Friday, April 27, 2012

Ten Years at the Zane Grey 50 Mile Endurance Run

Number 10 finishes his tenth!

In 1998 I ran my first Zane Grey 50 Mile.  I chased Scott Jurek and Brandon Sybrowsky over the most rugged trail I had ever seen.  I made wrong turns, ran out of water, and finished as a crumpled mess.  Even to this day Zane remains the toughest 50 miler I've ever run.  I'd return nine more times just to do it all again.  During those subsequent years I'd see the course in reverse, win a few, set a course record, run too fast, run too slow, be followed by a naked pacer, run through snow, water and mud, be eaten by briers, manzanita, and rocks, laugh, cry, curse, and stumble.  Here's to another ten!  Full 2012 Zane Results can be found here.

Thanks to Justin Lutick, Scott Livingston, Jay Danek and Meghan Powers for the following photography.

Missy Gosney, Justin Lutick, Karl Meltzer, and Brett Gosney enjoy pre-race beverages the evening before.

Another dark start at Zane.  Meltzer, Joe Grant, Justin, and Torrence with lights.

Meltzer rolls into Washington Park (mile 17).

Lutick commented, "The Zane Train is rolling into the station."  Rhet Stinson leads Torrence, Lutick, and Jay Danek into Washington Park.

Crossing Webber Creek.

Still got smiles.

Brian Tinder applies lube and smacks on the ass at Fish Hatchery Aid Station (mile 33).

Meltzer gets watered at See Canyon (mile 44).

Paulette Zillmer wins with the 8th fastest time ever:  10:13:07.

Diane Finkel rolls into See Canyon.  She ends the day placing second and winning the master's title.

Torrence and Kyle Hills get help at See Canyon.  Liz Davis and Scott Bajer from Flagstaff look on.

Evidence of the tenth finish.

Post race pizza and brew never tasted so good.

Your Moment of Zen

Assuming the position.  When the dust settles, all the talk is done, the heart rate calms, and the neuroses are laid to rest you are simply boiled down to what remains:  A very hungry and tired lump of useless flesh.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

West Clear Creek Wilderness

West Clear Creek Wilderness is located just east of Camp Verde in northern Arizona.  It's often trumped in popularity to the smaller wilderness areas that sit directly north (Wet Beaver Wilderness) and to it's south (Fossil Springs Wilderness) that are more accessible to the public.  West Clear Creek drains a large portion of the 200 mile long Mogollon Rim.  The wilderness area runs the length of the creek's canyon for approximately 20 miles, but rarely spans more than a mile across.  The US Forest Service dubs this canyon as one of the most rugged and remote canyons in northern Arizona...that's saying a lot since the Grand Canyon is also found in northern AZ.  The West Clear Creek Canyon is punctuated with towering cliffs that rise 1,000' to 1,500' from  its valley floor.  Due to this dramatic change in topography and east-west canyon orientation one can find very diverse ecosystems in very close proximity.  The perennial stream bottom gives life to cottonwood, willow, wild grape, walnut, sycamore, and my favorite, poison ivy while the slopes above give way to juniper, pinion, mesquite, catclaw, hackberry, scrub oak, ocotillo, and prickly pear.

Conveniently, the West Clear Creek Trail enters the western end of the wilderness area and follows the fast flowing stream for almost six miles before leaving the gorge bottom and climbing to the rim above.  By using Forest Service Road 214 (Cedar Flat Road) and the Blodgett Basin Trail a very scenic 14-mile loop can be made experiencing all the intimate layers this wildness provides.  Here's a photo tour of that epic loop.

A carpet of desert marigolds in bloom.

A map of this loop and its surrounding area.

Single track and sycamores.

West Clear Creek rolls over red sandstone.

The trail meanders through the riparian area.

A ribbon of green in the desert.

The upper slopes.

A river runs through it.  Crossing it four times was a definite highlight!

Cliffs of color.

Looking down into West Clear Creek from above.

Single track on the rim.

Zoroaster takes a break on Forest Road 214.

Running the road above the rim.

Blodgett Basin Trailhead and target practice.

Descending back into West Clear Creek Canyon.

Another view of the green river from Blodgett Basin.

Ocotillo in bloom and the "mouth" of West Clear Creek Canyon.

Your Moment of Zen

After a run like that Zoroaster agrees, "It's time for bed!"

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Your Bag of Tricks: Essential Elements of Successful Ultramarathon Training

Kicking off a new, monthly training column on the web site; the go-to site for everything trail and ultrarunning related.

Point and click here to read this first installment:  Your Bag of Tricks: Essential Elements of Successful Ultramarathon Training.