by Tom Crull
Santa Rita Mtns, Sonoita, AZ
March 3, 2007
Trip number six to my favorite run, OP50. I was joined this year by my neighbor and training partner Monica Burt, Letha Cruthirds, Brother Jay Freeman, Stan Roady and the Austin gang headed up by Joe Prusaitis.
After checking into our rooms at the Sonoita Inn we proceeded to go to the local school for a fund raiser dinner. The kids were raising money for a trip to Catalina Island to attend the Marine (fish) camp, pretty neat. Race preps for most of us consisted of a Wine and cheese tasting put on by the Inn, guessing who would sabotage whose drop bag out on the course (I got hit) etc. Temps were forecast for 29-31 at the start with a high of 52, not bad, pretty typical. Race morning, checked in, temps were 17! I hit the out door head, dropped trowl (dam I can’t find it), and promptly got a mild case of frost bite on my butt. Race was started promptly at 6 AM. Saw Roger and Jimmy Wrublik at the mile 3/33 aid station. We would deal with Roger later in the race (the dirt bag). BY mile 7/29 aid station I was warm and shed a shirt (the women were in awe at my gelatin abs, eat your heart out Dean), took off my break wind pants and down the road. I/4 mile down the road had to run back and get my fanny pack, now no chance of catching the leaders. It was going to be one of my disorganized runs. Up and over Gun Site Pass and down the rocky section to the mile 19 aid station. Then the long tedious climb towards Box Canyon. Arrived at Box Canyon aid station, mile 25, downed a boost, added a can of Red Bull in my water bottle, Perpetuem in the other and was off. Took some time in this station as it seems my traveling partners decided to cram their nasty wet tops and other stuff in my drop bag. Couldn’t find anything! Prusaitis, next time, DON’T leave your Preparation H wrappers in my bag, I’ll squeal on you. That must have been a slippery run for you Dude. Back to mile 29 station, refueled, thanked the great volunteers and back on the AZ Trail. I cratered in this section last year but felt good on it this time.
Finally into mile 33 before starting the tough section of the course to mile 40. I could not figure why Roger, Jimmy and company had these S–t eating grins on their faces. I heard Roger say, look at Joe Dana jump. I figured Joe was having a good day. Headed up the trail and went to drop a wrapper in the trash can. There was a coiled Rattle snake there. I beat Joe’s high jump and stained the front of my shorts. Same snake Roger hit us with at The Hotfoot Hampster run. PAYBACKS ARE HELL Roger!
Joe and I ran together to mile 40. He can really pound the down hills in the bad sections, me, I’m a certified coward. Joe turns 71 next month and still strong as ever. All around great guy with a sense of humor too! Across several creek crossings, up and over a downed tree, more rocks and into the mile 40 aid station. Howdy was at the bottom shouting out our numbers with his dog Molly as we climbed up to the station. This is one great place to be. You’ve just finished a tough rocky section, it’s late in the run and the quads are a bit tired. First thing you see is a beautiful American Flag hanging there. Popped a snappy salute and had my bag handed to me. These volunteers are the best, fun as hell, cut you nooooo slack, wait on you hand and foot. Put on a warm shirt, warm gloves, grabbed my light and was prepared to leave. “Hey Tom, am I glad to see you”, I’m tired, not having a good day. It was my good friend Lisa Allen from Colorado. “Lisa, what are you doing way back here”? What a pleasure it was to have her as company to the finish. The time went fast catching up on all the news. Finally, the last climb up to the ridgeline road where it got dark. Off the ridgeline down the trail to the marshy area. It was like stepping into a freezer. Temps dropped into the 20’s. We picked up the pace to stay warm. It didn’t work. Caught up to a former Marine Robert Andrulis, whom we ran with off and on since mile 40 and finished behind him. This was only Robert’s second 50 miler.
I asked him, what was your first, he replied Zane Grey! Tough Marine!!
My hats off again to Duane and Julie Arter and all the volunteers, what a great race and what an outstanding job they do year after year. You know it’s a great run when you have Betsy Kalmeyer come down from Colorado to trail sweep. She and Chris Fall the other trail sweep did yeoman duty in those temps. See everyone again next year.