to Moab, Utah.

Almost immediately after leaving Montana, we were hit by a huge snow storm.  Snow in October?

The bad weather subsided as we moved further south and pushed our way into Utah.  We were witness to a beautiful, full out battle between winter and fall in the Uinta mountain range.

Thirteen hours of driving and several Chloe potty breaks later we arrived to a freezing cold tent city in Moab.  The wind was blowing hard and the rain was very cold.  Since the weather was nasty we opted to cuddle up with Chloe in the Jeep save our little tent.

Almost immediately I knew we were in for some fun.  The race director seemed to be in a panic and called a pre-race meeting to let us in on the good news!  While marking the course, the night before the race, his jeep was swallowed up in some quick sand.  The course we had all studied was now non-existant.  Everything would be changed -- new aid stations, new trails, less water stations.  And with that the fun began.

The race started at 7am with strong winds and freezing cold rain.  Quickly the race split into a group of three of us up front.  My two new friends would end up running the most peculiar races I have ever seen.  Friend #1 started running sub 6 minute pace from mile 7 to 12.  Knowing this was not sustainable I let my friends go and clicked off some 6:20's.  It didn't take long for friend #1 to drop out of the race completely (maybe mile 13).  

Now I had only one friend.  Friend #2 decided he would not need water or food for this 50 miler.  Interesting technique.  However, friend #2 was running strong.  He stayed right behind me on the climbs but once we got to the 3rd aid station (30 mile mark - of course no food or water) he took off.  I would never see him again.  Apparently somewhere between mile 30 and 37 he got lost or decided to stop for a while.  Meanwhile I was running around desperately trying to find water or food.  The promised aid stations in the middle of the race did not exist -- or were not set up yet.  Either way I went from mile 30 to mile 52 with no food, water or course markings, thank you Mr RD.  Somehow I made it to the final aid station (at mile 52?) and was surprised that I was in the lead.  Friend #2 had stopped or died.  The aid station volunteer told me I had 6 miles to go and to take a left at a specific road.  Luckily, Lisa and Chloe were waiting by the last aid station with the car and food!

This jacket may have saved me from hypothermia.  

Only six miles to go at this point.  Home free.....

I made the turn, now four miles to go, and ran down the road I was told to take. Miles went by and nothing.  Was I just tired from the race or was I lost.  I couldn't be lost the volunteer told me explicitly to follow this road.  After about 10 miles I gave in and turned around.  Tired, cold (sun was setting now), hungry, thirsty and frustrated I knew my race was over.  I jogged back the ten miles to the road and gathered 10 to 15 other disgruntled runners who were lost like me.  What went from being a 1 hour lead with 4 miles to go turned into a DNF.  I guess I was lucky that I didn't get hurt from the extra 25 miles, and lack of water or food.  Eventually, there needs to be some rules laid down for race directors to follow.  Not providing adequate course markings, aid stations, or not have neither medics nor a satellite phone is very dangerous to the safety of the runners.  Enough said.

The finish line I never crossed.

After the race (and an un-constructive discussion with the RD) Lisa, Chloe and I climbed into the jeep to get some well deserved sleep.  Cold, tired and beaten I slipped into a deep sleep with my 90lb berner sprawled out on top of my legs.  Good night.

Even after the horrors of the day before, we managed to have a great time in Moab.  The race took place on the beautiful slick rock of Canyonlands National Park.  Right next store was Arches National Park.  With our gear all packed up we jammed into the messy jeep and headed into Arches.

Like most national parks, Arches had a strict no poochie policy.  But Chloe was allowed to stay in the Jeep.  She didn't seem to understand.

The park was absolutely stunning.  

From the park you could easily see the monstrous jagged peaks of mountains in Colorado.

Though much smaller, Arches had a balanced rock (remember Big Bend?).

Then we came to the main attractions -- the arches.  Those are people underneath.  

Delicate arch has to be one the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.  Wish I could have seen some snow on it though.

Haha, while we were looking at the delicate arch, Chloe decided to open Lisa's leftover Grandslamwich from Denny's.  Lisa was so mad but I couldn't have been more proud!  Good baby.

Chloe knows how to make things better -- kisses.  Even with the kisses Lisa was still upset.

After an intersting and certainly beautiful two days in Moab, we headed north and west back to our  home in Missoula.

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Originally from Strongsville, OH, I spent 8 years in Raleigh, North Carolina and have since recently moved to Missoula, MT. I have been a runner all my life and have recently started pursuing ultra marathons. Any excuse to be outside and on the trails.