2017 Highlights – The Good, Bad & the Ugly
Here we are at the end of 2017. If you are like me at all, you wonder how did we get here so fast?!? Seems the older I get, the quicker time seems to pass. I’ve always heard this is true from my elders.
At the ripe age of 47, I have been places, done things, met more people than I ever imagined possible. Even though I have a fairly small family, my roots run deep here in Arizona. Being an AZ native really really creates a small space here. Oh, and maybe being an identical twin helps too! The exposure I’ve had over the years here in this great state has been nothing short of amazing. I continue to explore unfamiliar territory and meet new people. Each year presents amazing opportunities.
My commitment to the trail running scene has single handedly been the most personally satisfying of all career paths I’ve chosen. For those that do not know, I have a second career/life being a “techy” guy during the typical 9-5 Monday through Fridayness that most of us all conform to in one way or another. Often, OK.. well, daily, I wonder if I can get to a point where I can make the trail running life(or something in the same realm) an inverse of the aforementioned configuration. Trying to do the math on that one! For now, I’ll keep my day job. It lets me do the things I love to do! Run, Train, Race, Travel, Lead/Manage AZTL(AZ TraiLeggers), Heard Runners at group runs, Take a few good pics here and there, Plan, Socialize, Pay Bills, etc..
2017 Most Memorable
The last 9 miles of the San Diego 100. Beyond already having special moments, great experiences ever since the moment we rolled into the Lake Cuyamaca area, I didn’t know the last miles would go as they did. Suffering through horrendous 50-60mph cold winds all night long, blustery weather, relentless climbing and some technical sections, this last section proved me wrong. Once my pacer and I left the last aid station, I knew my A goal was out of reach time wise. That didn’t stop me. I ran almost this entire section(+/-9ish min/mi) passing what felt like a dozen runners or more. I got my second wind(an amazing phenomenon that happens in my 100 milers).. I felt strong, the sun was up and the finish was so close. It was amazing to feel this good this far into the race(91ish mi in). Scott Mills was there with Angela Shartel handing out the medal, shiny copper buckle and the famed SD100 sweatshirt. All the volunteers were still going at it providing food and aid for us!
2017 Toughest Moment
17 hours, 70 miles into the Leadville 100 knowing I wasn’t going to make it.. the day just didn’t pan out for me in a lot of ways. A race I yearned to complete long before I started racing ultras. One I spent all year training for. I have such respect for Leadville! I had a very tough spot when I left Hope Pass the second time and then again when I got into Twin Lakes at mile 69. I sat for 45 min or more. I was ready to throw the towel in at that time.. The lowest of lows ever in a race for me. Feeling everything slip away. I was thankful my crew talked me into continuing. Knowing what lay ahead (tons more climbing, potentially more potty stops, a rough stomach and cold, slow, slow going), my pacer and I forged on… We tried everything! We fell short of the cutoff at Half Pipe by about 7 min. My race recap if you want gory details. Enough said.
What I learned in 2017…
Failure is good. We learn from it. We get better with it. We are human. We grow stronger after defeat. The inner fires get stoked. The cobwebs of comfort and taking things for granted get dusted off. Leadville 100, the race was my failure this year. I’ve written in gory detail about it. I don’t socialize it when with friends much at all. I don’t like to wear failure on my sleeves so to speak. Leadville hasn’t see the last of me! I did put in for the lottery for 2018 to return for redemption! I will know on January 14th if they’ll see us again next year.
2017 Favorite Place
Telluride, Colorado. O Em Geee. This place is like Heaven on earth! How could ColoRADo one up all the OTHER awesome places, I ask? What happens when A. you go to a place you’ve dreamed about going and 2. you spend it with 8 of your closest friends and C. you spend it in a luxurious multi-level million dollar plus condo on the ski slopes right there in the Village! Whoa! That place is seriously magical!! The likes of the Sneffels Highline loop, Ajax Peak, Bridal Veil Falls, Imogene Pass and of course a pivotal aid station stop for the famed Hardrock 100(yes, we witnessed Kilian Jornet coming in with his jacked shoulder that Friday night)! Oh, and the beers, the food, the town itself, shall I continue?!? Dang, I want to go back and I know I will!
2017 Favorite Race
San Diego 100. This race is so well run. Scotty Mills is the RD. A highly regarded veteran of the sport. From the moment I signed up, I knew this race would be a good one. I had heard such positive feedback for it’s great, rugged yet beautiful course, Scott and the area. Doing this race also had us staying in the small quaint (Normal Rockwell like) town of Julian, CA. That was icing on the cake for me to a great weekend. Such nice people, great food, small town feel and all the peaches and apple pie one can dream of! I will go back soon for sure and highly recommend this race for anyone!
2017 Highest Peak
Well, this is a surprise with all the ColoRADo running I did this summer. The winner goes to Humphreys Peak, Arizona (12,633’). I wish I could have made Mt. Elbert in CO with friends while in town for Leadville but I didn’t want to risk anything that close to the race. Flagstaff is now on the map. Many accomplished runners and athletes train here. We are so fortunate it is just a two hour one way trip up. We have miles and miles of options once we get there.. Honestly, getting to the summit is really cool but the variety of the terrain with the inner basin area, weatherford, kachina, Mt. Elden and Schultz Tank areas, there are SO many options for us desert dwellers to get in altitude training. The finishing touch of a Diablo Burger or a coffee at Campus Coffee on our way back down the hill rounds it out every single time!
2017 Most Thankful for…
1st and foremost, my amazing wife. Tara Christley simply rules! Living the life of a full time ultra runner is one thing but, having to commit to a spouse’s goals, dreams and quirky needs all year is another. I am so thankful she is full of relentless compassion and on top of this, such a good organizer. She can pull together the largest of volunteer teams, groups and those who support us out there on these crazy adventures. Secondly, I am most thankful for the friends I shared and continue to share a lot of dirt, races and adventures with. My wife and I manage the AZ TraiLeggers trail running group here in Arizona and it’s certainly been a grass roots, friendship bonding, like minded and goal oriented organization. It’s allowed a huge country like the U.S. feel small with all the connections and opportunities it’s opened up for us! Tara and I volunteer our time at races and other events throughout the year. This is another thing I am most thankful for and it’s just become a “thing” for us. Aravaipa Running will see more of us TraiLeggers volunteering for 2018 😊 Lastly, I’m very thankful for my sponsors who believe in me throughout the year allowing me to be part of their epic teams and organizations.. and to all of my loyal followers 😊.
Looking forward to 2018…
Western States 100. The world’s oldest 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the world. I was informed by multiple means on December 2nd, I was successful in the draw. I had 4 tickets for this draw. 3rd year applying and it finally paid off!! I’ll say it again, I never ever really “win” anything in life so, to say I am over the top excited would be an understatement. I think I had perma grin for about a week after the draw. 2018 will be busy. Very busy!! I know what I need to do and where I need to focus. Let the ride begin!
~Black Canyon Ultras 100K Feb 17th~
~Mesquite Canyon 50m Mar 17th~
~Zane Grey 50m Apr 28th~
~Western States Training Run 3d 70m May 26-28th~
~Western States 100m June 23rd~
~Leadville 100 Aug 18th~*
~UTMB CCC 101k Aug 31st~*
*Lottery results still pending (one or the other, not both)
Thank You all for your continued support! Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!