Sunday, April 22, 2018

Zion 100 Race Report 2018

I thought I'd mimic last year's Zion 100 race report by telling you about my experience in hashtags. I almost didn't run the Zion 100 this year. My legs were still kind of buggy from running a 100 miler on a cruise ship three weeks ago. The biggest issue is that with my limited time before the family wakes up or after they go to bed for the last three months, I've been completely focused on wrapping up my new book Into The Furnace: How a 135 mile run across Death Valley set my soul on fire. More info HERE. Instead of taking that time to run, I've been working on the book. #couchto100miler

Ultimately the night before the race I decided to give it a shot. I didn't want to be left wondering "What if...". I asked my daughter Kylee if she'd make a few baggies of wet wipes for me because #iassumepineneedlesarescratchy . When I came home, she had these awesome baggies prepared for my drop bags. I prayed I wouldn't have the kind of intestinal issues that would require this many wipes, but better safe than sorry. 

At the start line I spent some time talking with my friend and #lumberjacklookalike Danny Widerberg. Danny, the legendary Pam Reed, and myself are the only people who have run the race consecutively each of the 7 years since the Zion 100 started. This is generously due to the fact that Danny, Pam, and the RD were willing to count my solo run of the Zion 100 a few days before the actual race in 2016 because I committed to work at the finish line of the official race. #iwouldkilltogrowabeardlikethis

It poured rain for hours making trail conditions similar to running on a Crisco-covered Slip And Slide. It was around 2.4% enjoyable. While running with friend Maria, she said she thought the rain was a fun challenge. #shewouldnotpassaliedetectortest

There is always some kind of weather issue at races. Either we're pointing out how hot a race was. Or how rainy it was. Or how windy it was. Or how cold it was. Or how muddy it was. There is always something. Perfect race weather is like mermaids, unicorns, and enjoyable Celine Dion music. #theydontexist


When we got to the first aid station we saw delicious snacks like these M&Ms. #ithinkiwillpass

Then we had the distinct pleasure of going down the Flying Monkey Trail. #criscoslipandslidesthatgoupmustgodown

As difficult as the trail conditions were, it does help keep you hyper-focused on staying upright and distracting you from grumpy knees and feet. Mercifully once we got off the mesa, the rain eased up and trail conditions became much better. #icouldntthinkofawittyhashtagtoputhere

From there we traveled the long Dalton Wash dirt road to the trailhead of the Guacamole Trail. The trail is miles and miles of punishing slickrock that leave your legs feeling like guacamole. #puremush

The parts of the trail that weren't slickrock were still slick and slimy like creamy peanut butter. #myshadowsaidhello

A couple of hours of slickrock brought us back to the Guacamole aid station before heading back down the road we climbed earlier. #nomorepeanutbutter

At the bottom of Dalton Wash Road, Mel and Kylee met me with a cinnamon roll and a cup of hat Ramen Noodles. They basically rock. #everyaidstationneedscinnamonrolls

We crossed the desert floor between Smith Mesa and Gooseberry Mesa. It's always cool to look across the valley and think "Hey! I was up on top of that mesa a few hours ago!" #whileslidingoncrisco

Next on tap is the punishing climb to the top of Gooseberry Mesa. The trail ascends around 1,500 feet in less than a mile. It. Is. V E R T I C A L. But the great views at the top make you forget that your lungs have filled with molten lava. #okaythatsalie

Unfortunately, for some reason, I had the Beach Boys song Kokomo stuck in my head on repeat. I suppose it could have been worse. #celinedion #spicegirls #backstreetboys #aruba #jamaica #ohIwanttotakeyoutobermudabahama "comeonprettymama #wellgettherefastandthenwelltakeitslow 

The top of Gooseberry Mesa is another hefty chunk of slickrock that puts your legs through a cheese grater. The twelve miles up here feel like twenty. But then you get to an overlook called The Point and all your hard work is rewarded. It's my favorite part of the whole course. #themesakindoflookslikeacheesegrater

Many of my hours on Gooseberry were alone. By this point the miles were catching up to people. For some reason I was feeling pretty good overall. Every once in a while I would catch up with people who looked like they had entered the pain cave. #whoknewpaincaveswerethisbeautiful

While running on Gooseberry I finally broke down, pulled out my phone, and started listening to some ESPN Dan Le Batard podcasts I had saved. #kokomowasmakingmecrazy

I was almost to the Goosebump aid station as the sun was setting. Watching the sun go down was seriously beautiful. These are the times when you stop running and pull over to truly enjoy a magical moment. #patrioticsunset

I ran almost all night by myself. I always suffer intensely at night while running 100s. I get so tired that I start sleep walking and the sleep monsters are absolutely suffocating. For some reason it didn't kick in this time and I was able to keep my steady pace going. Once I made it down the vertical descent off Gooseberry, the miles become much more runnable. The problem is that most of the time, my legs are fried by this point. This year I still had some energy so I was able to keep pounding. #couchto100mileplanpayingoff

The last 24ish miles cover a variety of trails in the Virgin Desert. There is a red loop, white loop, and blue loop, all on different trails. While on the red loop I saw this beautiful sunrise over Zion National Park. #herecomesthesun #doodoodoodoo

When I finished the red loop, I took off my night tights and changed into shorts. I didn't realize until ten minutes on the white loop that I forgot to remove the timing bib from my tights to put back on my shorts, meaning that it would show I didn't check out of the aid station. A few months ago an ultrarunner got caught cheating. I wanted absolutely nothing to do with that. Fortunately between my Garmin tracking of the race, volunteer Laura Western who checked me in after each loop, talking with friends during each loop, and a couple hundred pictures and videos I took during the race, I've got plenty of proof that I covered each step of the race. I pushed as hard as I could for the last five miles. It was so strange to feel so good. That NEVER happens! #expertdeathshuffler

After 28 hours and 42 minutes, I crossed the finish line of the Zion 100. It was only the second time in my life where I felt like things clicked for the whole race. (The only other time was when I ran a sub-24 hour race.) It has been so many years since the last time everything clicked like this that I forgot what it felt like. I truly couldn't have been happier. I then went over to the awards table and looked at all the custom belt buckles. I waited until one said "I love you. I want to come home with you." #iloveyoutoo

It was great to see Jackson who had been working at the finish line all day. #isthisblackmailmaterial

One of the happiest moments of the day was waiting at the finish line for my friend Jared Thorley. He desperately, desperately wanted a sub-30 hour finish. I saw him a few hours earlier and didn't think he had a prayer. But with 11 minutes before that 30 hour goal, Jared made it to the finish line. He dug SO deep for that. His finish was a beautiful thing to watch. #achievetheimpossible

I love how every race is an adventure. As you are standing at the starting line, you have no idea what is in store. I love the people and the atmosphere of the ultra community. An ultramarathon is an opportunity to see beautiful places, breathe fresh air, then breathe molten lava as you climb ridiculous hills that fill your lungs with burning magma, and be surrounded by people who are willing to dream big. This is a race experience I will always cherish. #gettherefastandthenwelltakeitslow #thatswherewewanttogo #waydowninKokomo

I must thank Mel and my amazing kids Jackson, Danica, and Kylee. I love them so much and am so thankful for their support. Huge thanks to all the incredible race volunteers. And thanks to Altra, Tailwind Nutrition, Injinji, St. George Running Center, and UltrAspire. I feel so blessed. 

14 comments:

  1. Nice job, Cory! Amazed your legs still worked after #Float100 2018.. You and Kylee should sell wipe bags, with personal messages like Tailwind.. :)

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  2. What a great race report! How you didn't DNF with Kokomo stuck in your head is beyond me. And I'm torn between thinking "hat Ramen Noodles" is a typo or a common Utah thing. Like mayochup. Congrats on getting that done! And congrats on likely having enough leftover wipes for several more 100s.

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  3. Fantastic! Well, except for "Kokomo". For some reason I invariably get the Sesame Street theme song stuck in my head during races.

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  4. Every time I read a race report of yours, I'm tempted to sigh up for a summer 100. I'm trying to swear them off. 😉

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  5. Great race report! I finished about 5 minutes behind you. I ended up with a possible shin fracture from the miles on that dang rock! I’m so glad you got pics of those M&M’s! ��
    -Dink

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  6. Well done Corey! I ran some in your general vicinity up on Smith Mesa. I loved the high-tech raincoat that you were rocking. I was also the weirdo yelling at you from the car as you were coming down the street to the finish line. Best of luck on the new book!

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  7. I love your race reports soooo much! and Maria definitely wouldn't pass a lie detector test but isn't she just the best to run with?! lol ;)

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