The commitment to train for an ultra marathon rivals taking on a part time job and twice the loads of laundry. Most importantly, it's invaluable to understand the trails and long term hydration and nutritional needs over the hours on your feet. Trail running is a delicate balance between supply and demand, equal parts on the body and mind. It requires a mental toughness and grit to endure whatever comes your way. However, the views do not disappoint. Ultra marathons are found in some of the most beautiful places in the world.
Over the weekend, on the winding trails of Black Canyon, Arizona, an ultra marathon was hosted by Aravaipa Running. Hundreds flocked to the start, recently informed of course changes due to high water levels. A point to point race was rerouted to an out and back with a short loop in between. Rain doused the trails intermittently, but overall the weather was fairly mild. Young and old, near and far, ultras attract people of various backgrounds and achievements.
My husband coaches a few athletes who competed in the event. Among them, was a 13 year old named Sebastian. Yes, I repeat 13 years old! A young man with a zest for life, questions and lofty goals. He set his sight on Black Canyon 100k to complete his first 100k and to become the youngest person to complete a Western States qualifier, and he chased those dreams all the way to the finish line. He ran the entire course along side his friend, Tyler Clemens and was paced by his coach and friend, Tyler Hansen from mile 36-62. They planned, executed and made necessary adjustments over the course of the day. Sebastian was accompanied by the support of his parents, friends and fellow runners cheering him forward. He completed the race within 16 hours and went home with far more then he arrived with.
From my hometown of Santa Barbara alone, there were a dozen or so runners competing over the weekend. It was an exhilarating experience! I have always loved the camaraderie of the trail running community. Fellow athletes supporting one another, lending clothing, or providing gels in moments of need. There're many sacrifices in an ultra that must be made to keep pushing forward. The stride of a friend, casual conversation, or cheers off in the distance are sometimes just enough motivation to take another step.
The photographs from Black Canyon 100k will be revered for years to come.
Congratulations to all of the accomplished athletes you inspire others to chase their dreams!