The MAS 50 was an epic day of running that pushed me beyond my limitations. It was my first 50 miler. I am thankful to race director Chris Martinez for bringing this event out of retirement after several years off. The course winds it’s way through the remote and little known La Sal Mountains southeast of Moab. The race is a point to point from Pack Creek camping area to Slickrock Bike Trailhead. The total gain when my watch died at mile 25 was 8,800. I am guessing the total gain for the race is ~10k. I had read prior to the race it was 11K, so who knows? Here is the garmin route for the first 25 miles.
Actually, the race ended up being 52+ miles for me due to a “prankster” switching the course marking flags at the first fork in the trail. You can see on the garmin route above the little out and back segment at mile three. Otherwise, I had no trouble finding my way through the wilderness all day. But before you run the race, you have to drive to Moab and what better way then….
Route 128 Scenic By Way. This takes you along the Colorado River to the heart of Moab. I decided to chill for a day in town prior to the race and stretched out a bit at the Island In the Sky National Park.
Those are the La Sal’s way out there in the haze barely visible. This place is called Grand View Point and it overlooks the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. Simply spectacular! I also stopped by Arches National Park for a better view of my nemesis.
The race starts on the far right side of the distant range and finishes near the left side. This is a view of the La Sal’s from Arches NP. Time to fuel up, sleep, put on my lucky #13 race bib and hit the trails tomorrow.
Apparently 40+ signed up, and only 30+ showed up race morning. 6am start into the darkness. You needed a lamp for about 3 miles.
This doesn’t look like much, but, it was the orange flag we were looking for after the “prankster” had thrown everyone off course. This was a welcome sight and I am thankful the “prankster” set his trap at the beginning and not the end of course.
We followed the Pack Creek up about 4,000 ft within the first 9 miles or so. At one point, I saw a black furry animal dodging though this Aspen grove out of the corner of my eye about 20 yards in front of me. Of course it’s a bear, I howl and scream and jump backwards….no it’s a cow, yes those high range aspen grazing heifers. The second surprise of the day within 10 miles!
Breaking through the Aspens, you start to get glimpses of Canyon Lands NP as a backdrop to the Alpine forest. What a combination! The next several shots are taken along a stretch about 5 miles long that follows the contour of Mt. Tukuhnikivatz with views Northwest back towards Canyon Lands. It will stop you in your single tracks.
It is difficult to see in the photos, but the girth and height of the Aspens up there was beyond anything I have seen in my short time in Colorado.
Coming out of the Boren Mesa and heading towards Geyser Pass at 11,000 ft, the highest point in the course.
Geyser Pass is off in the distance.
Looking back as we begin the climb. Even though this was the highest point, it was not the most difficult climb for me….that was coming soon enough. There was a nice downhill section after the Pass into Miner’s Camp aid station. The volunteers were kind enough to have ice cold wash clothes and massaged my aching calves.
The stretch back up to Burro Pass and down to Warner was the low point for me. The 1,500 climb is tough and then on the way down, I could not take a step without my calves locking up. I was starting to have DNF thoughts. It was no longer about running fifty miles, it was about getting to the next aid station where I doubled up on salt tablets and thankfully, found some chicken soup!
On the Kokopelli Trail, the views start to open up again.
They have started a new blog called, “Grazing with a View”.
Coming out of Sandy Flats aid station, this surface felt like a slice of heaven after the pounding my legs and feet had been taking all day long. My energy levels really soared. After 35 miles, I was feeling as strong as I had since the start….weird. Sometimes you just need to take one more step forward and wait for life to turn in your favor….sure, then you start asking yourself, I have seen the Alpine, now where is the slickrock?
All I can say is ouch! Goodbye toe nails.
But there still excellent views all over. The last 7 miles I have no pictures. It was a tough stretch for me, a game changer of sorts. I have had the good fortune to have gotten some running instructions on how to deal with those situations like the last 7 miles. My watch was dead, I have no idea how long it took me, but I heard a cow bell in the distance and the finish line emerged from the dusty haze of a Moab setting sun.
#13 comes in with 52+ miles in 13:04, ~ 10k worth of gain (I really don’t know at this point) and takes 3rd place in the Master Division!! Yea, it was a small field, but 16 of us finished and that is something to be proud of I think.
I was trying to jump, really………..