Black Canyon 60k Race Report – Deserae Clarke

Race: Black Canyon 60k

Runner: Deserae Clarke

Race Date: 02/15/2020

Location: Mayer, AZ

Results: 6:19, 8th female, 16th OA

black canyon 60k race report

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

This is one of the most beautiful courses out there, and the addition of a 60k to the established 100k makes it accessible to even more runners.

The 100k is a golden ticket race so you get to see some really fast people.

Aravaipa does a great job with the experience around the event, from the expo the day before through the aid station at an actual ranch to the finish line.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

Honestly can’t think of any.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

The races are point to point and have 2 different finishes. They’ve put a lot of thought into it and this is the best setup logistically, but it can be a little weird as the 60k finish is also a 100k aid station. You also have to drive down then to see the 100k finish. They honestly do a pretty good job balancing all of this.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

This was my first ultra since July, and while I had some places where I struggled I think it was a solid B effort, which I was happy with given where I am in my training. I also managed to rally and finish strong on the uphills near the end.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

This course is net downhill, however a lot of the drop is near the start and a lot of the uphill is near the middle to end. Every year people go out too fast, trash their quads on the downhill and struggle at the end. Running a smart, controlled race at the beginning will definitely help.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

I need to remember that I can push more during the low points because they will eventually come around.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?


Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

As with just about every Aravaipa event this is a well-oiled machine. In fact, they are so experienced that even when things go wrong the runners rarely know.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Yes, since the 100k is a Golden Ticket race, even the 60k draws a strong field.

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.

The 60k stays open longer than the 100k. There’s camping at various pints of the course and shuttles to the start, I honestly think they make it as easy as possible for the runners.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

In addition to the standard fare Aravaipa does an excellent job of catering to a variety of special dietary. They also do a good job of having at least one experienced person at each aid station to help runners problem solve or handle emergencies.

Weather and typical race conditions

That’s a loaded question for this race. Weather in Arizona is February is not always predictable. This year was gorgeous. 2018 was hot. 2017 and 2019 rained so hard the course was unsafe and a large section was converted to an out and back on road and jeep road. The good news is, they have permits in place going forward that allow for an alternate rain course that still stay on trail but doesn’t require river crossings.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

For the 60k crew can access Bumble Bee Ranch and the finish. Both have plenty of parking and are easy to access. There is also a great atmosphere nth place. As an added bonus, you can buy Freak Brothers pizza made in their portable wood fired oven at the finish.

How’s the Swag?

Everyone got long-sleeved 3/4 zip tech shirts, a dry bag , a sticker and a poster. Additional race gear is available for purchase. The finishers awards for the 60k were wooden medals hand made by Aravaipa Artworks.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

If we’re talking 5 stars, it gets a 5. I cannot recommend it enough.

Deserae Clarke is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with Coach Deserae, check out her coaching page.