Friday April 8, Glen Gunnell and I drove to Moab in snowy and inclement weather to camp and race in the Amasa Back Trail Race 6.5 and 9.5 mile race on Saturday April 9 (Glen and I opted for the 9.5). Glen suggested camping in the heart of BLM land about 10 miles before Moab. As we drove several miles on a dirt road in the 4-door sedan I wondered if we’d ever get there. However, once we arrived at Glen’s special spot and saw how secluded we were at the base of a large rock outcropping I was immediately grateful to be in such beautiful country. Here are some pics and watch the video for a short clip of the camp site.
My Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS results: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/78221577
We woke up at 6 a.m. to get to the Amasa Back starting line up Kane Creek Road. I’ll be honest, I was a little worried about how well the race was organized because it was so small and the information on the website was not very thorough. However, the small relaxed setting of all the racers was so fun. The best was when Chris, the race coordinator drew a line in the dirt with his foot and said “this is the starting line.” Then he counted down and we were off.
The first mile follows the Kane Creek dirt road and the pace was fast. We then dropped down a steep climb and crossed over a small stream, no need to get wet thank goodness. Looking up I felt my heart sink when I saw this enormous and very intimidating climb that stood before us. This massive climb was just under 2 miles long and had an approximate elevation climb of 700 feet. With mixed slick rock, loose rock and sand, and small ledges to leap up I was way above my red-zone, my heart felt like it was going to explode. I’m glad I didn’t have the heart rate strap on it would have freaked me out too much.
The next mile was a gradual downhill that opened to one of the most amazing vistas I have ever seen – this alone made the whole race worth it, but it kept getting better. At 4.35 miles there was the only aid station with Cytomax, water and gels. I downed a small amount of Cytomax, not a big fan. I was carrying my hand-held water bottle with some elete in it, and that was keeping me going. The next mile was another difficult climb up to the maximum elevation of 4,892. The trail was marked with pink flags but I found myself following a guy in Vibram FiveFingers and luckily these two awesome ladies yelled out to me as I veered off the trail that I was going the wrong direction and the other guy and I turned back.
I ended up running the rest of the 4 mile decent with Holly (also from my hometown of Huntsville Utah) girl and Katie. My legs were screaming at me on the decent, but having some great company took my mind off the pain and it was really enjoyable. The last vista at the top of the decent was absolutely amazing (see end clip on video). There was some very steep technical sections of the decent that I can’t imagine tackling on the mountain bike.
At mile 9.35 we met the river crossing where we had a 12 foot wide section of ice cold water we had to cross. The icy water felt great on the legs. We then wound our way up a hill under a large cliff overhang (where I banged my head – ouch!) and lastly up a ridiculously steep embankment to the finish line.
My total time was 1:45:39 which I was very happy with considering this being my first trail race and I am nursing my IT band and a shin splint back to proper form. The experience was fantastic, and I truly look forward to doing more trail races. It was a blast doing the race with my good friend Glen Gunnell he is the one that inspired this whole event – thanks Glen (check out his blog on his take of the race). We ended up getting a way cool tech shirt and a neat finishing medal with “Amasa Run” and a hieroglyphic cut into the metal.
This was one of the most impressive and amazing races I have done. This 9.5 miles of steep and exposed terrain was physically tasking but spiritually and emotionally rewarding and ranks well up in my list of races I highly recommend. This is a race you must try.
Here are some photos at the finish line:
Gear and supplements used in race:
- Some brand new Pearl Izumi Infinity running short – love these shorts. I can’t wait to run in them again.
- Inov-8 295 trail shoes – the sticky rubber was excellent on this terrain
- Ultimate Direction hand-held water bottle
- Elete electrolyte drops in the water – this is a must for me now in all my races and training.
- Garmin Forerunner 305