Black Canyons 100k – Jeff U

Race: Black Canyons 100k –

Runner: Jeff Urbanski

Date: 2/18/17

Location: Mayer, AZ


Pre-race dinner with Jeff, Josh and Daisy, all in the 100k race


3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most

Aravaipa put on another great race. They communicated the alternate course change well in advance and managed to run everything smoothly given the weather challenges. I have been pleased with both BC100k and Javalina.

The aid stations were well stocked throughout the race and the volunteers were super helpful.

The crew was solid! It was great seeing Matt, Julie, Paavo, Daisy and Josh at various points on the course.

Julie and Paavo crewing in the rain. Nothing stops us!

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

I know it was the alternate course (so this wouldn’t happen with the normal course), but I didn’t love the out and back on single track. It makes for a lot of getting off the trail, stopping, restarting, etc.

It was tough to get in a rhythm with the snaking nature of a lot of the course. There were very few parts, partially due to the mud, that allowed for smooth comfortable running.

I fell for the first time in a race! Not cool. What not to do – don’t be worried about how you’re going to pass someone on single track and then eat it 🙂


Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race

This race takes you to the middle of nowhere desert which can lead one to wonder, “who actually lives out here”.

We were definitely in the middle of nowhere!

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

I was pleased that I was able to stay positive throughout the race. My energy was fairly low much earlier in the race than I expected, but I was able to maintain a similar level of hurt for a long period of time and just get through it.

Given the rain and muddy trails, I was worried my feet would get torn up during the race. Using my drop bags, I was able to change my socks multiple times as well as my shoes to avoid any blisters.


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

Be prepared for anything with this race. Make sure you have gear for both hot and cold temperatures. Running in the desert without cover is always an adventure, so do yourself a favor and bring whatever you can to make things easier on yourself.

Don’t get too worked up about things you can’t control. The weather and the course change were not exactly optimal, but it’s helpful to just be able to roll with it without stressing too much.

Taking time to check on Paavo in the rain

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Don’t be in a hurry. I tucked into a group on one of the technical sections on the way out, and I think it saved me from myself. I was worried about going out too fast given the steady downhill on the front half, and this helped save my legs for the way back.


Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Single track starts pretty early in the race, so it helps to be closer to the front if you’re really looking to be competitive. With the alternate course, it would help to be closer to the front to ensure you don’t have to hop off the trail as much for those on their way back.


Aesthetics – is it a pretty course

It was cloudy and foggy for much of the race, but there were a few times when everything cleared up. Given the rain this winter, there was a lot of green with pretty views.

Mud, water, more mud, and more water

Difficulty – is it a tough course

There wasn’t much elevation change, so from that perspective the course wasn’t too tough. As previously mentioned, it wasn’t very easy to get into a groove and just bang out the miles.


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

I was very pleased with how well the race was run. It can’t be easy making the call to completely change the course and everything else with it. I was impressed with how Aravaipa communicated all of the changes and made everything happen.


Competition – is there a strong field?

I’m not exactly a front runner, so it’s hard for me to say. There were some solid times, particularly given the conditions, so it was a decently strong field. People wanted their WS100 golden tickets!

Still smiling despite the weather

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.

This is typically a point to point course, so you have to decide if you want a hotel near the start or finish. In this case it ended up being an out and back from the original start, so the idea of having our hotel near the original finish went out the window. In general, the race isn’t too far outside of Phoenix, so all in all it was pretty straightforward.


Aid Stations

The aid stations were well stocked. I’m wheat intolerant, and upon mentioning that they quickly offered to make me quesadillas with corn tortillas instead. They were roughly 5-7 miles apart, and the volunteers were great.


Weather and typical race conditions –

Last year it was really hot – this year it was really wet (and cold for me – 40’s the whole way).


Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

I know of a number of people that dropped due to the cold. I was super happy that I decided to bring multiple pairs of gloves, hats and arm sleeves. This saved me since I don’t own a wet weather running jacket.


Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends

There were a handful of aid stations that allowed for crew. This isn’t a course that brings out the spectators throughout though.

Awards –

I got a buckle for the 100k finish as well as a drinking glass. The top finishers got their WS100 golden tickets.


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

This is a 5 out of 5 if for no other reason than the race directors. I have to believe there would have been smoother running and pretty views if it hadn’t been pouring the whole time.