The Monster has officially consumed me.
Consumed everything around me.
Now just a little over three weeks away its down to the wire on planning this monstrosity. What started as a pipe dream over some maps almost two years ago has nearly become the dream.
A one hundred mile wilderness run through some of Arizona's most beautiful terrain was the goal from the start. I had a ton of help from local ultrarunner Jeff Jones on designing the course and creating one that is both challenging and logistically possible with the unique challenges that comes with a 2,000 ft. escarpment between aid stations. I sparked the idea on the tail end of our Superstitions Wilderness 50 Mile adventure and Jeff took off with it like a kid in a candy store. My original idea to create a hundred in Arizona where people would come, run and leave with a whole new idea of the state, showing that it was more than "just a desert." It started Jeff off in a tirade of ideas that resulted in nearly 500 emails over the next year.
What we came up with amazes me with each long run spent on the course. Weekend after weekend, I've driven the 100 miles from my house at 4am to arrive at the trailhead to run the course. Mile after mile I fall more in love with the area, the terrain and every God forsaken rock that hits the bottom of my sole. I've run some sections of the course a half dozen times this summer alone, others just a few times, but in all, I've traversed that Rim as much as anyone probably has at this point and now just a few weeks away...I can't wait to see what everyone has to say about it.
The challenging thing about directing a race is not fully grasping what it is that is "hard" for other people. Every race bills itself as a certain adjective leaning one way or another. "Hardest", "Toughest", "Fastest" something or other. Even the Zane Grey 50M race this race shares part of the course with has for years been called, "Toughest 50 Miler" which for many has been a debatable, none wishing to debate fresh off a ZG finish. This race, the Monster, will likely be one of the toughest endurance feats many of the entrants will have taken on at this point. I know this because of what I have experienced on other courses, what others have when running this course and how revered the Zane Grey course is in general. It's going to be hard. Really hard.
But what is "hard?" Hard to me is the Lean Horse 100. Running a flat surface 50 miles, then turning around and running it back?! That is a hell of a lot of running. Keys 100? Indiana 100? Javalina 100? I've paced the last couple years at Javalina Jundred for 30+ miles and while it's probably the most FUN race atmosphere and an event I look forward to each year...I'm extremely hesitant to ever run it myself. Because I feel it's extremely hard not having a major climb plopped somewhere in there or having to repeat the same thing over and over again. Across the Years this past year I hit 50 miles and quit out of sheer boredom. Terrible I know and something I'm probably going to go back and rectify but that day, running loops...I just couldn't get myself into a groove and really enjoy it. It was one of the hardest 50 miles I've done and I didn't climb 12 feet...
So how will everyone feel about the Mogollon Monster 100? I have compared a lot of hundreds trying to determine how it will be met once the first race is completed. I've spent countless hours on the internet reading all 88+ other hundreds websites, maps, elevation profiles, crew access, past times, cutoffs, etc. There's only about a dozen races with more elevation gain or outright by the numbers is "harder." Of course there are the Hardrocks, Wasatch races with the climbing but also taking into account the average elevation of each mile, terrain, technical nature, weather and all the other factors that makes a race difficult and challenging some are tougher than others for different reasons. I feel this race has them all to put it in a class that will challenge even the most seasoned ultrarunner. That wasn't the goal in designing the race any more was the extra 6 miles some kind of masochistic attempt at one upping anyone. It's just the way it panned out that way.
So after hundreds of hours of planning, hundreds and hundreds of miles on the course, and over eighteen months of constant planning we're almost there. The buckles are in the mail, supplies filling my garage, volunteers committing and contingencies being finalized. Planning a hundred mile race was a dream, an incredibly ambitious one I'm finding out, but one that I'm determined to see through successfully. Runners are coming from all over the country, pacers and crews with them. We'll all be in Pine, Arizona come Friday morning and I'll be there standing up among them for the briefing. A moment I can't believe is almost here, a weekend of determination, stubborness and drive coupled with beautiful, surreal & majestic. I can't wait to be on the other side of the finish line to see each of the runners come through successfully. To be able to shake their hands, congratulate them and hand them the infamous belt buckle that all non-runners feel is so insignificant.
20,000 feet of climbing.
One hell of a challenge completed.
You won't find a more rewarding experience anywhere.
Running 100 Miles is Hard...
Obvious? Of course. Yet still true and never more so until you think back over and over again at what you went through for that 100 miles and what you go through in the recovery stages afterwards.
I wrote a full post on how my body broke down, got really sick and how I refused to go to the doctor for 12 days of a bad chest cold and then I hit something on my keyboard and suddenly it's 1995 and you just lost your entire history paper and you have to start all over again. By no means does that make me want to take this computer, lift it straight over my head, and slam it off my desk until it shatters into 900 pieces of crappy Chinese manufacturing.
So here's the gist of it lacking in the humility, hilarity and overall excellent readability that I presented it in before:
-Ran 100 Miles.
-Felt great afterwards. Physically and mentally.
-Ego drove me to run 6 miles 3 days later.
-Immediately got sick. Body was pissed. "I hate you Jeremy. You are an a-hole for doing this to me." -my bodies inner monologue said through it's typical British accent.
-Refused to accept that my running was responsible for my immune system filing for unemployment and giving up on me. Tried to get better by running sprints on a baseball diamond, running faster and with more hills and drinking beer.
-Above recovery plan failed. With epic proportions.
-Recovery Plan B: Run 20 miles in 5 hours at elevation in colder climate over extremely rugged terrain. Follow this up with 4 hour scream fest at Diamondbacks game along with copious amounts of American made beer and processed food.
-Return to misery.
Recovery is Bliss
Luckily God created Man so he could then create Woman who then could tell Man he was being an ego driven idiot and should stay home an actually rest. Man listens to Woman. Man recovers. Woman smarter than Man.
So in the end it still rings true. Running 100 miles is hard. One way or another it's going to get you. Either the anxiety before the race, the beat down on the trail or the aftermath afterwards. Had I just gone to the doctors office say...after 3 days instead of 13 I probably would have had much less of an aftermath but that's pretty standard for me. Oh, that's a compound fracture on your arm? Neosporin and ace bandage. Be healed in 3 days. Idiot.
So after a couple weeks of feable running attempts, weakened body, and generally not any interest in running I'm back to my old ambitious minded self. While I'm going to be out of town for the Man Against Horse 50M on October 1st I still plan to run the Running on the Moon 50K as well as one of the races for the Cave Creek Thriller on October 29th. We'll see what else the month holds but at least I'm back in the seat. Looking forward to sub 100 degree temperatures and a return to the Arizona weather we all suffer through the summers to enjoy.