Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Mountain Challenge: Oriana's First Mountain Race

Photo stolen from Martin Forstmann (yo te debo!)



Let's hope we run better than we pose for photos!                

If you only read one sentence of this report, read this one: Trail Run Hidalgo's Mountain Challenge (Race Director: Andoni Jardinez) is a fantastically organized race on beautifully technical single track around the magical town of El Chico; meter for meter, foot for foot, this was one of the most beautiful races I have run in Mexico anywhere. 


 Looking for a long run with lots of climbing and a fun weekend outside of the city for the family, Trail Run Hidalgo's Mountain Challenge (17k and 32k) was perfect. The race would start in the Pueblo Magico of Chico, and climb up into the mountains that surround the village.
  Oriana and Natalia would run the 17k. The 32k was shorter than what I wanted as a long run in preparation for the Bighorn 100, but with 2,800 meters of climbing, the time on my feet would suffice for a proper long run at --I hoped-- a decent pace. I really struggle to push the pace when I'm training alone. 

  But the night before the race the worry began to creep in: not about my race, but about Oriana's. I was worried about the course conditions. On saturday night we sat on the terraza overlooking the quaint downtown of Chico and it poured rain and hailed for at least two hours in Biblical intensities. The main street is at a steep incline and it was a raging river. Ori would be wearing road running shoes and I wondered if she would be slipping down the mountain.
  I was also a bit freaked out about the amount of climbing. There was something like 1,200 meters of climbing in the 17k race. Ori is fit and runs daily at school on the track, but she doesn't train for extended climbs. Additionally, she had never run with a pack, but I didn't want her to run with a handheld bottle because I thought she would need to use both hands in the technical and slippery terrain. It would also be her longest race.

  The night before the race in our hotel I had her pack and repack the Nathan pack until we were both convinced she knew it inside and out.

  I hoped for the rain to stop.

  I questioned my pre-race diet of roadside barbacoa.

  Natalia, Jutta and I went across the street to get some beers so we could sleep.



Almost time to go!

 The race started and we began walking up the steep incline out of town. The 17k and 32k started together, and even if we had wanted to run at this point, there were no good opportunities to pass people until the trail turned on a cement road heading up into the mountains. At this point I wished Ori and Natalia a good race and ran ahead to try to get in front of some of the crowd before we hit the single track. The course followed the road for a very short stretch and then turned straight up the mountain. This section needed to be navigated on all fours, but it quickly linked up with a more established trail that headed up into the mountains.

  I found myself wanting to take pictures of everything on this route, but it was so difficult to pass people on this opening climb (8.5 kilometers) that I took three photos and put the camera away for good. The rest of the climb was spent doing three things:

1. Marveling at how awesome the route was and silently extolling the trail-finding/race-organizing genius of Trail Run Hidalgo (gracias, Andoni!)
2. Worrying about how difficult the route was and wondering if Ori would make it to the top.
3. Trying to pass people when there was an opportunity...

A note to runners considering this race: I hate starting a race fast, but on this course that strategy makes sense: try to get to the singletrack before the crowds to avoid wasting a lot of energy trying to pass runners on the opening climb.

Also: while the organization of this race was flawless, one suggestion: start the 32k an hour earlier than the 17k race to avoid some of the crowding on the trail.

I also think it would be awesome to have a 64k option: run the loop twice, first clockwise, than counter-clockwise. 




blurry photo I took and yes, this trail is that awesome


heading up....


and up....


finally emerging from the forest, near the top (I think)


I didn't know this at the time but Ori was rocking it near the top of the mountain!


mountain selfie





Oriana, Natalia, Rock




  
Finally the trail flattened out a bit, we entered a meadow and here was the 8.5 kilometer aid station. The 17k runners would turn around here and head back down. For the 32k route, things flattened out a bit and the crowds were gone. Finally I was alone and able to run. We were still on singletrack but less technical than the first section of the race. I knew there was one big climb left up to the peña del cuervo. After running some varied terrain, the trail went down into a canyon and then finally started going up on the rocky goat trail that is the final sustained climb of the race. I had done this climb before in a race back in November, and I knew it was steep but not that long. Finally we reached the peña de cuervo and went left on a wide two-track road that continued to climb. Other than leaving the center of town and arriving in the center of town, this is it for terraceria in this race: everything else is singletrack. I started hiking but felt good and started to run, catching a few people as we arrived back at the aid station.
  The final 10k of the race is a long descent back into town on very runnable singletrack. This race definitely rewards those who have something left in their legs, as this section could be run very fast. In fact, it begs to be run fast as these are long, gently rolling and descending switchbacks. My legs were a bit heavy, and while I couldn't fly like I wanted to, I maintained a decent run for this section, gaining a few positions in the descent. 

  Finally we hit the town and I thought we would have to run the long way around to the centro; however, we were told to head straight down the main road. Wow, the race was over! I looked for Oriana and Natalia as I crossed the finish line. My plan was to immediately tell Oriana it was ok if she didn't finish, as I thought she might have had to turn back. 

  But she finished strong, completing her first true Mountain Race.


Strong Finish.    
[otro photo robado de Martin Forstmann....Martin: voy a pagar gas, caseta y post-race chelas en Real de Monte!]


  Trail Run Hidalgo definitely put themselves on the map with this race: fairly priced, world-class trails, professional organization, and located in the magical town of Mineral del Chico. We will be back!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Oriana's First Trail Race: Trail Del Rio Race Report

Mission Accomplished! Oriana finishes her first trail race.

  Billed as the "funnest course on the Solo Para Salvajes circuit," I've always been curious about the Trail del Rio race. At 13km, I thought it would also make a good first trail race for Oriana. However, despite the short distance, beware: the trail is very technical, slippery and at times dangerous: there were a few spots where one could plummet down into the river. Also, this is not a race for those who like dry shoes. There are 5-6 major river crossings, some of them were waist high. 

  We lucked out and it was a beautiful day. We started at a steady pace, not pushing too hard. On this course, that is a mistake. There are a few sections of open meadow running where one can pass others, but much of the trail is so narrow that passing is very difficult for much of the race. 

  As Oriana exclaimed at one point: "I just want to pass these people." We were stuck behind a train of folks for the last quarter of the race, but then things opened up and we made our move through the meadows.

  We finally emerged onto pavement that led down into a park. I was sure this was the end of the race, so we were sprinting with everything we had. But the course went through the park and led straight up the side of a hill. Ori struggled a bit mentally here, as she thought she was finished, and she had pushed so hard she had become something of a spit dribbler. But she regrouped and pushed up the climb, which was by far the longest climb of the day. Finally, we emerged on top of the hill and there was a short, flat section. Oriana turned it on again and finished strong!

  The photos below show some of the terrain of the Trail de Rio. 


Early in the race....                                                 All photos: me

No longer bothering with trying to keep the feet dry

Someone hiked out there to wave the flag

Waiting for her moment to pass...

Making her move!

A rare section where she could open up her pace...


Get Dirty!

At least a half-dozen River crossing like this...

River Selfie

technical trail...

powering up the final climb...

Finish line Selfie


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Great Mexican Ultramarathon: The UTMX 100k Adventure (So Much More Than a Medal!)





 

They came from all corners of Mexico: from the exhaust-choked urban sprawl of Mexico City, from Puebla, from Monterrey. From Oaxaca, Guadalajara, Zacatecas.  From deep in the Canyons of Chihuahua. The anticipation and nerves were palpable in the air as nearly 900 runners packed in front of the stage for the pre-race meeting.

Anticipation can kill an experience. Set your hopes too high, and the reality that can’t quite live up to our imaginations can be a real ball kicker.


Barranca de Metztitlan. Beware: no photo does this place justice.




  
Going into the UTMX 100k in Huasca de Ocampo, my hopes were sky high. The area is a spectacular place to run, and Marcos Ferro’s races are well organized. As I stood with 900 other runners listening to some final instructions and a few small changes to the route, I was nervous.  I had made my decision to stick with the 100k race that I had signed up for in May, but that small, sensible voice in the back of my head was quietly suggesting a change to the 42k. Normal pre-race jitters or was I making a dangerous mistake?

What I (and the mountain running community in Mexico) found out that this was more than a well-organized ultra in a beautiful place. UTMX was an adventure: there were trails that ran along precipitous cliffs; there was a final river crossing –in the dark for back-of-the-packers like me-- at the bottom of a small canyon, and there were rocks, endless rocks.

This was not your Abuelo’s “wide-dirt-road/smooth trail” 100k.

That fact was driven home about 2k into the race, with the first river crossing. Even in the early miles, there were technical downhill rock formations that were dangerously slick. I was running with Marcos Truyols and he slipped early, and while he wasn’t seriously hurt, it was obvious that it could have happened differently and been a race-ender before the sun came up. So caution was the order for the day.

There was no spoken agreement between Truyols and I, but there seemed to be an unspoken one: let’s take these early hours easy and see what the day will bring.  Marcos was nursing a knee injury and trying to avoid that ending his race. I was concerned about the distance. I was 100% in for the finish, but I was a bit wary of my previous two months of training.

After the first aid station I made a classic mistake and followed a group a runners down a road before noting we had not seen a trail marker. We went back up the road, and sure enough, we had missed a well-marked turn.  It was an important lesson for the day: don’t follow people, don’t blindly follow the “obvious” path: follow the trail markers.


   Scenes from the first 42k of the race.                                                                                     Photo: me

I was also carrying a copy of the course directions.

Marcos and I hiked and ran conservatively until the high point of the race. We snapped a quick photo and then began the run that was mostly downhill until the 42 kilometer mark.


Marcos Truyols and I at the top of the course. Mental note for next year: ask someone else to snap this photo. Where's Martin Forstmann when you need him!                                          Photo credit: super nice guy who takes shitty photos









  This section featured single track that begged to be ripped down,  and we picked up the pace, passing some groups on uphills to avoid being slowed down on the coming descents. I wanted to use the momentum of the downhills without getting carried away and destroying my legs too early in the race.


Top of a giant rock climb.                                                      Photo: me

At the 42k I had my drop bag. I had agonized about whether to put my drop bag at 42 or 71k, and in the end I opted for 42k to make sure I would have my rain jacket and “mayas” (running tights), which were required equipment after 5:00pm.  I also did something I’ve never done in a race before: changed my shoes. After running for nearly 7 hours with wet feet, dry feet just felt too damn good. I gambled and put on my road shoes, the trusty Ride 6 Sauconys that I used to run my 100miler in August.


Wild flowers and Maguey                                                        Photo: me

And then five minutes out of the 42k aid station was another river crossing. And then another, and a third. Through a series of ballet moves and lucky jumps, I was able to keep my shoes dry, but I knew that I was flirting with injury and wasting time and energy trying to keep my feet dry, but in a stroke of luck, the river crossings ended there…

We were out on a dirt road, and then a bit of pavement. It was hot. The first 44k of this race is a technical marathon with a fair bit of climbing. There were a few smoother, runnable sections, but much of it was very slow going. I tried to pick up the pace on the road. I knew the next 12 kilometers until we went down into the Peña del Aire were rolling and runnable. Time to move.

At the halfway point I encountered Pedro Fletes and many other Salvajes manning the Solo Para Salvajes 51k aid station. It put me in great spirits to see these guys. I also knew the canyon was coming, a portion of the course I had anticipated for months. Would it live up to my expectations?

Leaving the Salvajes aid station, Marcos Truyols pulled away and I wondered if I would see him again. I tried to push hard, but on this flat section more people passed me than on any other section of the course.

At the Peña del Aire (61k) was a huge aid station. This was one section of the course that was accessible by car, and Milly came out to cheer me on. I downed some soup and then headed down into the Barranca de Metzitlan. I had been waiting for this section all day, and it did not disappoint.


Peña del Aire aid  Photo: Milly
I’ve been fortunate to run on some incredible trails in beautiful places: the Pemigewasset loop in the White Mountians in New Hampshire on a clear day with views from all 9 peaks; The Highline trail in Arizona during a freak April snowstorm; up, over and down Mt. Baden-Powell on the Pacific Crest Trail in California. And now, the Barranca de Metztitlan in Hidalgo, Mexico.

Whatever fatigue I felt in my legs at this point basically faded away as I charged down to the Canyon bottom.  I had promised myself no more photos, now it was time to race, but the views kept forcing me to break that promise.  I was feeling fantastic and began to pass some of the runners who had passed me on the flats. But Truyols was nowhere to be seen. I kept pushing. I could smell blood, I felt he was close.

Finally, just as I thought I was going to finish this race with dry shoes (they had been dry since the change at 42k), the course followed the river at the bottom of the canyon. It didn’t cross the river; the trail was the river. One kilometer later and I was in the 71k aid station. It was 5:13pm. I second guessed my decision to leave my drop bag at 42k, looked enviously at the runner next to me changing into dry shoes, wrung out my socks like a sponge, and got the hell out of there to chase down Truyols. 

All the photos below were taken by me (except the good one: that was taken by Martin Forstmann) in the Barranca de Metztitlan



Marcos "negative split" Truyols                Photo: Martin Forstmann


As much as I love remote, people-less places, one thing I enjoy about Mexican races is that they sometimes go through tiny pueblos that I would otherwise never see. San Sebastian, a God-forsaken little town at the bottom of the canyon was one of these places. I greeted a few locals and then began the cruel trudge up the dirt road. 7 K of climbing up out of the canyon. I cursed the name of Marcos Ferro, the race director, on this climb, having an imaginary argument with him in my head about finding a single track trail that could take us to the top.

But there was nothing to do but march.

And march.

Finally, it leveled out and there was the Mirador aid station.

And holy shit, there was Truyols, about to leave.  I felt good, I was ready to run, I felt like the crux of the race was over, as I was certain we were done with major climbing.

I should have looked more carefully at the course map.

Truyols was out of there, and I quickly followed.

Damn, he was moving fast. I couldn’t believe it. Soon he was out of site. I was alone again, trying to keep him in site. I made a short detour off the road and followed some markers that went off to the right, but then a young villager on a horse told me that the route was on the dirt road. Shit, he was right: Ferro had explained this change at the meeting the night before.

And then at the 81k mark I arrived at Ahuacatitla, and I realized I had made a dreadful mistake: the climbing was not over. It was black now and I headed straight down: so steep it was unrunnable on my jellied legs.

Down, down. And then finally, when it no longer seemed possible that it could keep going down, a technical downhill so steep I had to hang on to trees to get to the bottom to avoid falling.

And here at the bottom was the Mother of all river crossings.  Raging. Dangerous. Loud.

It was pitch black, but there was a rope and volunteers on both sides of the rivers. I hung on to the rope with everything I had, and carefully made my way across.

Somewhere in the middle of that crossing I realized there was probably no place I would rather be in this world than at the bottom of that chasm, scared shitless, hanging on to a rope to avoid being swept down the river with 50 miles on my legs and miles to go before I sleep…

At least now I have an answer when someone asks me: 100K? Why?  I’ll tell them about that river.

Once I crossed, I thanked the volunteer, tried to find words that could express how much I loved the race and headed up in the black.

This was a serpentine climb that I would love to see in the daylight. At night, with my weak headlamp, it was like being in a lightless labyrinth, searching for little squares of white light (reflector tape) to find my way. For a time I stayed with another group, as they had better lights, but they were dying on the climb, and I knew I’d never catch Truyols if I hung back with them.  

So I forged ahead, one tiny square of light at a time.

It was awesome. In my head, I forgave Ferro for the seven kilometer climb on the fire road out of the canyon.  

And then I was out on the flats again. My time goal of 16 hours had been out the window for hours, but I didn’t care. I was alone, I had the directions in my back pocket, and between the map and the reflector tape I made my way to the 89k aid station. It was 9:10. My hoped-for finish time. I laughed about that. Drank half a Red Bull, got some good advice, cheer and directions from the volunteers, thanked them, and headed out.

I crossed the wooden hanging bridge over the  Prismas Balsaticos.

Followed the dark wet trail around the reservoir.

And then I was on the road, so close. Ran right by the cabañas we were staying at.

I ran hard, or at least it felt like I was running hard. I caught some walkers in the final kilometers. But no Truyols.

The final mental blow was when I was on the road to Huasca centro, which I knew was no more than 1k away. But then I had to turn right, through some back alleys, and then finally past the hotel were 900 of us were packed in with anticipation 25 hours earlier listening to Ferro describe the course (flawlessly, from memory), as we followed along with our maps.

The final stretch. I “sprinted” in, Milly and my friends were there. Ferro gave me un abrazo, put a medal crafted from the local obsidian rock on my neck. 17:33 minutes later, I had finished.

Truyols was nowhere in sight. I found out later he finished in 16:58. He didn’t run the fastest race that day, but he may have run the smartest. He ran the second half of the race faster than the first 51k. Who negative splits a 100k? Hats off to Marcos.


finished                 Photo: Milly


Postscript:


 We all think we want adventure, but adventures carry risk. Without risk it’s just a thrill:  like bungee jumping or Space Mountain. In Huasca there was risk of getting lost climbing up out of the canyon after crossing the river. There was the risk of breaking an ankle and being forced to hobble back up to the top of the canyon. There was the very real risk of rain and hypothermic conditions.

  Which is not to say the race organizers were reckless. To the contrary: they worked like hell to provide a controlled event that was as safe as one could possibly make this sort of event. The course was marked with reflective tape, chalk and ribbon.  There were course marshals at many points along the course. The course map was published months ago on the day sign-ups started. Every runner was given a map and a blow-by-blow/turn-by-turn description of the course. The night before the race, the race director went over the route and announced a couple last minute changes (some river crossings were eliminated because of high waters and one section of single track was diverted to a two-track, which the boy on the horse would later remind me about). And even with all of this, there was no guarantee. If there are guarantees, it’s not an adventure. I got lost a few times out there. I marched back to the last flag; I consulted my map; I tried to remember not to rely on the runners in front of me.

  Also, there was a required equipment list. Predictably, there was a bit of pissing and moaning about this. Mountain runners don’t like be told what we need to bring. I certainly didn’t want to carry running tights. Or a thermic blanket. Or a whistle.  But these were the rules, so I did it, and I still didn’t need to wear a pack. I stuffed everything into a zip lock baggie that fit inside my Jurek Essential waist pack and tied my rain jacket around my waist.  One could still travel light The list was not excessive. And the rules were clear (and they were published months ago) that the penalty for not having required equipment was disqualification.  So of course everyone complied and carried their shit. Especially the front runners, because who in the hell would want to chance losing a 10,000 pesos first prize to save a few grams and the minor hassle of carrying a whistle or a 10 gram thermic blanket?

  The Future of the Race?

Every ultrarunner in Mexico is now holding their breath. Will the race happen again? It could become a classic, THE Mexican Ultramarathon. Of course the Caballo Blanco race gets more international love, but this race –only a couple hours from the Mexico City Airport—makes this a much more travel-friendly location. But the amount of work that goes into the race make it tough for anyone to devote their year to putting the race together and not really make any money. Maybe a big sponsor (North Face? Patagonia?) could step in and lend some financial assistance to Marcos Ferro and the crew that brought us this race?

Marcos Ferro, RD

But until then….

  Thank you to all the volunteers out there who made this race possible. Even if it never happens again, it’s an experience I will never forget. And race or no race, I’ll be back up in those mountains, back down in the canyons.

World-class event; world-class trails.


The day after, back out at Peña del Aire.                     Photo: 7th place 42k finisher Torrey Hannas (her first run over 21k. Ever. Watch out.)







  

Monday, October 6, 2014

The View to Huasca: UTMX 100. Meditations on training, racing, losing (and finding) motivation.

AC 100 Finish: The end of a long journey.             Photo: Larry Gassan

  After finishing the Angeles Crest 100, (which you can read about here), I took five days off, but then tried to get right back on the horse. A couple things held my training back:

1. Motivation. The AC 100 was the culmination of 3 years of training and racing, and 6 months of focused training. After that effort I simply didn't have the same desire to get out of bed to run 3-5 hours in the mountains on Saturday and then repeat on Sunday. My body seemed ok; my mind needed a break: a longer break than 5 days.

2. Return to teaching. I was back in school the week following AC. The beginning of a school year is hectic and all-consuming: driving out to the mountains mid-week was no longer in the cards.

  However, I didn't stop running. I wasn't tracking my mileage, but I was doing speed workouts a couple times a week, and a ten miler here or there. I did get out for a great long run with Martin and Hiram for my first summit of Ajusco in August, but there wasn't much more than that.


Great run/hike up to Ajusco with Hiram and Martin.                           Photo: Hiram Marave

  And yet the UTMX 100k loomed, and all indications were that this was going to be the race of the year in Mexico. Fantastic organization; magical location. So that knowledge kept kicking me out the door to run. Just not for as long or steep as I needed to run. It's easier for me to run a race than it is to go out by myself for a long run, so I signed up for some races.

First Annual Tepozotlan 21k, Sept. 7


Wildflowers, rocks and climbs....                                      

   On September 7, I ran the Solo Para Salvajes race in Tepozotlan. Solo Para Salvajes is the mountain (and trail) running group run by Pedro Fletes Omaña. One can't speak of mountain running in Mexico without mentioning Pedro Fletes. His group efficiently runs nearly two races a month all year long. He has being doing this since the late 80's. His races feature aesthetic routes, adequate aid, and an absurdly economical price tag. About 22 USD for a race. The races are a mix of long time classics and newer ventures. Tepozotlan was a new one: a point to point race, and it was a beauty on all fronts: wild terrain that was a mix of cross-country off trail climbing and descending, and narrow, rocky single track throughout. Also, in the manner of all of all Salvajes' races it was simply, yet effectively organized: the route was fairly marked, there were aid stations were you needed them and had what you needed (salt, sugar, liquids). And, as always, a family of runners in good spirits.  We also lucked out with perfect weather: sunny, but not too warm. This race is an instant classic in my mind. Which brings me to a point I'll focus on more later: what makes a great race? Aside from organization, it's simple: the route. The route is everything. Most experienced trail runners don't give a shit about running 20 or 50 or 100 or 165 kilometers (why not 17 or 56 or 151?): we care about the trail. Trails that are aesthetically pleasing, trails that offer challenges. And beauty. 



A route that makes sense. Stunning.                    

Loops within loops don't make sense. Little out-and backs just to add distance don't make sense. If there is a peak in the area, the route should go up to that point.

Tepozotlan was the perfect route. And I had a good day, as I was in fantastic spirits as I discovered how awesome the course was. I'll be back next year.


Course was so nice I hiked back out there with Milly after the race

Ajusco 50k, Sept. 21

 I guess my only problem with the Tepozotlan 21k was that it wasn't long enough. So I had signed up for a new race being organized by some friends of mine. They aren't experienced race directors, but they have a passion for trails, and I had run with them in the area, so I was excited about the race. Also, I felt that mentally I needed a 50k long run, as this would give me some confidence going into the 100k in Huasca. I hadn't run longer than 21k in more than a month.

  Well, as every trail runner in the Mexico City area now knows, the race didn't go as planned. There were problems. Basically, the race imploded. I'm not going to rehash all the details, but I will offer a couple observations. Most complained about the trail markings, but I didn't find this to be a problem. I think the problem is that there were too many races, and the route (see my comment above about loops within loops) was not intuitive: in my mind, it didn't make sense. Also, my friends just underestimated how many folks it takes to organize a race, especially a race with a lot of new trail runners. Some hotheads called it a "deception" and a "fraud," and, frankly, that's ridiculous. It was some runners who got in over their heads and things spiraled out of control. 

It was a race. It went poorly. It's just running. Get over it.

  My race in Ajusco ended at the end of the first 25k(?) loop. Why did it end? Because of the organizational problems? Because the trail was hard to follow? Because the the finisher arch was prematurely deflated? Nope. It ended because I was dead tired. I've never felt that poorly in any race. Before Ajusco, I've never thought about dropping early in a race, but the DNF excuses were already filling my brain on the first climb. I had nothing. So when I got to the end of the first loop, I ended my race. Can't blame that on anyone else but me. I don't feel bad about it, as I was absolutely zonked and the idea of trudging around another loop had zero appeal.


         Struggling.
But a bad day running in the mountains is still a good day...               Photo: Martin Forstmann


  I was sure my 100k Huasca dream was done. I would do the sensible thing and drop to the 42k. I told a few folks I would switch races, I wasn't ready for 100k, mentally or physically. So it goes.

 Camino Largo y Sinuoso 33k, September 28
 And then I had a good run a few days later. My body started to feel better. And I signed up for the 33k run the following Sunday, one of the classics of the Solo Para Salvajes group. I knew this route well, as I've trained here many times, and ran the race two years ago (report here). I decided that THIS would be my long run for Huasca. And the race went well: I took the first climb easy, descended down to the cuarto dinamo, which is the half-way point, and then started to push a bit from there. And I found myself able to push hard all the way to the finish. And I still finished with something in the tank. I told Milly I would finish around 5 hours, 5:15, and I ran in at 4:42. Suddenly, I was feeling great about Huasca.

UTMX 100k: Huasca de Ocampo, Hidalgo, Mexico. October 11, 2014











Epic.





  But, one solid twenty-miler does not a 100k training plan make. Frankly, I don't care. It's an experiment. How much of my base have I maintained since running 100 miles? How much has slipped away? I'm running the 100k to find out.


  But really, I'm running this event because it's going to be freaking awesome.

  I don't want to miss this race. It's not just another race. Everything indicates it's going to be the premier Ultra running event of the year in Mexico (and if I'm mistaken on that count, someone please tell me where I should go run): I know a bit of the route from my previous experience running Marcos Ferro's race two years ago (report), and it's beautiful, rugged and varied (and also: very, very well organized). Running down into the Barranca (canyon) de Metzitlan (and climbing back out) is only going to raise the "Epic-ness" of this great event. If you are a mountain runner in Mexico, you will be at this event. Some have claimed that it is pricey (100USD for the 100k), and while that may seem true --by Mexican trail race standards-- remember that these guys have been working on this race for a year, with nearly a 100 volunteers and workers on race day to make sure everything goes smoothly. It's not a for-profit venture, folks: Ferro and co. are putting this own because they want to share some great trails with the trail community.

  I can't wait.

  My race-day goals:
  1. Enjoy the highs
  2. Embrace the lows.
  3. Stay in the moment

Yeah, sure I have some time goals floating around, but without knowing the course --and never having run the 100k distance-- (pace it like a 100 miler? a 50 miler?) they are guesstimates:
A goal: sub-16
B goal: sub-17
C goal: stumble across the finish line with a smile on my face at midnight (19 hour time limit).


Gettin' ready..


And after Huasca? I think a good long rest is in order....

But that race in Chico and the Salvajes classic Triple Corona look tempting....