Runner: Jonathan G
Race Date: 12/28/2018
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Results: 102.881 miles; placing TBD – currently 18th male (of 58)
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- Aravaipa make it really easy to focus on the running and not logistics. They make sleeping options, bathrooms, showers, food (including three full meals each day) all readily available.
- The camaraderie. Most of the participants seemed to be repeat racers and the friendly rapport along the course and between the race director, volunteers and runners was palpable.
- It was a totally new experience (for me). Running, sleeping, running, sleeping, was utterly bizarre and also rather wonderful.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
N/A – it really was a magnificently executed event.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
Running round and around a 1 mile loop has the potential to send you batty. Surprisingly, I found myself totally unaffected by it but I am sure it could present a challenge.
The repeat runners in the crowd like to dress up and have a good time while running around so be ready for some outlandish and outrageous costumes.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
Biggest highlight was capturing my first 100 mile buckle.
The second half of my first day was a struggle physically and mentally and I finished the day on a real low with my feet banged up, blistered and sore. Starting in the cold and dark the next morning was actually the reset that I needed and the second day went much better as I found my grove to manage my soreness while maintaining a good pace.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
Changing shoes and socks every couple of hours was key for me, as was taking a short break every couple hours with my feet elevated to alleviate some of the suffering.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
I lean toward wearing ultra-light shoes for both road, trail, training and racing – I have found repeatedly in the past that heavier shoes pull on my heel and aggravate my achilles tendon – but even though I had three pairs of shoes with me, all three were on the lighter end of whats available. Potentially investing in a more cushioned pair of shoes and a larger size to accommodate foot swelling could help.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
Nada – it’s a flat 1.0498 mile loop, one half is slightly winding and narrower through the pristine practice fields of the Dodgers and White Sox, while the other half is wider and straighter, all told, it’s pretty straightforward.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
Tricky question. Yes and overwhelmingly no.
Yes – the open vista of Arizona allow for great sunrises and sunsets, moonlight and stars. The immaculate training fields of the MLB teams are cool to see up close and there is a pretty water feature and waterfall in the middle of the park. It also has some amazing signage saying things like: Beware of flying balls and bats
No – running around any course dozens of times will mean it starts to wear a little thin.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Yes, extremely well run. They have this one dialed in completely. The only modest niggle was when they turn on some portable lights during the evening to illuminate sections away from the MLB practice areas, this sometimes resulted in total darkness as lights were connected, but I am really nitpicking.
24/7 volunteers manning the warming tent, first aid, food tent, as well as race directors at the start/finish line all day and night. This final point may have come as the result of some attempted cheating last year, to combat this they also added a second chip mat on the far side of the course.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Yes, I believe some heavy weights in the multi-day and even 24-hour event show up every year.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
No special handshake, like most of Aravaipa’s events registration and booking are super smooth. They do have discounts with some local hotels but I didn’t use those, there are plenty of cheaper options around Phoenix. For less than $30 you can get a tent and cot at the race event, I brought my own sleeping bag and other comforts.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
There is one primary aid station which has all the usual race fare plus a few extras: M&Ms, pickles, nuts, cookies, PB&J sandwiches, water, gatorade, tea, coffee, hot water and tea bags, gummy worms. As well as salt tablets and other things but I paid little attention to those.
They also serve three square meals a day, these were pancakes or oatmeal for breakfast, chili and bread for lunch, hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. They had vegetarian and vegan options for all meals. While these were fairly light in quantity, the quality was good and they provided a welcome caloric increase. Adjacent to the aid station was a warming tent with chairs and tables where some people sat to eat or warm up late in the night, as well as a first aid tent that offered some blister help and general support.
On the far side of the loop there was a water only aid station too.
Weather and typical race conditions
Can vary quite widely. I read reports of it hitting 70+ degrees during the day in past years and sub-zero temps at night, as well as torrential rains. I was fortunate that I enjoyed low 60s and sun during the day and it stayed in high 30s overnight, so nothing too challenging to deal with. I did see that on the third day (after I was done) there were some heavy rains.
I went ready for anything since I had a tent to store everything in.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
Yes, very. My family came to visit on numerous occasions, bringing doughnuts and other treats with them. There were a fair number of people who hailed from closer that brought RVs or other mobile homes with them and families and friends in tow.
How’s the Swag?
Fairly standard. A long sleeved baseball-style tee, understandable given the venue, an enormous beer mug and different style buckles for every multiple of 100 miles finished, so 100 mile finishers got plain metal, 200 a bronze, 300 something shiny on a buckle, you get the idea.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
5/5 – highly recommend if you’re looking for something challenging and different.