Friday, April 3, 2015

Behind the Rocks 50 miler: Moab

I was really psyched for the Behind the Rocks 50 miler. I was also really psyched about going to Moab. I hadn't been for a very long time and I was eager to revisit Arches and Canyonlands. I was not disappointed. That area is truly magnificent.

The race was put on by Mad Moose Events. I like the name. I think this is a money making venture. I have avoided such races. I prefer the ones put on by a running club or for a charity but I made an exception for this race. It was the right place, at the right time, and the right distance. I needed to test myself on a 50 miler.

The start was down right chilly. Thought I was freeze for the first 20 minutes but I also reminded myself that, in just a few hours, I would be begging for a cool breeze. We ran along a ATV trail for about 13 miles. Not my idea of fun, but the day break was pretty great. I was having a pretty good time, kicking up the dust. I expected sand but it was really powdered dirt. About three inches deep. Soft landings!

As expected, it heated up. We had some really cool bike trails to run on, some incredible scenery, and some crazy downhill scrambling. By noon, it was almost 80 degrees. I was very glad I bought some new 50 SPF sunscreen. Also glad I applied it liberally. There were no clouds and no shade. Just sun.

Mary Ann and my good friend Dee were planning to meet me at an aid station. To make a long story short, it was very slow going from the 4th aid station at mile 26 to the 5th aid station which was supposed to be at mile 33. When I finally saw the parking lot where I expected the aid station to be, I swilled the last of my water. But when I arrived, there was no aid station. I continued to run, to another parking lot. No aid station. A mountain biker gave me a bottle of water. I continued and finally found the next aid station at mile 35. The race director had just decided to skip one aid station. Are you freaking kidding me? In the heat of the day, with no shade, he just skips an aid station??!! I was pretty mad about that, but went on my way.

I was not the only one in trouble. I saw two men lying by the trail, in a tiny little patch of shade. One stayed there but one joined me. A man and woman came along and joined us. And another man. That made 5 of us. We vowed to stick together, not knowing if there were be reliable aid. By this time, puking was the name of the game. We went at the pace of the slowest runner, which was incredibly slow. But there was no way we were going to leave someone out there on their own.

We did make it, 45 minutes after the cut off. It was cold and dark, but we stayed together. Sheri, Damjan, Ernie, Mark and I were DFL but we did not DNF....or did we?

I emailed the race director and tried to be jovial but still let him know I was not happy about the missing aid station. His response?

Sorry to hear you had a bad experience on Saturday. You are correct there was a water only aid station that wasn't there ..... I'm also sorry for allowing the final 6 runners to continue 45 minutes after the cut off.  It forced my volunteers to be on course for an hour longer than planned .....In the future I won't allow that.

I will not run another Mad Moose Event. 

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