June 1st, 2013 I ran the Squaw Peak 50 mile trail race in Provo Canyon, Utah. The course had 14,000 +/- gain and loss and the highest point on the course was 9,300 feet; a little thin for a flatlander. The day was near perfect, although a tad hot for a Seattleite and hot enough to get some wicked sunburns in spots I couldn’t reach or missed with the sunscreen.
The race started in the dark at 5am with a 2.1 mile pavement section which helped spread the runners out a little before the first single track climb. Around mile three I was putting my headlamp away and my iPod fell out of my pack. I noticed almost immediately and went back to look for it but going against traffic with 230+ runners coming at me it was near impossible, not to mention it was still a little dark. I finally gave up! Total bummer, not only do I use my iPod for most of my training runs, I now had to run 47 miles w/o music!
I continued on and I met some cool ultra ladies from California. We chatted on and off all day and hung out after the race. The aid stations were well stocked and the volunteers were helpful and friendly. The course was pretty cool with some amazing views and a spectacular sunrise. However, the course did consist of 38% dirt roads and 19% of pavement my two least favorite things. The first section of pavement was the first 2.1 miles, second section was 3.7 miles long (mile 22-26) slightly uphill and hot and the third section was 3.3 miles to the finish which I dreaded.
My strategy for the course was to chill for the first 30 miles and then pick up the pace the last twenty, the last twenty had about 4,000 gain and 4,600 loss. At around mile 39, Berryport Pass, the trail climbed 1,300 feet in 1.25 miles. I wanted to save my legs & lungs for this climb topping out at 9,300 feet and then bomb the last 10 miles to the finish which was mostly downhill w/a few rolling hills. My strategy worked, I passed seven women between miles 30-40. I arrived at aid station 9 (40.4 miles) in 9 hours and 23 minutes and at the point realized I could go under 11 hours and possibly beat my husband’s time of 10:47 (which was actually 10:42 back in 2000 and the one who talked me into doing this race). I grabbed a potato at AS 9 and ran as fast as I could on tired legs down the rocky, steep terrain knowing that I’d be slower on the last 3.3 miles of pavement and would have to walk some of that stretch (my weakness is running on pavement). The last 3.3 miles were not well-marked so I kept asking people if I was going the correct way. There were numerous sections that had sticks with flags but the flags were blue and pink and not blue and orange (like on the course). Near the end, there was one section that I nearly turned right and up a logging road b/c there were two sticks w/flags and it looked like they were for the race, luckily a cyclist came by and said to continue on the road to the finish. However, if I would have read the course instructions I would have known there were no turnings on the home stretch! I ran the last ten miles in 88 minutes for a time of 10:51.
Overall, I had a great day both mentally and physically, the race was well-organized and well-marked, the race director was very nice and friendly and the sunrise and scenery was beautiful.
Results: 5th place Female/1st Master’s Female. Overall 31/266 starters.
My Suunto Ambit stats:
Strava: Overall time: 10:49, Mileage: 52.2; Elevation gain 10,197
Movescount: Overall time: 10:51, Mileage 50.87; Elevation gain 9259.
Race day food –
Travel breakfast: banana + Greek yogurt (normally this would be homemade kefir w/raw milk, berries, and nuts)
During the race
1 peanut butter and jelly sandwich (cut into fours)
2 packets of Clif Shot Bloks
1 Clif caffeinated gel (this is only the second time I’ve used a gel during a race and it went down well)
4 red potatoes with salt
1 Mojo Clif bar
1 Kind bar
1 cup Heed @ an aid station
6 Sustain electrolyte tablets
Felt great all race –no bonking, cramping, bloating, or stomach issues.