Sunday, December 23, 2012

35 Mile Birthday Run on Sand Mountain

I've always wanted to try to run the same number of miles as my age on my birthday. The timing has never worked out before, but this year I managed to have a day off work on December 19th. Coincidentally that happened to be my birthday. Goal: 35 miles.

I nearly aborted plans the night before the run when I looked outside at 10pm and it was snowing like crazy. Our weather here is very similar to, um, the sun. It's not supposed to snow on the sun. And yet judging by the view outside our door, you'd have thought we were in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Suddenly 35 miles seemed like the dumbest idea ever. (Unless you count The Clapper.)

When the alarm clock went off a few hours before sunrise I just wanted to stay in my nice warm bed while visions of sugar plums (Twinkies) danced in my head. But I coaxed my tired bones out of the sheets and headed out to the trail.

My destination was Sand Mountain. This was my view once the sun finally came up:

Me and Cold are not friends. We are not on speaking terms. I don't want to run in a winter wonderland. The windchill was 16 degrees and the sections of slick rock were more like a skating rink than a trail.

Although it was bitter cold, the scenery was just incredible. I realized how fortunate I was to see the rare occurrence of snow on these bright red rocks.

An hour or two after the sun came up it warmed up a few degrees and the cold didn't bother me anymore. I did some exploring on the West Rim Trail and found this cool little arch:

I kept running and checked out a new area I hadn't been to before called The Maze. I was in awe as I stood on the edge of these cliffs.

I decided I better not leave this view without getting a jumping picture first.

Out of the countless miles I have spent on the trails, this area had one of the most stunning views I have ever seen. This scenery defies description.

Eventually I headed down the mountain and did the rest of the miles down below on some quicker trails. Here is a view of the cliffs from down below.

As I finished those 35 miles, I was so glad I decided to go ahead with the run. I'm so thankful I got to see those amazing red cliffs blanketed with snow. That will be a birthday run to remember.

Side note: I think I'll be able to take a group of runners out here this coming Wednesday, the day after Christmas. Round trip to The Maze is around 14 miles. If you're interested, email me at


  1. What a birthday celebration! The contrast between the rocky desert and the snow is just incredible! I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! Happy B-day!

  2. What a fun way to celebrate your birthday (side note... you do not even look close to 35!)

    Beautiful photos as usual!

  3. You HAVE to keep blogging until your 70th birthday. 70 miles? Hey if anyone can do it it'd be you.

    Gorgeous photos again. That one of the lake - amazing!

  4. Yes this is a fun thing to do and I'm hoping to attempt that again next year for my birthday. Did anyone go with you or was it solo?
    Beautiful red rocks with the snow on them!

  5. Wow, amazing scenery!! Nice job on your run and not wimping out in the snow. It was that cold here this weekend, too, but barely any snow. :(