Learning to push your limits and seeing how far you can take yourself on your own two feet is what pulls me into running and ultrarunning. I have run two trail 50 Milers and a handful of trail 50K’s since taking a crack at the trail/ultra scene in July 2013, but have never ventured to the next level in distance. Zion 100K was my venture to see if I had the endurance and ability to compete and complete a tough trail 100K.
I caught a flight to Las Vegas, rented a car and made the 2+ hour drive over to Virgin, UT for the race. My awesome friend Karen Tancuan, who ran the 100 Miler, graciously allowed me to stay with her and her two crew members the night before the race which made logistics immensely easier. The night prior to the race I headed to the Start/Finish to check-in, grab my bib and awesome race swag, and listen to the pre-race course briefing before catching some sleep for a 3:30AM wake up call.
I woke up the morning of the race, prepped my gear, heated up some oatmeal and was ready to go. 6AM came fast and the Grand Circles Trail Series/Ultra Adventures Race Director, Matt Gunn, sent off all the 100K/100M runners. I quickly found myself at the front running alongside of my friend Pete Stoughton as we traversed the desert in the dark for the first 3 Miles until we hit the first substantial climb of the day, Flying Monkey Trail. This was a 1,200 foot climb in 1 Mile and I moved ahead of the pack that had formed behind Pete and myself. The next 6 Miles were uneventful as I ran alone through beautiful winding trail and couldn’t help but look at the mountains all around and feel lucky for having the opportunity to run in such an amazing place.
At Mile 10, runners hit the Flying Monkey Aid Station for the second time, then made the descent down the Flying Monkey Trail on the same path that we took up. I made it down and found myself still running alone, but another runner slowly crept up next to me around Mile 13. He turned out to be in the 100M race and I welcomed the company as we ran together for the next 3 Miles until we hit a solid climb and I pushed onward as he hiked up. From Mile 16 to 30.5, I ran solo up the climb to the Guacamole Aid Station where the trail turned to slick rock mixed with sections of sand then returned back down to the Dalton Wash Aid Station.
I had experienced some discomfort and stomach problems at Mile 22 and 24 and they both resurfaced causing me to take another pit stop at the aid station. When I departed, 3 runners were on my heels. About a mile out after leaving, they caught me and passed me with ease. This was the part of the race where I lost hope as I struggled to move and fight my issues all the way from Mile 31 to 46, including the toughest climb of the day up what is known as Cry Baby Hill (1500 Feet of gain in 1 Mile), which definitely had me wanting to cry in my current condition. My 15 Miles of clicking off sub-par times ranging from 13 to 16 minutes ate away at my goal time of sub 10 Hours and left me questioning if I had the will and determination to get to the finish line. Luckily out of nowhere as I came into the Goosebump Aid Station, my stomach issues subsided and I finally ran a sub 10 Minute Mile before descending Cry Baby Hill.
From Gooseberry Aid Station to the Virgin Desert Aid Station and then to the finish was one of my most consistent section in terms of effort on the day. Although my quads were mostly blown and I was fighting fatigue, I pressed with all I had until hitting the finish line. I crossed in a time of 11 Hours and 10 Minutes for the win in one of the most difficult and trying races of my running career.
I could not have finished without the support that I’ve received from Team Trail Racing Over Texas, CarboPro, Matt Gunn and Ultra Adventures and all of my friends and family. I can’t wait to get back to training to see if I can put all of the pieces together in my next race, whenever I decide on the event. Until then, thanks for reading!