Black Canyon Ultras 100k
100 kilometers, 62.13 miles. The distance had become etched into my mind. It would be the furthest distance I have ever run. I had been looking forward to testing myself and seeing whether my months of training would pay off.
This was my first ultra trail race in Arizona. Aravaipa Running and race director Jamil Coury have been putting on the Black Canyon Ultras 100k and 60k point-to-point races along the historical Black Canyon Trail since 2011. The race starts in Mayer, AZ at an elevation of about 4,000 ft. and heads south, traveling through the Black Canyon past Antelope Mesa, Bumble Bee, Black Canyon City, Cottonwood Gulch, Doe Spring and finishing at the Emery Henderson trailhead in Anthem.
One of my concerns training this winter in Pennsylvania was that I wouldn’t be able to adequately prepare for the heat. I wasn’t able to get to a sauna so I had to push my luck and hope for mild temperatures. On race day we were blessed with temperatures only peaking into the high 60s/low 70s, with cloud cover in the afternoon and a consistent breeze. My prayers had been answered!
As you can see by the photos the trail was pretty amazing. It was very cool to run through the foothills of the Bradshaw Mountains and in and out of the Black Canyon. The aid stations were well stocked with friendly volunteers, food and drinks. I kept my pace moderate as I wanted to not expend too much energy too early on. 62 miles is a long way to go. I tried to stay hydrated and eat consistently to prevent dehydration, stomach issues and cramping. I was also lucky to run into some of the people who are part of the Ginger Runner Patreon crew (of which I am a part) and run the last 25 miles with fellow crew member Chris Butcher. We had a good time getting to know one another and share the trail together. It really made the race that much more special.
16 hours and 27 minutes after starting I crossed the finish line, completing the race and meeting my goal of getting a qualifying time to enter the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run lottery. All in all, the Black Canyon 100k went according to plan. I am extremely lucky to have gotten to run through some amazing terrain and meet some pretty remarkable human beings!