Sunday, November 29, 2009

Moab 50K

The Moab 50K course is one of the most scenic I have ever run. The race takes place just outside of Moab, Utah. The area lacks forests altogether, but makes up for it with canyons, cliffs, rocks, sand, cactus and some brush ... and spectacular views that force you to pause and wonder what it's all about.

I met up with Scott Kruis and Nok, and their friend Laura from Wyoming, on race morning. Scott and I did the 50K, Nok and Laura did the 10 miler. The race also offers up a 20 miler. We lucked out with the weather ... no rain and a nice cool day.

The race was relatively hard, with two tough climbs of 1,000' each ... that second one only a few kilometres from the finish. Much of the course was technical, more of a scramble, but it was really well marked. There were some sandy stretches that made me glad I had gaiters. In a few areas, ropes and ladders were provided to help get up and down rock faces. I'd rank the race as tougher than the Mac but maybe a bit easier than Orcas.

Moab might be the most dangerous race I've ever done. Lots of places to get hurt if you're not careful. At one point two runners ahead of me missed a turn off of a cliff face ... by the time they had realized their mistake the ledge they were on was just a sliver and they were slipping off of it. They were just able to inch their way back without slipping off completely. It made for some scary moments.

After my troubles at McKenzie and Bizz Johnson I decided to run this race with the goal of finishing in good shape. I wasn't worried about time ... I rarely checked my watch, and when I did it was usually just to check on altitude. I kept a moderate pace the whole way, walked the two big climbs, took my time at aid stations, and didn't scrimp on gels or salt. That approach paid off. No hip or calf trouble. I finished the race feeling good in 6:08. I was really happy with the way things went. Scott finished in 7:45ish, getting the sub-8 he wanted. Nok and Laura finished their 10 miles in fine form too.

This was a neat and different kind of race. The volunteers were great. The race director (and much of his crew) is from Quebec ... he is an enthusiastic fella and did a great job.

Some pictures by Scott and Nok: