Monument Valley 50k Ultra Adventures
I had originally signed up to run the 50 mile race at Monument Valley. I had taken a bad fall a few weeks prior at a trail marathon and ended up wth stitches and a swollen knee. So the fact that I had decided to run even the 50k had me a little nervous.
The morning of the race was cold during the Navajo prayer ceremony but the view of the sunrise was amazing!
I felt relaxed as we started the race and enjoyed the view along with the mostly downhill dirt road section on our way to three sisters aid station (which we would visit 5 times). There were a lot of runners from Vegas so it was great to see so many by the turnaround point at three sisters.
The first loop was the red loop and my favorite loop. There was some sand but also some sweet singletrack sections that I loved. The views were incredible but I didn’t stop to take any pictures on this loop because I was just enjoying the run. The red loop took us back to three sisters where the aid station was rocking! So many helpful volunteers and so much to eat and drink. There were chairs to sit in which I found useful for emptying the sand out of my shoes a few times.
Then on to the white loop which started out innocently enough on a dirt road and some singletrack. Then….the sand started….and there was a lot if it!
I stopped to take a picture of some spectators…. (cows). That was right before the sand section really started!
At least we ran by some magnificent arches to help take our minds off the sand.
Near the end of of the white loop it merged with the red loop and headed back to three sisters. I made sure to dump out more sand from my shoes and the headed out on the blue trail which was an out and back to the top of Mitchell Mesa.
There was more sand of course. It wouldn’t be a trail race either without getting a little lost. A group of us ended up in a wash and we could see runners parallel to us but higher up then us. So after looking for blue flags that we never found we finally found a way to get back up where we needed to be. That was right before the long, steep, rocky ascent to the top of the mesa.
This is where I got very nervous. I could not fall on my knee again so I took my time and was very careful on the way up. The funny thing is my knee wasn’t hurting me but my calves kept cramping I’m guessing from running in the sand. So I took a couple of salt tabs and hoped for the best!
The way up was fun because I got to see so many runners who I knew since it was an out and back section. Everyone was so encouraging and supportive which is how the trail running community is. At the top of the climb we still had a little ways to go until the overlook section. But oh boy…once we got there it was a fabulous view!
On the way back down I was once again super careful not to fall so I took my time. I ran into several racers again who I knew which made the technical descent much more fun! One of my friends took this picture of me.
Then I just had to get back to the three sisters aid station one more time!
Then it was back on the dirt road that we had started on to the finish. It seemed like that should be easy since I was still feeling good but the wind picked up. There were a lot of cars on the road too kicking up dust so that made it a little harder on the way back (along with the fact that it was mostly uphill at the end). But when I saw the finish line I was soooo happy that I had finished and had such a great day! Monument Valley is truly a beautiful place and this race allows you to see parts of it that the public never gets to. This was an amazing race!