Race: Moab 240 Endurance Run

Runner: Alicia Jenkins

Race Date: 10/08/2021

Location: Moab, UT

Results: https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=81605

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/6098864536

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

1. The COMMUNITY! There is something special about the trail and ultra running community but I feel like running a 200 is a niche within a niche and every single person attempting this distance has a unique and interesting story to tell. Even though you are “racing” the race is long enough that you are all in it together and the ultimate goal is to help everyone else finish this incredible distance.

2. The VOLUNTEERS!! This race would not be able to be put on without the help of all the volunteers at the aid stations, at the start, at the finish line. The runners were so well taken care of. I would get into an aid station to sit down and a volunteer would come over and take my pack from me and ask what I needed filled up. I didn’t have to tell them how to take out the bladder from my pack or where to find my flasks they just took it and did it all. They also made food to go and I could custom order a breakfast burrito to go, oatmeal, hamburgers, soup, etc. At one point I was sitting while a volunteer was CLEANING my feet and taping up my feet and I dropped my breakfast burrito on the ground and another volunteer came over and picked it up and said “I’ll go get you another one!” She then hand delivered it to me while I was getting my feet taken care of by the medical volunteers. I just want to send another HUGE shout out of THANKS to all the volunteers at the race. You all made the experience that much better.

3. The BEAUTIFUL TERRAIN!! This race location was just gorgeous! When you go 240 miles you get to run on a lot of different terrain and when most people think of Moab they think of all the Red Rocks, which we did run a lot on, there was also a section that had us running on tops of high deserts and then also in the Aspen trees and mountains as well. When you get tired running a race this long it sure is nice to have beautiful scenery to distract you. There was nothing like running in the nighttime and darkness looking up at all the stars in the Moab desert. My pacer and I watched so many shooting stars too!

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

Everything about this race is amazing. I have nothing negative to say about it.

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

Well, there are plenty of weird things that happen in a race that is over 200 miles long. I would say one of the weird things is that many people, myself included, will have to stop to take trail naps. A trail nap is taken when a runner is out on the course and they are really tired, sleepwalking, or starting to hallucinate so that is when a trail nap is often taken. The runner will lie down on the side of the trail and proceeds to fall asleep rather quickly. Some runners take these naps as short as 1 minute and others will take a longer nap up to 15-20 minutes. It starts to become normal for runners to see other runners during the race on the side of the trail sleeping in the dirt. As you walk by these napping runners you often try to stay quiet so as to not wake up the sleeping runner. During my race I was starting to go really slow and was not making good forward progress so I stopped to take a trail nap and told my pacer to wake me up in 5 minutes. I then laid down on the side of the trail and as soon as my head hit my pack I was out cold. I woke up after only a 3 minute nap and my pacer says I just “popped right up after 3 minutes and then started running with new energy.” The 3 minute trail nap was the perfect amount of rest for my body to “reset.”

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

With this race being so long there were many highlights! I’ll choose a couple to talk about. First highlight was spending the entire first day with 1-3 other runners that were about the same pace as me. We had a lot of good conversations and learned about why each of us were doing this race. It was a little rainy and cloudy most of that first day but then as the sun started going down the rain had stopped and we got to watch a beautiful sunset together out in the Moab Desert surrounded by all the red rocks. I have a photo of us during this first sunset.

2nd highlight would be getting to mile 120 – the halfway point and meeting my 2 pacers, Corrine Malcolm and Nikki Buurma. For the first 120 miles I was running on my own and was looking forward to having a pacer be with me for the last 120 miles of the course. It wasn’t easy getting to this halfway point though. In order to get there I had a 4000 feet climb in 18 miles that was really tough on me mentally. This is when I experienced my first really low low during the race. I told myself one small step at a time and I will make it there. As long as I keep going forward I would make it to my pacers. I ended up getting a little lost as I hadn’t slept at this point yet and it was the 2nd day of the race. I was able to find another racer and stay with him on the way up so I wouldn’t get lost. It was so refreshing to see my pacers at the top of that climb as well as my boyfriend, Gavin, and dog Lola who were waiting there as well.

3rd highlight was when I was going through the night hours from 1 am – 6 am with my pacer, Nikki. She ended up singing me lots of songs and we both realized we grew up listening to a lot of the same country music and we also both realized our singing talent is about the same, aka not that great BUT we love singing! We sang during the nighttime hours together and when I was too tired to sing Nikki sang to me and it was just the energy I needed to keep pushing through the night into the sunrise the next morning.

4th highlight was when I was around mile 215 and another runner caught up to me and we realized that I was number 98 and he was runner 99 and it was because both of our last names is Jenkins. We ended up chatting for a good while and he told me some really great stories of his hallucinations he had when he had completed the Moab 240 in 2019. It was just the energy I needed to keep going to make it to that last aid station before the finish line.

5th highlight was when I was about 2 miles out from the finish line. I was running this last section with my boyfriend, Gavin, pacing me. It was a very tough section and I’m glad I had him. 2 miles felt like it was going to take forever so I decided to turn my phone off airplane mode and saw that I had service. I was able to check some of my messages from family and friends and it was so encouraging to read of all their support. That helped me go a little faster and then finally I rounded the corner and saw my Dad, my sister with my dog, my 2 pacers cheering for me. I ran into that finish line and just collapsed onto my poles. It was such a surreal experience and I was happy it was over but also a little sad it was over as well.

Photo: Howie Stern

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

Be prepared for the lows. In a race this long you are going to experience some lows and you will have to get through those. It is a great way to learn about yourself and learn that you are stronger than you think you are. Take care of your feet! If you feel a hot spot starting then take your shoes off at the next aid station and tape it up. Clean your feet often to avoid blisters and change socks. Everyone’s feet are different so if you can I recommend doing some long backpacking trips so you know how your feet respond to long treks and where you tend to get blisters. If you know where you tend to get blisters you can pre-tape your feet to prevent them from starting. Prevention is key!

If you don’t have a pacer for the race then see if you can link up with another runner who is about your pace. The first night I didn’t have a pacer but I linked up with another runner who also didn’t have a pacer and we spent the entire night together until sunrise the next day chatting and it helped pass the time and made that section much more fun.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Pacing and sleep strategies. In a race this long you have to be good about not going out too hard but not going too slow. Finding your right pace is key and run your own race. If you are with someone but they are going too fast or too slow for what you need then stick with your plan. Sleep strategies vary for each person so have a sleep plan in mind but also note that it can change during the race. My original plan was to sleep a little at mile 120 but when I got there it wasn’t dark yet so I went through the next section and slept for 40 minutes when it was dark instead. Some people will take longer sleeps ups to a couple hours or some people will sleep shorter. It is a learning experience and something you won’t really know what works best for you until you are out there.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

You have to have to the route loaded onto your phone via Gaia or CalTopo so you know where you are at at all times. Knowing where the climbs are and how long they are is helpful. The Moab 240 website has a race manual that describes each section in detail so being familiar with that prior to the race helps you mentally knowing what to expect.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

DROP DEAD GORGEOUS!

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Yes. I would say it is a difficult course. Lots of elevation, lots of rocks and uneven terrain.

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

Destination Trail knows how to put on a 200 mile event. They have been doing this for a few years now and have everything SUPER organized. Even when they had to change part of the route of the course this year due to a storm coming in this went super smooth and everyone knew what was going on.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

There is usually a pretty strong field of runners at this event.

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.

Lots of logistics to make this happen. Registration for this event will most likely be going towards a lottery as it has gotten more popular.You have to organize drop bags for the event and make sure you have all the required gear needed. The race manual on the Moab 240 website has all the info on here in a very organized fashion that makes it easy to digest. It might seem overwhelming at first but it really isn’t once you break it all down.

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

The aid stations are AMAZING. Like I commented above they have food to order and depending on the time of day you arrive they will have different things available. Breakfast time they usually had breakfast burritos made to order. They had vegan and vegetarian options as well. They had warm soup, hot chocolate, tea/coffee, and spiced apple cider during the nighttime to get warmed up. They had all the Spring Energy gels. Wraps, bacon, hamburgers. I mean honestly it was better than a restaurant!

Weather and typical race conditions

Weather for this race can vary from being 10-20 degrees up to the uppers 90’s. Utah weather in October is pretty moody. The race does a good job updating the runners what the weather forecast will be as race gets closer. This year it was pretty mild weather with a little rain. Luckily I finished before a storm moved in but for the back of the pack runners they ended up running in very strong wind, snow, hail, rain. Be prepared for anything!

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

There is a list of recommended gear AND mandatory gear in the runners manual. Don’t skip on the recommended gear. There is a reason they recommend it. Better to have it in your pack and NOT need it then to not have it and end up needing it.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Thera are many aid stations where your family and friends can see you come in. They have a live tracker so your family and friends can follow you on a map as well.

How’s the Swag?

Swag is pretty darn great! You get a large duffle bag with the race logo, a T-shirt, a buff, stickers. When you finish you get to choose what custom buckle you want. All the buckles say Moab 240 but there are many different designs. You also get a finishers mug, and a print of a photo of the Moab 240 course.

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

10/10 stars. Highly recommend if you want an experience/adventure of a lifetime!

Alicia Jenkins is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with Coach Alicia, check out her coaching page.

Photo: Jason Peters