Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wasatch 100 Course Change Analysis

In case you haven't heard or you were in denial, it's true, the last 14 miles of the Wasatch 100 course has been changed for 2013. I didn't want to believe it at first because dealing with change seems to get harder the older I get. So I stayed in denial up until this week when I decided I better get to know the new course a little better.

The Wasatch 100 website states that the main reason behind changing the route is because the existing course crosses private land. My gut tells me there are multiple factors, but since I can't confirm them I will leave them out of this public forum.

  • I have not run the new route yet so this analysis is based strictly on elevation data and perception of running surfaces.
  • I am only covering the changes from where the Rock Springs aid station used to be (approx. mile 87) to the new finish. There is also a change leaving Upper Big Water where the new course will take a more direct and slightly steeper route to Dog Lake. This is to make up for some of the length added by the new finish stretch.
  • No one asked me to perform this analysis, I did it simply to gain an understanding of the new route.
For those of you in a hurry I present the Infographic:
Surface type shown for previous course on top, new course surface type shown on the bottom.
The shift in profiles is due to the shortened route from Upper Big Water to Dog Lake. Instead of Rock Springs being at mile ~87.5 it will be at mile ~87. By my measurement the new course is still long, even with the shortened section. The total I come up with is 100.8 miles.

The aerial perspective:
New course shown in RED, previous course in YELLOW. Download the KML
As you can see the new finish is at Soldier Hollow instead of the Homestead. The new course adds 3.5 miles of pavement and more dirt road. There is also less elevation gain and loss. Runners finishing after the sun comes up will likely experience higher traffic on the paved sections and some of the dirt roads. The long climb shown in the profile to the Station Cut-Off aid station is on a dirt road that looks similar to the dirt road leaving the old Pot Bottom aid station.

Even with the course being a little longer, which isn't that big of a deal, I think the new route will be 30 to 45 minutes faster than the previous course. Of course that is all relative to the condition you are in when you reach this point in the race. I'll go run the new route in the next couple of weeks and report back with my impression of it.

I for one will miss the torture chamber and even the Dive and the Plunge. But if one thing is constant in this world it is change. You can either embrace it or let the world move on without you.

Any thoughts on the changes? Have you run this new section? Let us know below.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Wahsatch Steeplechase 2013

I have taken photos of the Wahsatch Steeplechase twice before focusing on the spiny rocky ridge up on Black Mountain. This year to mix things up I decided to stay lower pull out the telephoto lens and take a step back from my usual wide angle close shots. It was allot harder to get the shots I wanted without the natural dramatic affect of the ridge but hopefully I captured some of the beauty of the lower section of the course. Next year Ill focus on the decent from Smugglers Notch and lower City Creek Canyon. 
I  have a soft spot in my heart for the W.S., it was my first trail race I ever did and I give it credit for sparking my interest in ultra marathons and  I hope the race continues for many more years to come. Congratulations to race director Butch Adams,  the volunteers and all the runners of this years race.