Man Against Horse - 50 Mile Race Report | Posted: 2007-10-07 11:42:40 | 5224 hits | View in Hi-Fi Mode

Man Against Horse - October 6, 2007

Holy shit! I ran 50 fucking miles!

What did you bitches do this weekend? I battled 30-some runners and a field of horses in the Man Against Horse race, up by Jerome.

I think the horses won this year. I just wanted to finish in less than 12 hours... and I did.

Ok... so by now, you're probably thinking, "Damn! That dude is crazy!" and you'd kinda be right. Man Against Horse is not a race for the faint of heart. I spent pretty much all summer training for it and was really totally unsure of how I'd do, whether I'd be able to finish it. I mean... how does one know if he's trained enough to run 50 miles?

There is, of course, a theory to all this.

My race strategy? Start slow and finish slow, munch down a lot of calories in the process. I executed it perfectly... I'm not sure of my exact time -- I was actually in pretty good shape when I crossed the finish line -- but at that point, I was just glad to have made it and wasn't really paying attention. When they post the official times, I'll update this... but it was right around 11 hours.

I started in the back of the pack and pretty much finished in the back of the pack.

Along with the regular cast of characters from around the phoenix ultra running scene, I met some interesting folks along the way. Some dude from Albuquerque whose name I didn't catch regaled me with tales of the old days of ultra marathoning. I kinda hung with him for the first 10 miles or so, slowly winding our way through the grasslands of Prescott Valley up towards the real challenge of the mountains. His theory about why we do this? "Peter Pan and the Island of the Lost Boys."

I was running right around second to last when I hit mile 29, a demonic three mile climb up 1,600 feet of Mingus Mountain. Pushed on by Joanne, last year's top female finisher (and fellow Tempe resident / ASU Cross Country Team hater), we climbed and climbed until we hit the aid station at 32, passing runners and horses alike. At that point, I knew I was gonna make it. It was really cold and windy up there, up by the hang gliding cliffs, so I knew I had to push on. (I'd dropped my long sleeve shirt, wool hat, and gloves at checkpoint 4 or 5, they were kind enough to bring it back to the start with all the other stuff.)

Of course, at that point, I'd established a pretty good rhythm. I was extremely observant about staying on top of nutrition, dutifully eating 200-300 calories an hour, every hour of the race. I mostly grazed off the m&m's at the aid station, plus the stuff I brought along -- Gu, Perpetuem, Cliff Shots, and Sports Beans. I ran all the flat parts and downhills and walked all the uphills, all the while, keeping my eyes open for the next pink ribbon to keep on course.

The terrain is pretty rocky with very few purely flat parts. There's a gradual ascent from about mile 5 which takes you all the way up from 4900 feet to 6700 feet by mile 20. It's kind of a hard thing to believe when you hit an aid station at mile 23 and realize that you're just now, barely getting to the halfway point of the race. I took stock of things at that point and realized that I felt just fine. My pace wasn't fast, but I was cruising along comfortably, pretty much alone for huge periods of time out on the trail.

The second half of the race was totally chilled out. After making it up and over Mingus, I just took it easy, did the long descent down the mountain and back towards the grasslands. I knew that as long as I kept moving, everything would be just fine. The run between the last set of checkpoints, miles 43 to 48, were the longest five miles I've ever run. From there, the end seemed so tantalizingly close... but it took sooooooo long to get there.

I can't say enough nice things about the folks who organized the race. It really was superb. There were aid stations / check points every 3-9 miles, right at the logical places on the trail. The Jeep Posse was out in force to assist with the race... they seemed to have the situation totally under control. Horses were barely a factor for me in the race -- I did get passed by a few and had to pass two extremely well behaved horses climbing Mingus, but for the most part, I think they were well ahead of me.

50 miles really is a ridiculously long distance to run, but I actually feel pretty much ok today. I mean... I managed to drive myself two hours home to Phoenix afterwards, although I did catch myself thinking, "Damn, this can of Mountain Dew got really heavy." My knees are a little banged up from the huge altitude gains / losses, but otherwise, no real lasting damage. I didn't get a single blister. (!!!)

So... right. This was kind of a nutty thing to have done, but I did it and it was awesome.

For my efforts, I received this fine belt buckle:

50 Mile Finisher Belt Buckle: Man Against Horse - October 6, 2007

For posterity's sake, here's a photo of the gear I brought along. (Not pictured, the Brooks Cascadias on my feet.)

Stuff I brought along for the run...

UPDATE 10-10-07: I finished the 2007 Man Against Horse race in 10:40. 'Course, I'm credited as Jon Reig -- bad penmanship strikes again!


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