Race: McDowell Mountain Frenzy – 50K

Runner: Jonathan G

Race Date: 12/01/2018

Location: Phoenix, AZ

Results: 5:45:44

mcdowell mountain frenzy race report

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

  1. Scenery. Living in the PNW we become accustomed to the deep forests and soaring Cascades, as well as the lakes and rain and the mud. Changing that for the barren, arid beauty of a desert sunrise and the harsh unforgiving sun and sand can be a welcome change.
  2. Well organized. Aravaipa have their game locked down, their events are always well run, they don’t have the fanfare or larger gatherings but they are pleasing in their simplicity and organization.
  3. Runnable. The entirety of the race is runnable, usually on smooth and fairly wide trails, the miles fly by and that’s always kind of nice.

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

  1. There was only one screw up and that was a volunteer giving guidance to people that the next aid station was 6 miles away when it was in fact 10 miles away. I don’t begrudge volunteers because on the whole they are awesome humans and runners themselves, giving their time to enable us, but this was slightly irritating.
  2. The terrain turns rocky for a fair number of miles through the middle of the race, my feet got pretty badly beat up and bruised, shoes with a rock plate are advised.

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

I don’t know if you would put this down as weird but certainly something that required more consideration than in the PNW. It isn’t unusual during an ultra race for nature to call, whether its #1 or #2 the lack of trees, bushes and shrubs and generally flat and open plains mean that stepping off the trail isn’t quite as straightforward as it might be in other races.

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

The highlight of my race, which generally was a rather tough grind coming off a grueling week of work that had me in Vegas at a conference, was that I finally feel that I am maturing as a racer. Acknowledging early on that it wasn’t going to be a PR performance, or even anything close, and quickly seeing that there was no spring in my step or freshness to my legs, I settled in to knock down the miles and my mental game stay calm and relaxed throughout. It was really pleasing.

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

  1. It can and does get warm, the sun is strong, a hat, glasses and sun cream are strongly advised.
  2. As above, a shoe with a rock plate, is recommended.
  3. Note the aid station spacing, that 10 mile gap is exactly when the temps start to climb and many people ran out of water (I saw this last year doing the 50 mile version too). Be prepared.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The course should be considered fairly fast and is a great course for someone doing their first 50K or 50M distance, runnable and smooth for long stretches.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

If you like the desert mystique, then yes, very.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Not at all, elevation change is minimal and the climbs are hills not mountains, the trails are hard packed and quite fast. It isn’t technical.

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

Yes, very well run, Aravaipa have their game on lock.

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

You can get beer and a bloody mary at most of the aid stations, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Weather and typical race conditions

Dry and cool to start, can get warm during the race and touch 70+ degrees even in late November/early December. There isn’t any shade.

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

3.5/5 – It isn’t going to blow your socks off but it is well run, easy to get registered for and run and doesn’t contain any hidden challenges.