Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Moab Alpine to Slickrock 50 Miler

The MAS50 was my first 50 miler. Kelli, Samantha and I headed down to Moab on Friday morning. We rented a house on La Sal Road near the Slickrock Trail parking lot, where the race finishes. We went to the pre-race meeting at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center. It was laid back, with only about 40 runners present.

After a pasta dinner and glass of red wine, I went to bed around 1o:00 and set the alarm for 3:45. I arrived at the Slickrock Trail parking lot at 4:30 to catch the shuttle to the start. It didn't leave until 5:00. I tried to relax on the shuttle.

The race starts at Pack Creek. I tried to keep my speed down at the start because I knew it was going to be a long day. I've learned the lesson of going out too fast. For example, in the Millcreek Midnight run, I went out pretty quick but Peter and Brian caught me in the middle of the race. There were a few eager beavers who were moving pretty quickly.

The course climbs 4,000 feet up a canyon before hitting the La Sal 4x4 road and first AS at mile 9. The mountains are incredible- the fall colors were spectacular. We were then on a rolling single track for miles and miles. This was a great section to run and I was moving pretty quicky. The race then climbs up and down several big mountain passes. In all the race climbs over 11,000 feet.

Heading up to Moonlight Meadows, I saw Greg taking pictures. It was great to see him, and a flood of summer running memories flooded back, including the last 25 miles of Wasatch.

Miner's Pass at mile 27/28 was super tough. The pass is about 11,000 feet. It was sunny at the foot, but as I climbed the dark clouds started to roll in. It started hailing pretty hard. I saw Greg dressed appropriately in rain gear. I was not dresssed appropriately- in my tank top. I put Kelli's pink I-pod back in the fanny pack, and tried to keep moving to stay warm. Towards the top of the pass, it opens up in a big clearing. It looks a lot like the slope on the West side of Gobblers. The thunder was hitting hard now. I was fairly certain I was going to get hit by lightning. I imagined some helicopter hauling my carcass of the mountain and thinking how futile it would have been to die on a trail race. I said a quick prayer and moved on to the summit.

I obviously made it to the summit and started the descent. I eventually passed a sign that said "Miner's Basin [Aid Station] Beer, Whiskey, Cigarettes." The Miner's Basin Aid Station is a wood cut-out saloon. The AS volunteers were dresssed in 19th century mining clothes. They had whiskey, rum, beer, and cigarettes. Runners that partake sign their name on the wall. I changed my socks here, had some warm chicken noodle soup, drank couple sips of beer, signed my name to the wall, and moved on.

I was now on a dirt road, heading downhill, and the sun was out. Things were looking up. I passed a large burn area. The smell was strong and acrid. Eventually I hit a road. It had a moderate incline. I ran for a bit but thought it would be safe to walk it as fast as I could. The road looked like the top of the Emigration Canyon road.

At the top of the road, the course turns on the Kokapelli Trail. From this point on it is desert running. I love running in the desert. It is a great change from summer alpine training. The cramps I had experienced in the cold and hail were now gone, and I was running pretty fast.

After the mile 36 AS, I couldn't beleive I was still running. With each step, I was running further than I ever had. That was exciting and a source of motiviation so I continued to push it. I remember the Bob Marley lyrics at this point: "No weak heart shall prosper."

From AS 43, it is all downhill on the hard Sand Flats road. I just kept moving.

I turned the corner and finally saw the finish. I sprinted into the finish where Kelli and Samantha were waiting, along with our friends, Heather, Chad, their son Jack, Keli and Dave. It was great to see everyone at the finish. I hydrated with some beer and talked to some of the racers.

Greg Poettgen did a great job. The aid stations were tip top, the course was marked well, and everything was run smoothly.

I highly recommend this race, and I'd like to see some MRC runners go down and crush it.

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