Elephant Mountain 22k Race Report – Erica Kollen

Race: Elephant Mountain 22K

Runner: Erica Kollen

Race Date: 02/04/2023

Location: Cave Creek Arizona

Results: 2:50

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

The AZ Desert never disappoints. Beautiful scenery, very well marked trails, and no crowds. There were very few hikers/bikers on the trail, that were not part of the event.

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

The terrain for the 22K was extremely rocky/technical. They only show smooth spots on race website, which were mostly on the 50k/50mile route. It is hard to check out the beautiful scenery unless you stop. One last thing. Aravaipa does not do age group awards. I placed 3rd in 50-59 and got no recognition for it! Hahaha! I want a medal!

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

It includes an out and back, as well as a loop.

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

As always, Aravaipa races are very well organized. There is so much comraderie on the trail. The weather could not have been more perfect, sunny, mid 40’s at start, mid 50’s at finish.

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

For the 22K, there was an aid station at mile 3, 6, 9..then 4.8 to finish. Most Aravaipa races are about .5 miles longer than expected. No need to carry much with you, unless u prefer not to stop.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Last year I wished I hadn’t pushed so hard on the early climbs, because the last 4.8 miles were very steep, rocky, and hills felt never ending. This year I hiked early on and crushed the backside, finishing 31 min faster this year!

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Be prepared for AZ weather. It can be extremely hot and/or stormy this time of year. Wear gaiters due to lots of loose rock. I saw people who were running 50k/mile with poles. They may help on the longer distances, but not the 22k.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

The course is beyond beautiful. The AZ desert is very green from the many rain storms we had this year. Zero trash on the trails and no sights of cars nor roads.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

The course is challenging but definitely not in the top 5 hardest that Aravaipa offers. I’d love to do the 50 mile some day.

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

Very well organized, lots of fuel choices and they also offer vegan options.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Not so much.

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.

You can register up until day of race, but won’t be guaranteed a shirt.

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

Gnarly Fuel 2O..electrolytes, standard snacks/fruit. Quesidillas at finish.

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

It’s a cupless event. Be sure to have a flask.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

No spectators on course, just at start/finish.

How’s the Swag?

Awesome blue technical t shirt. Finisher glass tumbler with elephant logo.

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

I give it 4 stars. I love this race. It’s my 3rd time coming back to it. I just wish the terrain was more forgiving.