Race: Flight of Fire 1/2 – Whitney Mesa Edition

Runner: Barbara R

Race Date: 05/04/2019

Location: Henderson, NV

Results: https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=62523

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2341584801/overview

flight of fire half marathon
Photo: KevLV Photography

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

  1. Totally brand new area to me – super fun to run something new and unknown!
  2. The race directors – awesome human beings, great organization, loud cheerers, and they named their taxidermy lizard after me. 🙂
  3. The varied terrain – pavement, crushed gravel, and singletrack; flats, uphills, and downhills!

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

  1. The race usually takes place at Red Rock Canyon on my favorite trail, the Grand Circle Loop. Unfortunately BLM was being super finicky and did not issue a permit for the race – even though this race has taken place here for years! Red Rock is super beautiful and challenging where Whitney Mesa does not have the “wow!” factor and is much easier.
  2. Course changes at last minute – not only did the course location change, but the course itself changed a couple times! So when I was mentally preparing myself for a new course, we get there on race day and they changed it again.
  3. The winners plaque – this race company makes incredible wooden medals and wooden plaques for the top 3 finishers. Not to sound snooty, but they definitely were trying to save money and the wooden plaque came out looking like a grade school project. Totally bummed since I finally won this race, but they cheaped out on the plaque. Oh well!

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

The taxidermy lizard. It comes to every race and the winner gets to hold it.

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

I raced the whole race really well! Despite course changes and going completely into the unknown, I executed my race perfectly.

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

I hope this race only takes place at Whitney Mesa this year and it gets moved back to Red Rock Canyon for the rest of the years. Whitney Mesa is very runnable with 2 really big climbs and 1 moderate climb. It is looped – you run the 1st loop twice and the second loop once. The first loop is the easier side (1 moderate climb and pavement/crushed gravel) so the pace can be pushed on this part.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Sticking to my race plan and paces and not trying to go crazy with my pace at the beginning. Settle in and cruise.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Anyone wanting to do this race and they are not used to heat, be prepared for the heat! It gets toasty in May! I wear a Kool Tie or use a bandana with ice. I also dump lots of cool water on my neck and arms.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Yes for the most part. You do have to run next to a neighborhood and near a busy road but the top of the mesa is super cool with spectacular views of the valley! And the singletrack is a little barren but the climbs to the top are worth it.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

The only tough sections are the 2 big climbs. Very steep and slippery so I power hiked up them; even had to use my hands and scramble towards the end of the first climb!

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

Well oiled machine! Even though they didn’t get their permit and had to find a new location and did a last minute course change, everything went super smooth! Course was well marked, there was plenty of aid, and course marshals at important turns. Their t-shirts were the best ever this year with a nice soft blended material and the logo is, as usual, super badass.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

This is a local race, so no competition. I also think since the race changed locations, many people did not sign up because they didn’t know what Whitney Mesa would be like.

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.

Nope! Just gotta sign up and show up!

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

Great aid, since it was only a half there wasn’t much offered. Plenty of water to drink and pour on our bodies and the main aid station had volunteers spraying us with water which was awesome.

Weather and typical race conditions

Roasty toasty! Usually sunny with temps in the 80’s.

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

Like I mentioned before, Kool Tie is the way to go! I also recommend white arm sleeves to help stay cool and not get sun burnt.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Whitney Mesa was a GREAT course for spectators! If it does get moved back to Red Rock, unfortunately that one is nearly impossible to be a spectator on. Also since it was an out and back/looped course, I was able to see my partner Vinnie multiple times and high five for extra energy!

How’s the Swag?

  • Race logo – badass
  • T-shirts – soft and comfy
  • Race medals – carved wood and super amazing
  • Winner plaques – cheaped out this year

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

Even though it was moved to Whitney Mesa, I will also give this race 5 stars! It’s the only local race, or any race, that I will do multiple times and never get sick of! Perfect time of year – yes it does get toasty but the wildflowers are all blooming and it’s the one time the desert it super colorful and not dead looking.

flight of fire half marathon
Photo: KevLV Photography