Saturday, May 31, 2014

Practice Run and Trail Clearing for the Squaw Peak 50 Mile Ultra Run

I signed up for a little race right here in my own valley.  I have been traveling different distances around Utah and Nevada to attempt ultra races but decided it was time to do one right out my front door.  The Squaw Peak 50 mile run in the mountains was going to be happening on June 7th, 2014 and I had decided a few months previously that I was ready to tackle this beast.

A couple weekends before the run the race director, John Bozung, organized a practice run/trail marking run and then the next weekend a trail cleaning/marking event for those who were new to this race or who just wanted to get in some training miles.  I jumped right on board with both runs so I could accomplish getting in some mileage and so I could see some of the course beforehand.

The first Saturday we met there were 5 of us which was a nice number.  We marked the trail with pink flagging and saw about 8 miles as we ran an out and back accomplishing about 16 miles for the morning.
I never tire of seeing the majestic Mount Timpanogos.  This is the front side of it.  
At one point in our run we came to a beautiful overlook of the valley.  Wow!
Another thing John wanted to check was the snow levels and avalanches in a couple of spots along the course.  That's a big one right there indeed that hadn't melted down yet.
This first run was a great experience and helped ease my nerves a little bit about what was ahead in a couple weeks.

The second run was the next weekend and involved a little more mileage.  We also had a few more people join in on the fun, maybe about 12.  We had to drive to the little town of Wallsburg, to the east of Deer Creek and then head up into the mountains to an area called Little Valley.  We started our run there and spent quite a few hours out in a very rugged part of the course.  This angle of Mount Timpanogos in the background with snow on it is the back side of the picture at the top of this post.  That's quite a distance to travel on foot.  YIKES!  What was I getting myself into?
John, the race director had quite a story to share with us about an experience he had while marking the trail many years ago with a cougar following him.  It was pretty intense listening as he shared with the group about what happened.  He was one lucky guy to not get attacked.  So now he has a marking of cougar prints on a few places on the course of where that happened.
Another section of the course is lovingly called (ha!) Bozung Hill because it is a part of the course where around mile 40 you want to curse at John Bozung for putting this into his race.  It's a pretty steep section that's lasts for a little more than a mile and come race day would be in the very heat of the day. While practicing for it I had to stop and breathe and rest a few times.  Yes, this part was no fun.      
The scenery up this high in the mountains was phenomenal and made the climbs worthwhile.  Plus, there were people to talk to and we had the task of clearing branches and things in the way.  It was a great experience to hang out with some pretty neat people who were there helping, all with the same goal in mind of completing a pretty epic ultra experience in a week.
Later in the run the story of Porter and his death came up to John and I shared with him that painful experience in my life of losing him.  He mentioned to the group later on in the day that I had a story to share and that the group should hear it.  Nobody mentioned anything about wanting to hear it so I wasn't going to just blurt it out, but there was one person later on that asked to hear my story.  That would be this guy, Cory Nielson.  He was very warm and caring as he asked and was very kind to listen.  He appreciated hearing my story and said how it would help him and his relationship with his own son.  As we were coming down off of some steep areas of the mountain and crossing some scary avalanche areas it reminded me again of Porter and what he must have felt as he slipped on some snowy patch and fell.  I don't like to think about it.
I was extremely grateful for the opportunity I had to get to participate in this experience of seeing part of the course.  There is no way I would have been able to experience anything like this on my own out in such a far away, rugged area of the mountains.  Besides, who wants to run alone anyway? This beauty and grandeur is meant to be experienced with others.  God's world is such an amazing place to live and it's always more fun to run with people.  

Bring on the Squaw Peak 50 Mile Ultra Race