Wednesday, December 11, 2013

McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50 Mile Race Report 2013

The McDowell Mountain Frenzy this past Saturday was supposed to be my race. I had it in the bag. I knew it. I would drop everyone between miles 28 & 38 and I would break my course record by over 30 minutes and I'd take that snake trophy home. I had the fitness. I knew the course. My splits were on my drop bags. It was mine. I could feel it.
It was 33 degrees at the start and I was more than excited to see my friends from Tucson. Sion Lupowitz, a good friend of mine, was running the 50 mile as well and I hadn't seen him in about 9 months. I knew he would be my only competition if he had a good day, but I didn't really want to compete with him in the first half, I just wanted to catch up.
The countdown concluded and the race commenced. One runner took off out of the gate at what seemed like a pretty unreasonable pace, so we just watched him go.

I asked Sion "Who is that?"

"I don't know" he responded "but we'll catch him. He's going out too fast."

"Yea" I said "He can't be that fast, he's wearing a running backpack!"

Sion and I kept a pretty steady pace, a pace I knew I could sustain for 50 miles. We were having a good time and great conversation. When we got to the 6.8 mile aid station the volunteer said "The leader is only one minute ahead of you guys!" We chatted with him for a bit and then we took off with even more confidence. We were going pretty fast, talking about work, life and running. We were having a blast and then suddenly something didn't feel right.

 "I think we missed a turn." I said.

"Does any of this look familiar?" Sion asked.

"I don't know. It's the desert. It all looks the same to me. What's your gps say?"

"11. 3 miles "

"I'm pretty sure there's supposed to be an aid station at 11"

"I haven't seen any of those orange ribbons for a while."

"Oh my God! I can't believe this is happening!"

"Let's just stay positive, Korey. We can still save this race."


"None of this looks familiar?"

"I'm sorry, man. I can't remember."

We went back and forth for a good 20 minutes trying to keep each other positive and then getting frustrated with ourselves again mere seconds later. We started clicking off 6:30 miles.

"Sion, we gotta slow down if we're gonna save this race."


"Aaaaaaahhhh!!! Damn it!" I yelled.

Every mountain biker I saw I would ask "Did you see any runners back there?"

"Yea. WAAAAAY back there." They'd say.

I started laughing. "I can't believe this is happening."

After we realized we had run at least 5 miles off course, we decided we probably weren't going to be able to close the gap we had created and we didn't want to run 100K. By the time we got back to the aid station, which was supposed to be 11 miles into the race, Sion's GPS said 18.6 miles which just reinforced our decision; We were done.
We decided to chalk it up to some kind of divine intervention; the greater good or whatever. We were doing our best to encourage each other not to be hard on ourselves. And since there was no way we could be stupid enough to run past two giant arrows in the middle of the trail, we decided that it was supposed to happen and that we should make the best of it and enjoy the sweet buffet at the aid stations. So that's what we did.
When we came back to the start Jamil saw us coming in and yelled "No! Not you guys!"
And that was the end of that.
I guess you shouldn't judge a runner by his running backpack because that guy who went out fast, Harland Peelle, won the 50 mile men's race in 07:48. Maggie Beach won the women's 50 mile race in 8:38. Congratulations you two! And congratulations to everyone else who finished a race out there. Any distance is an awesome accomplishment. 
After the race I hung around with my good friends Mike, Steve, Becky, Sion and Kristi. We all caught up, shared some laughs and cheered the finishers on. It truly was a great time and even though the race didn't turn out how I imagined, it was a near perfect day. 
As always Nick and Jamil put on a stellar event. They always do an outstanding job marking the course, as Jamil said "I marked that turn really well...The only other thing I could do is put the arrows at face level..." On top of that, the aid stations are always stocked, the volunteers are great and the after race snacks are delicious. Thank you to Aravaipa Running and all of the volunteers that make these races possible! 
And thank you to ClifBar for properly fueling me even when I'm traveling off course.

Next year will be my year.

smooooth, photo by Aravaipa Running
Sion and I, photo by Aravaipa Running
a blur, photo by Aravaipa Running

the gang

1 comment:

  1. The Desert doesn't ALL look the same.. lol

    Man oh man, what an experience it was. I love your writing, Korey. Like I've said in the past, you really inspired me to follow in your footsteps an also begin writing. Thanks, bro.