Race Report from LPTRunner, Jim Blanchard...
"Your a hard man Conagher" Conagher-"It's a hard country kid". Sam Elliot's take on AZ. from the movie Connagher. I love that line and it pretty much sums up Old Pueblo for me this year.
It's in the Santa Rita mountains of Southern AZ. About 35 miles and a few mountains from the border. The run starts after a drive down 7 miles of dirt road at Kentucky camp, which is an old mining camp with some restored buildings serving as a B&B and museum. The course roams on singletrack, dirt roads, super gnarly jeep and atv trails and some other scary stuff left over from 100+ year old mining operations. We climb up and down between 4,000' and 6,000' on what is high Sonoran desert.
Last year we saw some rattlers and Big Horn sheep on the gorgeous climb up Box canyon. I missed the sheep, need to look around more. The first half has a few good climbs, some spectacular views, and a 3-4 mile rocky descent that tests the legs after months spent running on snow. However the first half is significantly faster then what is to come. Long climbs, endless rocks, these aren't the nice friendly Glaciar polished rocks that we're used to, but nasty razor sharp Az. rocks that can shred a road shoe in 20 miles. (Kevin, the Altra Lone Peaks held up well. The rock plate worked and they showed little wear).
My run turned into more of a battle then I expected. The weather was ideal, calm winds, 60 degrees, plenty of sunshine, but I swear I don't remember that many rocks. Actually it wasn't all in my head, things do change from one year to the next depending on off road traffic and erosion.
The middle miles between 30 and 44 were brutal. Things started to come back and then with about 4 miles to go, I ran into Rob Apple of 500+ Ultra finishes fame. He was the only other runner I knew in the race [times are a changing]. We stuck together as the Sun dropped behind the Mountains. Things get real dark and real cold in a hurry. A strong light and some clothes are real important at this point. To finish before dark is always my goal, but you never know in this sport and after being out in the Sun all day, a sudden drop into the upper 20's or 30's can get pretty ugly even for a Wi. fella.
So a good finish. Thanks for all the well wishes. I can't tell you guys how important it is to have positive friends and support in order to keep going. Jimb