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Monthly Archives - October 2018

Javelina Jundred 2018

Javelina Jundred 2018: a signature ultra in the Arizona desert, a costumed running party…

Javelina Jundred: A costumed running party:

This weekend, for the 16th annual Javelina Jundred, a fun-loving tribe again settled in the Sonoran Desert just northeast of Scottsdale. Together, just over a thousand inhabitants to this temporary oasis ran races, danced, feasted, and laughed. Many came to compete in the weekend’s races, the longest being the 100 mile, five-loop circuit.

Yet many flock to Javelina expressly to join in the merriment, and to offer support for those undergoing the grueling battle on the trail –– Such is the spirit of Javelina Jundred. It’s a party, a party of the best kind.

The Javelina Jundred 2018

A bunny hops by on the Javelina Jundred 2018 trail.

The Javelina Jundred course features an arid, open landscape with classic southwestern desert motifs —Saguaro cacti, rocky footholds, and drastic temperature shifts. While the balmy sun might sear at a steady 90℉ during the day, nightly temperatures can reach as low as the 30s. Each loop also has an elevation gain of 1,500 feet, for a total gain of over 7900 feet throughout the race. There is a 30hr cut-off for participants to be listed as official finishers and gain their finisher’s belt buckle, while those who finish under 24hrs receive the famous Javelina sub-24 belt buckle.

Patrick Reagan has again won the Men’s 100 mile with a time of 13:42:59. Although Reagan performed faster last year, his result this year still represents the third-fasted completion ever. Canadian runner Dave Stevens finished in second with 15:39:30, while third place goes to Kenneth Hawkes with 16:22:09.

Leading the Women’s Results, the celebrated Darcy Piceu crossed the finish with a time of 18:49:06. Dana Anderson finished in second with a time of 19:31:06, and Tonya Keyes took third with a time of 19:50:53. This year’s 100 mile event had 604 participants, of which 367 qualified as finishers. This year 141 participants qualified as sub-24 finishers.

The 100-Mile Party Run event consists of three of the 100 mile event’s five loops. Results for the 100K are led by Jacob Jackson (08:55:05), and Charli Mckee (09:47:43), for the men’s and women’s categories, respectively. There were a total of 262 participants in the 100 KM event. Of those, 199 qualified as finishers by completing the course in under 29 hours.

In this weekend’s races there were people of all walks of life, and among the runners there were many smiles and such vibrance of character. There were older runners such as 65 year-old James Ehasz. Yet there was also the fifteen year old finisher, Luke Sanchez. The races are set up “washing machine style,” wherein loops reverse direction. Day and night passing runners greeted each other, waved, cheered each other on.

The weekend also includes the Jackass Night Trail. Born of the revelry of Jackass Junction, the event’s most famed and lively aid station, the Jackass Night Trail provides more casual attendees an opportunity to experience Javelina by running one or two of the trail’s loops at night, for distances of 31 KM and 62 KM, respectively. The Night Trail events were festive and colorful, with hundreds of costumes.

Javelina Jundred

A scene near the Javelina Jeadquarters.

One can’t help but think of these desert festivities –– the costumed dashes, the wonderful people, the quirky prizes, the dancing –– and already reminisce. It is Monday; today there is work, and already the fleeting tent-hamlet of Javelina is packed and loaded.

Yet the “The 100-Mile Party Run” sends us into the last days of October enlivened and ready for the holiday seasons. And indeed, into the final race of the Ultra Trail ® World Tour, Ultra Trail Capetown, on November 30th. Stay tuned.

To read more about this race click here. Or here to see this year’s results

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Big’s Backyard

Big’s Backyard Ultra ’18 ReCap

Big’s Backyard Ultra: the ceaseless race has ceased and, after three days and four nights, the results are in; as ever, only one runner remained.

Big’s Backyard Ultra 2018 Re-Cap

For those unfamiliar with the race, click here for info, as well as an interview with one of the course veterans. Click here for full results.

This year’s winner is the returning Swede Johan Steene, whose unlikely victory followed a delayed flight and a long overnight drive in a rental. Johan arrived fifteen minutes before the race, and ran 68 laps for a total of 283 miles.

The sensational Courtney Dauwalter finished in second, with 67 laps and 279 miles.

Just as lap 68 was about to commence, Dauwalter turned to Steene and whispered to him. The two embraced and Steene set pace into the darkness alone to complete his final and victorious lap.

Early Tuesday morning, four days after the race commenced, Steene reflected on his ultimate triumph: “As long as we are at least two remaining there is a feeling of purpose, that this painful game has a meaning. That illusion disappears in a blink when only one remains. The actual winning needs to be the sole focus if that is what you’re after. That focus was feeding me and let me put all other things aside. At the moment when Courtney congratulated me and remained in the coral as I jogged away alone into the Tennessee night I didn’t feel joy. I felt empty and without purpose. You cannot carry the illusion by yourself. It takes at least two to play. Thanks Courtney Dauwalter for taking us this far. We are good at playing this game.”

Stauwalter, Steene, as well as Gavin Woody, have all crushed the course record set by Guillaume Calmettes last year, at 59 laps. After an arduous struggle, Calmettes tapped out due to injury on lap 54 this year. Another course veteran, Harvey Lewis, also dropped out due to injury, in lap four.

This race has quickly become a favorite in the running community. For its strange set up, its “jeerleaders” shouting disparagements continuously, and for the much loved pit bull, Big, the proprietor of the race and Laz’s companion. “[Big] is the only pit bull in the world that hosts a contest where humans fight to the death,” Laz said.

This year’s race was so incredibly energizing, and for so many reasons. To witness the victorious persistence of Johan Steene, who in 2014 left the race prematurely, and who showed up this year’s event already exhausted, was a galvanizing testament to shear will.

To observe Calmettes trample on in pain, cane in hand, was dreadful, yes. Yet it was far more enlivening to witness his composure, and the drastic dash of his last efforts, all to the cheers of his compatriots.

Courtney Dauwalter is a force of character, and one of our sport’s major figures. She is an inspiration to all of us, and especially to women –– for so many of her wins this year are overall wins, overthrows of records of both genders.

Far more light has yet to shine from that star, yet we applaud and congratulate all seventy of this year’s runners. And as do they unto each other, for the endless quarrel that is Big’s is not a race against fellow runners; it is an individual’s race against his or her mind. It is a race against the notion of his or her limits.

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Limone Extreme 2018

In this Limone Extreme 2018, Lake Garda situated east of Milan and west of Venice has long been a destination as holiday resort. Limone sul Garda as the name suggests, sits on the lakes edge on the north west side.

Flanked by sheer mountains. The heart of the old town is the little harbour, the old Port Porto (‘Porto Vecchio’). Narrow lanes lined with tourist shops wind in and along the shore with a plethora of streets that go up the slopes behind.
In the other direction, south, is the more modern part of Limone that includes a waterfront promenade, it is here that the start and the finish of the Limone Extreme races 2018 takes place.

The steep aggressive mountains don’t require too much imagination when It comes to designing a race. Skyrunning legend, Fabio Meraldi, has been instrumental though in creating 2 races. Firstly, a VK that travels from the lake 1000m directly up, originally undertaken during darkness.
Limone Extreme 2018
Secondly, a SkyRace of 29km and well over 2000m elevation that leaves the town following lakeside paths to the north of the harbour on a circular route through the mountains back to the shore.
Limone Extreme 2018
Meraldi’s exploits are legendary and gain the respect of all who love our sport. He passed his mountain guide training at the age of 20. Not only a runner, he participated in mountain tours, ski mountaineering and pioneered the early days of Skyrunning with ISF president, Marino Giacometti.
Limone Extreme 2018
Four European titles and nine Italian titles amongst other cups and medals are listed in his palmares, he also won the iconic Pierra Menta ten times and the Sellaronda Skimarathon, six times. However, it is his world records of speed ascending to high mountains that has gained him his iconic place in the sport of mountain running; the most notable on Aconcagua.
Limone Extreme 2018
Leaving Lungolago Marconi next to Lake Garda, a 2km stretch of narrow path leads through the streets of Limone. Passing scattered hotels, peaceful terraces, lemon groves and little secluded beaches before crossing the main coastal road and heading up into the impressive mountains at Reamòl. A breath-taking, rugged ascent leads to Punto Larici, proceeds to Passo Rocchetta and reaches the crest of Monte Carone at 1621 meters above sea level.
Limone Extreme 2018
The second part of the race, with its continuous change in gradients, takes athletes from Bocca dei Fortini at 1200m to Monte Traversole, 1441m and Corna Vecchia 1415m.
Limone Extreme 2018
The course slopes down to Dalco at 842 m before the steep descent to the finish line in Limone. It’s a course that epitomizes the pure ethos of Skyrunning; to the summit and back as quickly as possible. Something that Meraldi is a firm believer in!
In a deeply stacked international field, youngster Davide Magnini not only took the win but crushed the record by eight minutes delivering a memorable performance. He covered the challenging and technically demanding 29 km long course with 2,500m vertical climb in 2h59’24”. Rémi Bonnet, fresh from yesterday’s Vertical Kilometer® World Champion title at the same venue placed 2nd and Spaniard Oriol Cardana closed the podium.

I’m really surprised by this result… I found my pace and my legs worked really well. I stayed focused all the time and beating the record held by a legend like Marco De Gasperi is simply humbling,”

Limone Extreme 2018 women’s result

  • In Limone Extreme 2018 the women’s race was won again by orienteering world champion Tove Alexandersson from Sweden who raced her first skyrunning race here last year. Known to give it her all, today’s win was no different.
  • Ragna Debats closed second, triumphant with her new Overall title.
  • Third was Spaniard Sheila Avilés.

“It was so tough for me today. I’ve had a long season with many orienteering competitions… I wasn’t sure to come here because I was so destroyed,” said Tove post-race. “When I started I felt terrible, but I was just fighting, fighting all the way… I really enjoy these challenges and that’s what I love!”

Skyrunning  was born in Italy, it only seems appropriate that the traditions and ethos created on the slopes of the snowy Alps should now be carried forward on new mountains and in new places such as the Creste Della Mughera mountains that back on to Limone sul Garda.
Limone Extreme 2018

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Ultra Mirage in Tunisia

UMED – Ultra Mirage© El Djerid

Ultra Mirage in the Tunisian Desert, The Tunisian Sahara – mixed terrain that involves oasis, palm groves, sand and of course intense heat. It’s a tough place to walk, never mind run! But over 130 runners toed the line for the 2nd edition of the UMED – Ultra Mirage© El Djerid.
 UMED
Known for its unique landscape, this desert has featured in many a movie, the most famous being Star Wars Episode 1. Bulbous buildings, the space port of Mos Espa still remain in the area and they provide a unique backdrop to the start and the finish of this single loop, 100km race.
The desert is a calm place and Mos Espa, surrounded by high dunes, makes for an incredible start as the morning sun breaks the horizon.
Ultra Mirage
In 2017, Mohamed El Morabity won the race. It was great run in Ultra Mirage in the Tunisian Desert on a course that had to be changed in the 11th hour after freak rains damaged the original course. The single loop 100km race became a two loop 50km course.
Ultra Mirage
In 2018,Ultra Mirage in the Tunisian Desert (UMED) was back to the original route and although described as flat with little elevation gain, the runners would soon find out that this was no easy course.
Ultra Mirage
With a 20-hour time limit, runners departed on the stork of 0700, the cut-off time coming at 0300 the following day. The 100km race broken down into sections where aid and refreshment would be provided at 20km, 35km, 50km, 65km, 80km and then the finish.
Ultra Mirage
Each aid station would have its own cut-off time too to ensure the safety of each participant out on the course. Marwen Kahil from Tunisia dictated the early pace along with Mohamed Mnsari while the pre-race favourites of Mohamed El Morabity, Sondre Amdahl and the desert king, Rachid El Morabity bided their time.
Ultra Mirage
Women’s favourite and two-time Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes was shadowed by Shefia Hendaoui while Orianne Dujardin followed.
Ultra Mirage
At the first aid station, the men’s race was hardly unchanged with all the main protagonists together, whereas in the women’s race, Elisabet had made her move slowly pulling away from all the other challengers.
Ultra Mirage
With 35km covered, the race was taking on a whole new perspective at checkpoint 2. Rachid had now made a move and was slowly pulling away looked calm and relaxed. Rachid’s brother Mohamed followed flanked by Tunisian, Emir Grairi.
Ultra Mirage
Minutes later, Norwegian Sondre Amdahl followed – a past top 10 finisher of the Marathon des Sables and winner of the Jungle Ultra. Shefia and Orianne could do little in the women’s race other than follow the trail blazed by Elisabet.
Ultra Mirage
Checkpoint 3 with 50km covered only confirmed the dominance of Rachid and Elisabet but for the men, Mohamed was in trouble! He moved from joint 2nd to now place 4th and he didn’t look good! Emir was now in 2nd and Sondre 3rd. For the women, Orianne now had a slender lead over Shefia – the race was beginning to take shape.
Ultra Mirage
The next section of terrain was relentless soft sand and it took its toll on every participant. It just sapped strength and broke any run stride into a stumble.Ultra Mirage in the Tunisian Desert It was here that Sondre made up time and moved into 2nd. He was some way behind Rachid, but he looked strong.
Ultra Mirage
Behind, Emir was struggling, so much so that Mohamed and caught him and the duo ran together. For the women, Elisabet was now moving into the top-5 overall and Orianne was pulling away from Shefia as the heat and terrain took its toll.
Ultra Mirage
Rachid at the 80km with his lead reduced. He was struggling. The heat was punishing him, and he struggled to re-hydrate and eat. He left for the final push to the line knowing that the final 20km would be a challenge. Sondre arrived only minutes later looking very fresh and ready for the hunt.
Ultra Mirage
He pursued the desert king and despite bringing Rachid close, the skill and the tenacity of the man up front was too great, and he clinched victory collapsing in to the arms of race director Amir. Sondre placed 2nd and the Mohamed rounded out the podium after Emir withdrew from the race in the closing stages due to dehydration.
Ultra Mirage
Elisabet was a conniving women’s champion. Her race was so complete that she placed 4th overall. Orianne placed 2nd and Shefia finished 3rd.
Ultra Mirage
RESULTS

  1. Elisabet Barnes 10:26:06
  2. Orianne Dujardin 12:58:57
  3. Shefia Hendaoui 13:35:57
  4. Rachid El Morabity 9:11:47
  5. Sondre Amdahl 9:18:12
  6. Mohamed El Morabity 10:17:33

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Shoe Review

Salomon S/Lab: A Shoe Review

A premium shoe which fits the toughest trail adventures, Salomon S/Lab line is the luxury material and geared shoe for competitive runners and professionals. This mean pair of shoes are for treacherous trails and high mileages of running, so Quad Rock runners should definitely go ahead and make this investment!

Stats:

Stack: Moderate

Weight for Women’s shoes: 9.5oz

Heel-To-Toe-Drop: Moderate | 6.2 mm

Heel Cushioning: Firm

Forefront Height: Moderate | 23.5mm

Forefront Cushioning: Firm

Flexibility: Stiff

Stability Features: Some

Energy Return: Moderate

Features:

Progressive Stack Height- A variable stack height for the S/Lab Ultra helps standarie the shoe’s drop and offset as it wears. The stack increases for larger shoes and ensures the standard ride for all.

Hydrophobic Materials- The XA Amphib within the shoe helps maintain the weight of the shoe despite moisture.

Energy Save- EVA foam in the forefoot that does not pack out over time.

Adaptive Sensifit- The shoe warms up as your foot does so when you are in the race it adjusts around the swelling of your foot.

Premium Wet Traction- The outsole contains the same lug pattern as Salomon’s previous collections. Therefore, the sticky rubber compound is there.

Inside the Women’s Salomon S/L Lab Ultra Framework:

The shoe features an internal sleeve that wraps the foot entirely, allowing the foot to be comfortable and snug. This new updated version of the Ultra also contains “detached wings” on the upper, which helps with adaptability over the arch and midfoot.  In the midsole, the S/Lab line is covered in polyurethane foam in the forefoot, adding cushion and durability.

The outsole itself contains deeper lugs which makes it s a rugged outsole. It glides on technical trails where leaves, rocks, tree roots and loose gravel or stones. 

Ultra features a “Skinguard construction”, which helps seal out moisture and protect against gravel, stones, etc. It’s upper larger tongue, extends higher up the foot to shun dirt and leaves. A lace-stowing pocket is included as well.

The Endofit technology makes the internal fit of the shoe almost custom. Combined with the Ortholite open-cell mold, it fits any person’s foot perfectly.

Consistent Features:

The shoe uses the same high-rebound compound which allows the superior energy return and durability in high mileage. It complies with Salomon’s “play and progress” motto for their S/Lab Vision.

Improvements:

The quick-pull lacing system is questionable when it comes to safely inserting them away.

The unisex sizing makes it difficult to distinguish between women and men sizes.

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Big's Backyard Ultra

Big’s Backyard Ultra 2018

Big’s Backyard Ultra: inconceivable endurance, seasoned regulars, and an idiosyncratic racing format: this distinctive ultra is a sight to behold.
This Saturday, October 20th,is the (in)famous Big Dog Backyard Ultra, in Bedford County, Tennessee. An ostensibly simple race, Big Dog has been described as one of the most mentally and strategically complex races in the world – contestants run a 4.1 mile loop every hour, day or night, nonstop. The last man or woman standing is crowned the victor.
The race is not so much about competition, since contestants are tied at first at the beginning of every lap. Big Dog is a course in psychological endurance and forward thinking; go too fast, and you’ll wear yourself out precipitously; go too slow, and you might miss the cut-off for the next race. The event is hosted by Lazarus Lake, of Barkley Marathon lore. In fact, the prize for winning Big Dog is a spot in Barkley.
IRun4Ultra got a chance to speak with Guillaume Calmettes, last year’s winner, before the race. For his 2017 victory, Guillaume ran 246 miles. To put that in perspective, that’s 59 loops, and 59 hours, of running…
Click here [link] to listen to our conversation about the race, Guillaume’s life in Los Angeles, and the role that running plays in Guillaume’s life.
Also of interest: click here to see Guillaume’s inspiring running stats, or here to see his results from last year’s race.
 
 

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Salomon Women’s Running Shoes

The salomon womens running shoes , If you love trail races up to 50 km or even 50 miles, you will definitely love this universal trail running shoe!

The Women’s Salomon Sense Ride shoe is the new multi trail running shoe model for Salomon that is known to be the most popular and ideal shoe on the market these days when it comes to comfort, ride, protection, and grip. It is is ideal for running junkies that like an 8mm drop trail running shoe.

Stats:

Stack: 27mm in the heel and 19mm in the forefoot

Weight for Women’s shoes: 8.8oz

Heel-To-Toe-Drop: 8.0mm

Heel Cushioning: Moderate

Forefront Height: Low | 20.9 mm

Forefront Cushioning: Firm

Flexibility: Flexible

Stability Features: Few

Energy Return: Less

Features:

This The salomon womens running shoes features a spacious toe-box which differentiates itself from past models in the Salomon brand. It’s minimal exoskeleton helps with the support and durability but does not compromise its ventilating properties. The midsole contains Compressed EVA with softer insert to disperse shock vibrations and the outsole is lined with Salomon’s Premium Wet Traction Contragrip. It’s cushioned and responsive without the bulky aesthetic.

Inside the Women’s Salomon Sense Ride Framework:

Within the shoe, a layer comfortably cradles the heel while a flexible tongue wraps upward from the footbed and molds around your foot completely. The Orthrolite insert allows any other hotspots missed by the exoskeleton to be disbursed for little to no impact feel on the foot. As for the protection of the ankles, the Sense Ride W inner sock wraps over the collar protect the rubbing of the heel and/or ankle bones.

The two midsole components help with movements over blocks of rock, making the feet feel protected and the bidirectional lugs enable quick acceleration with responsive breaking. Therefore, traction on all surfaces is not clunky and helps with smooth transition to the trailhead.

Consistent Features:

Similar to past Salomon running shoes, the iconic Quicklace system is promised in the engaging shoe, “pull it, tuck it, and forget it.”. This reassures that throughout a full day on the trail, the laces won’t budge!

They are also tested in drying properties. These shoes are also quite instantaneous when they are submerged or soaked, making them the fastest drying shoe in the market.

Improvements:

The narrow build affects the stability and a wider platform would help with the ride better.

Extra cushioning in the forefoot would help for longer ultras. This would reduce the heel-to-drop which would make it in the 4-6mm range known as the runner sweet spot.

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8th Installment of Limone Extreme

The Eighth Installment of Limone Extreme 


Events kicked off on Friday evening, with the Limone Vertical Kilometer, a 3KM long, 1100-meter ascent that winds its way through the town center, up into an olive grove, and through a forest. The encroaching dimness and scenic variety of the twilight dash make the event all the more exciting. 183 runners from 20 countries took part in the race.
The Swiss runner Rémi Bonnet conquered the event, setting a new record on the course, at 00:36:02, and also becoming the Vertical Kilometer World Champion. Also hailing from Switzerland, Judith Wyder crowned the women’s results with a time of 00:43:47, defeating the previous women’s record by over a minute.
The 29KM Limone Extreme SkyRace comprises a rugged 2500-meter climb with limestone and gravel footpaths, steep and exhaustive incline features, and perilous descents. The trail is an ovular circuit in the mountains northeast of the town. Since the race caps off the SkyRunner World Series as a bonus race, awarding an extra 50% points towards rankings, competition was, as always, especially fierce.

In Saturday morning’s bristling heat 979 runners made their way to the starting line, representing 37 countries from around the world. Much of the race was a fierce head-to-head, as the results show, but the youthful Italian Davide Magnini tore ahead as the race’s victor, with a time of 02:59:04 , an incredible eight minute advance on the previous course record. Swedish orienteering master Tove Alexandersson finished with a time of 03:31:36, leading the women’s event results.
The marvelous weekend in Northern Italy culminated in the crowning of the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series champions. The Sky Classic Champions this year are the Swiss Pascal Egli and Briton Holly Page. This title is awarded based on runners’ five best performances in events from the Sky Classic Series, including a 50% bonus for their results in Limone.
The Overall Champions this year are the celebrated Catalan Killian Jornet and Dutch Ragna Debats. This title embodies runners’ best two results in Sky Classic and Sky Extra. An end of season bonus pool of €66,000 was distributed across victors of all three titles.
The weekend also included a 10KM for runners who sought to experience the sky running terrain without the full-fledged ardor the Extreme SkyRace entails. Donna4SkyRace, a project that seeks to support and empower women in the running community, both casual and professional, was also new this year. The project offers promotional registration pricing for women at the 10KM event.

Contouring the mountainous views at Limone is the alpine lake Garda, Italy’s largest. Naturally, the lake’s scenic views and pristine water offer a sight to be seen –– for tourists flock to Limone’s resorts year-round.
Yet the terroir of Limone is especially significant to our community­­; the region’s mountain paths are the lifeblood of our sport, and are themselves relevant to the town’s history. Until the 1930s, these mountain paths were the only land-based route for accessing the region, and sustained the local populace during numerous periods when the town neared desertion.
Limone is a bustling destination today, and the region’s mountain paths remain as vital as ever, as this weekend attests. For many, Limone caps off a packed year of racing and the start of preparations for the 2019 season.
The notion of a blank slate, a new start, is as rousing as ever.

Download Our Podcast On iTunes

PODCAST LINK – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/irun4ultra/id1437935793?mt=2

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An Interview With Derrick Lytle

An Interview With Derrick Lytle About His Recent Journey Along The Arizona Trail

Derrick Lytle is a Utah-based filmmaker and photographer who is more than likely shooting his next project in the vast landscapes of the American southwest. He can also be found at many of our community’s events, both behind and in front of the camera.
Derrick recently returned from an intense journey along the Arizona Trail, a legendary 800-mile trail that unravels from the Utah-Arizona border down South to Mexico. Derrick’s hike was an FKT record attempt that took months of planning. But this year, it was not meant to be; his plans were cut short when Hurricane Rosa brought unseasonal, torrential rains to the trail, swamping the panorama and ending Derrick’s excursion.
 Derrick sat down with us to discuss his experience, both in its challenge and its splendor.

 What inspired you to attempt the Arizona Trail?

I grew up in Southern Nevada, but I’ve lived in Utah for like ten years now.
I love the desert, and growing up in the desert. I spend most of my time in the desert, I just really like it. But at the same time, the Arizona Trail is very complex as far as thru-hiking goes. Whereas a lot of longer trails have a lot of towns along the way and places to re-supply, the Arizona Trail is pretty remote. And plus it changes terrain a lot — it goes from high desert up on the north side, to low desert where it’s burning hot, and all of a sudden you’re back up high again. So there’s a lot of variables, and that sounded very challenging. But it’s also very pretty and unique. And I wanted to go for it, as far as a record goes. Self-supported, solo.
It was a couple of years ago when Heather Anderson set the FKT on the trail, and she took the men’s record so she has the over-all self-supported time on the trail. I’ve been really curious about it for a few years, but really going after it is fairly new.
How familiar are you with the trail?
I’ve been on a lot of sections of it. Every time I go to Phoenix, I always jump on and either run or hike portions of it. And I’ve been down the border section, and all through the middle. Basically all these random parts. I’ve run the Zane Grey 50, which is fairly similar to some of the trail in that same area. I’m pretty familiar with the trail and the logistical side too.

Speaking of, could you tell us how long you spent planning your journey?
I guess you could say a long time (laughs). I attempted last year but I had a random emergency happen where I broke a tooth and had to get off the trail. So I planned that for months, and as far as training for it, that’s always been the goal focus for the year. I ran other ultras and plenty of hiking, but that’s all been preparation for this one goal for the year. So I guess you could say passively a year or two, but then also very seriously about a year of planning for it.
In the planning phase I went through and I had five resupply boxes mailed out. A few of them to post offices, one of them to a brewery in Pine, which is I think is mile 340 of the trail. They’re just boxes to resupply food, and then halfway through I had one with a new pair of shoes, so I could swap mine. So it takes quite a bit of planning to do that well. You have to think ahead and determine: so I’m going to be at this section in this many days, I’m going to need this much food to get there. And then there are a couple of small towns on the way, and a couple hundred miles in is Flagstaff too and that’s a big re-supply area as well.
I was hiking 40+ miles a day, going after the record, but self-supported so I had tent, sleeping bag, food, water, filter, gear, anything I could possibly need, on my back.
Can you tell us about the conditions around this time?
Generally in the fall, people will start on the Northern side because that way you don’t get the crappy weather in the winter of the north rim, and then the further you get South, it’s not going to be as hot; down near Phoenix and that area it gets really warm really fast. So it’s kind of the best window on average. And generally people in the spring will go South to North to try and get the better weather that way.

How long have you been training for these long distance hikes?
I guess I’m fairly new. I’ve done a lot of backpacking and hiking growing up. And trail running as well. I always get really busy with work. I know it’s just an excuse, but I don’t train as much as I should for a lot of things. But it’s always been kind of good just grueling things out, even if it’s uncomfortable.
I would say most of my training is just running. But doing so much filmmaking, especially in the ultra running world, I do a lot of backpacking and hiking to get to locations, and I do a lot of time-lapse photography as well. I’m up in the mountains all the time, hiking with gear, so that’s this weird kind of cross-training where yeah I’m working, but I’m also getting 10 to 15 miles with camera gear on my back throughout a day, which translates to backpacking more generally; not going out and setting records, but just going out and seeing places. I think that hiking and running are both awesome, but I think you see things differently when you’re packing as opposed to when you’re simply running. Both are great ways to see new terrain.
So tell us a bit more about the trip!
I was in Kannabe, which is pretty close to the start, ten days before I started. I was down there on a film shoot at the Grand to Grand, which is a stage-running race. And it was crazy because we had perfect weather; generally it cools off quite a bit at night, and we usually get a rain storm or two throughout the week, but this year was really warm.
We barely used our sleeping bags. I only put my down jacket on like once.
Just crazy warm, good weather. just dry and perfect. So I didn’t really think much about the weather starting the day after that shoot was over.
And I started, and it was kinda windy, and then a few hours in I was stuck in a rainstorm, huddled under a tarp and a tree. And then it was just crazy weather the whole time.
It was beautiful, like the north rim was crazy. But it was just kind of nonstop rainstorms. And I think that was related to hurricane Rosa, is what some people were saying. And so, it was just day after day of rain, which just put me behind. When I got to mile 100 I was on pace, but I was at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and everything was just soaked. Like all my gear was soaked, I was soaked to the bone just shivering. And it was crazy — the year before when I was out there it was hot and dry, and that’s generally how it is, maybe a minor storm at most. But this time it was just dumping rain the whole time. And the day I quit, I woke up and all my gear was soaking wet again and I didn’t sleep all night. So it was just a constant thing of just “Okay I’m kind of on pace, maybe just a little bit off, but I’m slowly falling off pace just because of the rain and the weather.”
And it was just something I wasn’t expecting. And having to go through that and knowing I still had 650 miles left — it all just accumulated to the point where it wasn’t really do-able.
There was another guy too, an Austrian guy, that started the day after me, also going after the FKT. He was having the same issues. He was stuck in the rain, having to find shelter and dry everything out again. Soak and dry off again, and this made it less than ideal in terms of setting the record. After I got picked up and was officially done, I was in Flagstaff and a couple of friends were telling me that it was going to start snowing and raining. And then I saw the pictures of the snow and was shocked. This totally dry year had turned into the wettest week ever for the Arizona trail. Up on the North Rim you are at 8-9000 feet. Even the South Rim you are at 7000, so you’re up where it gets cold. Even though you’re in the desert it’s not enjoyable rain.

With all that rain, were you able to get any sleep?
Generally when you’re doing long backpacking trips like this, there’s no trouble sleeping because you’re so worked and you just want to eat and then go to bed, and it’s easy to sleep. But when you’re exhausted after 45 miles and you lay down and you’re soaking wet and the rain is falling all night and you’re really not sleeping well. And a few days of that and you’re just totally just being drained more and more and more, and it just accumulates real fast. Being cold and damp, and then not sleeping. It all just compounds, and it’s the perfect storm to fall apart.
I only made it four days in.
What was your original goal?
I had kind of a crazy goal. It was all planned but kind of last minute as well. I was juggling photo shoots and I had this two and a half week span where I could leave one shoot, hike the whole thing in 17 days, and then plow out to my next shoot basically the same day. And so it was a really small window of error that I had. I wanted to do it in 17 days, which would have been two days ahead of Heather’s record. But if I were to go back I’d probably just shoot for 18 days because that’s do-able. But I didn’t have enough time to cut it that close to her record.
It was sort of either destroy the record by at least a day or… not at all, since my window of opportunity was so small since I have photo shoots and film shoots to go to, just like any other normal job.

Besides the adverse conditions, what was the main challenge?
I barely saw anybody for like four days. Like physically, yeah it’s hard, but you’re trained for it, and you know what you’re getting yourself into. And I wasn’t sore at all. My feet hurt a little bit, and they still do. But leg-wise I felt great, and I didn’t have any blisters or anything. The real challenge is “hey I’m out here by myself and I’m freezing and miserable” and then you wake up and you say the same thing again. And you’re freezing and miserable all day, and you don’t have anybody to talk to about it. You’re kind of just stuck in your head.
So you kind of just have to play mind games with yourself because if you start being negative about it, that’s a hug energy suck; it’s mentally draining and it’s also physically draining. So being able to stay positive is very important, not just in ultrarunning, but also in long distance anything. Just smiling when you’re not having a great time can really switch things around. It sounds stupid, but it makes a big difference. You’re just like “okay, I’m in this situation — think of the positive things, and smile. Just smile through it. My feet hurt, but smile.” I always try and think about that.
Do you enjoy the alone time?
I do enjoy the solitude. I love talking to people and it’s a big part of my career, but I also really enjoy my alone time. I’m okay being alone for a few days, but at the same time I come back and I can share those experiences, or show them to people.

What was your favorite part?
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s always so fun to go out there running and hiking. It’s just a magical place. It’s one of those places that’s accessible and you can see it from a viewpoint and its kind of cool, but you really don’t understand how amazing it is until you’re inside the canyon or running across it. You can really feel the vastness and the depth, and you can’t really get that sitting still. The southern portion is also beautiful, too. More low desert and the cactus out there is crazy. The Saguaro are huge and beautiful.
Will there be an attempt in 2019?
Yeah, hopefully next fall there isn’t such hurricane weather (laughs). But yeah — for now I’m just processing things out; how can I prepare better for next year? There were obviously issues other than the weather that affected me. So how do I fine tune my training to do better? But definitely I’m still thinking about setting an FKT on that trail.
Thanks and good luck, Derrick.
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