Running Adventures of a Trail Brat

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Capitol Reef 100

Quick. Capitol Reef. What’s the first thing that enters your mind? Southern Utah, Capitol Reef National Park, Red Rock, maybe oceans and coral reefs?

Now consider Ultra Adventures Capitol Reef Ultras. What’s the first thing that enters your mind? If you know anything about Ultra Adventures races, you might think: spectacular course, tough course, awesome race staff and volunteers, lots of backcountry adventure.

One of many views from the Aquarius Plateau

One of many views from the Aquarius Plateau

Though these are excellent descriptors of the Capitol Reef Ultras, it is also important to note that the course is not run in the Capitol Reef National Park. Instead, it starts in the arid, red rock of Red River Ranch in Torrey and gradually takes the runner to the subalpine zone of the Aquarius Plateau. The out and back format of the 100 mile course is very technical with the trail consisting of  all sorts of rocks and boulders, wet marshy patches, downed trees, and lots of steep ups and downs. Sometimes an obvious true trail seemed nonexistent or just overgrown. This element made following course markings difficult and added another level of difficulty to the challenge of the course.

Elevation Profile for Capitol Reef 100

Elevation Profile for Capitol Reef 100

Click on the image below to video below represents much of the first 50 miles of the course.

Click on the image of this link to view a video of Capitol Reef 100.

Next to Monument Valley, I’d have to say that Capitol Reef may be my next favorite Ultra Adventures race. The scenery, remoteness, and difficulty make this a course to remember. I also love running at night. My night time highlight was running across the plateau under a clear, starry sky. However, from my vantage point, I saw several lightning strikes over the town of Torrey. This light show was almost as magnificent as running under a meteor shower. Despite my fondness for night running, it also created a few issues trying to navigate across the plateau. At 1am, I stopped to put on another layer of clothing and found myself running in a complete circle. In correcting my course and moving in a forward direction, turns out I was now running the course backwards and heading back to the previous aid station. Fortunately, I ran into Tony Christensen who set me right and offered a second pair of eyes to navigate the plateau.

After 33 hours of running and dealing with the results of fatigue from running at high elevations, I missed the cut off for the 87 mile aid station. This is the first time I’ve missed a cut off and though a little hard to handle, I allowed myself to appreciate what my body had allowed me to accomplish: completing 87 miles of technical terrain with approximately 40 of those miles at sustained elevations above 11,000 feet all while witnessing the beauty of the Aquarius Plateau and Boulder Mountains. I’d say a day and a half well spent, despite not coming home with a belt buckle.

However, given the opportunity, in a heart beat, I’d return next year to redeem myself with a finish! 🙂



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Antelope Canyon 100

Antelope Canyon Elevation Profile

To a seasoned ultra runner, this elevation profile may not look too intimidating. However, though useful information, you shouldn’t judge a race solely by its elevation profile.

Here are a things the Antelope Canyon profile won’t tell you. (Click the image below to view a YouTube video of the course or click direct link here.)

View of Upper Antelope Canyon entrance

I’m always happy to reach the finish line. Yep, those white flecks are snow. The steady drizzle turned to snow about 1 1/2 hours before I reached the finish line.

At the Finish Line

This is what feet can look like after running 30 miles in sand dune-like sand, 10 miles on slickrock, and 60 miles on hard pack trail over slickrock.

Feet after running 100 miles at Antelope Canyon

Try as hard as I did to not bring home any of the Antelope Canyon canyon sand, with the rain, it was just unavoidable.

Sandy shoes

Unfortunately, I was not able to fit in any of the Anthelope Canyon Trifectas. The following links have, however, inspired me to return next year to Antelope Canyon just so I can check out these uniquie and awesome areas.

Cable Trail to Colorado River video by Travis McWhorter

White Pocket blog post by Jill Williams

As always, thank you Matt Gunn, Ultra Adventures, other races officials, race volunteers and fellow runners for an inspirational and challenging adventure in the desert.


No entry into HR. So what’s a girl to do?

Running through slot canyons in Antelope CanyonFourth year of applying to HR and still no golden ticket. Oh well, fortunately there are a lot of other trails to conquer and Mr. Matt Gunn has made my Plan B a lot more realistic. Instead of Running amongst the monuments of Monument Valleyworking to tackle the Rocky Mountain Grand Slam in 2015, I will…drum roll…complete all seven of the Ultra Adventures 100 mile races. This involves completing one race a month from February through August on some pretty spectacular trails located in southern Utah/northernArizona.



The race schedule is as follows:

Running along the Kaibab PlateauThanks to Matt Gunn, for making me one of his Ultra Adventures ambassadors, I am super excited to tackle what I’d like to call 7 47. You see there are 7 races and this year I turn 47 in March (during the Monument Valley race, in fact). I got the name idea from Malcolm Law who ran New Zealand’s mainland 7 Great Walks in 7 days. He called his challenge 7in7. Thanks, Mal. 🙂

capitolreefAs an Ultra Adventures ambassador, I’ll be posting a blog entry here about each race I complete in the series. If you know me, you Running to Pink Cliffs Aid Stationknow I’m not much of a blow by blow race reporter. Instead I’ll try and string together maybe a little Go Pro footage and pictures with some of my thoughts on the adventure. Each race also has what Matt is calling a Trifecta, which consists of three trails in the same vicinity as the race course. Matt hopes Tushars mountain are the third highest mountain range in Utahto encourage others to explore the area beyond the course markings. I hope to possibly have some extra time to explore a trail or two or three at some of the races. However, I am also encouraging any friends that travel with me who are doing one of the shorter distances to explore these Trifecta trails, as well. If I get any takers, I’ll be sure to also post their impressions of these additional areas.

I am certain that all of these races will be spectacular as I ran both Zion 100 and Bryce Canyon 100 during their inaugural year. I can’t wait, so stay tuned!

Happy New Year and happy trails. 🙂

Photo credits: Photos of Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon and Tushars taken from Ultra Adventures website. Photo from Zion taken by me at Zion 100 in 2012. Photo of me taken at Bryce Canyon retrieved from Facebook. Photo of Capitol Reef taken from Wikimedia Commons.