Zion 100 was last Friday/Saturday. It was going to be my first hundred. Unfortunately, things didn’t go exactly as planned. For starters, I was sick leading up to the race. This affected my last two weeks of training, but that wasn’t a huge deal. On the other hand, starting a hundred while still recovering from a cold/cough was a bit of a big deal.
On Thursday, I went to the start with Megan and Dustin to pick up my packet. It was your typical pre-race atmosphere. Lots of nerves and lots of excitement. And people from all over the world – very cool! Remarkably, I picked up my packet directly behind someone from my hometown (over 2,000 miles away). Small world!
The next morning, I got up at 4am and got to the start around 5:30am. That gave me thirty minutes to chill and mentally prepare for the day ahead. The race got off a few minutes late, but by 6:05, we were all headed for the first major climb. We were on dirt roads/trails in the desert and it was quite dusty until things thinned out a bit. Around mile 4, we hit the climb and everyone started hiking in the dark. We shot up about 1,500 feet over the course of a mile – that’s a pretty steep climb!
We did a loop at the top and then came down that same climb. The sky was lighter now and it was fun heading back in the direction of the start. There was an aid station there – I was all good on supplies so I moved through rather quickly. We had another medium-sized climb – some of it on trail and then some on a dirt road – before we started the first slick rock section. Now, I had read about slick rock in several race reports. It’s about as hard as concrete but extremely uneven. It’s quite challenging to run on, and it started to chew up my legs early in the race. Regardless, I finished up that loop and headed back toward the aid station at mile 30.
At this point, I was feeling okay. I got to see Megan, Michele and Dustin, and I spent a minute loading up on supplies. Unfortunately, I was having some coughing issues already and I took cough drops too. I left the aid station in pretty good shape and jogged down the dirt road that was leading to the biggest climb of the day. It wasn’t THAT hot – especially not for the desert – but for some reason, the heat started to affect me a bit at this point. I hit the climb and started to hike the 1,800 feet of vertical. There were (optional) ropes set up on this one because it was that steep. I stopped to rest a few times along the way and I was coughing a bit more. The aid station at the top was awesome, and I headed out with a few guys. At mile 40.5, you hit Gooseberry Point, which has an amazing view of all the surrounding mesas. Unfortunately, this section also has tons of slick rock. For me, some of it was runnable, some of it required a little scrambling, and at one point, I had to do a crab walk – not my finest moment.
This was definitely my low point of the race, and it went on for quite a while. I was having a lot of trouble running on the slick rock and I couldn’t stop coughing. At one point, I hiked for over an hour straight, and I was only passed by one person – obviously, other people were struggling on the slick rock as well. Finally, after an eternity, I got back to a section that also had some trail.
By this point, I was a coughing, snotty mess, not to mention my quads felt like shit. I kept moving, and I dropped a few texts to get some moral support (because 4G on top of a mesa in the middle of the desert).
This part is a bit of a blur. I kept hydrating and eating with the hope that the coughing would subside. I went through 53.5 miles in pretty rough shape, but I was determined to keep moving. Just a short while later, the sky opened up. Now, I’m not sure how many of you have been on a mesa in the desert during a storm, but it’s an interesting experience. I got really cold, really fast. Luckily, I had grabbed long sleeves from my crew, but I was still soaked and freezing. I got passed by the first woman at this point, and she looked awesome. Sadly, her awesomeness did not rub off when she breezed by me. I finally hit the descent to the Cemetery aid station, and without going into detail, I’ll just say it wasn’t pretty.
So, I finally get to Cemetery and I tell them I’m dropping. I was freezing and I couldn’t stop coughing. I tried to get a ride out of Cemetery and… the road is impassable because of the weather! Awesome. After evaluating my options (of which there were none), I got my ass out of the seat and made my way back up the climb, shivering and coughing the whole way. Long story short, I made it to mile 62.5 eventually, and after a little bit of soul searching, I decided to drop (again).
No regrets at this point. I obviously didn’t expect 100 miles to be easy. At the same time, I never signed up for a death march that would inevitably lead to pneumonia and hypothermia. There will be another 100-miler at some point – maybe even this year – and I guarantee you it will go a bit better.
Big thanks to Dustin, Megan and Michele who all waited patiently as I wandered around the desert.
Here are the full results from the race.
My next race is [probably] Cayuga Trails.