Weekend Wrap at Inside Trail: Mackey 3-Peats and Slickrock Circus

Posted by relhats in Race Profiles, Race Report on Oct 10, 2011

There was a good assortment of ultra races over the weekend.  From the soft, rolling hills in the Bay Area of California, to undulating and abruptly jagged desert trails in Moab, Utah, to ankle crushing rock-lined, steep descents of Virginia, there was variety in both the race terrain and the weather accompanying the events.  The weather played the biggest role at the Slickrock 100 (50 mile and 50k), where the recent heavy rains washed out dirt roads and created quicksand circumstances that actually swallowed the race director’s 4×4 vehicle up to the windows.  Both the 100 mile and 50 mile courses were changed substantially at the last minute to avoid the dangerous areas.  More on that in a bit.

Dave Mackey's well deserved bib number

First, let’s start with the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Mile.  Dave Mackey made it three years in a row with his win in 6:34 (Hi, Ultra Runner Of the Year, meet Mr. Mackey).  He now owns 3 of the fastest 5 times ever run in this 29 year old event.  In a repeat of their last race, Chris Calzetta and Jean Pommier had a sprint to the finish with Calzetta (7:02:54) reaching the line one second in front of the speedy 47 year old Pommier (they tied for 1st at the Skyline 50k in August!).   For the women, Roxanne Woodhouse lead all day and crossed the line first in 8:00.  Jennifer Benna methodically picked off people all day, moving up to 2nd where she finished in 8:09.  Bree Lambert held on for 3rd in 8:26.

The transfer of race management to NorCal Ultras was seamless.  Lots of good feedback from participants commenting on the well-marked course, post race food, and terrific weather, albeit a bit chilly at the start.

6pm start of the 2011 Grindstone 100. Photo: Scott Livingston

The Grindstone 100 saw Neal Gorman take the lead early and run alone at the front for 93 miles, finishing in 19:41 (second fastest time on this course).  David Ruttum and Frank Gonzalez battled all day with David edging away in the final hours to take 2nd in 20:28 and Frank coming in just 9 minutes later in 20:36.  Debbie Livingston took the ladies’ win in 24:58, nearly two hours slower than last year’s winning time and course record but she got it done with style and a win is a win.  Kerry Owens came in second with a 28:43 finishing time and Zsuzsanna Carlson (Interesting use of the “Z”s?) nabbed 3rd in 29:31.

Though the finish times suggest the women’s race was without excitement, Debbie had a race on her hands and didn’t take the lead until the second half.  Her husband, Scott Livingston, said, “Debbie overcame a 25 minute deficit to Katherine Dowson at the 51 mile mark (turnaround), by coming on strong in the second half. Unfortunately Dowson succumbed to the course and dropped at the Dowells Draft Aid Station at mile 66.”  Scott also points out that many of the participants complained of quad pain.  With the climbs and descents of this monster mixed in with warmer temps, I’m can imagine the pain!

Both of the previous races are managed and run like a fine engine, everything in sync and predictable.  Unfortunately, for the participants, the Slickrock 100 had some backfires and sputtering and then just sort of died.  Weather was uncooperative, causing the race director (in consultation with Search And Rescue) to reroute the 100 mile and 50 mile course, which lead to all sorts of problems from leader (and eventual winner) Ben Hian running off course for 6 miles early in the race to other front runners getting lost after running 90 miles and dropping in the middle of the night due to long periods without food and lack of warm clothing.  I made the choice to switch to the “50k” (which ended up being 65k; the real course was long at 35.5 miles and I was directed by an aid station person to continue on for “4-5 miles” past the correct turn around) and officially came in second just 4 minutes behind the winner, but technically I ran 5 miles further than he did, so…  I’m just happy I switched races and wasn’t out on a wild goose chase “fun run” course that could have been anywhere from 90 to 105 miles, nobody knows for sure and nobody ran the same course.  It can be fun having some uncertainty in a race but not with 100 milers in the cold rainy weather.

The best info I’ve received has the top four in the 100 mile as:

  1. Ben Hian
  2. Rhonda Claridge
  3. Chris Boyack
  4. Leila DeGrave

There will likely be some fallout from this event.  Brendan T. was there to crew and support a runner and wrote, “Yeah it’s an inaugural event and he was dealt a bad hand with the weather — but zero communication to racers and volunteers about what the hell was going on?? Negligent and dangerous.  I don’t think the SR100 was received too well and wil be surprised if Grand County issues him another event permit in the near future.”

In a comment on my personal running blog (footfeathers.com) Jeremy Humphrey wrote,

Glen Redpath and I led by 30 mins to 1 hour for 80+ miles (after a 6 mile detour by Ben Hian). They made the course up as we went, thus rerouting us back toward the start/finish for another quick loop to add distance. Glen and I hit the last aid before the s/f and was instructed by aid staff on how to proceed. We proceeded as such and got incredibly lost coming to a stop 9+ miles off route and staring into a 1000′ canyon. Several hours without food and inadequate clothing forced the drop. Managed 91+ miles. My first DNF.

I can sympathize with the RD, Aaron.  It’s a very difficult job to begin with but all of the problems could have been avoided with better planning.  I have many thoughts and opinions on this specific event and poorly managed events in general but I would be grateful to hear from readers about their past experiences with mismanaged events and thoughts on this race.

  • http://stayvertical928.blogspot.com/ Jeremy

    “Glen Redpath and I led by 30 mins to 1 hour for 80+ miles (after a 6 mile detour by Ben Hian).”

    To clarify, Glen and I did the extra 6 miles with Ben Hian and at least 50-60 other 100 milers and 50k’ers- most everyone near the front of those races. The problem was around the 8 mile mark where a poorly flagged left turn left the main 4×4 road we were following. The off routers went out to Rt 313 where we flagged down a truck and asked where we were. We backtracked and got back on. I’m not sure where you went Tim. We were looking for your Hoka prints because I knew you were up there ahead somewhere. The detour put us at the “11″ mile aid station at nearly 17 miles. Then, Ben, Glen, myself and 1 other guy from Southern Cal hung close until the next aid. Then, Glen and I pulled ahead and passed the few 100′ers who did go the right way early on, and ran alone with a good lead for several hours until we got lost. Not sure if Ben or anyone else behind had any other routefinding issues after 20 miles- but Glen and I had to work together to stay on course at several sections. Late in the race (around 25 miles to go), we passed Ben and pacer Rock on a 9 mile out-and-back section and our lead was 4 miles. From there, Glen and I hammered the next 7 miles of uphill and got to the last aid where we got off route a few miles later. The finishing distance would have been 90 miles if you did not do the extra 6 early on or any other routefinding errors later. For Glen and I to finish after our detour would have been around 114. Easy call to drop. I think we heard Ben finishing from our perch above the Canyon. We figured we were on 18+ hour 100 mile pace.

    • http://www.footfeathers.com footfeathers

      That makes sense because Ben was in between Bryan Goding and me. Bryan went the correct way, Ben took the detour, I went the correct way (we never saw Ben when we were running back to the place where we were “supposed” to turn around; that’s why I assumed Ben got lost after the Gold Bar Rd aid station). That explains why I was surprized to see Glen so far back when I was finally on my return trip. Oddly, I don’t remember seeing Ben on my return trip though. What a mess. How about some of those aid stations? I’ve set up self-support aid stations for myself on training runs that were better. I don’t want to beat up the event or the RD too bad but I wasted a lot of time and money going to that thing looking forward to a 100 mile race, not some free-for-all scramble around the desert. I could’ve stayed home and done that. Glad you and Glen made it back safely.

  • http://thescenebegins.com chrisboyack

    Here’s some more info about my race – I wore a Garmin for the first time in a 100, and even recharged late in the day. I haven’t downloaded the data yet. I went off route with the 50-60 others that Jeremy mentioned before the first aid station, but think I only did 2-3 extra miles there because I didn’t make it to the highway before turning around like the front-runners. The gold bar section was sketchy, even though I’ve run Redhot a couple of times I think I still did at least an extra mile there. Didn’t have any problems after that. I remember seeing Jeremy and Glen running together coming up from the gold bar turnaround on the 9 mile out-and-back. I was in 6th at that point. I know the turn that they missed, and thought to myself – holy crap I’m glad I saw that one – as I hit it. It was marked, but down low in the shrubbery. And the biggest problem I saw with all of the turns/intersections is that there were no lead-up markers. Meaning if a right turn is coming up, throw a flag or two on the right before the turn. Then mark the turn itself.

    When I was a the finish line aid station, getting ready to do the final out-and-back, there was a lot of confusion. Apparently the end point of the out-and-back was supposed to be 11 miles away, but the guy could only make it 4+ due to a road washout. As I was about 5 minutes out of the aid station, Ben came by and finished. Rhonda was the only other runner ahead of me at the last turnaround and I was pretty confused by that, wondering what happened to the other 3 runners that should have been ahead of me.

    I finished in 18-something, with 89 miles on the Garmin. Collected my buckle, tossed in the car, and since I was having a good day and didn’t know when I would ever have another chance, I headed back out for 2 shorter out and back loops to clock my full 100 in 21:15. Crazy day to say the least.

  • http://hokaoneoneaustralia.wordpress.com hokaau

    Hey Tim – nice to meet you! Some seriously quality hookups on this 12-day visit Stateside that tied in almost entirely to the web. Yay, tech. And speaking of tech – obviously great to see so many pairs and so much variety of Hoka One One out there.
    It’s not a good sign for an event coordinator to get hypothermia once, let alone twice, because that’s exactly the kind of stuff they need to have planned to prevent for themselves and everybody else, and the consequences of hypothermia are certainly impaired judgment and questionable decisionmaking. But I don’t think anybody could question the crew’s commitment to the event and I hope that rather than being blocked from getting any future permits, they take what seem to be a number of rookie errors and do it all perfectly from this learning experience next year.
    Running through the statuesque red desert of Moab was a literally awesome experience. I only did the sprint and yes, we went off track too – but I was totally happy to be finishing in America on a 62km run which felt a bit more like an ultra, rather than 50km which would have just felt more like a slow marathon.
    It does sound like the 100mi should have been better sorted, because they’re not really the kind of conditions or the sort of distance where you want to keep changing the rules on people, but beyond athleticism, competition, and endurance, the attraction of ultras has to be in the personal experience of nature, reaction to challenges, and self-reliance.
    If people are complaining that the course wasn’t marked and measured to Olympic standards then maybe they should just go and train for the Olympics instead.

  • http://www.nolimitsever.blogspot.com Wyatt Hornsby

    After reading about what happened at Slickrock, kind of makes you appreciate the old mainstays like Leadville, Western States, etc. They have it dialed in and always do a nice job regardless of circumstances. Another race with impeccable management: Burning River 100.

    Wyatt

  • http://www.beultra.com Beat Jegerlehner

    I ran the 100m at Slickrock. I got lost once, maybe a mile off, because I was distracted by some wedding party thing going on there – my fault, since lots of people didn’t miss it.

    The poorly marked turn was not THAT poorly marked, there were 3+ ribbons. However, if you didn’t look and/or chatted you could miss it. At that point the course had regular ribbons and it’s beyond me why people went miles before wondering why there are no ribbons. There were plenty of people who had no problems with that turn. Sorry, but complaining about a badly marked course for your own lack of attention is uncool.

    The reroute was absolutely necessary. The original course was impassable – so no question. I applaud the RD for not canceling the race. Also the RD offered refunds to anyone who didn’t want to go through with it.
    The second reroute – avoiding gold bar trail and golden spike at night – was wise in my opinion. The section would have been difficult for many people at night, even if the flagging would have been intact – but as it happens this area seems to be frequented by many people, some of them either ignorant or simply assholes. While the uncertainty was unfortunate, I thought it was fully justified to make those changes.

    The course was difficult to follow, however if you paid attention it was entirely doable. The fact that some sections had ribbons removed posed a bit of a challenge since you couldn’t always rely on confidence markers, but this really only affected the gold bar trail section. The desert is notoriously difficult for even well marked courses because there are a ton of structures (washes, slickrock) that look like perfectly good trail … but they aren’t. So you navigate from ribbon to ribbon, which can be hard. However, if you’re diligent, it’s doable. And since everyone has the same challenge, I think it’s still a fair race. I’ve seen people make bad decisions myself while running with them – they were unwilling to look for ribbons and just continued down wherever they thought to go. While there are more obviously marked courses, the course WAS properly marked.

    The distances seemed off, and the course ended up at around 90 miles given my finishing time and some GPS info I got from people who didn’t get lost. However, they were never so far off that there was a danger to run out of water (even if it would have been warm). I think the shortening of that last section was a bit unfortunate, though well meant. Kudos for Chris to make it to 100!

    Some amenities were a bit thin (I missed some aid station fires and wind shelter the most) but I find it hard to complain about that. It’s a racer’s responsibility to properly prepare for conditions in nature and while I was surprised by how cold it was, it’s the desert … the one thing that put a dent in the race was that one drop bag was relocated to a significantly later stage, which happened to be my warm clothes bag (due to the second reroute). However, if in need, one was able to warm up in some vehicles.

    While yeah, there were lots of wrinkles, I think they really tried to make it work with a bunch of wrenches thrown in there. The scenery was absolutely incredible, and it was a cool adventure if you kept an open mind. I’m sure the organization will learn a bit, but overall I think they did well. I would love for the race to stay around for the adventurous and the ones who want to have the opportunity to experience one of the most unique places in the US (and world) close-up. It’ll certainly make it back on my list (though with Hokas or such :). I could see if you want a 100 mile PR you’d be disappointed and that’s probably fair, but if you were out for an adventure it was definitely doable. There were numerous first-time 100 mile finishers, too – congrats!

  • http://twitter.com/AlaskaJill Jill Homer (@AlaskaJill)

    I wonder if Jeremy missed the immediate turn on Horsethief and continued down the main road all the way to the edge of Mineral Bottom. If this was the case, I would question why they decided to run nine-plus miles without looking for a single course marking, which were difficult to find in the dark but not impossible.

    I was a pacer for a woman near the back of the pack. We missed this turn as well, ran down Horsethief, scanned for pink ribbons, and having found none decided to turn around. We were disappointed with the markings at this critical turn as well, as there was nothing reflective at all and the pink tape indicating a turn was on the wrong side of the trail, so you could only see it coming from the other direction. Still, we did find it. So did dozens of others.

    We did seven of our own bonus miles, but I would say these navigational errors were our fault. Since I only saw the last half of the course I can’t weigh in on the overall marking of the course, but at least from Deadhorse on, they seemed fairly good (but next time, I hope the organizers invest in reflective tape.)

    • http://stayvertical928.blogspot.com/ Jeremy

      That sounds about right. We own the mistake, but there were a few pretty solid reasons Glen and I continued on that way:

      1. They had been making up the course and giving us directions as we went. We did not know where the next aid would be or how far the race would go until we got to the next aid. At that last Dead Horse aid, we got crystal clear directions from the guy in charge there to proceed down that road until we hit the start/finish aid, “You can’t miss it.”

      2. Because they had just made up where we were going, we assumed it was self explanatory and markers would not have been placed yet.

      3. Lack of marking was par for the course. People were lost all day. Especially the people out front- in all 3 races.

      4. After 4-5 miles down the road we encountered 2 Jeeps with some DNF runners trying to get back to the s/f via the course. They could not find it either. We asked if one would go on ahead to the finish and come back toward us if they discovered that this was not the way. They agreed and continued on. The other Jeep turned around. We never saw either one again. One of those Jeepers told my crew that they saw us “back on track” thus preventing us from being searched for after being MIA for several hours. Not sure where they came up with that one.

      5. We could see the s/f and were clearly moving towards it.

      6. We heard that turn was remarked to be pretty obvious later in the race, those who followed soon after Glen and I reported it was a single ribbon low to the ground and entangled in brush. I never saw it so I don’t know.

      7. Because I was with Glen Redpath who is one of the true masters of the 100 mile distance. We agreed that this was the proper way.

      7. Because we were tired runners who had banged out lots of fast miles and mistakes happen. It is hard to see things in the dark when moving at 8 mph. It is REALLY hard to see them when they are not reflective.

      • http://stayvertical928.blogspot.com/ Jeremy

        That’s 2 #7s. I’m still a bit tired. Good conversation on here. Cool to see different perspectives. I like this site Tim.

  • http://www.footfeathers.com footfeathers

    Man, Jill, if I ever put on a crappy race, I want you and Beat there!
    Personally, wandering around slowly playing Easter egg hunt with the hidden flagging in the middle of the night isn’t racing (or even running) to me. Having an aid station worker incorrectly tell me that the turn around for the 50k is 4-5 miles further when I’ve already run 16-17 miles is miscommunication in my book. For God’s sake, the other two guys I was racing with and were directed to run the extra 10 miles in error were on the advisory board, according to the website. They apparently weren’t advisors on that particular section of the course.

    I think I was pretty even and fair in both this wrap and my own personal account on my blog. I’ve been doing athletic endurance events for 24 years (and developed and managed events myself for 5 years). There were big problems at this one and you’re welcome to your bright-eyed, positive opinions but for folks who trained 6 months for their first 100 miler, spent the money to register, to travel, and took the time out of their lives to be there this was a huge disappointment. Chris Boyack is the only person who likely ran 100 miles at this event.

    Quoted from the home page of the event website:

    “Our Three Priorities:

    1. Well-stocked and staffed aid stations
    2. Well-marked course
    3. Positive and fun environment at the start/finish line (raffle celebration and pizza) ”

    Which one of these were accomplished?

    No reflective or self-illuminated markers at night?

    I’m all for adventurous and arduous, self-supported races but it needs to be stated clearly up front, yes, even if reroutes take place.

    Aaron and Jenna are super nice people and they had a tough task but some serious evaluation and correction needs to take place. I absolutely love running in the desert and would be thrilled to have this event stick around but the whole thing needs to be fixed – markings, aid stations, measurements, post race food, contingency plans, all of it.

  • http://gravatar.com/leiladegrave leila degrave

    Very interesting to read various accounts and try to piece together what happened out there.

    Missed the same turn at mile 8 along with everyone else, but it was definitely marked…If I had thought to be self-sufficient and actually look for it, rather than just following everyone ahead, probably wouldn’t have missed it. Aside for those couple miles off course, I managed to stay on route the rest of the time. As mentioned above, I agree that while route-finding was very slow going at times, it was doable for sure.

    Seemed like the serious issue was in communication, likely due to a lack of resources/technology/know-how needed to get all aid stations, volunteers, and runners fully informed and on the same page in terms of course changes and mileage. Luckily I had pacers/crew on hand to sort all that out before I arrived at each AS, so I probably didn’t have the same challenges as other runners did that were out there alone. Finished the 90-something-ish miles in 19:15, likely would have been something closer to 21hrs for 100.

    Yes, they basically dropped the ball on accomplishing the “Three Priorities” listed on the website, but I imagine that same-day course changes are pretty difficult to pull off, and they did the best with the resources they had to work with. They could have chosen to just stop all the 100 milers halfway – yes I agree that navigating the slickrock Gold Bar/Golden Spike section at night could have been potentially hazardous – so I appreciate that they scrambled to put together and mark a re-reroute so that we could have some semblance of completing a full course, if not a full 100mi.

    A learning experience for race management, a bummer for everyone that got lost, needed to drop, or had a disappointing day… but all-in-all a fun adventure in a scenic wonderland. Will be interesting to see if this race has a future…it has the potential to be a really incredible late-season 100 mile tour of an amazing place.

  • http://twitter.com/AlaskaJill Jill Homer (@AlaskaJill)

    I don’t disagree with any of these points, and of course my perspective is that of a crewperson, not an experienced racer. I was flabbergasted when I arrived at the start/finish at 6 p.m., and not one person could tell me which checkpoint even served as the halfway point, let alone where it was located. I found it at the very last second and cost my runner several minutes as I scrambled to get ready.

    The lack of communication was a result of the remoteness of the area and the limited number of satellite phones available. For some reason the sat phone at the start/finish wasn’t even working. There was no cell phone reception. Information seemed to be passed via a “telephone game” style of communication between volunteers traveling to different checkpoints, which of course is how words get twisted and misinformation spreads.

    The lack of reflective trail markers was a major flaw in a race that advertises well-marked trails. I was just pointing out that the at least the last half of the course was marked, and the regrettable detour that Jeremy and Glen took can’t really be blamed on the race organizer, although from his later comment it does seem they received some bad information from a volunteer. I can understand why a frontrunner might assume there would be no course markings since they made further changes to the course after the race started.

    Awesome aid stations would be tough to set up in that region. You saw the rugged roads that serve as the only access points. Maybe more experienced racers have a different opinion about what “well-stocked” means. I didn’t think they were that bad.

    After the unexpected damage to the original course, they race director’s only options were a major reroute or cancellation. I think there are at least a few participants who are grateful they decided not to cancel the race. Lots of people I talked to had a great time, although these weren’t the people at the front racing. The apparently widespread disappointment is understandable. If the race director decides to offer this race again in the future, I imagine he’d benefit from either offering and advertising an more self-supported adventure race ala Plain, or being more up front about the limitations he’s faced with.

    • http://www.footfeathers.com footfeathers

      Important points from your comment: Tell me what I’m up against, so I’m prepared. And I’ve seen guys cooking steaks on a steel grill in the middle of nowhere on a mesa of slickrock out there. It’s not that remote for anyone with a 4×4 – all the aid stations were vehicle accessible. Head out to Hardrock and see true remoteness with abundant aid stations: Putnam is hiked in and has a camp fire, hot food, tent, sleeping bags, blankets. And perogies and shots of tequila on Virginius’ summit aid station? That’s stocked (thanks Roch)!

      I don’t need a hot pizza waiting for me at every aid station but if you’re just going to have 2 aid stations 50 miles apart with water and bark to eat, then just tell me ahead of time and I’ll be happy. Set the expectations according to the delivery.

  • http://thescenebegins.com chrisboyack

    Here is a pic I took of one of the markers. They had ‘reflective’ tape on them. It was about as reflective as the bottom of a beer can, or the dull side of tinfoil. A little bit shiny, maybe, but not reflective.

    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-es4Mnl4qJIQ/TpOOXvYDWQI/AAAAAAAAIhQ/eVxq8EDYjpE/s800/IMGP2166.JPG

    Every time I got off course, I was either following or with someone. I fared much better solo. What really helped me was running with both a headlamp and a flashlight. The Fenix was key in spotting the markers.

    I think Jeremy was right about that turn being re-marked later. It ended up with a long line of ribbon down both sides of the turn. No other place on the entire course was marked like that. Feel bad for he and Glen to run such a great race and end up with a goose-egg. As is often the case in these situations, the front-runners seem to take the biggest hit as plans are changed along the way, or vandals take markers down like what happened at the Bear. By the time the rest of us come through, things are mostly sorted out. From Dead Horse, I knew we would be following the 50 mile route to the finish so I knew it would be marked all the way in. I just didn’t know what we’d be doing once we got there.

    I thought the aid stations were ok. Had to pour my own soda, get my own bag, etc., but no big deal. I was offered soup/ramen a few times so they did have some hot/warm options. I thought the volunteers did great and was very thankful to see the show go on. I think communication (to us, aid stations, etc.) and lack of a solid plan B in place before the race were the biggest issues.

    Two words for next year. HAM radio.

  • http://www.facebook.com/roger.hanney Roger Hanney

    i reckon that whatever you ever put on, you pretty much want Jill and Beat there :)

  • Danni

    I was paced by Jill and my main gripe would simply be that the markings weren’t reflective or easy to see though they were there. When we got lost it was really our fault except the turn off the Horseshoe road or whatever it was called was impossible to see — there was a line of pink flagging but it was not visible unless you were coming from the opposite direction. No biggie just another mile added to my collection of bonus miles. I can’t argue that there were problems but I am pretty sure the RDs are aware of them. I think HAM radio is a great idea.

    I found the constant changing sort of exciting and fun (particularly since I was not looking forward to doing that climb up Long Canyon again) but I can see that it would have the opposite affect (effect?) on some people. While I would have preferred the original course I was also happy to avoid the quicksand and the sand dunes.

    I don’t think it’s fair to compare an inaugural event to a race like Western States, which has had so many years to work out kinks and an insanely large volunteer base. And full salaried RDs. Etc etc etc.

  • Michael

    I for sure thought there were some issues… but I guess it’s good to be old because they didn’t seem that big of deal. No offense, but if the focus was competitive vs others – there are better options than a first year race right? Seems the deal here was more about going out running in an amazing location and getting a buckle and challenging yourself (all doable under the circumstances. Run Hard – Enjoy Harder right?

    The aid stations seemed fine, though distant.

    Without the crazy weather I think a whole different story.

    I got lost too, a few times for about 5 miles, but that’s the case for about 33% of any trail race I have done. (btw my guess is also the course ran about 90 plus whatever off course you ran).

    Flagging was an issue on the slickrock for sure – they need to resolve.

    No way they could have allowed another loop on the slickrock, with the temps dropping to the low 30′s that stuff would have been nuts and no race is worth losing someone.

    I can also say for sure that a couple of folks must have missed the markers on the short side. I believe I finished 4th and there were a couple of people that were soon to follow that I think may not even be on the Gold Bar 2nd time check in, that or maybe they took the road back into camp versus navigating through the path down Hitchhiker (or whatever it was called).

  • Kimberly

    I did the 50 miler. There were some issues but anytime I got frustrated all I had to do was look around at the awesome views! When I do a first year event I do expect that there will be challenges. I went in to experience a good run in an incredible place. I got what I paid for.

  • Justin

    Hi Everyone. It’s been really interesting reading all these comments (on this site and on others). I did the 50 miler. I have only been running for 4 months, so I was very happy to finish. The last race I ran was a 10k about 23 years ago, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I had to laugh at the total chaos at the meeting the night before the race. I just went back to my hotel and prepared to come back in the morning and hope for the best. It sounds like the 50M was the least messed up out of the 3. At the Poison Spider aid station, I remarked to the RD that the slickrock section was going to be really difficult for the 100 milers to follow in the dark. I was particularly concerned about the cliff close to the trail. I guess he took this comment and others to heart. I know runners are supposed to resourceful in these kind of events, but it was difficult to do that section even in the daylight. Personally, I had an awesome time. I was getting a little emotional as I left the last aid station and headed to the Horsethief road. Of course, like a lot of people, I missed that last turn. I guess I had a little tunnel vision, and I didn’t expect there to be a quick turn off like that. Oh well, it was marked, even if it wasn’t marked that well. A lot of people did see it, and they went the right way. I ended up getting out of a car after we finally found the entrance to that last section. I finished in a little over 13:30, but I think I would have made it in a little over 12 hours if I had gone the right way. All in all, a hell of adventure. Not perfect, but I will definitely do it again. Sounds like I got a lot luckier than a lot of runners…

  • Mark Tanaka

    Actually, there was one seam in Firetrails, with the lack of marking at a complex 5-way street intersection, which confused many runners, including myself, a local who’s run the race several times. You probably didn’t hear anyone complaining about it since it’s a far cry from everyone adding lots of bonus miles, rather than seconds to minutes. I wonder if anyone bothered to mention this to the new RDs.