“Everything in the desert wants to hurt you. I saw some of the nastiest falls – from trips and falls to people kicking cactus between their ankles. Plain and simple, the desert is not a friendly place. The heat and more so, the sun. I personally suck at hot races, but managed well here. It is so freaking dry that the water evaporates off of you SO FAST. At one point I told my crew I could hear the ice melting! I wore sun sleeves and calve sleeves and am glad I did. It saved my skin from getting burnt. The big key is if you wear sleeves – is to keep them wet, and that meant carrying more water. Which was extra weight.”
Race: Javelina Jundred
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ (outside of Phoenix)
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1254306549
3 Bests –
- The party aspect of the whole event. It really kept everything really fun and entertaining.
- Getting to see two sunrises and one sunset, but if you are speedy Gonzalez like Matt Urbanski, you might only get to see one of each.
- Because you do the loop multiple times –
- You know exactly how far you have to go.
- You know when you are getting close to an aid station
- You know when you are getting close to finishing a climb or descent
- You know when you are getting close to the finish itself.
- You can have a planned pace and easily check your pace throughout the race.
- You actually get a firsthand glimpse into what is happening at the front of the race since they will come flying back by you (multiple times)!
Not so much –
- Everything in the desert wants to hurt you. I saw some of the nastiest falls – from trips and falls to people kicking cactus between their ankles. Plain and simple, the desert is not a friendly place.
- The heat and more so, the sun. I personally suck at hot races, but managed well here. It is so freaking dry that the water evaporates off of you SO FAST. At one point I told my crew I could hear the ice melting! I wore sun sleeves and calve sleeves and am glad I did. It saved my skin from getting burnt. The big key is if you wear sleeves – is to keep them wet, and that meant carrying more water. Which was extra weight.
- I wasn’t a huge fan of the extra part of the first loop. I was very happy to know we were not going to have to run that section again. It was really rocky and not as nice of a trail.
Weirdest thing –
There are some seriously impressive older folks that run this race, and some of them are not so shy with their bodies. I might have seen more skin than I would have particularly liked. Heck there were younger folks too that had no problems wearing nothing but a thong as their running outfit, and I can’t imagine how that person did even 20 miles wearing that.
- Seeing the race develop, it was inspiring to see the leaders come back at me each time on the loops.
- Running with my amazing pacers – Erik and Dan. I had a great time, and they provided the exact amount of motivation I needed to keep me going, without ever going back into the Demon cave.
- Running my first 100 miler and completing it.
- Having my family not have to worry about logistics. They knew where to go each time, since it was the same!
- Having the 100k folks catch me on the first loop, they started an hour after us, yet went flying by and were so dang impressive!
Lessons for next time
- I think I should have changed socks every loop. I only changed socks once, and I got a little more chaffing on my feet than I would have liked.
- I wore gaiters and they were worth every single bit of money I paid for them.
- I would have liked to have a better ice bandana. I had never really used one and kept having to adjust it multiple times to get it to sit right. My bandana wasn’t really set up for getting ice in a pocket, it was just a regular ole’ bandana. I also would get different amounts of ice each time, so it would ride on my neck different. I have some design ideas for improvement and will likely have an improved one if I run a hot race again.
- Ice directly against the skin hurts. I put ice down my arm sleeves one time, and in about 2 minutes I was flinging it out. I would need some kind of a separating device or fabric to keep the ice off my skin in order to have ice on my arms like that. I kind of chuckled once I got all the ice out, that people that do that are tougher then me, or are just more hardcore.
- I wish I would have mentally pushed harder during the 4th and 5th loops. I think I walked a bit more than I would have liked, but at the time it seemed like my best option, and it is always easy to look back and think I could have done better. I remember thinking “when it sucks to run and it sucks to walk – you might as well run” and I would start to run for a few hundred steps and fall apart again. My feet really hurt by the end and that was my biggest issue by far.
- The other thing is that there are a TON of people that run this race. The first loop was extra dusty and dirty because the volume of people. I saw one guy wearing a dust mask for the first mile or so (didn’t realize why until 30 seconds into the start of the race). As the loops went on and folks finished and dropped, it got less busy. Nothing unmanageable from the trail and aid station perspective, so it wasn’t bad.
Most Important Course specific knowledge
- Don’t go out too fast. They say it in the race briefing, and at the start briefing. I certainly did – although I did not overdo it. I purposely ran behind a veteran I recognized (Catra Corbett the Dirt Diva) and chatted her up for a solid 2 hours to help me relax and force me to go slower, since I knew she had tons of experience with this race, it paid off in dividends by not pushing too hard early.
- The long climb on the first loop you do three times and by the third time it will seem really technical since it is so rocky. Additionally, that climb is the longest section at over 6 miles to the next aid station and that may not seem far, but with that climb, it was tough by the third time (the 5th loop). It is also the section where I saw the most people fall. As folks got tired and the feet don’t get picked up as high, the rocks turned into serious tripping hazards (and toe busters, and ankle twisters).
- Keep your attention on the trail, and what I mean by this, is don’t turn your head around to look back and try to keep running. I saw more people trip or run into cactus this way. It is silly and an easy way to get hurt.
- Everyone will say it gets cold at night. If you are from Seattle – it DOES NOT GET COLD. It was like 65 degrees. I was still taking ice baths at 2 a.m. and the aid station people were asking me if I was okay. I told them I was from Seattle and they understood… It was sort of comical. I ran with an ultra light jacket for the last two loops, and only put it on once at the top aid station since I stayed there a bit too long, to where I got a bit chilled, but 5 minutes of running and it came right back off again.
- Know that you are going to have chaffing somewhere. There is so much dust and fine dirt, it gets into everything. Take care of it quick and early. Don’t let it become a problem. I had chaffing in my nether regions that I didn’t take care of until it got painful, then I started putting lube on it every chance I got. It sucked, but eventually I got it under control and it wasn’t an issue.
- If you have Verizon, cell coverage is actually pretty good. My pacers could call my parents and let them know I was 20 minutes out from the finish and they could leave the campsites they were at and be there, without really having to guess too much. It was great.
- It was also comforting knowing that if you do get hurt, the medics were really close. They had roaming medics, and medics at every aid station, and there was never a part where I felt in danger.
- My pacer Dan had a garmin watch with an app that was something like a live track feature. It was really convenient since everyone on my crew knew exactly where I was at all times. (this worked since there was cell coverage the entire route)
Yes this is a pretty course in a different way than I am used to. I am used to the typical northwest trails that are beautiful from the rocks, trees and alpine lakes. This race has none of that! However, what it does have, is different things that make it beautiful in its own way. You are in a sauce pan of mountains. Essentially there are mountains 360 degrees around you. There are huge cactus everywhere, and boy is there plenty of things that want to poke you. Seeing the sunrise twice and the sunset once was absolutely amazing and it added to the beauty of the course. It is also very wild. I saw at least 3 or 4 coyotes through the middle of the night which was really cool (I luckily didn’t come across any snakes or scorpions). Because it was so different from what I have grown accustomed to, I found the course to be quite pretty.
- This is not an easy course for three reasons (they say this is a great beginner 100 miler, and I tend to agree mostly due to the atmosphere this race provides).
- There is NOTHING easy about 100 miles. Period. I don’t care if it were bone flat, 100 miles is a long friggin distance!
- The dry and hot nature of the race
- Getting overheated and dehydrated is a serious potential issue.
- You are in the sun for 12+ hours – there is absolutely NO shade ANYWHERE on the course.
- Dirt and sand getting everywhere – shoes, socks, eyes, nose, nether region (not sure how that happened…)
- Because dirt and sand get everywhere it is really easy to get dirt somewhere and start having it rub, then it turns into something serious. Plan to reapply lube every chance you get.
Organized and well run
- Very well run. Jamil Coury and Aravaipa running have got this race so well-greased, it was amazing, they had so much food, ice, water, drinks, aid station help, and folks partying it was fantastic!
- I liked the half-way point aid station Jack ass junction – it was a hardcore party and the folks there were genuinely having fun but being super helpful!
- Let me put it this way – this year the course record was broken. And last year’s record setter got second. It was awesome seeing that battle happen!
- I on the other hand was far too back to really care about the competition aspect for myself so it didn’t matter to me. (Other than wanting to know how everyone on team RunRun did)
- It is relatively easy to get to. Its about 45 minutes from the Phoenix airport
- There are no hotels immediately close nearby, so me and my crew camped at the McDowell campground. (not the one at the race) This campground had hookups, and bathrooms. It was almost dead nuts in the center of the big loop.
- There is camping at the HQ. The packet said nothing over 30 feet long for campers but there were huge 45 foot RV’s there so I am not sure what that was all about, but really that was the way to go if I were to do it again.
- Last minute signups are pretty common for this race. There were no trail work requirements or prerequisites to run this race, which made things simple.
- Great aid stations. One aid station had some Hoka One One elites there. (Hayden Hawk, Sage Canaday, and Jim Walmsley) That was neat since they are all really awesome guys and I got ramen noodles given to me by Sage on my last loop.
- They really were efficient at the aid stations, if you wanted to get in and out, the aid workers were really good about helping folks out. If you wanted to chill and recover, they would help with that too.
Weather and typical race conditions
This is what I discussed earlier – it was HOT, and dry.
A vest is good here. A sock change is recommended every loop unless your feet are bullet proof. If you start getting blisters – take care of that stuff early since it will do nothing but get worse as you go along.
This is not a super spectator friendly course, but I am not really sure what 100 miler is… Your family and friends get to see you at the HQ and that is it. You start and end at the HQ, and you go through it at least 1 time each loop. This race makes sense if your crew has a tendency to get lost, or you want to make it easy on them.
Everyone that finished the 100 mi got a nice brass buckle. If you go sub 24 hours, you get a bigger silver one.
-Side note – the 100k folks get one too.
I give this race an 8.5 out of 10. It was right up my alley in terms of difficulty (from an overall difficulty due to 100 miles) and it was so different than what I had expected that I still had a really great time. The party atmosphere and seeing people dressed up in crazy costumes made the loops go by a little faster. Some even made me wonder “how the hell are they going to do 100 miles in that?” I really am not a huge fan of heat, and this race was no exception, but it was manageable with a good plan, and just staying cool. Seeing the race happen live was pretty cool and it was inspiring to see the top guys going so fast.