Here’s a salute to the courses. To those twisty turvy single-track trails that plunge headfirst past the asphalt edges of the city and deep into the shrewd, unspoiled peaks that lurk over us on the horizon, laughing down on us busy fools. Here’s to the races that send us to those mountains – giving us reason to take the plunge. And here’s to finding adventure among the elements on an otherwise boring day.
At Black Canyon 100k this year I was fortunate enough to battle the rain, cold, and mud. Living in Arizona, an opportunity like this comes few and way far between. For a storm to fall on a race day – spectacular. And so it went. It was difficult and it was awesome. The mud hit hard. It felt like my feet were landing in some stubborn asshole-glue that kept trying to steal my damn shoes off me. Sort of like those dreams when you’re running as hard as you can, but are going incredibly slow and it feels paralyzing. That kind of mud. But there’s no resentment here. I felt like Frodo Baggins on my 61 mile journey and the mud was just another obstacle, another scene written in the script. And that wizard Gandalf? Well he’s the damn mountains that kept laughing at us idiots for running around all day in the muck for no apparent reason.
One month later was Mesquite Canyon 50k. Know what happens to the mountains in March after they get a bunch of February rain? They blow up in a dazzling display of desert wildflowers. It was unreal. I guess the desert had a “super bloom” this year. I was straight up prancing and frolicking my way through a Georgia O’Keeffe painting. And yeah, I went with prancing and frolicking here because, well, what do you do among ten zillion blotches of yellow, red, blue and green? You prance, that’s what you do. And you frolic. The fact that it was record-setting heat that day (high 97) was another element, and another welcomed hurdle. Because on every long climb as I began to sweat profusely, and as my heart rate started to fire, and as I found myself getting more and more irritated and defeated by the heat, I took a moment to look up and see what was around me. You can’t be pissed in a super bloom. Ya just can’t.
Aravaipa Running put me on their racing team this year and I have to say thank you for putting these races together, and giving me some adventures. Kudos to all the race directors out there who find awesome routes in remarkable places to get us out there, if only for one day.
Michael Carson of Aravaipa took some great footage from the races, check it out if you want a glimpse into the adventure. Don’t get distracted by the guy running though, the real show is what’s around him.
Ford Canyon is a technical section from miles 26-28 of the MC50K course
Videographer: Michael Carson / Aravaipa Running (I ran this at a decent clip holding a water bottle. He ran with me while holding a stick with a nice camera on the end and managed to film the entire canyon without a hitch. He deserves an award.)