Monday, March 7, 2011

Holy windburn, Bat Gringo

Jim Blanchard's Old Pueblo Race Report...
"Holy windburn, Bat Gringo"  All week I fretted about possible 80 degree temps on the flatter dirtroad part of the Old Pueblo course, but conditions were perfect.  That is until we took a hard left at 20 miles right into the teeth of what felt like a 50 mph gail coming straight off the Santa Rita mountains south of Tucson Az.  What should have been 5 miles of runnable dirt road turned into a battle just to keep a walking pace going.  At 25 miles we start a 4 mile climb up beautiful Box Canyon, only this time it was right into this howling wind coming out of the cooler Mountains to the rapidly warming desert floor. I'm sure the Apache have a colorful name for this wind. We came up a few colorful names ourselves. When we got to the top of the climb, the wind turned back into a gentle breeze. Not a moment too soon.... It's always something.    This was my 6th finish at OP, it's turned into part of our Spring vacation.  The run is put on by Tucson area folks and has an Old West feel to it. Adobe walls, old cemetaries, mining ruins, all can be seen along the course along with some spectacular Southern Az. mountain scenery.  The well marked course consists of single track, forest service roads, jeep and atv trails and all kinds of other gnarly stuff. Experienced volunteers and a challenging course make it a quality event.  The race is no longer promoted, so a majority of the field is from Az. Of course many of these folks are displaced Uppermidwesteners so it does have a friendly  feel to it.  Speaking of which, at the 10 mile aid station, I ran into my old Ultra hero, Harry Sloan and wife Deb. Ran many miles with him back in the day. "Hey Jim, I thought you were dead", no we just smell that way.  Harry started running Ultras in the early 80s and besides being a 11 or 12 time Western States finisher and the founder of the Superior 100, he also was the subject of Ultrarunning's most famous cover. But that's another story.  Not bad for a guy from Duluth.  Later on I ran into Matt Long who was crewing for Dawn. It seems they've moved down to the area. The appeal is year round trailrunning. The heat becomes manageable in the mountains and no humidity or bugs. My run went better than expected, beat my target by a 1/2 hour and didn't need my headlamp. The Lapham Peak training is paying off.  If anyone is interested in doing OP next year, check on their website, registration is early Oct. and it does fill up quickly.  I would say it's similar in difficulty to Voyaguer or Masochist, maybe a little slower. The 15 hour cutoff is generous. It's a little tough to get ready in the snow in Wi.  I'm glad I came out a few days early.  See everbody next week.   Jimb   

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