Black Canyon 100k 2-18-2017

For RRs. I like to write like a narrative but for those who just want the basics here you go (narrative following).

Final Result:


Overall: 72/246

AG (50-59): 4/44

Congrats to everyone who competed!

More results here:


Jurek Essential Waist Belt with added pocket (many little things in here incl map, space blanket, readers etc)
Craft long sleeve base
Giro base pockets
Xtra synthetic turtleneck
Novara waterproof gore text jacket
Brim type running hat (waterproofed with camp dry spray the day before)
Pi shorts
Merino leggings
Socks: balega & Swiftwick
Hoka Clifton 1s
Blue steel anti chafe cream
Merino Buff

Baby food squeezies (6)
Trail butter
Ginger candies (about 6 or 7)
Granola bars
Scaps (6)
Bacon (1 lb)
Aid station food (mostly PB and j)

I had more food than this in the drop bags but this is approximately what i ate


1 handheld
1 soft flask


the course was beautiful lush Sonoran desert that is the place I spent so much time growing up. It’s a powerful place full of plants and animals in more variety than anywhere else I can think of. It’s a shame to run through as i wanted to stop and sit and listen. The route changed from point-to-point (net downhill) to out and back due to the weather but this played to my strengths. I probably would have had a better result with the original course but competitively I was better suited for the alternate.


During the race I didn’t really have any serious issues. The ginger candy kept any stomach problems at bay and I put anti chafe all over my feet neck and nethers which resulted in zero chafing. Even with all the rain the only reapply i needed was the mile 40 sock change. Post race I have three black toenails but I can get that in a 20 miler. My legs are quite sore but that is expected and I was able to take a couple of short hikes the two days I was still in AZ post race. Time will tell if anything else crops up.


All of the kind people I met made this race special. The camaraderie was amazing! I really felt the ultra-love at this one & feel privileged to have been a part of this event!

Thanks to everyone esp Mei Ling and Maya and Eileen for all of the support and encouragement i need and to Mark for his infinite wisdom and Steve for meeting up for the FE and to Caroline for reminding me that ‘this too shall pass’ and Brandi for being kind and remembering the creepy old guy and to the lady who ordered a pizza for a cold & tired and slightly foggy old man and to my Cousin James and Elsa (who went out to get the pizza and drove her Dad-my Cousin to this hare-brained event) and to Zac for helping me home in those last few miles! …and last but not least to my friend Aurora who was the first to encourage me to be better

Organization & RDs:

kudos to Aravaipa for doing such a great job managing changing conditions without canceling the race! My hidden treasure drop never came back but that’s because they were using the vehicles transporting hypothermic runners so I’m glad they prioritized that! And post race they are shipping my bag back to Seattle as i write this!
Narrative part:

One cool thing that happened to me on this trip unrelated to the race is that I got a free Dodge Challenger upgrade for my rental. I used to build old Mopars and had an old Charger for a few years so i know these cars well and the new one did not disappoint! The only disappointment was having it in AZ which has become a sort of mild police-state (yes it is an irony that the nanny-state haters form their own).

Anyway… about the race:
I was so glad to have my bike gear and after this race i am still a believer. I saw so many runners wearing running gear designed for short outings getting very cold at the end. I just wore my bike jacket with the sleeves on and unzipped the front when I got a little warm. I did dump the extra layer at the first drop (hidden tr. Mile 12) and did not get it back on the way back (mile 50?) in the interest of both time and taking my jacket off to put it on still wet would have cost precious heat! At this point i did change my beanie for my merino buff which was also a lifesaver. I put the buff on to cover my neck, ears and the top of my head under my hat. It worked great and I felt a lot warmer! I know that you can stay warm only so long and in those last miles if something breaks down and you have to walk you won’t be able to keep your core temp up. Also here is the value of the bacon and trail butter. There is nothing better than fats for keeping warm. Combining these with the baby food and other fast metabolizing foods I got bursts from the sugars and then could push after to get energy from the bacon. I was also eating a ginger chew after each feeding to keep my stomach happy. Man those are a life saver! I also ate 6 s caps during the race knowing I was well hydrated and i ate four 200mg advil over the course of the day, partly due to a major TMJ flare up that has been happening the past two weeks and i didnt want more headaches today! I never stopped to eat and was actually able to run at least half the time I was eating. The baby foods are great for that. On hydration I was initially worried if it would be hot. Fortunately it was not and I used one handheld for when aid was under 6 miles but filled the soft flask with water for the 7 mile stretches except at the end. The soft flask was stuffed in my giro base which made it bounce a lot but I was able to ignore that. At my first visit to the gloriana (24m?) I got the battery to recharge my  ambit 2 (which performed marvelously btw) and knew I needed to hold it on the watch for at least an hour. I ended up holding it for 2 hours and had 40% battery left after the race. I also carried my handheld light and was very glad to have the handheld and not a headlamp. I was also very glad to have my road shoes as everyone was slipping all over in the mud. The difference was that I did not have an extra pound of mud stuck to the bottoms of my feet. What mud did stick I got rid of by running through the wettest parts. The original Clifton’s are great at shedding water. The balega socks I had on were a little mushy but when I changed them out for the swiftwicks at mile 40 there was improvement. I run through so much water in training I think this helped me a lot. That and the fact that the mud was so ridiculous it was hilarious. At one point I almost couldn’t get up a small incline and slid back into the person behind me. Both of us laughing she offered to give me a push but I declined saying that would be muling!
The mud at the beginning was demoralizing for sure and I was a bit surprised to be feeling OK after so I picked up the pace. The trail was narrow and I came up on a lot of runners but I found that letting them know that I would let them know when I will pass helped because I was taking some fast walk breaks and then when the next burst came I would run out a couple of miles so I was leap frogging some people. Everyone on the trail was especially friendly which made for a pleasant day. I fell in behind Caroline for a while and saw Brandi quite a bit during the day, both incredibly strong , stable and steady runners that I want like to be like but with my opposite frame I just amble falling forward. These gals have real muscle! Also I passed many people at aid stations. Each time through I would say “no dawdling” and bust out of there in less than a minute knowing those minutes will be precious later. I kept on like this for the whole first half keeping in mind what Caroline reminded me that things come and go in waves. Nearing the turnaround I was watching for Mark and Steve kind of expecting to see Mark soon coming back but I did not see them until I was entering the turnaround ( Mark was just leaving there and Steve close behind). A little while after the turnaround I saw my friend Eileen. She said that she was feeling good which made me feel happy because I knew she was not in her best shape. Then it was cool to catch up with Mark and Steve pretty soon after that and we got to talk for a while. I knew Steve was a strong road runner but it was the fact that I had caught up with Mark that gave me a big boost. I admire his accomplishments a lot and have wanted to be in another race with him ever since he schooled me a couple of years ago in the Self Transcendence 7-hour (which was the second day of a back-to-back for him)! I also got a boost from the fact there was a lot of climbing still to do. As long as I can keep my hr reasonable I can power hike relatively fast and totally rest a lot of my running muscles. I just push with the glutes and stretch out the hamstrings. This actually feels really good and I have to thank the endless trails folks for this because their very vertical carkeek timed races have really helped me a lot! Anyway when I got back to my drop at gloriana I found a dry rocky area by one of the tents and made a (planned) extended stop to clean my feet (towel in drop bag) re lube my feet and change socks. I think it actually only took about five minutes. Then from there I mostly kept eating, put on some tunes (ambient/post rock mix) , put my head down and worked. I passed many runners in the last 15 or so miles. After dark I would fall in line with people waiting for a chance to pass not even wanting to waste the bit of energy to say anything, then I would try, mostly successfully, to pass in the mud. The puddles were a lot deeper on the way back and in the dark it was dicey. I fell to my knees a couple of times but I was determined. I saw a lot of cold people. One lady in particular was with a man and was holding onto him shivering like crazy in her space blanket which made her all rustly. I tried to encourage her but could tell she was really scared. I told her to keep moving and the finish was close.
Then right about where the mud stopped I met up with a guy named Zac with whom we navigated the last confusing bit (that felt like we had run a week before) and finished the last few miles running. I was so surprised and pleased to find out I still had legs after all those miles! I also remember crossing a bridge over a small creek that i looked down at in the morning. In the dark i shined my light down and all i could see was a rush of brown water almost all the way up to the bridge deck! When we got through the finish we were handed our glass and buckle and shown to the gym. Immediately upon stopping i felt cold and was shivering. I went to the shower to clean up but that didn’t help. I got as dry as i could without a towel and went to sit down and gather. Eventually i warmed up and was fine. I was hanging out in the gym with my cousin James who had run the 60 and his Daughter Elsa who were still waiting for his drop bag and also Mark and Steve for a while. I wanted to eat something solid but the pizza was outside and it was cold. Then a lovely lady who’s name I can’t remember went out and ordered my pizza for me!
I also saw Brandi again and she recognized me and shook my hand. Such a sweet kid. Sitting in the gym watching all the shivering runners come in i saw Eileen make a beeline for the showers and she looked cold too but i was glad to see she finished – and in good time for those conditions! When i was slogging through that mud in the morning i kept thinking that everyone was going to drop! Eventually someone came and informed us that some of the bags would not be arriving and we needed to arrange with Aravaipa to get them back (which turned out to be no prob). So i walked back to my car barefoot (i thought my dry shoes were in that missing bag) and drove back to Prescott to clean up. I didnt sleep well at all that night too excited and proud of myself.

Post race I have so many things to say about why I did this but perhaps the best thing for me is the mental reset I get from doing something very difficult. I now have the confidence to face another year on my beloved planet Earth!

PS on tunes after mile 30 i listened to a mix of Explosions in the Sky, Earth, Sigur Ros, Brian Eno, Album Leaf, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Boards of Canada, Brian Eno, David Sylvian, Do Make Say Think, Harold Budd, Mogwai, Tarentel, Tristeza, Vidna Obmana and various other ambient treasures.


5 thoughts on “Black Canyon 100k 2-18-2017

  1. I know I’ve said this already, but what a great race for you, Alan! Being new to the ultra world and knowing very few people who actually do them (I think exactly three at this point), I have to say, there is a uniqueness to all of your personalities that I greatly admire. Congrats!


  2. Congratulations on a great day and excellent finish! It was fun crossing paths with you multiple times, and even seeing you go on ahead of us on your way to the finish. Um… showers? There were showers at the finish??? I wish my brain were functioning well enough to figure that out. Again, congratulations!


  3. Congratulations, Alan! I love how your personality and voice come through in your writing. Such a strong race for you. Love your zen approach. Also learned a lot about gear from reading this. Finally, thank you for sharing that picture. When I was going through that area I wanted to stop and take one it is so beautiful, rain or shine.


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