Running Adventures of a Trail Brat

Leave a comment

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! 🙂



Leave a comment

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.