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Moab Red Hot 50k+ Ultramarathon - February 17, 2007

Quick Details:
    Date: February 17, 2007
    What: 34 mile Ultramarathon in the Utah desert
    Where: Moab, Utah
    Weather: 30-65F, sunny, warm
    Distance: 34 miles
    Elevation gain: 4,500'
    Technical Difficulty: Class 1
    Physical Difficulty:4 out of 10
    Time: 7hr:12min:31sec
    Calories burned: 7,615 total
    Map: Click Here for Map
    Photo Gallery: Click Here for Photos.

To keep us motivated to train through the winter, Peter and I decided that we needed to register for some type of challenging event in early 2007. Someone on the BTR list sent out a link to the Moab Red Hot 50k+ in late 2006 and we decided that it would be a perfect event. Mid February in Moab should be beautiful and perfect for running with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-50s. February was also far enough out to build a good base of miles through the winter.

Little did we realize this winter wouldn't be a typical one! With one blizzard after another, we found it very hard to get in good quality training runs and our long runs never exceeded 20 miles in frigid temps on icy trails and roads. I finished out January with a record 142 miles, but they were very hard-earned and painful miles. The combination of high miles (at least for me) and icy, snowpacked, and uneven surfaces gave me a horrible case of bilateral shin splints... to the point I could barely walk 2 weeks before the run. I decided to essentially curtail all my running, less the BTR Night Run one day a week, and embark on a rigorous program of Vitamin I and stretching. The week before the race still found me limping around work and the house, unable to run at all.

The weekend of the race approached and on Friday, February 16th Susan, Michael, Peter, and I pointed the Subaru west for the 5-6 hour drive to Moab. Temps were very nice on the Front Range, in the low-50s. We stopped for gas in Golden and a CBS Channel 4 news guy next to us lets us know they had just closed I-70 due to a blizzard! After some discussion we decided, no big deal, we'll head down to 285 and go over Kenosha Pass. After an hour or so we approached the base of Kenosha pass...and... THEY CLOSED IT!! Now we were becoming frustrated. After some deliberation, we turned around, headed back east and jogged south on Hwy 67 through Deckers and down to Woodland Park. From there, we headed southwest, down to Salida and over Monarch Pass! Talk about the long way around! We arrived at Monarch pass a mere 15 minutes before they closed it too! From here we headed through Gunnison and Montrose and back up to Grand Junction and I-70. We FINALLY made it to Moab after 10pm, more than 12 hours after we started! We checked into the house we rented, ate a quick dinner, packed up for the race and went to bed.

5:30am arrived way too soon and we quickly dressed, ate a light breakfast and headed to the start. The start of the race was at the Gemini Bridges Trailhead along Hwy 191, about 10 miles outside of Moab. The morning was shaping up to be beautiful... the sun was just beginning to rise over the desert as we picked up our packets. After a quick pre-race meeting, Chris (the race director) sent us on our way. In typical fashion, Peter took off like a rabbit and I never saw him until the finish.

Start of the Moab Red Hot 50k+

I started at a mellow pace, hoping to warm up slowly over the first climb, which was several miles long. My shins were absolutely killing me, but I hoped they'd start to feel better as the day progressed (boy was I wrong!). The first part of the course followed easy dirt/jeep roads and climbed up and looped the top of the canyon walls. I met some nice folks and chatted with them for the first half of the race. The weather was beautiful, the aid stations were great, the running was fun, and company was great.

Chris near mile 12

The second half of the race is when the pain train rolled into the station for me. After the mile 17 A/S we dropped down and got onto the Gold Bar trail at mile 18. I was having a good time chatting w/ Frozen Head Ed and the others, but some digestive issues dictated that I drop into the bushes for a quick nature break. I finished up and started the long grueling climb to A/S 4 at mile 21. This was a long steady climb on jeep roads initially, then switching to slickrock. The stretch from mile 19 or so to about mile 28 was all slickrock... and it absolutely destroyed my lower legs. I had slowed to a crawl by this point because I had to walk all the flats and downhills because of the shin splints. In addition, my radically altered gait wound up causing a bad case of Tibialis Anterior tendonitis. I was still having fun and enjoying the scenery, but I was in pain.

Runners along the Golden Spike Trail - near mile 23

Aid station 4 finally came into sight, and not a moment too soon. I was really looking forward to this aid station because I knew the rest of the course on the Poison Spider Mesa trail from a mountain bike I did last year with Eric, Rick, and Jay. The last 6 miles of the trail were mostly jeep roads with a few stretches of slickrock to negotiate. I felt horrible at first, but after a couple of miles I found a rythym and gradually increased my pace. I passed a few folks in the last couple miles and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The final drop off the mesa down to the Poison Spider TH came quicker than I had expected and I was relieved to finally hobble into the finish in a little over 7 hours.

Coming into the finish at the Poison Spider Mesa trailhead

Susan and Michael met me at the finish. I learned Michael had spent the last few hours picking up every rock in the parking lot... he was having a really good time. Sean Cunniff and Peter were both at the finish. They both had good races and finished in about 6:20. It was great to see Sean again, as we worked the Chapman Aid Station at Hardrock with him last year.

After the race we went back, showered and cleaned up and had a great dinner at Pasta Jays in Moab. After that we hit the awards ceremony and hung out with Sean and his friend for a bit. All in all, it was a great race. The weather was perfect and it was really great to finally get out and run in shorts and a t-shirt again, after the long hard winter!


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