The Ultra Experience

Here's to the adventures of my life which are usually ultra marathon trail running or fly fishing but may include other trips, experiences, thoughts, opinions, or pretty much whatever I want. As co-founder of Altra Footwear my life and adventures seemingly revolve more around developing and promoting the best footwear in the world...and I love it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Squaw Peak 50

So the big race finally came. Last year I had the race of my life placing 10th with a time of 9hrs 20 min. It was also my first real ultra marathon. This year I had more experience and much better training. I was excited. The race started at 5am. I got there with plenty of time but at 4:55am nature called. It also called lots of other people because there was a big line for the toilet. Luckily at 4:59am my turn came. It only took 30sec and then I ran to the starting line and within 10sec of arriving the race started. Not having the best starting position I spent the first mile slowly picking my way through the crowd talking to those I knew. I found myself in seventh place by the dirt and there I stayed. Going up the Silvia trail the leaders pulled away but I kept a comfortable pace with Christian Johnson and Rich McDonald. Shortly after Hope Campground I decided to try and stay within 3-5 minutes of the front pack and I picked up the pace. I found myself in 5th place and there I stayed for a long time. Last year at AS#3 the lead group's time was 1hr 55min. I could see them in the distance every once in a while meaning I was 2-3 minutes behind them. Needless to say, I got to AS#3 in 1 hr 50 min!! Way too fast. I was exactly 2-3 min behind the front group in 5th place. I decided to take this next section a little easier and just let the front group go. It felt good to ease off going up and over Horse Mtn. As we neared Camel Pass Brad Mitchell caught up to me and we ran together for the next several miles. I got to Hobble Creek mile 22.7 feeling fine but by the time the road (3 miles) was over, I was hurting. My stomach was giving me serious problems and my feet were killing me. My time at mile 26.5 was exactly 9am, which was my desired split, so I realized that I just had to hold on. I didn't do a very good job. I'd moved into 4th going up Hobble Creek but at mile 28 Leland and Brad caught and passed me. Sadly I was forced to walk up much of Hobble Creek and Sheep Creek. I couldn't eat or drink anything and I was in pain. Around mile 31 Golden (my pacer) arrived I explained how the last 5 miles had been. Small talk followed for several minutes but then we topped off at Sheep Creek. I'm better and more confident on the down hill so that mile+ into Little Valley I made a push. I was feeling slightly better at this point in time and started making much better time. AS#8 came and went with me picking up steam and feeling better. I was able to eat and gu up finally so off we went with 16 miles to the finish. I knew that if I could get to the Windy Pass AS#9 my downhill abilities and familiarity with that section of the course would pay off. When I reached the AS after a long hard push I also found out I was back in 5th place again which gave me even more excitement. (Sadly Brad took a wrong turn...sorry Brad) Needless to say, I made it off of Windy Pass in 51 minutes! I hurt all the way to the finish but it felt great to finish a tough race 5th overall with a time of 9hrs and 13 min which was 7 minutes faster than last year. Sadly I lost 30 minutes from AS#6 to AS#8. My young and stupid mistakes probably cost me a 3rd place finish. I felt that I ate and drank way too much at the beginning of the race in fear of the record heat that took place which ended up giving me serious stomach problems. I tried a newer and much lighter weight shoe which gave me painful foot problems, I had trained way too hard the previous week and a half, and I went out much faster than I should at the beginning of the race. Though I made several crucial mistakes, I feel good about still finishing 5th with a good time and notching it up for experience. There's always next year! Happy Trails everyone!


Danny said...

Great race! Even more impressive considering all the problems you experienced. I still think that doing Rim to Rim a week before a race will take something out of anyone

Jeff said...

Sorry for commenting on such an old post, but I have a question, if you would be kind enough to answer. What is the best place for a pacer to come in on this route?

My wife is running the SP 50 this year for the first time(previously she ran OV 50 and Antelope Island 50, both twice). There is not much information out there on what is best for pacers to do in this race. What did your pacer do? I am thinking of pacing her from mile 34 or so.
Thanks - Jeff Tulley

Brian Beckstead said...


3 options- First, get to Little Valley mile 33.4, for directions copy and paste this:
and pace your wife to the finish. From the start/finish you might be able to catch a ride to Little Valley AS8 with the aid station crew and help out until your wife gets there. If you drive up alone you will need 4 wheel drive and then you will need a shuttle to get your car back.

2nd- From AS10, Big Springs mile 46.6, run up to Wind Pass mile 40.5 or beyond, to meet your wife then run with her to the finish. Not as long of a pace but definitely the easiest logistically.

3rd- Meet her at AS6 mile 26.6 End of the asphalt Hobble Creek, and pace her for 23.4 miles to the finish. Probably the most common and not too hard logistically (have a family member or friend, who wants to cheer on your wife, drop you off in Hobble Creek).

4th- Not recommended, which my pacer did, was drive up the dirt road and start at AS7 Mile 30.2 Sheep Creek. Not recommended because the dirt road between 26.5-30.2 is narrow and it kicks up a lot of dust for the runners. Luckily the pack was pretty thin up front so it didn't affect too many runners when my pacer did it in 2007.

Nowadays I don't use a pacer for 50 milers but if it's your wifes first Squaw Peak she might need the help. It's a totally different beast! Good luck to her. It should be fun in a masochistic sort of way!

Jeff said...

Ah, thanks for your advice. That is very valuable to see the options listed. I ended up tagging along with my wife on the training run this last weekend from Little Valley to Big Springs, so I was able to talk to John and volunteer at Little Valley. So, I'll be doing Option 1. Yeah, there is no way my car would've made it up to Little Valley. That is _not_ a road! (currently)

It was really good to get out on the course and learn a little bit more about what to expect.