Anyway, I got up early and as I was leaving the hotel I noticed a new bride (I assumed so from the wedding gown) pulling the slot machine all by herself in the hotel lobby.
I made my way to Coyote Springs in the dark. It’s a failed ‘new las vegas’ about an hour north. The only thing there is a newly built golf course and a whole bunch of really cool desert trails.
We toed the starting line and we were off. We did a short out and back to get the runners spread out for the single track desert trail and I managed to run with the lead group of 7 or 8 runners. The Coyote Springs 50 is a double figure eight loop where you run out across the desert bottom, climb up onto a mesa, retreat down, climb back up and then come back down to the start and then do the whole thing over again. The trail is a mix of open desert running, side hilling the mesa, technical downhill and some good climbing. The trail is non-existent in most places but it is marked with green chalk. Most interestingly is that the desert rock is red. This is highly unfortunate for colored blind people as red/green combos are invisible. Since I am colored blind this would pose an interesting challenge.
The lead group started to split a bit and I ended up following the leader. As we climbed the mesa, I pulled passed the leader and hit an aid station. I came out of the aid station first and started making my way down the mesa. Hmmm. No tracks and I can’t see the trail markers for the life of me. I ran around for a while. Stopped. Waited. Eventually, I saw another runner and I asked for directions. She was in dead last and I was back on the up trail. Way off course.
OK. So I ran back to the aid station. First place to last place. Quick decision – solution – Go for broke. I upped the pace significantly. I downhilled very fast, climbed up fast and I then started picking people off one at a time. Since it is open country, I could spot the next runner in front of me, make sure my foot turnover was faster and pass. On the second downhill, I ran like I was in a maniacal rage passing runners two and three at a time, jumping over rocks on the side of the trail and just asking to break a leg, arm or neck. By the time I ended the first loop I was in seventh place. It was getting hot out and I was certainly not acclimated to the heat but there was no way I was slowing. I’d rather blow up.
I made my way down to fifth place going out across the desert and by the time I climbed the first part of the hill on the mesa I was in third. The leaders knew I was moving up so it started to go all out. I maintained third until we were back down the mesa and then passed into second along the bottom. My strength is climbing so I went all out on the last climb back up. I got with an car’s length of first by the top and as we descended down I just couldn’t hold it. The pace and the heat were hitting me hard. I fell back into third and tried to hang on for dear life. Going from below zero running to hot desert running can be challenging. We were hitting near 30 Celcius and I was sweating heavily.
We rounded the corner into the hot desert bottom. I passed the finish line in third place about four minutes behind the leader. My GPS watch read 53.5 km’s. An extra 3.5 km’s getting lost and probably at least five minutes sitting around. Routefinding is all part of the deal.