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.
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.