Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pony Express 50 Mile Race Report

Words cannot really describe how I feel just days after running 50 miles.

How cliche, huh?

But of course, since this is a blog, and that's made up of words (and PICTURES and VIDEO too thankfully!), I guess I'll just do my best.

The Pony Express Trail 50/100 Mile Race

Thursday after too much to do at work (and I'm surprised I handled it as well as I did!) I went and finished packing for camping, and we finally were on our way to the Lookout Pass Campground;

I really was nervous!
aka "The START"

Unfortunately I still had to make it through the night! My nerves were definitely hammering me hard!

 We got the campfire going and threw our tin foil dinners (partially pre-cooked by my everthoughtful wife!) in to warm them up - and WOW were they delicious! I am a lucky man to have such a gourmet chef of a wife!

The moon popped up super bright in the clear sky - and it kept getting colder and colder!

We crawled into our tent hotel and into the cold sleeping bags - and whoever was last in didn't zip the tent door closed! One of the cool features of our tent is that it has a bendy pole inserted into the door flap that turns it into a great little door.

Because we didn't stake the tent down (lots of stuff inside) and the sloping of the ground, the door didn't align to velcro properly. So there was an inch or two gap that just let cold air in all night, but nobody wanted to get out to close it! Bad idea. Seriously lowered the temperature in the tent by 10-15° easy.


I was scheduled to start at 7am. It was dark, the bright moon had just gone down behind a mountain, and the temperature was just below freezing! When I finally changed in the sleeping bag and got out around six, we heated up some pre-cooked bacon in tinfoil and I ate some of that and a banana. I think making my self eat food when I normally would shrug it off was very important in my energy levels through the long day to come.

Shivering at the starting line!
All the COOL kids wear pirate pajama bottoms!
And then take them off during the count-down!
I ran very near the front of the 7:00 group - with a couple hundred mile runners for a while (they ended up taking 3rd and 10th in the 100!) but they slowed down to maintain a more normal pace. I saw both of them a few more times as they passed me and/or I passed them. Leap frog can be fun!

My van caught up to me about mile 8, and then stopped at mile 10. Those first ten miles were probably the fastest seeming miles, because I was just running in the dark watching the moon sink into a hazy squished oval and disappearing behind mountains I couldn't even see...

It was like it just disappeared!

As the sun started to come up things started to feel a LITTLE warmer, but I heard a car tell their runner that the temps had gotten COLDER!

Luckily my legs felt fine, and my core felt warm, but my fingers took a while to warm up!


It was great to have my brother in law Ben riding alongside me on his bike - he caught up to me about mile 10 - and it was always wonderful to see my wife, my brother, and my sister in the van with the Jolly Roger flapping in breeze, showing me where I could find my reprieve.

Like last year, when I was crewing and pacing, my crew danced and played music and cheered for all the runners who passed. It was their awesomeness that made them win 'Best Crew Car' - Oh yeah! I'm sure the pirate flags helped!

Somewhere between mile 22 and 25 I caught up to fellow-first-time-fifty-milers-and-Altra-wearers Travis and Francesco. Travis also ran the Buffalo Run with me as his first ultra/50k, and Francesco was with us on/in that AWESOME Olympus trip/video from this past winter.


We shared our Swedish Fish and continued on. I think my crew helped me out in my strength and ability to catch up to these guys who had started an hour before me.

Misha got out on her bike and rode for a bit, and we hit one of the curves in the road and then a little hill when we hit the Marathon distance!

 Even with pacing myself to slower than normal, I think I PRd my marathon distance a bit... At least Strava thinks so!

Sounds like time for a foot rub and a change of socks.

I have the best wife ever!

At Mile 28.4, and my goal was to be at least a marathon before the 8 o'clock speedy folks caught me, I was passed by my first 8 o'clocker.

My good runnin' buddy Matt Van Horn who was in the 100 mile race was KILLING it and passed by, talking for a few seconds before saying "Well I gotta keep my pace, See ya!" And off he went!

MVH Was flyin!

This was about where I caught up to Kim (in the pic above with MVH and Matt, taken by my crew), a friend of ours who we first met last year when we danced so awesomely for her (and everybody else) - we reconnected a few weeks ago at the Dugway Run where she was with our awesome friend Jen... more on Jen later!

After 30 miles I was starting to get hot - so like usual, the shirt came off and my wife ran with me for a bit.


We also ran into Kim again. Kim was worried that Jen would be catching her too soon. Jen is speedy and I wanted to hold her off as long as possible as well!

Held her off we did until around mile 33 or 34 - Kim was staying strong so we got a great picture with all of us before Jen hurried off.

I'm the scary nekkid guy if you couldn't tell...
I thought that would be the last I saw of Jen before the finish... because these were the slowest miles for me.

 I kicked a chain in the road and decided it was awesome bling. So I picked it up and put it on.

Oh yeah!
I took this hardware HOME. Wait... I think it's still in my van

Right around mile 35 or 36 is the one difficult hill of the PE50 - Dugway Pass. My brother started to run at this time, and he said to me "If you want to finish at 9.5 hours, we're going to have to push, and it'll probably hurt!" So we started up the hill and I was feeling good.

Zac, a Hundred Mile runner I started the race with

Now he's on the right I'm almost on the left!
My feet were the major offenders a while before this, so I finally broke down and took a couple ibuprofen. I think it started to kick in because I motored up that hill. 8 minutes faster than when I had run with Matt the year before.

I was happy with that.

I was even MORE happy when we got to the top because when you finish a climb...


You get to go DOWN!

 I love downhill running!
 And as we neared the bottom - I saw Jen, who was starting to cramp up a little bit.

We talked with her for a bit but because I was feeling good and moving really well we continued on. I was now looking at finishing with a 9 hour time (and one of my goals was to beat Matt's time from 2 years ago, 9:30ish!) if I could maintain a 10 minute average pace for the last 10 miles, "But it's going to hurt!" Matt said again.

So I pushed harder!

Feeling good - smile is a bit pained for sure!
About this time we caught up to the now 2nd place 50 mile guy Chris (he had passed me a while back - he started an hour after me) and he was starting to fade some. We talked to him and actually got him moving a bit just by motivation.

You turn left just around the rock there in the picture above, and Chris started picking it up again.

The finish line was SO close you could almost smell the Argentine barbecue there...

And really - there was the finish line!

Running by the finish line!
But unfortunately - I still had 1.5 miles left! At the end of the 50 mile race, you have to do a MEAN .75 mile out and back to reach that 50 miles. Ugh!

Davy says "No Whining!"

I felt like I was fading pretty hard, and I kept moving and got my sticker from the turnaround point, then headed back. Matt had stopped at the finish to use the facilities, and joined us again there - and it was good that he did because I needed the cracking whip. I was looking at a quarter mile to go and was sitting at 8 hours and 42ish minutes. If I pushed... I could get under 8:45!

I didn't think I could... but I picked it up and dropped my pacers for that last stretch!

I crossed the finish line with an official time of 8:44:50.

I did it! I met the major goals I was going for! And I finished 6th place overall for the 50 mile race.

Now Obligatory Pose...
I definitely could not  have done it without my amazing crew, my pacers, my family!

Jen came through right after I did (but remember... she started an hour later!), winning the women's trophy, and 3rd overall! She also beat her old course record by 20 minutes! Amazing!

We had a good time at the finish line hanging out... SITTING DOWN and talking to our friends, including the overall 50 mile winner Kendall, who is a GREAT guy and really strong runner

Wow sitting feels nice.

This is not mine! I have a goofy smile! Cool trophy though!

Runners on the road...
Definitely a fantastic day!

Oh and Matt Van Horn went on to win the 100! You can read his report here.

Link to Results - Oh, and I'm currently 20th on the all time 50 mile results! Cool!

Look! I made a video:

I ran 50 miles. WHOA!

And then we went looking for Geodes... We aren't very good at it.

Now... Do I run a 50k in Goblin Valley on Saturday - or do Lone Peak on Friday?!?!

ACK! Choices!


  1. AWESOME race report and pictures! Huge congrats on your awesome race. And nice finish line jump!

  2. Har! Love the chains! I congratulate you on a fine run. Makes me wish I was in your van partying with your group.