Jemez 50 mile Race Report – Jeff U

jemez 50 race reportRace: Jemez 50

Runner: Jeff U

Race Date: 05/19/2018

Location: Los Alamos, NM

Results: 23rd – 10:20:27

Strava Activity Link:

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

  1. The course was tough. As much as I hated it in the moment, it was kind of gnarly going straight up 1,000+ feet in a mile after just climbing over 2,000 feet before that.
  2. The race organizers pulled it off. With multiple course changes due to fire restrictions in the weeks leading up to race weekend, the organizers managed to put on an amazing event. They were clearly invested in putting on a top notch event.
  3. It was a lot of fun having Matt and Alan out there racing with Julie and Paavo crewing. These things are always way more fun when there are friends and family around to share the experience with. Thanks TRR!

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

I have never really enjoyed running on rocky technical trails, yet I continue going back to the Southwest. My feet and lower legs were not happy most of the day, but it’s important that I keep working on getting better on this kind of terrain.

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

This was a pretty normal race – no real weird factor.

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

I gutted this one out. The 50k option messed with my head because I just wasn’t mentally in it for most of the race. I was happy that I left Julie and Paavo at 30, (instead of dropping to the 50k). Both quads randomly cramped at 32, but I managed the last major climb without any additional trouble. It felt great to mentally pull it together around 40 and pass a number of people on the way in. This was way harder than I hoped it would be, but it was a great mental and physical test before Bighorn.

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

Don’t underestimate the altitude and heat. It may be NM, but it still gets over 10,000ft. That combined with the heat exposure can spell trouble for the stomach and general nutrition if you’re not prepared.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

  • I was messing with new gear setups during this race. I didn’t take the time to figure out how to store my poles in my vest until the night before the race (first time using poles in a race, 3rd time in general). I couldn’t get my poles back in my pack for a good portion of the first half of the race, so I carried them. My arms are super weak in general, so this added a new element to it all. I was also using a new soft flask (Naked) that I just opened a couple days before the race. It was super hard getting liquid out of the new flask, and it was tough screwing the top back on, so I didn’t drink as much as I normally would have – sticking to my Salomon soft flasks.
  • While it’s all well and good to use races as test runs for future events, it’s worth taking the time to ensure you at least have the basics together. No need to make it harder on yourself.
  • This race was meant as a long hard test run for Bighorn, so I definitely learned some valuable lessons. It made my day more challenging in general, but now I’ve got different ideas for next time.
    jemez 50 race report
    All start crewing by Julie and Paavo

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The long climb is very clean and runnable. Take advantage of the clean trails because there are slower technical sections that are a time suck. There are definitely a number of false summits on both the long climb and the steep climb up the ski slope. Know this going in so you can keep your mental game in check. The course is pretty exposed. My lingering sunburn is the most pain I still have a few days after the race, so lather up!

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

This was a classic Southwestern course. Unlike some of the AZ races, Jemez combined the rocky desert landscape with some forest sections. The view from up in the hills was beautiful.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

I thought the course was tough. There were some big climbs, slow technical sections, heat and a lot of sun exposure. I’m sure there are tougher races out there, but this one is no joke.

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

This race was very well run. As previously mentioned, the changing fire restrictions in the weeks leading up to the event created a lot of uncertainty and course changes. The race organizers continued to keep everyone updated, and they managed to find alternative routes that were still really tough. Well done!

Competition – Is there a strong field?

There were some big guns there. While the course was supposedly easier this year, two guys still broke the previous course record. A handful of big names typically make the trip.

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.

The logistics for the race were pretty straightforward. It was an easy flight into ABQ followed by an hour and a half drive to Los Alamos. There are a handful of hotels in Los Alamos – always a bonus when you can find lodging within 10 minutes of the start/finish.

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

I don’t typically rely on a whole lot from aid stations given my wheat allergy. That said, they had a solid assortment of fruit as well as potatoes and salt. I particularly loved the aid stations with ice later in the day. Stuffing ice in my arm sleeves and down my back really helped cool me off.

Weather and typical race conditions

It was hot and dry with no real cloud cover. Given the altitude, I’ve also heard the race can get a lot of snow and rain. Hope you get lucky!

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

I used poles in a race for the first time, and I found them very helpful in a number of sections. They were particularly useful going up the ski slope, and then on the immediate downhill section after that.

jemez 50 race report

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

There weren’t many spectator areas. You’re pretty out there, but there are a few aid stations where you can link up with your crew.

How’s the Swag?

The race shirt was huge – bummer I won’t actually be able to wear it. I liked the finisher pottery we got in lieu of a medal.

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

I thought the race organizers did a fantastic job. I give this race a 5 out of 5. I really just wish my stomach would’ve been in a better place at the end so I could’ve eaten some green chili enchiladas they had at the finish line.

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