Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cave Creek Marathon 'Fun Run'

A 'fun run' is a semi-supported (some aid stations/flagging), typically no-fee (some have donations for the food) run. It is not a race, but often participants 'sign up' as these types of runs do not have to purchase permits as long as they follow certain rules, one being a limit on participants. This is how the Tucson Trail Runners does their runs. These types of runs are becoming more popular, as the economy makes it more and more difficult for people to sign up for races.
Plus, it is FUN! That's why it is called a fun run!!! Yeah, I know, it is hard to explain that to the office co-workers and some non-running family and friends... :)
One of my fellow Tucson Trail Runner members, Dallas, rode up with me to Spur Creek Conservation Area in Cave Creek (2.5 hours North of Tucson) to join some Phoenix ultrarunners for the running of the Cave Creek Marathon fun run. Dallas is just about one of the most upbeat and friendly people you would ever want to meet, so I had great company for the long drive up and back.
Of all the other ultrarunners up there, I only knew Jamil, who finished first, in 4:50, but everyone else was super friendly.
Distance: 27 miles (I had 2 moments of backtracking, so it really is just a bit longer than marathon distance.) I missed one turn and then later dropped my camera, so I had to backtrack on both counts and that added on around a 1/2 mile total. The run was around 26.5 miles according to the run director.
Time: 6:41.
There were 48 people who started, and 42 finished. I was 24th to finish, and the 4th woman out of 11 women who finished.
Cumulative elevation gain/(loss): 5,777/(5,791) feet. The run director and others reported around 6,200 feet gain. Usually the Garmin GPS watches 'over-report' gain, but mine was either more accurate or under-reported. Either way, it was a lot!
I ran with or near Dallas for about a mile or so and then he pulled away.  Dallas is on the left in this picture:
We ran through multiple creek crossings right at the beginning and the water was very, very cold!!!!!
In this picture, I'm in the pink, of course, and Dallas is still right in front of me. I think this was one of our first crossings.
We had wet feet for quite a bit of the run. As soon as the feet would dry a little, or I would regain some feeling in my toes, we would run into another creek crossing! No blisters or feet problems as a result of wet feet, though. :) I think Dallas said there was around 18 crossings. Felt like 36! The crossings sure were pretty.

Where there is water, there is mud, though. Lots of mud. My legs felt heavy for miles because of it. But, it added to the fun. :) Can't be a real trail runner without a little dirt and mud. Oh, and blood. That's coming up.

After mile 6 or 7, I was not passed by another person until the last 1/2 mile of the run. I passed about 10 people over that time.
There was a super well-stocked aid station at mile 13. I ate some potatoes (I'm posing with one below), peeled some clothes off, and off I went!
The course was really not  in great shape from all of the recent heavy rains. Creeks were up (thigh high in some places) and a lot of the trails were washed out. But Jody, the run director, had pink tape everywhere and that made route finding fairly easy. Without the tape, I would still be wandering around out there...

I ran out of water 6 miles out from the finish. It was smoking hot by this time of the day. I was drinking water much faster than I expected. As soon as I ran out, I caught up to another runner. He offered to give me some of his water, but he didn't have much, so I turned him down (isn't that nice, though?) He said we still had a ways to go, because, "WE STILL HAVE TO CLIMB OUT OF HERE." That's how he said it. Yikes! I just decided I would head on and see what happened. I got a burst of energy, got moving and 1/2 hour later, ran into a large group of hikers. They were kind enough to give me about 16 ounces or so of water, which was perfect! Needless to say, it took over 1.5 hours to do that last 6 miles - it was definitely a climb.
Dallas smoked the course in his usual style, finishing 12th in 5:56. He ran over 80 miles this week!!!!! It was great to see him at the finish.
Dallas and I compared the cat claw marks on our legs and chatted with the other runners a bit. Cat claw is a very heinous plant that will tear your clothes and your skin. I had about 50 pretty good scratches on my legs (hence the blood). Lovely! Battle wounds. I always have fun showing them off to co-workers the next day. They usually have a look of horror on their faces. :)
This was a beautiful course. I'll do it again.
We finished off the day with In and Out burgers and lots of good conversation.
It is always a good day spent on the trails, with other trail runners and with a good friend. It was a lot of driving, but it all made sense in the end. :)
I just love an adventure. And, if I can drag a friend along for it, all the better!
"There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness, when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy. Today is a gift, that's why it is called the present." ~ Author Unknown.


HappyTrails said...

Sounds like you had an awesome day.
We, of course, loved the saguaro farm. And YUM!!!! In & Out burgers!!!! It's been years and years since I've had one of those!

Joyce said...

Congrats on another great run Renee! I look forward to seeing you at Pemberton.

Jeff B. said...

Thanks for sharing all the pictures. I was trying to explain to a few friends what it was like, but this site did all the talking for me. I was a lot slower, but enjoyed the race too!

Sarah said...

That looks like fun to me! And really pretty scenery too. I bet the desert will really bloom this spring with all the rain you've been getting. Supported trail run, friends, post-race burgers....sounds great!

RunningTroysLife said...

Darn I missed the chance to earn some in-n-out burgers!
I'm still mostly taking it easy, not sure what races I have lined up other then a short aquathlon in the morning.

If you come across any more must do fun runs keep me posted, my schedule might permit me to go!