Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Inaugural Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach Line 100 Mile Ultra & Relay

The name can barely be said in one breath, but over the past few months it's title morphed to the shortened moniker we use today, the "Stagecoach 100 Mile."  However, I've personally dubbed it "The Race That Almost Didn't Happen."  Thanks to disagreements in Washington an extra layer of stress was thrown on my shoulders as race day neared.  As the shutdown grew in length, the chances of having this inaugural event dwindled.  I scrambled to put together a Plan "B" on private Babbitt Ranch land, but the logistics involved in pulling off an entirely different 100 mile course in less than a week's time was mind blowing and, as I quickly learned, down right impossible.  Timing worked out, folks came to their senses, and our event was finally a go.  The Coconino and Kaibab National Forests stepped up to the plate and delivered our permit as runners checked-in at the Hotshots Ranch on Saturday morning.

Like I mentioned in a Facebook post a few days after race weekend, over 100 volunteers stepped up and delivered on race day.  Without them, this event would not have been as successful as it was.  Special thanks to the Coconino Amateur Radio Club and Coconino County Sheriff's Search and Rescue for keeping us all safe.  I owe much to an awesome race management team.  Joel Axler, Scott Bajer, Emily Harrison, and Ludo Pierson were the glue that kept the event and race director together.  Tom Wilson, the American Conservation Experience's liaison, drove more than 700 miles on back country dirt roads delivering port-a-johns and assembling and preparing four aid station teams.  Bill Cordasco, from Babbitt Ranch, supplied precious course recon, awards, and aid station support.  Neil Weintraub, with the Kaibab National Forest, facilitated our communications with both the Kaibab and Coconino National Forests and operated the remote Moqui Stage Aid Station.  Matt Nelson, the Executive Director of the Arizona Trail Association, was instrumental in saving this race huge costs, promoting the event, and providing crucial supplies.  All of these peeps were tied to this race deeply and emotionally.  They all volunteered their time on race weekend and clambered to solve the myriad of issues that any first year event would have.

It is because of this dedication and passion that I suspect the Stagecoach will only grow in numbers and reputation as the next few years come to pass.  We learned much in year one.  We'll apply these ideas to year two.  We thank all the runners, volunteers, crews, pacers, and spectators for participating in our first run.  I know the event was a success, simply due to the fact that I can't wait for next year!

Here, I'll let the 2013 Stagecoach play out in photos and video.  Thanks to Kristin Wilson for this wonderful array you're about to witness.

Relay teams and solo runners complete race day check-in.

California's Tamara Johnson and Ann Trason pass the final moments with discussion.

Final instructions.

Matt Nelson promotes the Arizona Trail and gives thanks to the US Forest Service and Babbitt Ranch.

Your 2013 Stagecoach 100 Mile soloist pose before the start.

Only seconds before the 100 mile runners set off.

The relay teams started 10 minutes later.

I have to admit that holding and firing the starter gun was fun!

Dominick Totino, Suzanna Bon, and Stew Kelly descend from Aspen Corners.

The lead pack (Chris Westerman, Michael Versteeg, Brian Tinder)  runs into The Hart Prairie Preserve aid station.

Colorado's Jon Clinthorne

Eventual winner Michael Versteeg

Chris Westerman dons war paint.

Team Localeikki's first leg runner, Greg McMillan passes under Mt. Humphrey's.

Red Rock Running Company and Flagstaff High School Cross Country tag team aid station duties.

Keith Rusin and Eric Clifton

Eventual runner-up Bret Sarnquist

Flagstaff's Mark Thurston treads over familiar territory.

Dominick Totino likes what he sees.

Runner-up Maggie Beach is smiles.

Montana's Emily Judd and FranZelenitz

100 mile newbie David Martin.

Team J.E.L.L.'s Leslie Grabel and 100 mile runner Ann Trason share trail time.

100 mile extraodinare Dan Brenden

Oregon's Carrie Brant and Frank Page

Sunset at Cedar Ranch aid station

Moonrise on Babbitt Ranch

Clinthorne embarks on some night mileage.

Bonfires were a hit.

Looking down on runners from the Grandview Fire Tower.

Maggie Beach is all waves and smiles.

Arne Ceramic Pottery for relay team finishers.

Buckles to the 100 mile finishers.

Shea Tinder from Tinder Touch Massage works on a familiar patron.

Some of American Conservation Experience's relay team chill at the finish line.

The Arizona Trail Association's lead force Matt Nelson works the finish line booth.

Post-race recovery.

Men's winner Michael Versteeg.  Winning time: 17:41

Women's winner Suzanna Bon.  Winning time:  21:01

Suzanna sums up her weekend,

"A few tidbits of my experiences at each a/s 

The Nature Conservancy- cross country girls- eagerness and smiles

Cedar Ranch- apologizes for baring my butt and thanks for the warmest welcome 
ever, at any aid station

Tub Ranch-broth and quesadillas, more smiles 

Dirt Tank- thanks to the sweet girl who helped me with the strap to my headlamp 
and sorry for being cranky!

Tub Tank- isolated and cold- I hope those dudes stayed warm

Boundary- the best custom pb&j made by a very hospital guy with a cool accent

Moqui- luminarias, jack-o-lantern, explanation of the historical significance of 
the site in relation to the stagecoach route and some awesome homemade caramel 
brownies, warm encouragment

Russell Tank-  man I wanted one of those PBRs but settled for a turkey and 
potato quesadilla that really hit the spot

Hull- feeling kind of sad on that descent knowing I'd have to climb back up but 
appreciated the great service while I was there

Watson- the sweet kid dug into her private stash of tootsie rolls cuz nothing 
else sounded good

Reed Tank- 'just a walk in the park from here'... 

Finish- personalized blister care, awesome massage, some fine beer and of course 
exceptional company.

After 6 years I took my Angeles Crest buckle off my belt and replaced it with my 
shiny new Stagecoach Line."

Colorado's David & Carey Martin take home their first 100 mile buckle.  I enjoy seeing first-timers getting it done!

And Finally, Your Moment of Zen

 Stagecoach 100 Mile race management:  (left to right) Emily Harrison, Ian Torrence, Joel Axler, Ludo Pierson, Scott Bajer.  Zoroaster and Bee played supporting roles.  Thanks you all!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Just Racing: La Luz, Run On The Sly 50K, Big Bro Big Sis Half, Flagstaff 50K, and a few 14'ers

It's been a busy end of summer.  With Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile in the rearview it was nice to concentrate on some other fun trail events.

The start line setting for Aravaipa Running's second annual Flagstaff Endurance Runs (50 Mile and 50K):  Flagstaff's Buffalo Park.

A minute in and the chase group passes through Buffalo Park, the only flat terrain on the course.  The 50K weighed with a hefty 7,000' of gain, all run between 7,000' and 9,000'.  The course was a wonderful exploration of some of Flagstaff's most challenging trails.

California's Maggie Beach led from wire to wire in the 50 mile race.

Arizona's Catlow Shipek did the same for the men in the 50 mile race.

Flagstaff's Rob Krar used the first half of the 50K event as a UROC (Ultra Race of Champions) 100K primer.

Coming into the Elden Base aid station (mile 12+).

It was good to catch up with fellow adiUltra teammate Brian Tinder here.

We headed out to face the 2.5 mile, 2,000' climb up Mount Elden together.

Rounding Schultz Tank at mile 23.5.

Tinder puts on a show for the camera.

Running as fast as I can to try and catch the 50K winner Art Degraw

Art wins the 50K with me hot on his heels.

From my vantage point.

Done in 5:31:41.

Tinder rounds out the top three.

A good bro hug at the finish line.

With Emily Harrison, I'm still thinking about what would have been had I begun my finishing "kick" earlier.

High fives to local Claire Lears for her third place finish in the 50K.

The top three 50K guys: Tinder (to my right) and Art (to my left), all from Flagstaff.

The top three 50K ladies: Mel Branta (in the middle, from Scottsdale) wins, Emily Kagan (from NM) finishes second, and Claire rounds out the top three.

Constance Wannamaker, from Texas, finishes the 50K among the top ten women.

Flag's Curtis Moore finishes second in the 50 mile race amidst a downpour.

Like father like son:  adiUltra runner James Bonnett paces his father, Paul Bonnett, into the 50 mile finish.

Paul, Maggie, and Nick Coury (co-RD) share finish line congratulations.

Other Racing

Finishing strong at the 36th annual Flagstaff Big Brothers Big Sisters Half Marathon for the masters win!

A bucket list race:  The La Luz Trail Run in Albuquerque.  Nine miles and more than 4,000' of gain and pain.

A view from near the top of the Sandia Crest and finish of the race at 10,700'.

A solid second place finish at the Run On The Sly 50K near Pollock Pines, CA.

And finally some fun on a few Colorado 14'ers.  Here Zoroaster and I descend from Grays Peak (14,270') on our way over to Torreys Peak (14,267').  Photo by Scotty Jurek

The Three Amigos (Scott Jurek, Zoroaster and myself) on top of Torreys.

Your Moment of Zen

Without jinxing ourselves:  The Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach Line 100 Mile Ultra & Relay is still on and is accepting registrations!  We have our fingers crossed that the "Shutdown" won't impact our's or any other events.

The Champion buckle!