All posts by emitzel

Wild Idaho SUC (Standhope Ultra Challenge) Stage Race – 12-15 Aug 2015

My friend Mindy ran the Standhope 60k last year and said it was a fantastic race and really recommended it. I looked it up this spring and found that Ben, the race director, was now doing a stage race that included the 60k as the final stage. I spent time in Idaho in 1999 for work and Chad and I did a week backpacking trip in the Sawtooth Mountains during that time. We also did a backcountry ski hut trip there several years ago. I knew this is a beautiful location and we have not spent much time there so I was excited to check it out.

The stage race format has always intrigued me but the races are usually super expensive and I have not been able to justify the high cost. I also do not have a desire to be running overnight this year but still want to train for long distances and explore new territory. This seemed to be a great alternative to a 100 mile race this year. The Standhope stage race stated that it included over 88 miles and 26,000 vertical in 4 days. The stage race ends with the last race logging 60k and 11,000 vertical.

I trained for this race similar to a 100 mile race since my normal training for a 100 mile race includes many back to back long runs. Our weekend in the Winds were great trainign. I knew this race format would be very enjoyable to me since I really like running those distances and the challenge of back to back runs.

I drove to Ketchum on Tuesday and “set up camp” which just means park the truck. My camp views were spectacular.


Views from my bed in the back of the truck.


Home sweet Truck. There was a stream just behind those trees to soak and bath.


Location of some of the other stage racer’s tents and camper a short walk away.

There were only 18 people racing the entire stage race. There were 10 men and 8 women. Sue Lee was the only other UT person and others were from ID, WA, WI, MI, GA, and Alberta, Canada.

Day 1 – 18.87 miles, 5600 vert, 4h 27m:

We started out Day 1 of the stage race by getting delayed by the local wildlife on the drive up to the start. The sheep heard delayed our start by 15 minutes.


Sheep heard that delayed getting to the start of the first race.

It was a challenging but beautiful loop that topped out at an elevation 9500’. This was one of my best days of racing. I felt great! The only downfall is that the second climb was extremely hot and exposed and the majority of us ran out of water before we finished.

Day 1 Pioneer Cabin Loop

Day 1 map and elevation profile.


There was great scenery on Day 1. Photo taken by Sue Lee.

I spent the afternoon getting rehydrated, soaking my legs in the creek, resting, and preparing for the next day.

Day 2 – 17.92 miles, 4100 vert, 3 h 55m:

Day 2 was a point to point run. We all met near the finish location then we were shuttled to the start of the race. This day we stayed a little lower only topping out at an elevation of 8500’. This trail had a lot of hikers and must be a popular trail in the area. Starting around mile 6 I had issues with my ears clogging and felt like there was fluid in them. I have had this problem sporadically and more often lately. It is quite concerning since it makes me quite dizzy and sometimes nauseous. Due to this I wasn’t able to move as fast as I wanted to and really had to slow down near the end of the race.

Day 2 East Fork Baker Creek to Oregon Gulch Trailhead

Day 2 map and elevation profile.


Running down the trail with Thomas.   Photo taken by Sue Lee.

As soon as I was finished and had my recovery drink I headed straight into town and went to the pharmacy. The pharmacist recommended pseudoephedrine and drops for my ears. I immediately took the meds and put the drops in my ears and it was instantly better so I felt good about the next day’s race. I spoke with Chad, caught up on email, and had a great Mexican meal. I then headed back to camp and prepared for the next day’s race.

Day 3 – 13.72 miles, 4400 vert, 3h 13m:

The 3rd day of racing was one of the best days. This was the shortest day and we were all going easy since we had our really big day the following day. We drove to the starting point of the race and our race started by running on a dirt road for approximately 1 mile to warm up. Then we started the big climb. The majority of the climb was not steep but was very technical so not very runnable. Sue and I stuck together the whole time and had a great time chatting and getting to know each other better. At the top of the ~3500’ climb we had amazing views and a preview of what the next day would bring. My ears started plugging around mile 9, I put the ear drops in a number of times and thankfully had immediate relief after using them.

Day 3 Ketchum via High Ridge to Park Creek CG

Day 3 map and elevation profile.



I’m taking in the views before running across and down the mountain. Photo taken by Sue Lee.

This was a great day of racing. After getting back to the truck I again went into Ketchum to talk with Chad, catch up on work email, and refuel. I then drove up to the start of Saturday’s race. I got there, checked in, and we had the pre-race meeting. It was great to see friends that had come to race those races. Ben had a great turn out with over 160 racers. I ate another small dinner, had a beer, finished packing my drop bag and finish line bag and went to bed early.

Day 4 – Standhope 60k – 40.94 miles, 12,000 vert, 11h 01m:

I woke up at before 5a to ensure I had enough time to get ready and eat which was more than enough time. We had a 6a start time and it was still dark and really cold as we headed out of Park Creek.

Standhope 60K 2015

Elevation profile of the Standhope 60k.

The first climb and decent was great. The temperatures were very cool and I was just a little chilled with arm warmers and gloves on. I cruised into the first aid station, filled up, and headed across the bridge and into the cow pasture. That is where things started to go wrong. There was a junction that did not have any flagging but we saw one flag going through a stream in the far distance. We ran there to check it out, kept running on that trail then realized that this couldn’t be the way. We backtracked and headed up the other trail. We kept thinking that we had to be right but there were absolutely no flagging all the way up the climb. A few 7AM (the non-stage race 60K runners started at 7AM) starters were passing us then and those who had done the race said it was the right way. We got to the top of the 2nd climb and really had no idea where to go since there were still no course markings. We knew we had to go down but not sure how since those that I were around at that point had not done the race before. We traversed on a side hill and I kept another racer (and friend from Salt Lake City) in my view and missed the turn (unmarked) to go down. I backtracked and finally got on the right trail and ran all the way down to the next aid station still not knowing for sure if it was the right trail since it was not marked at all. In the end about 9 miles of the course were not marked at all and at the 20.4 mile aid station my watch read over 23 miles. Not great for the mental. I felt physically good and started the next huge climb. It was steep and unrelenting, technical, and amazingly beautiful.   It topped out at over 11,000’, had a short downhill, and went up to close to 11,000 feet once more before the next long downhill. I tried to get my leg turnover to keep speed up but knew I was slowing down due to all of the miles on my legs from the week. I hit the next 1000’ climb and felt like the brakes came on. I had not been able to eat much for a while at that point and my ears were plugging. I put drops in a few times during that climb and just put my head down and motored up that steep hill as fast as I could. At that point my watch read close to 40 miles and knowing the race was supposed to be less than 38 was a little demoralizing. I cruised down the other side and it wasn’t long before I could hear the finish line and ran as fast as I could to finish.

I was bummed that it took so long to do this race but going almost 4 miles extra and all the time trying to figure out where to go really increased my time on the course (off the unmarked course in this case).

My fellow stage racers were all such wonderful and fun people and I look forward to seeing them at other races and running with them in the future. I had just recently met Sue and we were happy that we are very similar paces and I look forward to running with her more in the future as well.

I ended up finishing 3rd place for the women and 6th place over all for the stage races. Results can be found at

Total miles: 91.43

Total vert: 26,100


Beautiful handmade belt buckle with flowers from the local trails.

Thanks to Ben for putting on a great race.

The stage race was really a great event with lots of fun people and beautiful and technical new trails. I can’t wait for my next one.

San Diego 100 08-09 Jun 2013 – Buckle #8 and 100 mile PR

I decided to run SD100 after hearing a number of my friends (Roch, Mindy, Mark, etc.) rave about their experiences. Neither Chad or I have flown to a 100 miler before but with the thoughts of a 100 mile race then a day at the beach was very enticing.

I spent the whole winter skiing and really not running. At the beginning of March my longest run in the calendar year was 9 miles. The 3rd week of March a business trip took me to San Diego and I decided to extend my trip a couple days to check out the course. Roch introduced me to Scotty Mills, the race director, and gave me some great recommendations for where to run during my time out there. I decided to run the “Sunrise Loop” which is a 29 mile loop the first day. That was pretty lofty considering my low mileage so I decided to take it very easy. I was armed with maps and turn by turn directions from Scotty. I had a great day on the course even though it was a very hot day and I did run out of water in the end. I then ran with Scotty’s crew on Saturday morning. They had a 34 mile run planned on the PCT and I tried to hang on for 11 miles and then decided to turn around and head back to my car. Scotty was kind enough to give me a ton of beta about the course and the race and I left armed to plan my training.

I trained for this race differently than any other 100 miler. I don’t consider myself a fast runner or even a runner for that matter sometimes. I also set a very aggressive goal for myself. I knew that if I ran an extremely smart race and didn’t have any part of my body fall apart at all I could maybe get a under 24 hour finish. It had never been a goal of mine to get under 24 hours because I never thought it would be possible. It became my mantra “SD100 under 24”. I also determined my training schedule had to include a ton of running rolling hills and flatter terrain. I will say this was hard for me to “make” myself run so much and not climb this hills that I so love to climb, but I had a goal and I had to get ready to run, run, run as much as I possibly could.

2013 San Diego 100

Great Ultra Runner Motto Posted at the Starting Line


San Diego 100 Elevation Profile

Chad and I flew to San Diego on Friday morning and after a couple grocery stops got up the Laguna Mountains. It was extremely hot. During the pre-race meeting Scotty emphasized how hot it was going to be and to be very smart about keeping cool, hydrated, salt consumption, etc. Chad and I talked about this and decided that I would run hard before it got hot, scale it back during the high heat, and then we would make up whatever we could when it cooled down and during the night (my pacer extraordinaire was pacing me from 51.3 to the finish).

178 runners lined up at the start. It was already very warm – close to 80 degrees – at 7am. The first 13.8 miles are on rolling trails with 2 aid stations (which Chad got me in and out of in record time). I averaged less than 10 minute miles which kind of scared me as I don’t run that fast but I was listening to my body and knew I had to push it early before it got too hot.


Suzanne and I at the start of the race


Approximately Mile 23

After mile 13.8, it started baking. From Penny Pines on it was full on heat mitigation. I had switched to my large bottles and picked up a hand bottle so I was carrying close to 80 oz of water. All my bottles were loaded with ice and different drinks. I ran where I could and hiked the rest as I needed to keep my body from overheating. I filled my bandana with ice cubes at every aid station so that they would melt down my front and back.

The loop from Pine Creek AS back to Pine Creek AS (miles 31.3 and 36) was tremendously hot (I heard about 105 degrees). Each time at the AS I loaded up on ice cold liquid, got sponged off with ice water, and filled my bandana again. Heading out of Pine Creek AS the second time we had an 8 mile climb. I started a strong hike out and kept reminding myself that this was my forte and pushed a really hard pace the whole way up – even running where it flattened out a bit. I came into mile 44.1 and quickly changed my shoes as Chad switched out my bottles making sure there was enough ice in them to last as long as possible.


Coming into AS at mile 51.3

The trail to 51.3 was rolling and I did my best to jog quite a bit of it even though I was quite hot and knew I still had to listen to my body. I came into 51.3 about 20 minutes behind schedule. I quickly changed my sport top and t-shirt, changed out bottles, grabbed food, and Chad and I headed out.


Still super hot out at 6:30PM – I hike up my skirt most of the day to try to stay cool by increasing airflow

This is the section that I ran when I came out to train in March so it was nice to be on familiar terrain. It was also then that the sun went over the mountains and I finally got some shade. It felt absolutely amazing. It did not cool me off completely right away (I don’t know if I ever cooled off fully all night) but it was a wonderful feeling. During this section I told Chad about my time on the trail previously. It helped me to remind myself that I’d done it before.


Beautiful Lake after Stonewall AS

]From the Stonewall AS, we had a steep climb up to Stonewall Peak. I again reminded myself of my climbing abilities and we cruised to the top then ran the backside to Paso Picacho AS (64.2). After that the trail was rolling up a hill then down to mile 72.3 AS. I was warned that this is an extremely cold part of the course but I did not need any layers at that point and was still requesting ice in my water bottles. It was a real indication of how hot the core of my body had gotten.

I was feeling good and continued to jog the rolling and power hike the uphill to Sunrise 2 (mile 80.3). Chad and I were in and out right away. Chad needed a bite to eat so I started out without him knowing he would be right behind me. I kept looking back for his light and it was a close to 30 minutes before he caught me. He was surprised at my speed and how long it took him to catch me. I was feeling pretty good during that time.

I just kept rolling through the night on the trails and through the AS’s. We kept doing the math and knew I was pretty well on track for under 24 hours, but based on the split times, it could be as close as 5 minutes. I was also managing my stomach at this time and if I pushed too hard it would start going south. I knew that I was going to be on my pace for finishing if I didn’t fall apart. That was the biggest goal during that time. The temperature was great. Chad pushed me to eat little bits of real food and sip on coke hoping that would help my stomach. I knew I couldn’t run out of gas if I was going to continue this pace and finish where I wanted. We got a little bit of a reprieve on the splits when the section from Pioneer 2 to Penny Pines 2 (miles 87.5 to 91.5) took 30 minutes less than my planed splits. Instead of easing back and cruising into the finish line, the goal was revised to 23:30!


Hurting a little (or maybe a lot) at mile 96, but ready for the last push to the finish line!

At mile 96 I wanted to get a little more food in me before I made a hard push to the finish line to finish in under 23:30. I was trying to swallow some food and all at once it all came up. I told myself this is not happening, dismissed it from my brain and ran the last 4 miles.   I was so happy to see the finish line. The numbers above were blurry (my eyes were full of dust and pollen from the trail) and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw 23:21 as I ran into the finish line. I was absolutely amazed at myself and abilities to finish a 100 mile trail run that fast.


Happy to be done and getting a hug from Angela, the co-RD I had run with in March

Chad got our down coats as I started shivering just minutes after crossing the finish line. The first time I was not hot in over 24 hours. We hung out at the finish for a couple hours then headed down to Alpine to have breakfast with David and Suzanne then headed to San Diego.


San Diego 100 Hardware

We were so tired we just napped and sat but the pool on Sunday afternoon (we had to stop on the drive to SD as Chad was so tired he couldn’t make it the 1 hour drive). Monday we enjoyed a nice day on the beach and Chad got in a little surfing. We had a great dinner on the ocean front watching a fabulous sunset. It was a wonderful end to a great race.


Famous San Diego Fish Tacos


Tourmaline Surf Area

I’ve always wanted to end a 100 sitting on the beach

photo 3-web.jpg

An amazing Monday night dinner with sunset views.

Thank you so much to Chad who supports me so much through training and racing.  He ran almost 50 miles with me just one week after a 50 mile race the previous weekend.  Thanks to Scotty, Mark, Mindy, and Roch for all of the course beta.  Thanks to all of my wonderful running partners.  Training wouldn’t be as fun without all of you.

A Painful Wasatch PR

I was very excited for and had very high expectations for this year’s Wasatch 100. I had been training hard and had a good Bighorn 100 (100 miler PR) and really learned and practiced things that I needed to improve on from there.

I ran the entire Wasatch course and some parts multiple times over the last few months. Also, my long runs 3 weeks out were just short of the total miles I was planning but they were from 10,000 to 14,000+ feet in Leadville, CO, and included three 14ers so I felt like they were good miles.

I also spent a lot of times with determining my splits. I took my last year’s splits and chunked off time that I thought was appropriate. I run a little different from others in that it takes me a little while to “warm up” then I stay pretty steady the entire race. I was bummed that I was going into this race and would not have Chad, my number one pacer, with me on the course due to his back injury in Leadman but knew I had great pacers and would have him there at the Aid Stations.

     Start line with Amy Blackham

The race start was a warm and we headed off from East Mountain Wilderness Park in the dark at 5a. I always find the first 40 miles quite difficult. Coming into Francis Peak (m18.76), I was about 10 min slower than my goal pace but still 20min faster than last year’s time. I continued on through the other aid stations to Big Mtn (m39.6) and came in about 20 minutes behind my goal time.


     Running into Big Mountain

     Getting in and out of Big Mountain Aid Station

I came into Big Mtn feeling very strong. It was great to see Chad, Anny, Emily S, and to pick up Ann to run with me through the next 13.5 miles of the journey. It was pretty hot but I was keeping ahead on my eating, drinking, electrolytes, etc. This section went really quickly as I had great company and I know this section very well. I’ve actually run the last 3 miles into the Lamb’s Aid Station about 15 times this summer and that really helped me on this section.

     Smiling coming into Lambs

    Fueling quickly at Lambs

     Heading out of Lambs – Chad informing Meghan how to keep me going

I had an absolute amazing number of friends at Lamb’s to cheer me through (thank you to Emily S, Corrie, Christian, Berkley, Mischa, Andy, Anya, Brooke, Amanda, Jenny, Kristin, Ray, and anyone else I may have missed). I had a quick stop to get some food and dry cloths and off we went. It was great to head out with Meghan Hicks as I knew she would be great for me and I was excited to hear about her recent UTMB adventures. We headed up Lamb’s and passed a number of people. We kept a great hiking and sometimes running pace up Bear Ass Pass then ran down the other side. We then fast hiked and even ran a couple times up the road to Upper Big Water (m61.68). It was one of my goals to get up to that Aid Station when it was still light out and I made that (rather than 3 miles earlier in 2011). On this section we were exactly where I wanted to be on my splits and made up time from what I had lost earlier in the race so I was super psyched.

It was just after Upper Big Water where my stomach really turned. At first it felt like somebody kicked me in the stomach and then kept getting worse when I was exerting energy. This race turned into nothing I’ve ever experienced where the uphills became very painful and the downhills were actually where I could pick up the pace and not feel quite as much pain – this is very different from my normal uphill strength even at the very late miles of big races. I also started trying everything to fix my stomach – ginger, eCaps, electrolyte Enlyten, energy Enlyten, real food, broth, coke, bars, gel, chews, etc. It was frustrating that I felt like I had these races “figured out” with what works for me but nothing was working. Meghan and I just kept the pace as fast as I possibly could without “falling off the fence”. With the fact that my stomach had never hurt as bad as it was now we had a couple serious conversations about not continuing at Brighton because I couldn’t imagine being in this much pain for another 25 miles (little did I know it would get worse). I decided that, because my legs were good and my mind was perfect, there was no reason to not keep running and hope my stomach would “reset”. I was also looking forward to running with Roch Horton and knew he would have the answer to my issues.

We got into Brighton (m75.61) at 12:32AM and Chad and Roch got some soup, Ensure, and hashbrowns into me, then Roch and I took off. About 3 minutes out of Brighton I threw up about 4 times. I was nervous about losing what I’d put into my body for fuel but Roch said it was OK, that we would replenish, and hopefully I got out of my body what was causing the issues. My stomach was a little better for a while but I still had to hold it back a little with the exertion. We were able to fly down from Point Supreme to Ant Knolls (m80.27) passing about 5 people so that was super and gave me good confidence. At Ant Knolls, I had some broth and coke and not 5 minutes later I threw that up too. It was a constant battle to put a little food in my belly and keep moving as fast as we could which was a lot slower than my planned times which was extremely frustrating. We “grinded” up the hills and ran down as fast as we could on the other sections “slaying dragons” whenever possible. We just kept plugging away at the miles while Roch pulled every trick out of his sleeve and my stomach did not respond to anything – it was so broken. We finally made it past the last climb after Pot Bottom (m93.13) and it was go time. I had made a promise not to leave anything on the trail and this was the time to push it to the limits. I know my speed wasn’t what it should have been but I gave it my all to the very best of my abilities. I only stopped to walk a couple seconds a couple times when I again felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach but when we hit the pavement there was going to be only running Homestead and sprinting to the finish line from there. It was great to see Chad, Ann, and Anya waiting for me to come off the trail and great to have Chad join Roch and I running the final stretch into the finish line. I crossed the finish line in 27:45 which was a half hour better than my last year’s time but it was still a bummer that my stomach held me back and I could not have taken more time off.


     Running in the last mile with the Master (Roch)

     Crossing the finish line

     Happy to be done

     Fantastic pacers

I feel good about my race and know that I ran as fast I as could given the circumstances. The frustrating part is that I’m not sure what caused my stomach to be so upset. I really felt like my fuel up to that point was correct as I was paying close attention to my eating, drinking, electrolytes and didn’t try anything “new”. A couple items that could have come into play were the high temperature, talk about some “bad water” somewhere as many others were sick. One item that I thought would do good but actually was quite the opposite is drinking a recovery drink with protein going out of Brighton that probably upset my stomach more. I’ve got some new things to try for next time and will chalk this up to a fluke experience and hope that it does not happen next time.


     Getting my 3rd Wasatch 100 belt buckle

Thank you to Ann, Meghan, and Roch for taking care of me and keeping me company on the course. Thank you to all of my friends and family who cheered me on in person or in spirit. Thank you to all of my friends that I train with and make running fun. My deepest gratitude goes to Chad for all of the support in training, every other aspect of my life, and crew extraordinaire.

Mt Nebo Traverse & Loop

On Independence Day Emily S, Mindy, and I ran the 3 summits of Mt. Nebo and made a loop running back to the car on the Bench Trail. We put this run together very quickly: Jared showed us the trail on Google maps, we found a couple rudimentary maps and descriptions and decided to go for it and knew we could find our way as we are very capable women who love an adventure.

Tuesday night we ladies set out for Maple (to meet up with Brent) to camp and enjoy a nice night out under the stars and get closer to the trailhead for an early start. We enjoyed dinner and a beer at the campsite. We woke up to wonderfully cool weather which felt very good with the hot weather we have been having in the valley.

We hit the trail just a few minutes after 8a (elevation 6,670’). The trail up to the South Summit was a great trail but steep enough that there were very few runnable sections. There were also several sections that were super steep. After we made it up to the South Summit (elevation 11,851’) we proceeded on what we could see of a “trail” to the Middle Summit (elevation 11,814’) and on to the North Summit (elevation 11,933’) of Mt Nebo. There was a lot of scrambling and route finding in this section and we ventured a little too far down in a scree field between the Middle and North Summits which added some time to our adventure. The information that we read about this part stated that it would take ~2 hours and it was ~1 mile and it took us a little over an hour even with our bonus vert during this section. There wasn’t anything that was sketchy, just lots of places where we had to be cautious of every move as a slip could have big consequences. This section was super fun and challenging.

     Mindy and Emily S scrambling between summits

     Mindy and Emily S scrambling between summits


   Emily S and I on the Middle Summit with the South Summit in the background

     Mindy and I on the Middle Summit with the North Summit in the background

The trail down from the North Summit was very well defined and although steep and scrambling in a few sections the majority was very runnable so we were able to click away a few miles faster than the first 9ish miles up and across the summits. From the North Summit Trailhead (mile 12.32 and elevation 9,260’) we ran the dirt road for approximately 1 mile before we hit the Bench Trail. The Bench Trail is a 12 mile trail which would take us back to the car at the South Summit Trailhead. We thought this would be an easy 12 miles as we had read that there was only 800 feet of vertical gain (which actually ended up that from the Trailhead to the highest point on the this trail was 800 feet of vertical gain and the actual vert gain was around 3,000’) and we thought it would be a very well defined trail.

We cruised along for a number of miles stopping at a few springs and small snowfields to fill and cool off our water supplies. The hardest part of our run was miles 17-20 in which we affectionately named the “Magic Trail” because one minute we would see it and another minute it would be gone and we would have to search for the trail, see it in the distance, and make our way “cross country” to get to it. Once we hit the main trail we were able to run the whole way down back to the car (with the help of Emily S magic jelly beans for energy).

The whole day was filled with our expressions of gratitude for the perfect weather, wonderful scenery, and beautiful wildflowers, and excellent company.

This was an amazing run and a great day with fabulous girlfriends!\

     Gamin Connect route of the run

2012 Big Horn 100–A Great Day for a PR

After running Zion 50 a few weeks ago I had a little anticipation going into Bighorn. I felt really demolished after Zion due to the intense cramping my legs went through with the severe dehydration (I already feel better a couple days after Bighorn than I felt after over a week after Zion). I figured out that if I’m going to go harder than I’ve done in the past I need to make up for that with increased nutrition and hydration. I took it easy for a week after Zion to really give myself time to recover and was planning on putting big miles in over Memorial Day weekend as a final training push before Big Horn. Unfortunately, the weather really got the best of this plan so I had a little bit of intrepidation going into Big Horn.

I had the confidence that with improved nutrition and hydration I could go out harder and the world will not fall apart. I took what I learned from Zion put together my Big Horn strategy. A large part of this strategy was to start the race harder. I have historically took it easy in anticipation of the long miles, time on the feet, etc. to make sure I “felt good” later. I decided that there really is no such thing as really “feeling good” so I might as well get as many miles under my belt before it got dark since I was not picking up Chad until mile 48 and it would for sure be dark. I knew that he would be able to push me at that point.

Kristin, Chad and I left for Sheridan Wednesday after work. We traveled to Bighorn the same way that Chad has done the past 3 years by driving half way on Wednesday night then just have 4 more hours on Thursday morning. That was nice and allowed me to have over 8 hours of sleep for a number of days prior to the race. I was so happy to be going into this race feeling perfectly healthy – no coughor sore throat and body feeling great (I definitely know what difference that makes)! On Thursday, we got into Sheridan, I went for an easy 2 mile run, relaxed, then went to check-in and medical check.

The 11AM start was really weird for me. We woke up at 7:00a and had almost too much time before we had to leave at 8:20. The pre-race meeting was at 9:00. I found myself uncomfortable in my flip-flops concerned I wouldn’t have enough time to put my shoes on even though I knew we had the drive to the start line and would have more than enough time to do everything I needed before the start.

Big Horn 100 Start

Since my plan was to go out pretty hard so I went out with the front pack. The run on the gravel road was fast and then we started climbing up the single track. I felt I kept up a good clip and focused on eating and drinking in this section. This race was very competitive – women wise – I was in 2nd place until mile 4 which I knew I shouldn’t be in but I was listening to my body. Suzanne and Missy passed me at that point and my goal was to keep them in sight. There were also a couple other women that were leapfrogging all of usduring this section. I came into mile 13.4 and Kristin and Chad got me in and out very quickly that I was able to get ahead of a few others that came in before me.

The next portion of the course was a great downhill, rolling, easy running. It felt good to tick away the miles. It was overcast and sprinkled on us a little bit so the weather was absolutely perfect. The wild flowers were blooming and the colors were spectacular. There is a steeper downhill then short up to the Footbridge Aid Station at mile 30. I was feeling great. I switched out my waist pack for my new UltraSpire Kinetic pack. This was my first significant run in this pack and I loved it with all of the pockets that are so easy to access and so comfortable.

Running into Footbridge Aid Station

I headed out with warmer cloths and lights. I put on my arm warmers and gloves on around mile 40. The section before Porcupine was swampy, muddy, wet, and snowy which slowed me down a little bit. I kept anticipating the front runners heading back down towards me. I saw Mike Foote when I was around mile 42. It was fun seeing people on their way back and knew I’d be one of those soon. I saw Suzanne and David heading out 0.2 miles from the Aid Station. I got in and out of Porcupine as fast as I could as it was very cold and I really wanted to keep moving. I was 5th place woman at this point.

This next section was one of the toughest for me. It was a lot downhill but for some reason I just couldn’t run downhill. Chad tried to coach me in my form to get moving faster but for some reason I was struggling to a great extent making that happen. I also had issues with rolling my ankles which I did again and again. I would have to shake it out then keep moving as quickly as possible. This section only took me about 10 minutes less going down than going up (and it is a 4,000’ net descent) which tells you how absolutely slowly I was moving. It was incredibly frustrating. Chad and I got into Footbridge and I got some food in me, grabbed my poles, switched headlights, dropped some cloths, and took off.

I took off doing one of the things that I’m most strong in – power hiking uphill (I’m even better when I’m tired). I really focused on the fact that I struggled on the downhill so I really needed to make up some time on the uphill. I pushed myself as much as I possibly could on the uphills and found that I was running a little better on the downhills. The sunrise in this section was so beautiful!


Sunrise on the climb to Bear Camp Aid Station

We smelled the bacon at Cow Camp before we got there. When we got there Chad handed me a piece of bacon. I didn’t know if I could stomach it but I made myself eat it and my stomach felt better right away. We quickly left the aid station with a few more pieces of bacon and homemade chocolate chip cookies (I didn’t try it, but Chad said bacon, chocolate chip cookies are awesome when you haven’t slept in 25 hours). It must have been the fat that coated my stomach and made me feel better.


Running towards Cow Camp Aid Station in the early morning

As we headed up the long ascent into Dry Fork we could see a number of people in front of us including two women. David and Suzanne were right ahead of us and we waved to David. When I got into Dry Fork I quickly took a bathroom break and changed my shoes and socks. Suzanne and I were in the Aid Station together and it was great to see her looking so strong. She and David left just a minute before Kristin and I did.


Running into Dry Fork Aid Station

Kristin and I headed up the road and were able to jog quite a bit of the first section. Right as the trail got a little steeper downhill I lost my downhill legs again. I can’t even profess how frustrated I was looking down at my watch and seeing a 16 minute mile and I was “running” downhill. I couldn’t believe it. There was absolutely no reason why my legs could not run this terrain. What made it instantly worse is that the 50k racers started to pass us on this single track. So not only was I not moving as fast as I should be able to but others were passing and shooting down the train and would be out of sight in minutes. It also took time to move off the trail many, many times while people were passing which I felt took extra time. After a few rolling miles and some frustrating descents, we hit the gravel road and I was able to take off again. I ran almost the entire 5 miles of road with just a few very short walking breaks – even running the uphill sections. This section was super hot and I couldn’t wait to be done. This was a good section because many people passing express that they are impressed at the 100 mile racers. I was passing a lot of 50kers at this time and as I passed one guy who was walking I had to ask him if he was really going to let a 100 miler pass him. That was all it took for him to take off running (he later found me at the finish line and thanked me for getting him going). Even though I was moving really well this last part was tough on me mentally because I was totally set up for a under 26 hour finish and I was not able to meet that due to troubles descending. Kristin was doing major math to see what I could do I decided to just push as fast as I could at that point – while not falling apart – and try to be as much below 26:15 as I possibly could. I crossed the finish line at 26:11:44. It felt so good to be done.


The Finish

It was great to see Suzanne and hear about her fantastic finish of 25:46. Kristin and Chad got my calf sleeves, socks, and shoes off and I went straight into the river to sit down. The cold water felt so good on my legs. We enjoyed the beautiful afternoon watching other runners come into the finish line for a few hours. We then returned to Sheridan for a much needed shower and a now traditional Sheridan great Mexican meal (a margarita is always good after a 100 mile race and it’s always good to feel well enough to want one).


Recovering at the Finish Line

Sunday morning we attended the pancake breakfast and awards the next morning. I was happy to accept the rock prize for 3rd place woman in my age category (behind Darcy Africa and Suzanne).


The Wasatch Contingent – 2 of the 4 top women!

All my thanks to Chad and Kristin for all that you did for me crewing and pacing. Just knowing you both are there either at the aid stations or beside me on the trail made me feel so much more at ease so I could focus on just racing and not gear, food, etc.

I will spend the next 2+ months getting ready for Wasatch100 focusing on fast downhill running, strong uphill hiking, core and strength work, and continuing with the speed work and running that I’ve been incorporating all spring.

For full size images, view the Big Horn Photo Gallery.

The Land of Zion–Zion 50 Race Report

Due to the lack of snow and my early races I started out my race training earlier this year than previous years. I was still feeling strong after all the fall running that I did (Coyote, Zion traverse, etc.) and the SkiMo racing over the winter. I planned my training schedule for the Zion 50 with a very determined goal time in mind. I trained on fast, rolling hills where I worked on running the majority of each training run – even running the hills as often as possible. I also had a great training partner, Emily S, who did a fantastic job in helping me increase my speed and was a great training partner. I, in turn, had the privilege of helping Emily S with her training schedule and getting her head wrapped around her first 50 mile race.

Since we were both running the race we decided to make it a weekend and invite our guys to join us. We left first thing Friday morning in order to get to Springdale and enjoy the afternoon. On Friday afternoon, we had a little bit of time to sit by the pool and swim at the Desert Pearl Hotel before we had to pick up our racing packets. The guys were able to get in a road ride in Zion National Park.

Saturday morning we were up at 4 AM to get breakfast and drive to the starting line in Virgin. We started the race at 6 AM in perfect cool temperatures.

Zion 50 Start

I felt great really pushing my speed for the first 4 miles. We then had a very steep uphill for a little over a mile to climb to Gooseberry Mesa. I love to hike those steep hills so that was great for me. At that point we ran the entire mesa which consisted of rolling terrain, slick rock, sand, and pretty tough navigation. Numerous racers got lost in this section.

I came into the first aid station and immediately noticed that there were a couple people at the aid station who didn’t pass me so I at first wondered if I had caught a couple people. The gentleman filling my water bottle let me know that this was mile 20. I then asked him if he meant 21.33 (what my Garmin was reading) and he said no and that I must have gotten some bonus miles. That was confirmed when I talked to Chad just before the 27 mile aid station and he let me know that there were 3 girls that got ahead of me when I was “off track” and now I was in 6th place (of women). Between miles 27 and 41 I pushed it to catch the 3 women. I passed 2 and then finally caught the 3rd at the 41 mile aid station. I left before she did but she quickly caught and passed me.

Descending from Little Creek Mesa


Descending from Little Creek Mesa

I was on track for my goal to finish in under 10 hours until mile 44.9 (mile 47 on my) when I totally melted with what was a combination of dehydration, heat exhaustion (90+ degrees), and probably some nutrition issues. Luckily Chad was with me at that point and had to help me walk into that aid station. I was pretty scared about how my body was reacting to these conditions and at that point didn’t think I could continue the race. I sat at the aid station and tried to get a lot of calories, liquid, and get cooled off. The aid station had water misters which were a savior. The cramping and the lightheadedness took a while to decrease. After a 2 hour recovery, I was finally get up and jogged the 4.8 miles to the finish. It was still a PR for me but definitely not as good as I was hoping for. I really think I might have pushed too hard in the beginning which is actually a big accomplishment for me as I’m not usually mentally able to do that.

Zion 50 Finish

At the end of the race, I was 10th woman in 11:46. Emily S was able to win the women’s division in her first ever 50 mile race. I am so proud of her for this.

Emily Sullivan – Zion 50 Women’s Winner

The Zion race crew did a great job at the finish. They had a shower that you could stand under as you crossed the finish line which was absolutely heavenly. There was a live band and it took place at a lovely park and great food (so I was told – my stomach was not quite right to eat yet).


Feet in tough shape from the heat and swelling

We spent Sunday morning sitting by the pool while Chad went on a road ride. Then Brent and Emily S took us to a great climbing spot in Zion Park. We hiked in about a ½ hour in and I watched Brent, Emily S, and Chad climb (my blisters would not let my feet into climbing shoes). It was an awesome wall with large hueco’s for holds. Brent climbed a beautiful 5.12a called Namaste and the rest of them climbed Half Route a fun 5.10+

Brent leading Half Route


Chad climbing Half Route


We then hiked back to the car and enjoyed a couple beers in the warm desert sun before driving home.

It was a great weekend spent racing and with friends.

Relaxing with a beer at the end of the weekend.


More photos can be viewed in the Zion photo gallery.