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Zane Grey - RunUltra Marathon

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Payson, Arizona
United States
75F / 24C
Total Time = 12h 50m 22s
Overall Rank = 34/94
Age Group = N/A
Age Group Rank = 0/00
Pre-race routine:

Stayed outside Pine in Payson, AZ. Woke up around 3:30 and headed to the Courys room because they were giving me and Paulette a ride. Got over there just after 3:50. Ate a clifbar or two, had a banana, and some other stuff. Nothing too big or heavy.

Headed out around 4:00 and took about 15-20 minutes to get to the start. Got there and just hung in the burb for awhile, before dropping off my bags, then hanging out in the burb a bit longer. With about 10 mins to go I made the stupid decision to empty everything one more time. Headed to the Porto and took care of business, but the gun went off for the start while I was in there. Arrived at the starting line about 2-3 minutes late. My watch time read 12:47:50... but what's three minutes when you're racing for 12+ hours.
Event warmup:

Porto business.
  • 12h 50m 22s
  • 51 miles
  • 15m 07s  min/mile

A few minor points before I begin the journey on "paper". I came into this race with some relatively high expectations in relation to my training. While I obviously wasn't training all that hard, I did feel better prepared for this race than I did for my last 50 miler.

Going into this race I knew how hard it was supposed to be, and had a pretty good idea what to expect. (worse case scenario!) haha. So... with no further ado, I give you my Zane Grey 51 mile race report... (or as much as I can remember)

Like I said earlier, this race started out in the porto potty for me. I heard the race start, and rushed to finish up my business. I ran to the burb to get my light and take off my warm ups, and I was off to join the back of the train on the trail.

I dropped off my dry clothes bag at the start and headed out. I quickly caught up to one person and just kept looking ahead in the dark for the other lights. Within a minute or two I had caught the back of the group and started working my way up. The terrain at this point wasn't too crazy and was definitely runnable. I kept getting caught up behind a few people, but would eventually get around. I wasn't really checking out the terrain or scenery just yet sense I was so focused on getting around these people and plus it was still dark. (5:00AM start)

I finally passed the "back" of the pack and seemed to be in the no mans land between the back and middle/front of the race. The guy ahead of me missed a turn and the guy a ways behind me indicated we had missed the turn. I backtracked and got back on course. Once I made this right turn the first real climb started.

I started the quick walk up and enjoyed the beautiful sun rise over some gorgeous Arizona mountains. It's always so amazing to be among the wilderness during sunrise with nothing but my running shoes and a water bottle.

The terrain was definitely getting progressively tougher and more "Zane Grey" like. The rocks were getting bigger, looser, and more frequent. After awhile I found someone running about the same pace I was running, so joined up with him and started chatting. He was an older guy that had done all the big races. (Hardrock, Leadville, etc) He even mentioned doing Cascade and Leadville in back to back weekends every year. RIDICULOUS.

He started to slow just a little bit and a rather large train was developing behind us. We just kept chatting and occasionally another runner would want to pass. Just before the mile 8 aid station I passed him and pulled on into the first aid. Right before the aid station was the first river crossing which wasn't too bad. My feet were totally submerged though. (BOY was that pretty cold! But felt good)

Once I was in the first aid station I threw away my throw away flashlight, and grabbed my first drop bag which had a few gels, and my other water bottle. I was maybe there for 2 minutes.

I headed out from there and attempted to eat some shot bloks but they were so cold it was about impossible. (It's so funny how appetizing that stuff is to me when I'm not racing, but once I'm racing it's about the last thing I want to eat)

This section was mile 8-17. I really enjoyed this section and felt really good. My legs felt smooth and I was running well. The sun was now completely up and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Got off course for a minute or two here but quickly found it again. This section is where I really got a taste of what the Zane course had to offer.

There were parts here that the trail was borderline non existent. I just had to keep a heads up for the yellow ribbons that had been used to mark the course. (Side note: As I write this I'm eating freshly made Chocolate chip cookies and black coffee.. yummmmmm) I also quickly realized I was going to make it through this course without some pretty nasty scratches too. Thorn bushes were abundant and kept lashing my thighs and arms.

I'd say sometime around mile 13-14 I caught up with Paulette. I ran behind her till around mile 15 probably, then she coaxed me into passing her. I pulled far enough ahead that I couldn't see her behind me but knew she was within 2-3 minutes. I started a pretty cool downhill section and came into the mile 17 aid station feeling really good.

Here I had another drop bag and quickly replaced all my gels, plus tried to eat a clifbar. I literally took 2 bites and that was it. Gag.. no more clifbars. Paulette quickly came in, and was out before I was. I'm an aid station whore. I like to take my sweet time, because I know that there is a lot of time between aid. I like to be sure I have everything I could possibly want.

I roll out right behind her and we quickly come up to a creek crossing. CLICK HERE to check out the video of us crossing the creek. We crossed the creek and started the run towards the mile 25 aid station. I don't remember too much of this section other than the fact that this was probably the most "remote"/less traveled section of the course. There was part of the course here that ran next to a little ravine and the whole trail was total bushwhack. I had no idea where I was other than in Arizona. That was the only thing I knew for certain.

Again, I pulled ahead of Paulette a little and caught up with the guy I'll call my "bearded friend" from here out. (BF for short) He seemed to run at a nice steady "ultra" pace which I liked. The course opened up a little so we got some decent running in here. My BF and I crested a little hill then started that uber crazy section. The trail was littered with fallen trees which we'd have to climb over.

It seemed like we just kept going up (which we were, because the course is point to point, with a positive gain). We were definitely walking all the significant uphills.

The worse thing about this course is that while I love running downhills, even the downhills on this course were so gnarly and littered with "those rocks" that they weren't all that runnable, not to mention that it's impossible to run straight through bushes. (Which the trail does plenty of times!!)

After the super crazy section next to the ravine I started to pull away from my BF. I was feeling pretty good and rolled right into the mile 25 aid station. I have to mention that I didn't expect for the mile 25 aid station to come so quick. For that reason I think it was probably closer to mile 23 or 24. This was the one aid station where we didn't have a bag drop, so I took what I wanted from the aid station and headed on out. I kept expecting Paulette to catch me here, but she didn't. I pulled out before she arrived.

This next section was mile 25-33. I get out of the aid station and of course the trail goes uphill. (It seemed that ALL the aid stations were at the bottom of hills) I walked up the climb and ran all the sections I could. There was a little ravine here we dropped into where I got a little confused on direction but found the course pretty quickly. Maybe wasted a minute or two. I kept glancing back to see if Paulette was on my heels yet, and saw her a few times off in the distance.

Running by yourself on this course really sucks sometimes, because I wasn't always totally sure where I was going. It was always so nice to see that yellow ribbon hanging from a bush somewhere.

I ended up on some fairly runnable trail here but wasn't feeling all that good. My legs were feeling heavy and it felt like the sun was really beating down. (ended up with a pretty brutal sunburn) I ran as much as I could and just kept moving forward.

Finally Paulette caught up and was running with my BF and another guy. I grabbed onto their heels and Paulette jumped into the front spot. We ran together for maybe 5 minutes before she really started pulling away. I felt like she was bombing the downhills, and I just wasn't that comfortable going that fast on that terrain, so I backed off and waited for my BF while she moved on. (Not to be seen again till the finish line!)

I ran with my BF and the other guy for quite a ways here. I kept thinking the next aid HAD to be coming up but sure enough it was still a ways away. When me and my BF were going down this hill he said that he saw a blue tarp off in the distance and that that had to be the aid. Once we got to it, it ended up being a TIME CHECK! BOOOO. The did have some water, so I refilled a bottle and sadly carried on. This was a big downer for me because I was already feeling low, and they informed us we had another 4 miles or so. Ugh.

During this section my BF and the other guy ended up pulling away from me. I just kept walking some really runnable sections which was really discouraging. After a mile or so we came to one of my favorite sections of the course. Everything opened up and we ran through an open field with some cool trees. On our left was the Mtn rim and just looked beautiful. I ran as much as I could here and started to feel a little better.

Soon I was starting to catch back up to my BF and saw that he wasn't feeling all that well now. The other guy and I pulled away from my BF and I knew we had to be getting close to the mile 33 aid now.

We crossed this huge rock outcrop and ran over a gravel road. I thought that was the aid because there was a truck there, but alas, no aid. We bombed a pretty big downhill right after that and finally I could hear the aid station below us. I pulled into the aid station after about 2hrs 20 mins since the last aid station.

I grabbed the first open chair I could find and someone immediately handed me my drop bag. Sweet! My throw away camera was in there! I had someone shoot a photo of me and took a shot of the aid station table. (That's my BF on my left, your right) I kept wanting to tell him how I knew this guy that kinda grew a beard like that named Aaron, but that Aarons beard wasn't that cool, and that Aaron was too afraid to run ultras anymore.. But that's neither here nor there..

I hung out here for probably 5-6 minutes and finally got the chance to load up on the sunscreen! Too little too late for sure. I again took two bites of my clifbar and trashed it. The next section was supposed to be the toughest and longest. (Miles 33-44) So I really loaded up on gels and stuff here, while also hydrating as well as possible.

I finally decided to head out and walked down to the river crossing. This was the biggest river crossing yet. They had a rope from end to end to keep us from getting swept off our feet. That was pretty cool..

I'm a firm believer that ultras don't begin till around mile 32-35. (That's why 50Ks are so easy! They're over before they really begin)

As soon as I crossed the river the course went straight up hill. Of course. and the terrain was just as gnarly as before. See figure 1.1 and 1.2.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.2

I started the relentless walk up this hill that was just demorilizing me like no other. Everytime I'd turn it just kept going up. There was no downhill to the up. There was no Ying to the Yang if you catch my drift. I kept getting more and more down on myself here thinking this was what the entire 11 mile stretch was going to be like, and on top of that I was carrying only 2 bottles of water for a section that could easily take 3-4 hours.

I caught up with my BF an he was looking rough. He said he was going to walk it off so I left him with his thoughts. That was the last time I'd see him till the finish. I kept climbing upwards with no actual downhills. I did have a few chances to take a few more photos thought. Here was some "nice trail".. :)

I probably walked uphill for about 30 minutes. Finally I had some downhill but it quickly would turn up. Here we started a few pretty brutal little climbs. The first one I walked up and made decent time. I wasn't getting passed, or passing anyone. Regardless I felt like I was walking a lot of runnable sections.

This was also where I finally felt like some of the altitude was getting to me. The course max's out somewhere around 7-8,000ft. I figured we had to be getting close to that. I sat down here and took a quick breather. I found a nice tree and just leaned up against it. I decided to wait till someone came around and I'd just hop on their feet. After a few minutes a group of two guys came around and I hopped on their heels.

I realized I wasn't going to hang at their pace so they continued on. This whole section ended up with me just jumping from different groups of 2 trying to hang with them. The next group I ended up with wasn't too fast, so I hung with them for awhile. We crossed another fast flowing creek/river that felt awesome. It seemed like everytime my shoes/feet would start to dry we'd just cross another river! I was fine with it though cause I wasn't having any feet issues.

We started another really brutal climb and what I'd say was probably the roughest climb of all. Near the top I decided to let my friends go on and pop a squat on a log to catch my breath. I also had a chance to take a few more photos.

Once someone else caught up I decided to join him. We walked/ran together for quite awhile. It helped the time pass, and we were moving around the same pace. This section was definitely ruthless. It was either up, or up.

I kept feeling pretty bad, but was still moving so I was happy with that. My hopes of going sub 12 were quickly fading away. We were quickly approaching 3 hours since the last aid station. Around 2hrs and 40mins I was starting to feel a little better, and was REALLY ready to get to the nex aid station. The view and scenery were really beautiful here so I had a friend I'd been running with shoot a photo of me.

We kept on running and I just kept shooting pictures. I was fun having a camera with me so I could finally show people what I was trying to describe.

We kept on moving and I was now starting to pull away from the guy I'd been running with. My legs were feeling muchhh better here so I just kept going with it.

I passed a time check and they said it was about 3 miles to the mile 44 aid. Sweeeeet. This section for me really went by pretty quick. My leg turnover was way faster, and i was feeling much lighter. This seems to be the turning point for me in most my ultras so far. I'm closest enough to the end to really know I'm going to make it so I start to use what's left in the tank.

3 hrs passed and I still had a ways to go. Around 3hrs 10 mins I started a BRUTAL little downhill section that was pretty sketchy. I worked my way down and could finalllly hear the aid station down below. I kept moving and made it to the mile 44 aid station 3hrs and 17 mins after leaving the mile 33 aid. Gahhh. Here's the guy filling up my bottles..

I had a Redbull in my drop bag here which I orginally though would be a great idea! geezz was I wrong. Hot Redbull is grossss. I drank maybe half and trashed it. I spent about 5:33 at this aid making sure I was all set for the 7 mile run to the finish. From everything I'd heard this last section was fairly easy and runnable compared to the rest of the course. Awesome I thought. Finally.

I headed out of the aid station and had to walk off that hot Redbull. Crossed the final river and this thing was moving pretty good. They had a rope up here as well. I was up to about my mid thigh here. I crawled out of the river and started ANOTHER trek uphill. ugh.

I guess in my mind I thought I was done with the uphills/climbs. Well.. I was wrong. I took one more photo of a pretty burnt out knarly looking section though.

I just put my head down and kept walking up this climb. I was so irritated by how I felt at this point. That stupid Redbull was really screwing with me. I was feeling great before that aid station. I just kept walking trying to walk it off. Everyonce in awhile I'd run for a bit trying to work it out. On the upside I still wasn't getting passed nor passing.

After maybe 45-50 minutes I made it to he top of the climb. I knew from here it really was mostly downhill. I started getting some running in and really focused on catching people in front of me. Every once in awhile I see someone ahead and knew I could catch a few people. I think that the fact I had less than 4 miles left really motivated me to get moving. In the back of my head I was thinking maybe I could catch Paulette. (was totally wrong there... haha)

I really started to open up and started picking people off. I caught up with another of my friends I had made, and stayed with him for just a minute then he told me to go on, so I did. I pretty much opened it wide open here and just let it go. The trail was fairly good and mostly downhill. I passed a few "hikers" so I knew I had to be near a trailhead. (the "finish") Soon I could hear the highway on my right and knew I had about a mile or so left.

I totally opened up here and just went for the finish, finally realizing I'd at least break 13 hours. I saw two people up ahead of me and could hear the finish line just beyond that. I let him cross the line in front and came in just behind that guy and his pacer. Of course in triathlete fashion stopping my watch ;)

What would you do differently?:

I really don't know. I felt sooo good at the end as usual. I guess dig in and try to find that reserve earlier in the race(s). Leaves a lot of hope for my first 100.
Post race
Warm down:

Sat on a rock and chatted it up with Paulette and the Courys. Found out Paulette ended up freaking dominating and got 3rd female OA. Crazinessss.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

All the rocks.

It really is amazing how good I felt the last 3-4 miles. I've got to learn to use that energy a bit earlier in the races to keep me on the pace/goal time I want.

Event comments:

TOUGH race... not necessarily because of the course itself, but the terrain on which it's run.

Last updated: 2010-01-25 12:00 AM
12:50:22 | 51 miles | 15m 07s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/00
Overall: 34/94
Performance: Good
Course: Some of the gnarliest "trails" I've ever seen. Parts of the course you can't even find the trail. If it wasn't for the fairly good marking job I would have been so lost. Really rocky course. Lots of thorns, bushes, etc. Overall just really nasty. Just the way I like it. ;)
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %85
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2010-04-28 3:08 AM

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Plano, Tx
Subject: Zane Grey

2010-04-28 9:54 AM
in reply to: #2821675

User image

Subject: RE: Zane Grey report, love the pics and details.

that sounds like a HARD day!

nice work!
2010-04-28 10:21 AM
in reply to: #2821675

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Extreme Veteran
Denver CO
Subject: RE: Zane Grey
GREAT read! I loved it. Your BF... haahahaha.

You should totally do the north face San Fran 50 in December, you'd love it. Inclines and declines are crazy but the trails are pretty smooth and the scenery is unbelievable.

You've got some talent, dude. Impressive.
2010-04-28 2:01 PM
in reply to: #2821675

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Fountain Hills, AZ
Subject: RE: Zane Grey
Great job, Jacob...I can't even imagine.
2010-04-29 12:26 AM
in reply to: #2821675

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Zane Grey
Wow what a beautiful yet tough course! You did amazing, and it is so great to read your RR. 
Congratulations, this is amazing.  
2010-04-29 6:25 AM
in reply to: #2821675

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.

2010-04-29 11:36 AM
in reply to: #2824756

the colony texas
Subject: RE: Zane Grey

you stud!!!!

great pics though.. I"m glad you took the camera, even though you describe things well, I can't imagine just knowing where to run.

It's nice to see that Aarons uncle was there for you... what's up with guys with huge beards always being attracked to you ??

2010-04-29 1:58 PM
in reply to: #2821675

Fishers, Indiana
Subject: RE: Zane Grey
Awesome race and race report! I agree, so glad you took pictures, really captures the trail concept of an ultra and I'm amazed you can run that like you do! Super job out there--though one must wonder why you are attracted to heavily bearded men???
2010-04-29 2:16 PM
in reply to: #2821675

Tucson, AZ
Subject: RE: Zane Grey
Congrats! Loved your race report and all the pics. Sounds like it was an awesome adventure!
2010-05-04 9:34 PM
in reply to: #2821675

Waller County, TX
Subject: RE: Zane Grey
Great race and a neat RR with the pics and all.

I know sections of that trail and it's a tough one for sure.

Well, you can cross that one off your list of hard races to do.
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