Saturday, January 2, 2016

Across the Years 24 Run 2015

Photo credit Jamil Coury Aravaipa Running
Had a great time at Across the Years 24 hr. run in Phoenix, AZ this year.  I wanted to share this event on my blog in case you are interested in participating. On a side note, I did not post any new blog entries in 2015 but will be posting more in 2016 as I have many new events planned. More about that at the end. 
Across the Years is a timed event run on a 1.05 mile course in Glendale (outside of Phoenix) at the Camelback Ranch which is the Spring training facility for the Dodgers and White Sox.  Organized by Aravaipa Running in its present form.  The race dates back to 1983 when it was first organized by Harold Sieglaff, who passed away in 2015, and has changed in location as well.  The have a 24 hr, 48 hr, 72 hr. and 6 day option for running. It is held as the name suggests it is held during New Year's 'was the 3rd day of the event and for the 6 day runners.

Getting There
The days race starts at 0900 am every day and I decided in my infinite wisdom to schedule my arrival for the morning of the race. I woke up at 4:30 and got my running gear on which consisted of long sleeve shirt,  calf sleeves and Compress sport underwear, running shorts and Hoka trail shoes. had breakfast and drove to the airport, an interesting way to start a race.   I got a Southwest flight that was supposed to depart at 6:20 and arrive at 7:25 am which gave me plenty of time to be there for the start.  However, the plane had a "mechanical issue" which delayed our departure until 7:50.   We arrived at 0900 am at the airport and I started my "run" at the airport terminal carrying my hand held luggage to get to a taxi.  Of course those miles didn't count towards my total miles for the day. I arrived and got checked in at the site, put on my bib number with a race belt they provided and timing ankle bracelet and started running at 9:40 am. 

The Course
The 1.05 mile course is mostly gravel with sections of asphalt and a short concrete portion.  One slight drawback is the dust that is created in the gravel sections, specially in the morning when the 24 hr. runners are going fast. Along the course there are tents, tables and mini aid stations for the runner's crews. Toward the back are the RVs,  pop up campers and vans. There is a main aid station tent with food next to the timing mat and another tent for an infirmary with 4 cots staffed by a medic. Next to that is another large tent with tables and chairs to gather and eat.  They also have electrical outlets to charge phones or watches.  The course direction is changed every four hours during the entire event.  At the half way point is a small aid station with water and potato chips.  They even had beer in the evening hours. 

Photo credit Jamil Coury from Aravaipa Running

 My race
My goal going into this race was to run 100 miles in the 24 hrs that I was going to be out there. Starting 40 minutes late as not the way I wanted to begin.  My plan was to run the first half (50 miles) in 11 hrs and then attempt the last 50 in 13 hrs.  That would require a 13 min/mile avg pace for the 11 hrs. However, I started out too fast in retrospect and that hurt me a lot.  Most trail Ultras have a single tract and its hard to go fast because you are in a "conga line" which limits your pace. At this event, there was plenty of room to maneuver and run free.  I finished my first 20 miles in 4 hrs. on my watch but the race time was 4 hrs. and 40 minutes.   That is how I approached the race, breaking it down into shorter distances and goals like 20 miles, 25 miles, etc.  I got to run with Israel A. who does media and was running in the 6 day event as well.  I took walk breaks and talked to Jess S. a fellow Mas Loco who last year hiked the Pacific Crest Trail alone.  I also ran with Patrick S. another Mas Loco who runs in Luna Sandals and last year ran across the USA.  

Patrick S. photo credit Jamil Coury from Aravaipa running

At this point, I decided to just go by the race clock and ignore my actual running time, I successfully reached mile 33 by 8 hrs. (by then it was 5 pm).  The race organizers have scheduled "meals" for my day for lunch they had chili with cheese and a dinner roll. I was lucky enough to have two servings as I passed twice by the aid station during lunch. Later, I had a Hot dog with coke that Carilyn Johnson's family had brought for her and shared with me. Carilyn is an accomplished ultra runner from El Paso who was running the 72 hr. event. She has a blog as well, called Carilyn Johnson-will run for food.  For dinner they had pork tamales with beans (vegetarian option also available) and I also had 2 servings of those.  By 5 pm the sun started to go down so I put on an underarmour top, long sleeve thick shirt and UA tights. I had a cap and a headlamp as well.  The course has lights and the headlamp is not really needed. Shortly after 9 pm I had reached 50 miles, half way done towards my 100 miles with 12 hrs. to go.  I had run 11hrs and 30 min on my watch by this point.  The temperature began to drop at this point and my pace slowed significantly.  I added more layers of clothing but I could not move fast enough to generate body heat.  My right hip was aching as well.  I kept walking and talking to several more fellow walkers.  I walked with Bobby K. who I have seen and written about at Rocky Raccoon in 2012 and Javalina Jundred in 2014.  He was doing the 6 day race and was planning to go back to Rocky in 2012. He is now 66 years old and going strong.  The field was quickly thinning as it got late as people who were running multiple days were turning in for some sleep to continue the next day. 
At 1 AM, I went to the warming tent and started chatting with fellow runners. I met Amanda from Seattle who had been stricken with nausea and vomiting to the point they called the paramedics but she talked her way into avoiding being taken to the ER. (after signing a release). I also met Dan B. who at 85 years old was setting records for his age group every time he did a loop for his 6 day event. They all had "low bib numbers" meaning they had been doing the race for a long time as you get to keep your number forever and accumulate miles over the passing years.  Someone earned a 10,000 mile jacket during this years event. Bib number 1 belongs to the race founder Harold Sieglaff who died in 2015, and in his honor, they had a bib you could run a loop for him to add to his miles. (would not count towards your miles). Someone was boasting how they knew someone with bib number 4. 
At 2 AM, after 57 miles, I decided I could not stay awake so I went to the medical tent and got in a cot with a sleeping bag and fully dressed and with shoes went to sleep. The guy next to me was snoring loudly, but I  managed to sleep until 5:30 am. 
I had a delicious pancake breakfast with hot coco and started walking again with a NEW goal, to get to 62 miles (100Km). I walked the entire time watching the sunrise and admiring all the other runners who were there for 6 days and were now starting day 4 and were still running.  I got to talk to Ed "the Jester" Ettinghausen who ran the world record 46 100 mile races in 2014 and is doing the Grand Slam in 2016. As of this writing he is on Day 5 and has run 410 miles.  
The Jester photo credit Aravaipa Running Jamil Coury
At around 0830, I completed my last loop to make 63 miles (101 Km). I went to rest until after 9 am and turned in my timing ankle bracelet.  In exchange, I received a beer mug.  I missed out on the belt buckle which I wanted but it was not to be.  A showering facility in a locker room is available every day from 9-11 am, so I took a shower along with several 6 day runners getting ready to start day 4. Then it was back to the airport to fly back to El Paso that afternoon. 
Post script
I had a great time doing this event meeting some incredible runners and walkers.  The event feels like a huge running family reunion in which walking/running is secondary.  The organizers and volunteers put on a great event, in my opinion.  Of course, they can't control the weather and it really gets cold at night. I run in much colder weather in the AM with the running group, but we are running faster, have body heat stored from sleeping in a warm bed the night before, and don't have a huge number of miles accumulated going into the night. The loop gets repetitive and boring at times and the dust can cause problems for some individuals.  I recommend giving these timed events a try, specially as we get older, it seems to suit a lot of more seasoned runners/walker.

Future Races
I have some exciting challenges ahead for 2016.  On February 14, I will participate in the Costal Challenge 6 day Stage race in Costa Rica.  Also, I was lucky in the lottery for a 2nd time will be doing the Western States 100 mile Endurance run. After that, we'll see what the future holds and how my body holds up.

I want to thank Jamil Coury and Hayley Pollack from Aravaipa Running as well as all the other organizers and volunteers who were up all night for several nights at the aid station, timing station and medical tent. I want to thank all my fellow runners/walkers who inspired me and encouraged me along the way. To the Johnson family, thank you for the Hot Dog and for Carilyn's company during my run.  To fellow Mas Loco Jess Soco who was kind enough to give me a ride to the airport and in true Korima fashion refused any money for gas in return.