I heard about this race from some of my trail running friends in El Paso and decided to participate and use it as a training race for Rocky Raccoon in February. I highly recommend this event (http://www.aravaiparunning.com/mcdowell-mountain-frenzy/) and racing company (http://www.aravaiparunning.com/) who were the organizers. They organize several races throughout the year in the area.
Lety and I left for Phoenix on Friday afternoon and got settled in a nearby hotel. We drove to the Mc Dowell Mountain State Park to check out the course and visit friends who were camping there. The park is in Fountain Hills, Arizona about 30 miles from Scottsdale where we were staying.
Woke up at 0500 and got ready for the drive to the park which took about 30 minutes. Had to pay $6 to get in the park on race morning. The racing bib and t-shirt were provided on race morning as the early pick up was on Thursday night. The temp was 42F but they provided portable heaters and so this allowed me keep a short sleeve shirt prior to the race. The 50 milers started at 0700 and the 50K at 0730. They also had later start times for the 25K, 10 mile, and 5 mile course. (the one that Lety ran) For the 50K, one drop bag was allowed at mile 10 and another at the start finish at mile 25. I applied plenty of sun block and ate a Gu about 15 min. before the start of the race. I carried Cliff Bars, Gu, electrolyte tablets, and 1 hand held bottle of water.
Promptly at 0730 the 50K racers started on the trail, there were about 75 starters on this race. The pace was pretty fast for me and I had to force myself to slow down to a 11:15 to 11:30 pace to save my legs for later on. As I do on all these events, I fast walked every mile for a tenth of a mile and if there were some steep inclines I also walked. The course was was mostly hard backed sand with some rocks and rare soft sand. There were some long climbs and descents along the way, but the worst grade came at the end with the 5 mile loop after going back to the start/finish aid station. The course was very well marked with different colored signs for the varying distances. Throughout you had to watch for mountain bikers who passed along pretty quickly specially on the downhill The aid stations were very well stocked with orange slices, cookies, water, Gatorade and electrolyte caps. (S caps and Endurolytes). At the turnaround for us, Dixie Mines, I reached my drop bag and got 2 more cliff bars, sprayed more sunblock, and refilled my water bottle. I forgot to take out more Chocolate Gu gels which I regretted later. One nice thing they had were paper towels, which I was able to use to clean my sunglasses and wife off the sweat. On the return to the start finish, I came upon a historical marker along the trail designating the location of the Pemberton Ranch Homestead. At one time there was a windmill and a productive water well which allowed farming in this area.
The last 6 miles were getting really hot and I was taking salt tablets and water. I was able to keep my pace at around 11:30 with the walk breaks. At mile 26, I arrived at the start/finish aid station where I was able to grab some ice to put under my cap. Refilled water bottles, ate a Cliff bar, and took 2 Gu's from the drop bag. Lety was there to crew me which helped expedite the stop. I did not want to linger here too long as this was an easy place to quit. I heard some people thought when the arrived here, they thought they were done, only to find out there were 5 more miles to go. The last 5 miles were pretty tough as the heat of the day was upon us.
|Photo by Lety Woodhouse as I neared finish line|
I was very happy with my result for this race. I approached it as a training run to test the calf since the injury and it held up pretty well. I feel the event was very well organized, well marked, and the aid station support was excellent. They even had pictures on the website for free to download. Happy training and I will continue to pursue my goal of completing a 100 mile race in Feb 2013 at the Rocky Raccoon Trail Run.