Unveiling the Colossal Vail 50/50

This is my second time participating in an inaugural event. So far I am 2 for 2.  I don't only mean finishing the races; I mean well put on races that have the feel of a race that's been around for years.  They inaugural Colossal Vail took place on Saturday November 15, 2014 in Vail, Arizona on the Arizona Trail.  Vail is 25 miles South of Tucson.  50k and 50 mile race options were available; I chose the 50 Mile option.
   When Tim, my good running buddy and doctor from California, and I arrived at Colossal Cave Park it was dark. I could only see the lights near the packet pick up table.  I had already got my swag bag the day before, so all I needed to get was my bib.  A few minutes before 6:30 am, the race starting time, the mile 50 mile race participants gathered together at an imaginary start line and listened to instructions.
I was excited and slightly nervous but not my typical bouncing off the walls nail biting self.  Life had been busy, and I really had no time to truly stress or over analyze the race; this was a way for me to unwind and get some relief from the stress of everyday life.   I feel so free when I am running.
Right out the gate we started climbing on what is probably the most significant climb of the whole race.  The sun was rising and the views of the park below and all around became more apparent.  I was running smooth and keeping a good pace, the course was as advertised, single track, with gradual climbs, descents, and awesome views. The first 16 miles flew by. 
Some of the great views.
Early on Photo by The Diamond Alexander Team.

With the turnaround approaching, at mile 17.4,  I saw the top two runners on their way back. Shortly after seeing them a small body of water appeared and I was surprised to see men fishing.  The men fishing stole my attention from the trail and my right foot caught a rock causing me to fly forward landing on my hands.  Had I had my hand held water bottles my hands would have been protected, but honestly, I love my Ultimate Direction Anton Vest 2.0.  I think I should start wearing the weight lifting gloves my wife got me.  Hey, Karl Meltzer wears them.
I shook off the fall and continued down into the aid station. I grabbed some fuel and headed back out.  By my estimate, I was in 13th place.  Around mile 21, I found myself in pain.  My right knee was hurting.  I resigned to walking and running short burst.  My thoughts of an 11 hour 50 mile begin to fade.  I was in a dark place mentally.  I begin talking to myself and finding ways to keep myself motivated to finish.  I was glad to see the next aid station in the distance.
The aid stations really boosted my spirits.  Hearing the cow bell from a quarter mile out and the volunteers encouraging and enthusiastic voices boosted my moral. The mile 30 aid station had such a great vibe and some great motivational posters.  My stomach felt good but my legs and knee still hurt.  I was more than halfway through the race.  It was going to be a long afternoon and possibly evening.
This Guy DNF
Aid Station Motivation..
The four miles to the next aid station felt longer then the whole first sixteen miles.  When I got there I was happy to see Giles.  Giles paced me for my first 100 mile race, and knows me well.  I am forever grateful to have him as friend, crew, pacer, and fellow runner.  Giles helped me change out my shoes and loaded me up with gels.  After sitting for while I knew it was time to get up and get back out on the trail.  I had 19 miles to go, 9 1/2 out and back. 
In a way, it was refreshing to be on a new trail and loop.  The race consists of two out and back loops.  The afternoon had warmed up.  My stomach was now starting to bug me and all I wanted to do was sit down.  When I reached the turnaround I did sit.  The park rangers had and ice chest which I sat on while I chatted with them.  They offered me a canned Gatorade which I chugged; I only had 9 1/2 miles left.
The temperature begin to drop as the sun begin to set.  I was glad I had kept my gloves, arm sleeves, and head wrap.  Running through the dark of night does not bother me much but with tired and heavy legs I walked many portions I’d normally run.  I was afraid to fall. 
About two miles or so from the finish is a designated camp site.  I noticed early on that a group of Boy Scouts, or a similar type group, was camping out. As I came close, I could see the flicker of camp fires.  I then heard a loud drum that echoed.  It was eerie but kind of cool at the same time.  I gathered some sort of storytelling was going on.  My GPS watch had died and my phone had a low battery.  In a way this was a blessing because I had been burning a hole in my wrist watching the time and feverishly estimating my finish time. 
The race had a 15 hour cut off.  But I wanted 13 hours or less after adjusting my goals to my ever slowing pace.  With the finish line in sight, emotions overcame me, and I enjoyed the moment in the shadows before crossing the finish line.  I was greeted by Tim, Giles, and a few race officials. I had my finisher glass filled with ice cold chocolate milk; it was wonderful, a first, and a new post race treat I will now make part of my regimen.  The Colossal Vail 50/50 is one heck of a RACE.  53 ½ miles give or take, 12 hours 41 minutes and some change.

Some great Single Track
A little technical portion


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