Buffalo Run 100 miler the week before had gone away. It's a good thing - because I really wanted to run a section of the Zion 100 in the dark.
Race director Matt Gunn did a test run marking the entire section of the Guacamole Trail with a new LED light system that will be used on race day. It is easy to get lost off track on Guacamole in the daylight, let alone trying to navigate it at night.
I got up to Guacamole very early in the morning while it was still dark. The owls and the coyotes were obviously having a contest to see who could yell louder. The trail was marked with a combination of standard ribbon, reflective ribbon, and the LED light. Matt said they have been named "trailies or glowies. Whichever sounds toughest."
I was surprised how well the glowies (Glowies? Is that the consensus? Should we vote on this?) stood out in the dark. Guacamole will likely be reached in the dark during the race so I really tried to put myself into the position of a runner who has never been on this trail before. They worked like a charm. I think these will become the gold standard for marking the night sections of ultramarathons.
I also took my first ever jumping pictures in the dark. There is definitely some potential with night shots.
Another thing he is adding to the course this year is some directional arrows in spots where there are trail junctions. I was out by myself in the dark and never felt confused or turned around.
While doing the test run in the dark, the glowies were fairly close together, so once I got to one, it was pretty easy to see the next one up ahead. I was relieved to hear that Matt is planning to over-mark this section for race day as well.
I felt much more confident about tackling the night portion of the Zion 100 after going on this training run. These updated marking tools are a huge improvement over last year's race.
Fortunately my legs were recovering and still on the slower side so I was also able to enjoy an amazing sunrise out on the trail with Zion National Park in the background.
Around this time I heard some running in the distance. Aside from people I have taken out here, I have never seen another runner on this trail before so I thought it may be Matt. Turns out it was. Here is Matt running across the typical terrain (lots of slick rock) of the Guacamole Trail:
Matt took me to a new part of the trail that I hadn't run before. The views were incredible. I feel so thankful to have this little chunk of awesomeness in my backyard.
Tomorrow is an exciting day. If everything goes as planned, I'll be meeting up with my running hero Scott Jurek for an interview! Can't wait.