Race: Javelina 100
Runner: Matt Urbanski
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ
Results: 14:55, 4th OA
Strava Activity Link:
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- Logistically simple. From signing up to planning travel and hotel, to planning race/crew logistics, this one is simple.
- So many runners. I love having a big ultra event. Lots of people cheering, people pushing themselves, and people with a shared passion out there give it their best effort. It’s great to be in this kind of environment.
- The race planners stoked my ego by seeding the top 10 men and women with special bib numbers. I was #5 and that actually had some impact on me. I was paying attention to my position the entire race and this little thing of giving me a special bib number made my race feel a bit more special.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
There wasn’t anything about the race itself that I didn’t really like. I knew the challenges I was signing up for – no shade and hot temps, so there is no complaining there. I was dealing with a sinus infection (not fun for racing), but that has nothing to do with the race. They put on a good event that lived up to my expectations.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
Where to start?! Given that it’s Halloween weekend, there are costumes, aid stations are like parties, and we’re doing washing machine style loops, this race is filled with intentional weirdness. It is expected and appreciated that Aravaipa makes the effort to make this a fun and weird party in the desert!
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
I put my head down and grinded this race out like a tough muther. I was not feeling tip-top coming in, I spent lap one clearing my sinuses and hacking up crap from my lungs – I eventually forced myself to stop coughing because I feared accidental vomiting from all the coughing as well as tired ab muscles. For my other two 100s this year (Rocky and Cascade Crest), I felt awesome for much of the race and was holding back. This time around, I found my comfort rhythm but I didn’t have that same “gliding on the trails, this is awesome feeling”. The heat and relentless sun compounded things such that I had my hat and sunglasses on, I watched the ground, listened to my music, and I grinded all day long.
My second lap felt special. I started with music on this lap (earlier than my usual given the grind) and I really went to a cool place mentally on this lap. It was light out, the race was spread out, but it wasn’t oppressively hot yet. My playlist was filled with songs that meant something to me. I was singing out loud (terrible sounds I’m sure and apologies to anyone that had to endure my singing). I felt filled with emotion. I nearly cried during one Mana song (too dehydrated to actually cry). I yelled out loud “I love my life, I love my wife, I love my son” as I ran alone through the desert. This time was special and I hope I always remember this part of my Javelina experience. It’s true, I have an awesome life, I love that I can run for an entire day in the desert, and that I have people that love me. This race put it smack dab in front of my face – ultras are awesome like that.
I spent lap 5 with my brother Jeff. I thrive when there is someone watching me when I am working hard; it drives me to work even harder. I loved getting to spend this time with Jeff and to dig down deep in his presence. We realized that with about 10 miles to go, we had a chance to go sub-15. I was way ahead of 5th and way behind 3rd, but we found a reason to push for home, and push we did. It hurt those final miles when I could have packed it in and shuffled to the finish, but I’m grateful and proud that we pushed hard all the way, and that I got to share it with my brother!
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
Ice water and sponges! I swear I was one of the only people at the buckets each time I came through. Get yourself completely soaked with that cold water! I often couldn’t talk due to being so shockingly cold from the ice water. I would almost always be hungry after doing this, giving me confidence that my core temps were being controlled. Core temp, core temp, core temp! Make this one of your top priorities. This is true in most ultras, this one in particular!
Practice doing this on training runs too when you can. Why? I ran nearly the entire race with wet shoes and socks. I’ve run lots of miles in my life in wet shoes and socks and I don’t care about that anymore. People rightfully fear blisters, they don’t like feeling soaked. Get used to it and control the core – the ice sponges at Javelina are where it’s at!
Also, I made a game time decision to not take a headlamp on lap one. It was dark for 10-15 minutes and I could see fine after that. That saved me wearing a headlamp for 3 hours of this race (I don’t like wearing headlamps)! I could have been fine without having runners with lights around me, but there are so many others with lights that it’s easy to go no light. Maybe a small handheld light if you don’t want to go completely sans light.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
I feel really good about how I ran this race. I think that if I were 100% healthy, I could have hung a little closer to the leaders. I also took a longer stop after the first 20 miles. I didn’t realize they had the ice water/sponge set up and spent too much time trying to use my homemade cold towel set up with my crew. I could shave a few minutes from quicker aid station stops. Lastly, I would have one savory snack to look forward to. I wanted little samosas from Trader Joes, but they discontinued them. I am so sick of gels and bloks!
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
The section from Coyote Camp to Jackass gets tougher and worse to run each time you go through it. It’s not a big hill compared to mountain ultra standards, but it will slow you down and it’ll likely slow you down more and more each time through. There are also a good deal of rocks in this section compared to the rest of the course. Not a big deal on laps 1 and 2. They’re likely to piss you off/mess with your mental game more and more as the race progresses.
You can run most of this course. Be ready to run. Don’t let yourself walk. Practice the slow shuffle. 13 minute miles are way faster over time than 19 minute miles. Figure out how to keep yourself running and be ready for lots of running.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
I really like the desert and find this race pretty. I often find myself feeling deep emotions when running in the desert environment and this time was no exception.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
100 miles is tough. I like loop courses and think it’s easier to mentally manage because I know what’s coming. It’s all runnable so that is tough but also easier? Your call. I worked my ass off in this race and it was anything but easy!
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
These guys have there game down! They put on a good race that went super smooth. They did a good job of making everyone feel special and welcome at their party.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Yeah! The top men and women are all sponsored runners that are big names in the sport.
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.
Super easy. I don’t think the race sold out, hotels were easy to book, flights from Seattle were easy to Phoenix. The entire process was smooth and easy.
I didn’t stop to eat anything from any of the aid stations so I have a different view than most. They were helpful, they always refilled my bottle, and they had the ice water sponges that I used the entire race.
When the race was finished, I finally hit up the Jeadquarters aid station for a veggie burger and soup – excellent!
Weather and typical race conditions
Hot, 80-90, sunny with no shade, and dry. I’m sure there is some variation, but hot and sun are likely.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
I wore the Nathan Vapor Krar belt, using one Salomon 0.5L soft flask for the entire race. I had plenty of fluids this way. I wore Salomon Exo short tights, Nike Wildhorse 3 shoes, and a compression shirt I picked up in Chamonix last year. I wore my Team RunRun hat and Bogota sunglasses. My kit was tested and worked well throughout. I ate Cliff Shot bloks and Gu gels during the race. At Jeadquarters every lap, I chugged some Gatorade and some coldbrew coffee. I wanted more salty food but didn’t have any options set up that enticed me during the race.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
The run through the camp at Jeadquarters every lap was great. I loved the 0.25 trip through camp to the turn around. There was cheering and it felt like a big check mark on my Javelina 5 loop checklist each time I came through. And though there were no spectators out on the loop, there were so many runners that it always felt like we were being cheered for.
Top 3 get something unique. Finishers got buckles. I liked the waterproof swag bag we all received. This is one piece of race swag I’ll likely keep.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
5 out of 5. I’m happy with my performance, the race was well run, we had a great team presence and good time down in the desert, and I’m really happy to have had the opportunity to run this race.