by Tom Crull
Santa Rita Mountains, AZ
The run kicked off at 6am at the old Kentucky Mining camp, about nine miles from Sonoita, Az. in beautiful, rugged, Cougar infested country in the Santa Rita Mountains. The weather was cold again this year, with some snow still left in the mountains, beautiful sight. The run is 90% single track/rough Jeep road, some dirt road and creek bed and creek crossings. There are numerous long climbs and descents, so down hill training is essential on this course. The footing is generally rocky, with some really tough sections. Due to the snow melting, the creeks had about a foot of water in them, and I managed to step in most of them. I had not run run more then eight times since the middle of January due to the bug going around, so I went out very conservatively. My legs felt good on the climbs and descents. I wore a Capilene long sleeve shirt with a light bikers vest over it and cotton gloves. Temps were in the low 30’s at the start and I figured it would warm up. It really never did. At mile 35 the lack of training started to hit me along with my stomach starting to sour [nothing new]. The cold temps started to soak in causing my lower back to tighten up, not good. Miles 33-40 are the toughest, with endless climbs and tough, rocky running surfaces. The sun started down and at mile 40 the temps started dropping back into the 30’s. At this point I was relegated to a fast power walk for the last 10 miles. All I could think of was the gas fire place in the cabin at the finish line. The last few miles were endless, I was getting colder by the minute. The wife of a runner, I ran the last 21miles with, came out and walked the last four miles with us. She had just started running and had never been on a trail at night. I remarked how beautiful the stars were. Her Husband immediately told her don’t look up, followed by a thud. She started laughing as she spit the grit out of her mouth. Finally at the finish the RD hands you a beautiful finishers buckle and a small cactus plant. They prepare Turkey Chili and Turkey Burgers for those able to eat. This is really one of the best over-all 50’s in the nation, excellent aid stations, excellent challenging course and outstanding RD’s, Duane and Julie Arter. You have to sign up early for this one as it fills fast.