By Larry Carroll
With each passing year, it seems there are more must-watch races for the ultra-marathoning community. Not many, however, have to remind participants on their racing page that “frontal nudity/exposure is NOT permitted” while including a cheeky (quite literally) asterisk and the following amendment: “We have the best ass award…so expect some bare butts. You’ve been warned.”
Yes, it is time once again for the Javelina Jundred, a race that is out there in both terms of being physically demanding and in terms of being…well…out there. The 17th installment will take place on October 26-27 in Fountain Hills, Arizona, and this party is proudly sold out. Taking place just a few days before Halloween, Javelina is just like your neighborhood Halloween bash – that is, if your party didn’t focus so much on the punch, pizza, and party dip but instead on pushing your body to its physical limitations in the middle of the Arizona desert.
Beginning at the Four Peaks Staging Area at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, participants have a choice of running either 100 miles or 100 kilometers. Those doing the former will begin with a 22.3-mile loop on the Escondido Trail, followed by four 19.45 mile loops on other trails; the latter option will be essentially the same, with only the first three loops.
Camping is encouraged, and in many ways, the Javelina Jundred will be as much a show as it will be a competition. One unique feature of the race is that since the runners reverse directions with each lap of the race “washing machine” style, they will pass by “Javelina Jeadquarters” every 20 miles – so, crews are only permitted in that area, are well covered by shade, and can turn Jeadquarters into a vibrant social scene complete with wood-fired pizza, a coffee cart, a bonfire for roasting marshmallows and much more.
Of course, each runner finishing the 100 Mile (in under 30 hours) and 100 Kilometer (in under 29 hours) receive the customary belt-buckle, bragging rights and eligibility for unique handmade Dia de Los Muertos-themed awards going to the top 3 male and female finishers. But this is a race that proudly awards flair, so participants can also take home awards for “Best Costume,” “Most Memorable Performance,” “1st Virgin” (being the best placing rookie) and more.
Past Javelina Jundreds have given us participants in Jackie Onassis dresses and pillbox hats, wearing fake beards and wigs, dressed as hot dogs and Disney princesses and more. While the 2019 edition would seem to be limited only by the imaginations of the racers (and of course, the ban on full-frontal nudity), this is a serious business. The 100 Miler is, in fact, a 2020 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run Qualifier, and the 100 Miler and 100 Kilometer are both 2020 UTMB Qualifiers. In short: The athletes out there will be serious, even if their costumes are not.
For those looking to embrace the Javelina vibe but not the aching muscles and pulled hamstrings, Javelina offers the “Jackass Night Trail.” Featuring one 20 mile loop, the event is hyped up “Jackass Night Trail” as “Fun! Running during the Javelina Jundred is a unique, vibrant, and fun-filled experience for all runners. It’s unlike any other trail running event and we want to encourage more people to join in the fun! The Jackass Night Trails is the best way to experience the course, the aid stations, and the mayhem of Jackass Junction! Plus, it comes with its own perks & swag!”
The Night Trails race promises a disco party, a DJ and that you’ll someday be able to start your stories with “So, I was running between a hotdog and a unicorn…”. Another requirement reads: “Please note that a sense of rhythm is not required, but a sense of humor is.” And who knows? If you’re lucky, you might just win a disco ball trophy and be crowned as the Jackass King.
If you can’t make it out to Arizona, be sure to keep an eye on the Instagram hashtag #OnlyAtJavelina, where people have already begun uploading eccentric pictures of races past. If the previous 17 editions are any indication, the Javelina Jundred will once again be an event like none other. Just be careful if you have any children around your computer/smart device – because, with that Best Ass Award in contention, those Instagram pics might just get very R-rated.