Last minute decisions usually go one of two ways; really, really good or really, really bad. When some friends of mine were talking about going to Moab on Wednesday for a race that Saturday, it caught my attention. I had never visited Moab, but I had seen many pictures from there and knew it was definitely on my list of places to see. So I did the most logical thing and signed up for the Behind The Rocks 50 miler two days before the start of the race.
I gathered all my camping and race gear Thursday evening, then my friend, my puppy and I set off to Moab Friday morning. We arrived at the start/finish about 3 pm and set up camp. On a side note; always make sure you check that your air mattress holds air before camping, because waking up to a completely deflated mattress is not a lot of fun. As the light of day faded the temps dropped drastically, I knew it was going to be a cold start in the morning. About 1 am I woke up and looked outside and was amazed by all the stars you could see. If only it had been warm enough to sleep outside the tent, under the stars. The alarm went off at 4 am, and me, being me, hit snooze until 4:30 when I knew I really needed to get up if I was going to make the 6 am start time. The wind had died down so it didn’t feel as cold as the night before, although it was still plenty chilly. I started in shorts, my singlet, two long sleeved shirts, gloves and a hat.
The first few miles clicked by quickly running on the dirt road before entering a single track trail. Watching the sun come up and how it brought the mountains and the world around it to life was pretty amazing. During the first 13 miles I was mostly alone and enjoyed the solitude while listening to nature around me. The course markings were easy to follow, even over the slick rock. It was about this time I came upon Wade McFarland. We were running the same pace so ran together and chatted for the next few miles. About mile 15 coming down a more technical part of the trail I rolled my left ankle pretty bad and it popped. I slowed up a good amount, as I was waiting for the pain to subside, so Wade went on ahead of me.
I was in and out of the mile 16 aid station quickly and started the climb up the road when Wade and his friend, who was pacing him for a section, came up behind me. The ankle was hurting but manageable so we were once again running the same pace and would be until about mile 25. The next aid station was about mile 20 which we would hit again about mile 26, after the decent down Jacobs’ ladder and the loop around the mesa and the climb back up Jacobs’ ladder. The decent and ascent on Jacobs’ ladder was technical, but man what a view it offered. It’s a good thing I didn’t have my phone or I would have been stopping to take pics.
Leaving the aid station at mile 26 I knew I wasn’t far behind the lead girl, but this next section was flat, which is not my strong suit, so I decided to be patient, run comfortable and wait to push. I remember this section seeming incredibly long, I am not really sure why. There were multiple people on bikes that I passed who were all very friendly and cheered me on. A few miles from the next aid station there was a water crossing that came up to the bottom of my shorts, totally not what I expected in the middle of the desert.
I came in to the aid station about mile 34 and I was grabbing a cup with water and an orange slice when one of the volunteers said you’re about to be the first female. I asked how long ago the other lady left and he said she hasn’t, she’s right over there. That put a little hurry in my step, plus I knew we were about to have a long gradual climb, and climbing is my strong suit. As I left the aid station I looked back and could tell the other lady was about 30 seconds behind me. I was feeling strong and was able to start pushing the pace, even though the temperature was rising and becoming very hot on the mostly exposed trail. Some-where during this next 10 miles I came across Wade again. We chatted for a bit and then I pushed on past him.
A few miles before the finish, I came to a “Y” in the trail and was unable to see markings on either side. Lucky for me there were foot prints going both directions. To the left I could see the finish line so I choose to go that way, which naturally was the wrong way. I ended up in what seemed like a giant sand box, I seriously had a flash back to the movie Honey I Shrunk the Kids and felt like one of the kids when they were tiny in the back yard sand box. I realized this was definitely not the way the race started, so I back tracked and went the other way. Heading down the other trail I was a little concerned no longer seeing the finish line. I sure was relieved that once I turned the corner the finish line came back into view.
As I came in my friend, who ran the 50K was waiting for me with my puppy, who had become very popular with all the kids and I am sure he had no complaints with the over abundance of petting he was receiving. After getting some water, drinking my Hammer Recoverite and putting on my flip flops I enjoyed some of the best post race food ever, an enchilada type casserole that was cooked in a Dutch oven on the camp fire.
The Behind The Rocks is a great race. All of the aid stations were well supplied with great friendly volunteers. The race was well organized and overall
well marked, which I know can be challenging on the slick rock. If you’ve never been to Moab and are looking for a race there (or in my case a really good excuse to go visit) this is a race you should check out.
Race stats –
Time – 9h 56m
Place – 1st female 13th OA
Shoes worn – Altra Superiors
Socks – Feetures Elite light cushion low cut
Sunglasses – Julbo Venture
Nutrition – about 100 cal/hour
Hydration – Nathan Vapor Airess pack
Post race recovery – Hammer Recoverrite and Tissue Rejuvenator