Friday, March 25, 2016

Monument Valley Ultra Adventure 2016

I've been working on eating healthier. My family has been working on eating healthier. I feel better when I eat healthier.

Which is why my body did not, in the slightest bit, appreciate the fact that I found myself at a McDonald's in Kayenta, Arizona drowning my sorrows in Hot'n Spicy McChicken Sandwiches and ice cream cones.

Here's where this story started: I was asked to be the finish line captain for this year's Ultra Adventures races (Zion 100, Bryce Canyon 100, Capitol Reef, etc). I love the races and the people behind Ultra Adventures so this is a cool opportunity. This past weekend was the Monument Valley 4 mile, half marathon, 50k, and 50 miler.

I headed for Monument Valley a day early hoping to catch some sight seeing before my duties began. I stopped at Horseshoe Bend, which is unspeakably beautiful.

I recreated a jumping picture I took at Horseshoe Bend last year before my R2R2R run:

I did a short hike to this cool toadstool rock formation:

After a few hours of driving, I stopped at a gas station in Kayenta, Arizona. When I walked out of the gas station, a guy said "Your front tire is flat. Oh. Your back tire is flat too." I panicked. I drove slowly over to the air compressor. Broken. I slowly drove across the street to another gas station. Air compressor: broken.

I slowly drove to the other corner of the street to what I discovered was the only mechanic in town. He was gone for the day. No sight seeing for me, amigo. Nope. Stranded in Kayenta, Arizona: home of a few motels, a hardware store, and a McDonald's.

I managed to get the car fixed the next day, but not before a few meals at McDonald's, a few too many Hot'n Spicy McChicken sandwiches, and a few too many ice cream cones.

Monument Valley is remarkably scenic and has a spiritual feeling unlike anywhere I've raced before. (HERE is my race report from last year.) The race does such a good job of incorporating the Navajo culture. Packet pickup was in a hogan!

It was hard work getting everything set up, keeping volunteers organized, and helping meet runner's needs throughout the race. There are countless hours of manpower that go on behind the scenes of any race so that runners have a good experience.

I loved spending time with old friends, and making new friends. At packet pickup I had the pleasure of talking with Pam Reed who was the first woman to ever become the overall winner of Badwater in 2002. (Just for fun, she won it the next year too.) She gave me some excellent tips and helped instill some confidence. Pam Reed has more confidence in my upcoming Badwater run than I do!

The night before the race, everyone enjoyed an amazing presentation about the Navajo culture with singing and dancing. Even race director Matt Gunn got in on the action.

The sun set at packet pickup and we got a few hours of sleep before the excitement began the next morning with the start of the race.

I had an awesome group of volunteers to help me throughout the day at the finish line. I left for a few minutes to go to the overlook of Monument Valley and was inspired to see a runner far below me in the middle of their race. You have to look closely to see the runner on the road. Seeing the picture of this runner gives some perspective into the amazing landscape runners travel through.

The race ended at 10pm while runners enjoyed the finish line festivities. Afterward we took down the finish line and tents late into the night. The race ended up going well and was a challenging but enjoyable experience.

On the way home, I made a quick stop on the Forrest Gump Highway. "That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run." ~ Forrest Gump

Monument Valley is a place unlike any other. And there remains a high likelihood that I will never eat another chicken sandwich from McDonald's.


  1. So you'll be at Bryce too? I'm running the Bryce 50k; really looking forward to it. Had such a good time at Antelope Canyon last year!

  2. On our roadtrip a couple of weeks ago we stopped in a small town to eat and the first place I saw was a McDonalds. I vetoed it which meant a 15 minute drive around to find somewhere else. We ended up at a shopping centre and in the food court where the only thing open was a McDonalds. I'm with you - it'll be a long time till I eat there again.

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