Javelina 100k Race Report – Bala S

In this Javelina 100k race report, runner Bala S. gives you an honest review of the annual Halloween run – including what made it fun, what gear to take, and what you should know about the course!

“What’s the weirdest thing about this race? The costumes. The race is supposed to be this big costume party out in the desert, and it certainly is one. I was amazed at how many people ran the entire race in costume. And not just a tech shirt that looks like a tuxedo. We had Fred Flintstone with his flintmobile, a butterfly with wings a full 5 feet across, and a Captain America with his shield – a 7lb metal shield no less and many many more!”

What is a race report?

At Team RunRun, we know that working towards a race is a great motivation for running. However, not all running events are created equal. Our athletes report back on their experiences so that you can figure out which race is right for you. Read on for an honest runner review of the Javelina Jundred 100k!

Bala S’s Full Javelina 100k Race Report (2018)

Race: Javelina 100k

Runner: Bala S

Race Date: 10/27/2018

Location: Fountain Hills, AZ

Results: First 100k in 17:34.

Report on Your 3 Bests – What aspects of the Javelina 100k race did you like the most?

There is so much I liked about the race, it’s hard to pick the top 3. But here’s an attempt.

  1. What I liked best about Javelina was the race atmosphere. From the moment I showed up to volunteer at packet pickup, to the moment I finally left race HQ with my drop bags, it was absolutely electric, I could feel the energy in the air. The organizers, the runners, the volunteers – it felt like one big happy, crazy family.
  2. I loved that this is a looped race and the maximum distance between aid stations was only 6.5 miles. It really comforted me that I had access to my drop bags twice in every loop. This being my first 100k distance, I had no idea what to expect, and I had my bags stuffed with my (figurative) blankies. Washing machine style loops also meant that we kept running into runners on different loops coming from the opposite direction so I never felt alone at any time. There was plenty of solo time, but never a lonely time.
  3. Amazingly well stocked aid stations. They had everything I could have wanted and more. The ice was plentiful to keep everyone chilled through the day. The hot broth and ramen kept us warmed through the night. And the pizza, hot dogs and burgers at the finish line were a fitting end to a long day of noshing.

Report on the Worst – What aspects of the Javelina 100k race didn’t do it for you?

I can’t think of one thing about this race that bothered me, I cannot fault anything really. It was the best peopled, best organized, best provisioned, best swag race I’ve run so far.

Report on the Weird – What’s the weirdest thing about the Javelina 100k?

  • The costumes. The race is supposed to be this big costume party out in the desert, and it certainly is one. I was amazed at how many people ran the entire race in costume. And not just a tech shirt that looks like a tuxedo. We had Fred Flintstone with his flintmobile, a butterfly with wings a full 5 feet across, and a Captain America with his shield – a 7lb metal shield no less and many many more!
  • Jackass Junction – the aid station at the midway point of each loop – it can get weird at night. They have a full on disco setup with disco ball and lights and the works, and mucho freely flowing booze. And things can, shall we say, get pretty loopy! So much so, it seemed there weren’t enough volunteers in the aid station tent to deal with the runners sometimes.

Race report highlights – What did you do well and enjoy about your Javelina 100k in particular?

  • I was thrilled with how well I dealt with the heat, I expected to feel it much more than I did. It got hot for sure, but all my heat management tricks worked really well. No nausea, no over heating, I continued to eat, drink and move well, It all just worked!
  • I changed shoes for each lap. The strategy worked out great: I started each loop with my feet feeling re-energized, and I finished with zero blisters.
  • I ended up pacing myself pretty well as well. I remember being so amazed at my splits in loop 3 and sort of cackling to myself – OMG OMG, the training’s working, the training’s working!

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the Javelina 100k to help the next runner

  • Javelina 100km is NOT flat! Yes it does not have WSER’eque elevation changes, but it’s by no means flat. It is full of rollers, some very rocky, be prepared. By loop 3, it all feels uphill anyway.
  • It will get HOT. There is no shade on the course, prepare accordingly. Ice bandana, ice in your pockets, ice in arm sleeves – whatever it takes to stay cool. A large brimmed hat and sunglasses can make all the difference.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around in the Javelina 100k

  • Do not dawdle at the aid stations! Plan your strategy for each aid station and get out of there as quickly as you can. Cumulatively, I think I ended up spending more than an hour and a half at the various aid stations.
  • Organize your drop bags better. When you are really tired and disoriented, digging through that drop bag for that one small thing will seem herculean.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the Javelina 100k

I will repeat, Javelina is not flat. But it’s also very runnable. The runnable course and the heat – it can be a bad combination which ended the race for many this weekend.

Aesthetics – Is the Javelina 100k a pretty course?

It’s the desert. If you like deserts, it’s gorgeous. We lucked out with a thunderstorm a few days ago. It settled the dust some and the desert was carpeted in green. In places, it felt like being in a park.

Difficulty – Is the Javelina 100k a tough course?

It can be if you are not prepared for it. While the course is not hilly, it is also not flat by any means. It can feel very runnable, and combined with how hot it can get, it can be a very tough course. Javelina has a very high DNF rate, this combination catches many by surprise.

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

The race is amazingly well organized, definitely a well-oiled machine.

Competition – Is there a strong field at the Javelina Jundred?

There were about 600+ 100 mile runners and 250+ 100k runners. The race has been growing each year. Even with as many runners, it did not feel crowded. Ok, the start is crowded and it can get backed up a bit in the first 1/2 mile or so, but after that, you can be as alone or as social as you want to be.

Logistics – Does the Javelina 100k race 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.

  • For some reason I angsted about the logistics for this race a lot. And all was for nothing. The 100k race filled up this year, there were still spots open for the 100 miler.
    There are plenty of hotels within 30-40 mins driving distance of race HQ, parking was not an issue the morning of the race (at least not 1.5 hours before race start). It’s a 1/4ish mile walk to the start.
  • It’s best to drop off drop bags the day before, less to stress about the morning of the race. The remote drop bag does need to be dropped off by 5:45 am sharp on race day. You carry and place your HQ drop bag yourself, so you have the luxury of a larger bag at HQ. People had duffles, coolers, whatever they needed.
  • This is an amazingly well supported race over all.

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

  • The aid stations had pretty much everything you expect at ultra aid stations. My first ultra so I was very pleasantly surprised with all that was there. Bean and avocado tortilla rolls, pb&j, boiled potatoes, usual sweet stuff, Pringles, ramen, hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs, coffee, hot cocoa and so much more. Oh and dates! There’s so much at the aid stations that it’s very tempting to hang out and feast there. This was a hard learned lesson for me.
  • There are 4 aid stations per loop, you have access to your drop bags at the start each loop and the halfway point. The max distance between aid is 6.5 miles, so no need to carry much on you at all.

Weather and typical race conditions

It’s hot! The week before it was projected to be a high of a balmy 77, by race day it went up to a high of 89 I think. The feels like on the course may have been 95 since there is zero shade on the course. It’s almost always hot here. This is a desert, and the temperature can drop by tens of degrees once the sun goes down, so be prepared with appropriate layers.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the Javelina 100k race?

  • My gear choices worked perfectly for me. I was so thrilled! The most important choices would be to stay cool. I wore a biking shirt, not only were the pockets in the back were invaluable for stashing trash, extra bottle etc., but the form fitting shirt also stayed wet longer, keeping me cool through the day. Arm sleeves worked really well too, I wore mine for the entire race. To stay warm at the start, and later on to wet and stay cool, and for warmth again once the sun went down.
  • An ice bandana – critical. I looked up how to make one online, and the tutorial I saw had a slightly different design. Instead of a big triangular pocket to fill with ice, it recommended creating a pocket in the middle of a bandana with some chamois. The chamois stays wet longer than cotton and also insulates the ice a bit from melting too fast. I hand-sewed this literally the day before leaving for Phoenix. It was a lifesaver. My ice lasted the entire distance between aid stations, and I never got too hot. I also looped the bandana around a vest strap so it didn’t feel like it was strangling me.
  • The trail is pretty rocky for a few miles in one section. Plan your shoe choice accordingly. The sand on the trail was actually a welcome relief as a slightly softer surface to run on.
  • You will probably want to get soaked with ice water at various aid stations. Protect your electronics.
  • And don’t forget your hat and sunglasses.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

No spectators allowed on the course. But they can hang out at headquarters and meet you at the start/finish of each loop. And pacers are allowed for later loops.

How’s the Swag?

Pretty sweet swag. This year we got a good sized drop bag cooler, stickers, a custom buff, and a really nice Rabbit shirt. And I shouldn’t forget the all important finishers buckle!

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

Oh 5 stars for sure. If you can manage the heat, I highly recommend this race.

Check out more runner reviews of the Javelina 100 (going back to 2017):

Javelina Jundred Reviews