Holy crap it has been a while since I’ve posted anything. Hadn’t realized it had been so long. I’ve been keeping busy with work, school, and, of course, running. I have had itchy feet, figuratively speaking, recently and have been wanting to get out of town for a few weeks now. I had a few options but decided to head down to Phoenix for the Mesquite Canyon 50k. As a bonus, my friend and coach Ian Torrence was also going so at least I’d know a one person in addition to the several acquaintances I know from the Phoenix area that I figured would more than likely be running as well.
This was the second year for the race put on by Aravapai Running so I knew it would be managed well and at a good venue. As it turned out, this ended up being one of my favorite races I have done. The location was at White Tanks Regional Park just outside of Phoenix. This is the second regional park, in addition to Mcdowell Park and the Pemberton 50k, I have ran a race at in Maricopa County and I have to say they are pretty impressive. The diversity of trails and beautiful scenery provides Phoenix residents with every kind of training possible save altitude training. And that is available only a couple of hours away in Flagstaff.
About 90 runners started the 50k in addition to those running the other distances that started later in the day. My goal for this day was to just run a solid long run without killing myself as to not jeopardize training for upcoming goal races. Knowing the course was pretty hard and with zero taper coming in I didn’t even wear a watch and just tried to enjoy the day.
The first eight miles or so was pretty uneventful passing through mild climbs surrounded by desert sagebrush and giant saguaro cacti. We then descended a steep canyon that can aptly be referred to as gnarly. Soon after the ground leveled off I saw a runner going the wrong way. I then noticed he had a number on and I then realized I would soon be climbing back up that steep nasty little canyon. “That figures,” I said under my breath as he ran by.
The rest of the day went pretty well besides getting a bit dehydrated at one point. Another notable section of the course passed through a canyon that made the one earlier look like a piece of cake. This “trail” reminded me more of my canyoneering days than trail running. I kept my mood light though and laughed at how sinister it was for the race directors to put this section so late in the race. I finished strongly and crossed the line in 5:35. A pretty solid time for me given the effort and difficulty of the course.
I would definitely recommend this event to anybody wanting a challenging early season race. It had every kind of terrain from flat groomed trail to runnable climbs to technical, bordering on dangerous, descents. Additionally, the operation was first-rate with excellent aid stations and course markings. Finally, the good company, competition, and many fine-looking women at the event was like icing on the cake.