Thursday, April 25, 2013

ZION 100km Not for the faint of heart!

ZION 100km it just sounded like an incredibly beautiful trail run in a State I have never been too, add that it was my birthday and I had my husbands blessing it really seemed like an awesome idea!
 After traveling 460 plus miles in the car with my friend Ray who was designated driver we made ZION in early afternoon. Time to get our race gear ready and to go to the packet pick up to collect race number and final instructions. I had a slight head ache but nothing too major, at the packet pick up there was fresh home made pizza made to order for all the runners and the location was a private residence surrounded by the walls of ZION.
all smiles before the event
Race morning arrived quickly and we arrived at the park to check in at 5.30am, semi darkness and lots of ultra runners full of energy filled the starting area, I tried to blend in and not get nervous, my goal was to finish and hopefully not take a spill on one of the down hills....
The race began!!! there really is not a lot to say except it was 63.5 miles of breathe taking beauty...of single track running with rocks and boulders.....did I forget to mention about the marvelous uphills that seemed to climb to heaven! with vistas so beautiful it was difficult to imagine so many people live on this planet!!
Long Climb to Gooseberry Overlook.

The aid stations were all well stocked with just enough of everything that I am sure no runner lacked anything! The volunteers were all friendly and willing to help you get your race needs and move on to the next trail adventure!
The first station was at mile 10.6, and I had ran on a lot of single track, oh my favorite kind of running (note sarcasm) but I had witnessed a wonderful sunrise and red streaked sky, had found a toilet at mile 5 and had not fallen on the rocky trails.
On leaving the first station I headed out on a nice fire road to Gooseberry Overlook it was around 9 miles away and the weather was perfect conditions, I ran with a few other runners, it was nice to idle chit chat and enjoyed the company. Then ba boom an uphill and I am talking uphill, I jogged until I could not get my footing on the loose rocks, I power walked keeping my heart rate from exploding my fear of heights was in check and at the top of the climb was the 2nd aid station which I would see 3 times over the course of the day.
Gooseberry Mesa

On leaving the 2nd station I became physically challenged!! As the single track seemed to mix with sand stone and boulders, I was following white dots and could not get into a rhythm as my rock hopping skills are sketchy and was super observant so not to get lost but the turn around was AMAZING the view was just out standing!!!
  Gooseberry Mesa

I weaved around the mesa for an eternity and cannot tell you how excited I was to see mile 31 were I had my drop bag, I sprayed my legs with Kool n fit and refueled on a Hammer bar I was half way into this adventure and a nice 6 miles of fire road was ahead!!

The next 30 plus miles I went to a place I rarely go in events, I faced some fears I ran up some trails I would never do in training,I became mentally drained with single weaving tracks and the quietness was deafening!! I did not run with music as running on single track needed all my concentration! I glanced from time to time to my Polar monitor and was amazed to see my calories at 7,000 at one point I kept dreaming of my breakfast!

Eagle Crags mile 44
AT mile 41 the race director put in a rather nice steep 3 mile up hill, I actually enjoyed the jog up this fire road and was so happy to see the aid station. I restocked on water and Hammer Gel and enjoyed a small piece of Cheese burrito. The down hill was steep so I opted to carefully jog and give out high 5s to other runners!

In my mind I only had about 20 miles left I was so happy as I ran along a rolling trail I was with a nice group of female Ultra runners and passed the Grafton Cemetery unfortunately we never ran through the ghost town where westerns such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were filmed!
Grafton Cemetery...the stones were ingraved with Killed by Indians ....etc..
Then suddenly the reflective ribbons disappeared....and then my jaw dropped as I saw ribbons going up the third major climb of the run! It ascended 1000ft in less than a mile and although I could have passed out with the dizzying view and drop offs it was a privilege to run this section which is protected by the Grafton Heritage Society.
At the top of Grafton Mesa I lost it mentally as the single track played tricks on my sense or direction, it weaved back and forwards dropping down and climbing up again, by this time I had ran out of water and race nutrition to keep my moral high I joked with the other ladies with me. I have never been SO happy to see an aid station as I was when I saw Grafton at mile 52!! 
I stopped filled up my hydration pack, took my endurolytes, race caps and anti fatigue caps, had a few cups of Hammer Heed and began to feel much better and very excited at the prospect of nearly being finished. I left Grafton eating a new Hammer Vegan bar as it was un uphill climb and did not want to run out of energy on the final stretch!
I really wish I had had a friend with me on this final 13 mile stretch as it was just a LONG fire road with the walls of Zion surrounding my shadow! I kept it together willing myself to keep moving forward I really needed to be down the final climb before darkness fell.
Affectionately named Goosebump I had already climbed this earlier in the day now with tired legs I had to descend the 1200ft drop just over a mile...
I started the final descent in day light/dusk and ended that nightmare in complete darkness talk about facing your fears one slip and I would not have been writing this report! Yet two other runners went by me with no problem.mmm...
Grafton trail
I went down EXTREMELY cautiously, my head lamp lit up the trail if you could call it that, a buzzing insect was having a field day around my light beam which attracted bats I did not dare swipe at them as needed to get to the road...the final two miles was just like a comedy strip...well now it one around, bats and buzzing insects and at one point I though I saw the Grimm Reaper as the shadows were playing tricks on my vision! 
FINALLY the road I was nearly in tears I was going to finish the Zion 100km standing up and not on a stretcher I had only fell once the entire time and I was heading towards the Park Road I had finished in exactly 16 hours!!! 
At the finish line I enjoyed some great potatoes and actually felt great as was SO grateful to have finished!!!
 Hammer Nutrition went really well......Skin Protection Ocean Potion and Kool n Fit to spray on my feet !
The RACE DIRECTOR Matt! Did a great job with the trails and making sure every runner was accounted for.
 My Cascadias proudly with the ZION 100km medal!
Ray finished in just over 14 hours and he ran a little with Pam Reed it was cool to meet this Ultra Star and here her adventures.
OHANA from Ultraman Hawaii.


Was very humbled to have finished such an amazing adventure. Very grateful to Hammer Nutrition, Brooks Running, Rudy Project, Ocean Potion, Swiftwick socks, Kool n Fit, Polar heart rate monitors, my friend Ray Mena and my husband who supported the whole adventure It was a great way to celebrate 49 years old! Definitely the hardest trail run I personally have ever done and probably the most satisfying finish!
A little elevation profile around 6,000 plus feet of climbing...

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