Desert R.A.T.S.

What a great weekend.  Toberer and I drove out to Fruita on Friday night, met up with Jeanni and Mike, and camped next to the river (and a Wendy’s and a Taco Bell) with Colorado National Monument as the backdrop.  Those two got up early Saturday morning to run the 25 miler.  Toberer and I slept in, then went over to the course, where we had volunteered to work an aid station in the afternoon, hoping to get some information for that, and maybe register for Sunday.  This race was perhaps the most poorly organized race I’ve ever been involved in, and they had no help, no course map or directions to the aid station, no packet pickup.  There was a course map online but it looked like it was drawn by a retarded kindergartner.  Which means that later in the day we spent about 45 min driving around looking for the aid station, which was very well hidden!  By the way, they also didn’t check people’s number in at aid stations or the finish, so if you ever do a race organized by these people, don’t expect them to come looking for you if you get lost- and several people did get lost.

We spent most of Saturday morning exploring Colorado National Monument:

We spent the afternoon at the Moore Fun aid station, which was mile 44 of the 50 mile course.  It was HOT- highs in the upper 80’s, while their average high for April is 66 (what climate change?!).  Jeanni and Mike joined us and spent the afternoon after their hot 25 miler “rehydrating” with Avery IPA, which made all the 50-milers very jealous!  Soon after we got there, the guy in 1st place in the 50 miler came through, looking strong (but covered in sweat and salt).  The second place person came through maybe 20 minutes later, looking a little worse for the wear and not quite as coherent.  Around that time, a lady came through in the wrong direction- she had gone the wrong way for the second lap! She turned around and went back to the start, for a total of >37 miles for the day and having done the hardest climb of the 2-lap course 3 times!  People trickled through for the rest of the day.  In the 6 hours we were there, we saw maybe 20 runners come through, out of something like 30 that started the 50 miler and 70ish who were signed up for it.  The heat was pretty rough on people, and some of them were a total mess.  I’ve never been involved in an ultra before, and I can now definitively say that ultrarunners are nuts.  Some of them looked and acted totally fine, and were joking around and chatting with us.  At the other end of the spectrum, though, some of them were peeing blood, throwing up, or having severe leg cramps.  Not all of these people dropped out…  Some highlights of the day were the following quotes:

“Why do I do this? I could have watched like 6 movies by now!”

“I can’t drop out, that would set a bad example for my kids if they wanted to quit soccer or something.”

“No thanks, I brought my own food.  I have to eat what my stomach’s used to.  [Holds up something that looks like crushed dirt] This?  It’s a kale-salmon-chia-[other weird stuff] sandwich.  Yeah, that’s the only kind we have in Boulder.  If you try to order a normal sandwich, they’re like, ‘no, you’ll have to go to Longmont for that.'”

[1-yr-old to her Dad who is in 2nd place]”Daddy!  Gel!” [Thrusts a power gel at him]

[Crew member to runner’s wife, while waiting at aid station] “Go run and find him!  Tell him we have a dinner reservation in two and a half hours!”

“WHAT?!?  You offered me water when you have Mountain Dew, and orange slices when you have pizza?  Yes I want pizza!”

“I’m not used to this heat!  I was running in the snow 4 days ago.”

“Nah, this isn’t so bad.  I ran a hundred miler a couple of weeks ago.” [Stuffs her sports bra full of ice and continues]

“Do you have Vaseline?” [shoves a handful down his shorts] “Ahh, that’s good.  That’s disgusting.”

[Guy who was peeing blood to guy who was having massive leg cramps] “We definitely can’t tell our wives about this.”

So, basically, there needs to be a reality TV show about these people, because it was nonstop comedy and/or drama.

The next morning, we got up at some ungodly hour when it was still dark out to run the half marathon.  I was totally grumpy and freezing cold and felt ill because I am NOT a morning person, and I managed to choke down just half a ginger ale and a fig newton before the race started… awesome breakfast.  But once I started running, life was good and I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day.  The run was perfect desert scenery- canyons, red rock formations, sagebrush, gnarled trees.  People kept giving me funny looks because I was stopping to take photos so often that I actually just ran with my phone in my hand for most of it (and it ended up covered in gu).

The fire road we started on
A cool canyon we ran through
First view of the Colorado River

A view of the canyon from farther along

Looking back on the rim we’ve been running
 Down in the distance is the Moore Fun aid station, where I spent the day Saturday (those cars at the junction in the road)

The view from partway up the climb out of Moore Fun

The view from the top of the climb.  Totally worth it!

 Me and Jeanni near the finish

 Proof that the finish line was still there when I got there!

It was a great course, with only one major climb, and terrain that was technical enough to be interesting but pretty much all runnable (if I were the kind of person to run the whole time).  Jeanni ran with me for most of it, which was fun and made for a 40-mile weekend for her.  Hopefully she wasn’t too bored with the pace :).  I did end up walking most of the major climb that started at mile 8, because pretty much all of my usual injuries had kicked in by then despite a steady stream of ibuprofen in my diet, and the hip flexor especially doesn’t like hills.  But, I still finished in about 3 hours, which was my optimistic prediction and was plenty early enough that it never got too hot.  So, I would consider this a successful weekend, and would definitely do this race again.

2 thoughts on “Desert R.A.T.S.

  1. I would like to add that while she may have been passed early on, Adele ran awesome, strong and steady the whole race… I picked her up around mile 3-4ish(?) and she proceeded to pass people the entire rest of the run!

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