Monday, July 7, 2014

2014 Moab's Alpine to Slickrock 50 Mile: A Trip From Clouds to Furnace

When Grassroots Events race directors Justin Ricks and Chris Martinez told me they were moving the date of their Moab's Alpine to Slickrock 50 Mile from September to July I shuddered.  I had run this event two times previous (see my 2012 report here), however I'd spent three years living in Moab and knew that July was not the best time to dance too long in this southeastern Utah desert.  Temperatures would easily top triple digits and tree and cloud cover would be at a rare premium.  Initially I balked at the idea of starting an event that was already hard enough.  With 10,000' of gain in its first 28 miles amongst the sky-scraping La Sal Mountains followed by a 22-mile knee jarring descent into Moab's Slickrock Trailhead, I knew the added heat component would certainly add another dimension of difficulty.  Then I "warmed" to the idea.  Why not challenge myself, test my early race day pacing, and fluid and nutrition intake in some of the toughest conditions imaginable:  rugged and sometimes indiscernible trail, oxygen deprived altitude and 104 degree desert heat.

Here's a video teaser of the race from 2012.

Just like the other old and new events on their race calendar, Grassroots Events did a stellar job of presenting MAS as a professionally orchestrated, yet low-key race.  Thanks fellas!  Yes, some runners were caught in hail, rain and thunderstorms, some stepped in cow patties and others missed critical turns and added miles to their day.  This is a tough event and has truly earned its "mini-Hardrock" moniker.  Per usual...some photos from race day!  Cheers!

Headlamps were needed for the 5am start, but once the sun rose Bryon Powell caught this low-light shot of me covering some of the early mile scree fields.

Again, a Bryon Powell photo of my back side crossing some of the high alpine meadows.  Where's the trail?

Coming into the first crew accessible aid station at Oowah Lake (mile 16).  Emily Harrison captured this moment and would also crew me through the long, warm day.  Thanks for getting me in and out of aid stations fast Em!

Coming into the Warner Lake aid station at mile 25.  Photo by Harrison.

Looking into Miners Basin and the course's final descent.  Photo by Chris Martinez.

Speaking of descents...Miners Basin Road is all quads (mile 32).  Harrison's photo.

A view from the Porcupine Rim (mile 35).  Photo by Martinez

More awesome views from the course as we descend into Moab.  Photo by Martinez.

The final 7 miles on the Sand Flats Road.  100+ degrees and clearly exposed to the sun. (photo from Matt Hart)

The guy I chased all day.  The 2014 MAS winner Matt Hart.  Photo by Meghan Hicks.

Crossing the finish line for a third year in 10 hours and 18 seconds.  Photo by Hicks.

The final strides and final stages of baking.  Photo by Harrison.

Your Moment of Zen

Oh how I wished I could have had access to this watery fun in the final 20 miles!