Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bryce 100 Course Preview

A few days ago I was able to make a jaunt over to Bryce Canyon to check out some of the course for the Bryce 100 coming up in eight (gulp) days. My friend and I started at the 50 mile location - Crawford Pass. This little sign welcomed us. I was anxious to see what "Most Difficult" looked like. (Other things that are most difficult: only eating half of a donut, or listening to music by Celine Dion.)

Within a few minutes of running, bright red cliffs and hoodoos started showing up.

My partner in crime was Jared Thorley, my running companion for the Moab 50 miler and lots of other training runs. It was clear that RD Matt Gunn had spent plenty of time on the course clearing out deadfall.

What was so drastically different from the trails I usually run around Zion is that there was SHADE! Having some cover from the trees and doing a mountain run instead of a desert run was awesome.

Jared is sporting some pretty impressive face fur. (Admittedly, I'm jealous.) The Bryce 100 is his first 100 miler and he said his wife will be at the finish line waiting for him.......with a razor.

The single track everywhere we ran was pristine. I could tell that not too many people have ever traveled across these trails. I was madly in love with all this amazing scenery surrounding us.

There were some pretty good climbs along the way but the trail surface ideal. The Zion 100 has some really technical, really rocky trails with a grand daddy amount of really challenging slick rock. But at least for the miles we ran at Bryce, the trails were soft, compact dirt that were much less technical than Zion.

Some of the miles made me feel swallowed up by an expansive forest. Some miles had views of wide valleys in the distance. But my favorite miles led us around the base of just incredible red cliffs. I'm fairly confident that this is what heaven will look like.

I had been doing a bunch of driving and had also done a full day seminar for work the day before. This led to a bad combination of 1) Too much Diet Dr. Pepper and 2) Too little water. That dehydration caught up with me a few hours into the run when, despite an ideal 60ish degrees, I was sweating like Lance Armstrong at a drug test. I could not get enough water in me.

I kept thinking how among all the people I've run with, Jared most closely parallels my running style. He seems to want to talk at the times I'd like to. And he seems to have an inner sense of when it's best to shut up, suffer, and get through it. The only difference is that one of us looks like Grizzly Adams in running shorts.

The course has lots of low brush and I'm sure we'll all finish with our share of scratches on the legs. I don't own any, but if you have calf sleves this would be a good race to use them. There are also lots of little loose branches on the ground. I learned to not follow too closely behind the person in front of you. Otherwise you might get a case of BTLS (Branch Through Leg Syndrome).

To get some perspective of the wide expanses of the trail, here is the Where's Waldo Runners Edition:

I think the Bryce 100 is going to be an incredible race. If the miles I spent on the course are an indication of the race in general, we are in for a treat.


  1. Wow! Looking forward to hearing about the Bryce 100. Bryce Canyon is one of my favorite places ever so cannot wait to see your photos!

  2. I have two feelings, "excitement" and "what in the heck did I sign myself up for." I think I am going to feel fat running with you guys. I thought you ate donuts all the time Cory?

  3. I wish I would be there. It's such a beautiful place. Unfortunately a stress fracture have put a stop to the ambition to toe the starting line. Good luck out there Cory!

  4. Gorgeous scenery again Cory. I like the addition of the trees. It adds a nice touch to those impressive landforms.

  5. Wow! Looks absolutely stunning! I can't wait to see all the pictures from the full course on race day!

    You should come do one of our many trail races up here in WA. It's all in the shade.

  6. Nice photos. Makes we want to do this run.

  7. Man that looks amazing and shade is nice, I wish we had this type of scenery in Minnesota!

  8. Taper starts today.. can hardly wait to traverse some of the best scenery in all of Utah..

  9. Great course preview. It's got my psyched for Friday!