Updated 1/22/10


Please click on thumbnails for larger view!

The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
The Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon Scottsdale, Arizona - December 6th, 2009
The Huge Finishers Medal Click to Enlarge
 Above: The first half of the run is basically a gradual up hill, peaking nearly a 100 feet from the start, then after you turn onto Scottsdale road from Gainey Ranch, one more hump over a bridge, and its down hill most of the way to the finish along bike paths next to the main road.
  The back of the medal is cool too! Click to Enlarge
The Technical Shirt Commemorating the Effort! Click to Enlarge


Our 18th half marathon was my fastest one yet, and moved me one notch closer to my current goal of running my full marathon Boston qualifying pace - in a half marathon. For my age group (50 - 54), that would be a 3h 35m full or a 1:47:30 half which equates to an 8:11 per mile pace. On this Fiesta Bowl half, I was only 9 seconds per mile shy of that and finished for an all time Half Marathon PR of 1:50. I'm sure that the Yasso 800's I've been doing at the track at an 8 min/mi pace contributed greatly to this success! My next attempt to beat 8:11 will be in March at the Valley of the Sun Half which has a 400 foot downhill net slope.

The Race

After leaving the house at 4:30am, we drove down from Payson to Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza and arrived in the dark at 6 am. You have to arrive early to pick up the north parking lot, which is much closer to the race activities and starting line. We walked across the parking lot to where the rock and roll music was playing - in the 40 degree temperatures. Several tables were set up to pick up the race bib with paper timing chip, and a goodie bag with the blazing orange technical T shirt. We then walked around and saw a few tents with some food or running related stuff in a rather anemic "Expo". Oh well. Its the race that is important!

As the sun rose, the morning lightened up a bit, but it was totally cloudy. I finally settled on running with a long sleeve T shirt and knew I would be warming up as I raced. My hydration belt contained one bottle of water and a second with a mixture of 80 percent low fructose corn syrup and Gatorade - my high energy fuel for the run. Runners began to arrive in masses. As the race start neared they announced we had over 2500 runners for the two events - About a thousand for the Half and 1500 for the 5k run. At 7:30, the half marathoners lined up for the event. I was several hundred feet from the starting balloons, and couldn't hear the race start whistle or whatever it was. But then we all started to move. Runners left in waves, speeding up slowly as we approached the starting gate. Since we were electronically chip timed, it didn't matter exactly when you crossed the starting line, the clock would start for everyone individually.

The sky was dark and foreboding, but no rain was in sight. We headed west down Camelback toward Scottsdale road. My goal was to maintain a very strong but controlled 8:30 pace until the half way point and see how I was hanging on. It was a gradual up hill battle to mile 6 where we turned onto Via de Ventura and headed east into the expensive homes district of Gainey Ranch. Still uphill and getting a bit steeper here. But I was keeping my pace, and in fact had to hold back to not go too fast. That's when I knew just MIGHT be able to hold it till at least mile 10. As we passed canals, small lakes and parks the desert landscaping was quite a sight. I was dressed just right for the very slowly rising temperatures. Still pouring with sweat. At mile 7.5 we rounded south onto Hayden and ran in the right hand most lane in a six lane highway. Cones marked the lane off, but it made you a bit nervous as some cars zoomed by. Most cars stopped for us at intersections, with lots of police escorting us through, but some didn't.

Finally, near mile 10 the road had some down hills. It then alternated ups and downs, but was certainly not flat. At mile 10 I found I was running faster in the second half. My speed was holding strong and I was running an 8:10 pace. This is as fast as I had ever run during a half, and I was actually starting to believe I was going to do a PR now. If only I could hold on! We left the main street and ran along a wide bike path twice through a huge grassy meadow. This is the flood plain basin when the summer rains pour in this area. I was thank full at this point that there were no mothers out walking their baby strollers or slow "joggers" on the path. We screamed back onto Hayden and turned back onto Osborn to head for the finish line. I was still hitting 8:10 pace on and off, and my average was bouncing around 8:20 - 20 seconds per mile faster than my previous fastest half. (Valley of the Sun)

The final quarter mile was very difficult, a steep up hill and then a down hill to flat finish inside the park. When I crossed the line, I saw on my GPS and the time clock that I had done it in 1:50, which is only 9 seconds per mile from my Boston goal pace. This was a day I wont forget for a long time! After wards, I saw from my wrist GPS data that it was indeed quite a hill we had climbed - over 80 feet before a steep decent to the finish line.

Post Race

There were oranges, bagels and pretzels at the finish line, and they handed me a gorgeous heavy metal sun burst medal which I wore proudly around my neck. We watched the other runners coming in for a while and the sun finally came out showing a blue sky with a half moon hanging in the west. What a great race!

After we ate lunch, we met Dawns sisters at the Tempe art fair, and spent the next 3 hours walking the art festival in the streets. That evening a HUGE winter storm started coming in and by the evening it was raining. The next day the giant storm hit, and we had 75 mph winds and over 2 feet of snow in the high country. Talk about cutting it close!


Race Day - Sunday Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
Pre race packet pickup as the sun comes up
Getting ready for the race
Starting line - it was in the low 40's
The race start !
I'm in the middle (circled)
Here I go ! (in blue)
The finish line before I came in
Here I come, heading for a new PR
Passing by
On to the finish Line
My 18th half is over...
Race Day - Sunday Stealth Cam II Note: The first line of images are motion blurred at first because of the very dark morning conditions.
At the starting line waiting for the race to begin
And the race has started we are making it toward the balloon arch
Heading west down Camelback road
Onto Scottsdale Road
Heading north on Scottsdale Road
Heading south on Hayden
The bike path on Hayden See the bridge?
Back on to the second bike path heading south Time to pour it on!
The finish line scene after I crossed the line in 1:50
Handing out the finishers medals as runners cross the line
This runner had two ice packs taped to her kneecaps...
Race Day - Sunday After the Race/Finish Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
The Finish line panorama the finish is on the right side
On the way home, Dawn shot this bald eagle on the Verde River
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
San Antonio Marathon San Antonio, Texas November 15, 2009
The Huge Finishers Medal Click to Enlarge
 Above: The route starts out fairly flat while we looped in and out of the city. Then as we left the central city, the route had a constant downhill slope, making it deceptively easy to reach the 18 mile turn around point. After that, you turned around and ran back uphill - mile after mile, to a finish back in the city at the Alamo Dome.
  Amanda, myself and David before the race
The T Shirt Commemorating the Effort! Click to Enlarge


The San Antonio Marathon and Half Marathon this year was hot, and extremely humid - over 98%. Not too many runners this year had a PR to boast about that's for sure. With the temperature at race start of 65 degrees and over 90 percent humidity, we knew it was going to get rough. This year they announced at the race start line that over 32,000 runners were at the starting line, and about 6,000 of them were the marathoners. Our group consisted of myself, David Garcia, and Amanda Cone doing her very first half marathon. Dawn and her sister Deneen, and son Damon were our "Support Team". Me and David did the full, and as experienced race veterans, we fared much better than thousands of the other runners who gave up, or ended up walking to the finish line after mile 12 or so from the heat and humidity. This year was very reminiscent of last years ill fated Chicago marathon, where over 80 degree temps forced the race officials to shut down the race prevent a full blown disaster. Here, the race officials initiated the emergency heat plan, and additional ambulances and water sprays on runners were enacted. All three of us made it across the line in fair shape, and definitely earned our finishers medals that day!

And now the details of the trip.

Thursday Evening.
After work we met at the airport gate with David and rode the same plane over to San Antonio, about a 2 hour flight. There were many runners on our plane as evidenced from the running jackets, gear bags and expensive running shoes. From the airport in San Antonio we went over to the Best Western Hotel, some 30 minutes drive to the shuttle drop off on race day. We slept well that night!

This was the day to get over to the Expo and collect our race packets and do some gear shopping. It was huge again this year, and had tons of racing clothes, shoes and accessories. Deneen and Damon met us over there and we spent hours walking around looking at the cool stuff. I think Damon must have drank a half gallon of sample sports drinks that day. Some of it was tasty, most tasted like chemicals to me. Dawn got a new running type cap, and I a new New Balance sports jacket for running. The technical T that runners got this year was black and had the Rock and Roll logo on the front. I wont be wearing that one in July!

We then headed over to the River Walk area and spent hours roving along the sidewalk next to the rivers looking at stores and shops. Boats carrying passengers were always going up and down the river led by a tour guide. We ate a late lunch at Chilies and had various pasta type foods for the carbs.

This day we decided to each do some sight seeing and fossil collecting along the rivers around San Antonio. While David visited friends that day, we took our rental car out in to the back roads and followed the rivers looking for fossil outcrops. Texas is primarily Cretaceus and all the rocks are limestone with tons of oysters, clams, and shrimp burrows that represented a deep water community 100 million years ago. We actually did find some very nice oysters and I found a small ammonite and a few strange gastropods. We then drove some harrowing back roads and photographed a stunning water fall pouring over the limestone blocks back on a ranch. Later that evening, we all had dinner at the Macaroni Grill Restaraunt and had of course - pasta and high carb foods. That evening Deneen dropped off Amanda at our room where she would stay the night so she could get up with us early next morning to head over to the race drop off point.

Sunday - Race Day
3am the alarm (Ok, three of them) went off, and the day started with a quick check of the radar on the internet. No rain in sight! We had forecasts of rain all week peaking on race day and this had us constantly checking the weather updates. The ground was dry outside too. Off to a good start. After our traditional high carbohydrate oatmeal breakfast, we got our gear together, checked out and headed off to the bus drop off point at the AT&T center. I think we got there around 4:45 and got on the first or second bus. After the bus problems they had last year we made sure we were on them early. A long ride with about two dozen sleepy runners and we were dropped off about a quarter mile from the Lions park where the race staging area was for all the runners. Why they made us walk that far to get to the park is beyond me. It was WARM already. We just had on our racing clothes and no coats or jackets over us. You could feel the humidity as the low clouds overhead seemed to be dropping humid air on top of us. Maybe it would stay cool for the whole run?

So there we were - me, David and Amanda, sitting on the curb next to the bagel booth waiting for the light of dawn to come, and watching thousands - tens of thousands of runners pouring in. What an awesome sight! Seemed like about half of them had run it last year, and were there for a return adventure. We had no idea at that point what an adventure it was going to be!

While David and me gave Amanda racing tips and munched on bagels, we noticed that nearly all of the runners had half marathon bibs on. Me and David were definitely outnumbered here! Half an hour before the race start at 7:30, it was getting much lighter out and you could actually see the gigantic number of runners filling the entire field. It was time to part. While David went over to his coral (just behind the elites I think) I dropped Amanda off at her coral 33 about 3/4 down the race line near the rear. I was just ahead of the middle, at coral 15. I figured if I started somewhere near the 4:30 group, I would end up getting in somewhere between 4:30 and 5 hours.

The gun went off at 7:30 sharp, and we were so far back we could not hear it. The Elites left and had their own race at that point. The corrals were let go one at at time, with the fastest runners up front using air horns. Our group got to the start line about 8:00 and we were off! At this point is was great. We passed through town and into the big city where thousands of cheering crowds moved us onward. Some of the back streets were very narrow and strongly banked. Some of the areas were rather slumish but the bums cheered us on anyway. The split for the half marathoners to head off to their own finish line was at around mile 11. At that point a guy dressed in a gold sparkley outfit ushered the halfers to the left and full marathoners like me and David off to the right. And yes, there was even Elvis to point us the right way at the break point. ;)

As the masses headed off to the left, there were as far as I could see around me only a hundred runners. it really thinned out! And now we were on our own. We passed out of the main city through back street parks and at around mile 14 were running past all the missions on the back parts of town along narrow streets, wooded areas and stunning ranch vistas. I really liked this part. They could have left out the run through the graveyard, it was a bit spooky.

But the temperature started its ruthless climb about here. The humidity skyrocketed to nearly 100%. And the breeze - died down to nothing. We were now coming to the realization that this was going to be brutal. I was right on pace at mile 16, when I noticed over 90% of the runners around me and as far as I could see were walking. Large numbers were starting to give it up and quit. Many had succumbed to the heat, were totally drenched in sweat. and resigned to walking the rest of the way to the finish line. Mile 18 we went past a long resovoir and the lake was beautiful. You could see runners nearly a mile ahead arcing around the lake. The sun then came out and baked us brutally. That when I started to see the medics and ambulances hauling runners off with IVs in their arms. The less experienced runners were falling off rapidly and was getting worse with each mile. Dang, it was hot! At mile 22 I was really feeling it and as an experience runner knew the pace had to be cut significantly if I was going to fare well to the finish line. I cut my pace way down and that last four miles was grueling. The last mile was a slow run, but me and the small group of more experienced runners I was with slowly passed all the walkers one at a time, and the Alamo Dome kept getting closer and closer. We were going to make it and be running across that finish line as fast as we could. The last long steep ramp up into the Alamo Dome finish line was torture. When I saw that finish line, and the crowds were cheering us on I knew I would make it. And within moments, I had that huge yellow heavy medal hanging around my neck. Wow. What a run!

I met up with the others at the "S" marker at the family reunion area. We swapped horror stories and smiles. David got in a little before I did and looked like I felt. Both of us came in at least a half and hour later than our planned goal time, but were relived it was over. Amanda did the distance and survived - the longest run she had ever done in her life! We all showed off those huge hard earned medals we had just received. That was one of the most memorable moments I can recall in my years of running.

Final words about this event.
Last year was bitter cold, and plagued with technical problems. This year we baked in the heat but it looks like most of worst problems were being addressed or solved. I did notice that there seemed to be a larger crowd this year, especially at the far ends of the course where last time there was really no one around. The music seemed better and was really along the whole course, instead of spotty like last time. And certainly it was far more fun doing this with friends and family than alone. Hopefully next time the weather will be somewhere in between freezing and baking!


Before Race Day - Saturday Expo Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
Heading into the Expo Dawn, Damon, Deneen
Expo Panorama from balcony!
Banner on a light pole outside Expo
The Alamodome where the race will finish and the Expo
Sunset by Deneen that evening at the Alamodome
Before Race Day - Saturday River Walk Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
End of the canal at the glass walled Mall
Looking toward the Tower of America space needle
River scene along the River Walk
Dawns flower close ups along the river
2 lady bugs
River Walk Flowers
Boat traffic along the river walk
Police boat
Cafe along the river
River side stores
Placid river scene
Fossil oyster in steps slabs on river walk
Small water fall
Looking along river walk
boat and bridge
Commemorative panel along river
Bridge under pass
Just past bridge
Looking toward town
More flowers
Night is coming, see water reflections


Dawn and Damon along river


Tree next to Mall


Sculpture and Space needle in twilight


River walk twilight scene
River walk at night through star shaped hole in wall
The Alamo this year was in white light rather than blue last year
The sculptures next to the Alamo
Night Ride
The view from the Ice cream shop
Tower of America at night
Before Race Day - Sunday Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
Along creek outside of town
Fossil Pectin
Fossil Oyster
The water fall on back road
Amanda in our motel room that night filling out her race bib information...
Race Day - Sunday Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
4:45am - at the Shuttle Drop off Amanda - me - David
After dropping us off a half awake Damon at coffee shop
Barely awake Deneen
Waiting at mile 7 Damon/Deneen
At mile 7 before the runners arrived !
Race Day - Sunday Stealth Cam II
5am - at Lions Park it was 65 and cloudy
In my corral at 7:15 looking forward toward start line
Backwards same time
After the gun went off it took over half an hour for our wave to reach the starting line
Heading off toward the city
Both Half and Full marathoners are seen here
Tens of thousands of runners as far as the eye can see
Lines of runners around a big park
At mile 9 everyone was running
Through a rural area
At mile 11 the half marathoners break off and go to the left to the finish line
The rest of us - the Full marathoners keep on going!
At 13 miles at few faster runners are going the other way
Mile 14 - the heat is on everyone is pouring with sweat
Mile 15 - Half of the runners succumbed to walking now...
Mile 15 water stop Im still running...
Coming up to a bridge that headed over to the missions
Getting very hot now.
Mile 17 a welcome downhill !
The small lake we ran around at mile 18
Mile 22 - were passing some walkers on the right..
Mile 24 - almost no one is still running. This is VERY unusual.
Mile 25 Heading back into the city. The America Tower is next to the finish line.
And yet another runner drops from the heat.
Race Day - Sunday Dawn's / Deneens Images
Here comes the Elites Can you imagine running behind this circus of vehicles?
Elites speed by. They finish in a pokey 2h 16m...
Some time after the Elites at mile 7 the rest of us come by
A running taco shell
Here I come! In the center in yellow Mile 7 still
Running bees
Run/walkers start around bib numbers 30,000 and up
coming by Deneen at mile 7 !
Amanda is paced by her support crew member Damon !
Here comes Amanda - on her longest run in her life !
Amanda still smiling here
Amanda goes zipping by
Race Day - Sunday After the Race/Finish Line Dawn's / Deneens Images
Amanda packed in ice after her awesome finish!
But she's all smiles !
Three tired and sweaty runners...
Finish line shot in family reunion area

Magnificent red maples on the north trail Click to Enlarge
Rim to Rim Across the Grand Canyon October 2nd, 2009
The T Shirt Commemorating the Effort! Click to Enlarge

 We lucked out again this year for our fall colors Grand Canyon adventure, our annual October Rim to Rim run. The biggest mystery would be how would the colors be this year on the North Rim? Depending on the cold snaps, and the amount of rainfall, the aspens can either be brimming with rich yellows and oranges, or stripped bare from one night of high winds. As you will see from the photos, while not as good as other years, the colors were there but a bit patchy in occurrence. We got some superb shots however with our digital cameras before the next days clouds and bad weather moved in.

Running across the Canyon

An early start Friday morning and I found myself standing at the South Kaibab trail head at 4 am, with a full moon lighting my way ahead. Behind me, in the distance Dawn was driving off into the blackness after dropping me off near the trail head. I would not see here again until I crossed the entire Grand Canyon! The canyon glows in an eerie light under the light of the full moon, but the trail was easy to see in the hour or so before it started to get light out. With my brilliant LED flashlight, I made my way down the trail, through the dense pine forests at the top, down through the rutted red trails in the Supai and into the morning twilight. By the time I made it to the top of the Redwall at Skeleton Point (Yes, named after a skeleton was found there) the morning light made it much easier to see the trail. The plunge though the steep gray cliffs of the Redwall opened up to awesome vistas of the inner canyon. After an hour, I was standing at the top of the "tip off", the final plunge into the canyons inner gorge was before me. Running is fast and easy through the Hakati shale, the path is smooth and soft with few rocks. The final plunge to the river took about another half an hour, and soon I was passing through the tunnel through the Vishnu schist at the rivers edge. This leads across the silver bridge that crosses the raging Colorado river, hundreds of feet below you. I stood for a few minutes in the middle of the bridge, looking down at the rapids, and the distant shores I would soon be running on. Then it was time to head onward to Phantom Ranch.

It was still quite dark out as I entered Phantom Ranch at around 6am, some 2 hours from when I started at the top on the south side. Only a few hikers were gearing up at the store, most were still asleep in their cabins. I took a few shots with the flash on the camera turned on, then it was time to head up the hill. Mile after mile of uphill and level running led me to Cottonwood Camp on the north Kaibab Trail. The sun was not up yet, but just behind the canyon walls next to me. I stopped at the water tap to re fill my pack and eat a quick snack. One of the gals who was camping for the night in Cottonwood camp was at the water tap asked me if I had come from Phantom this morning. "No", I said, "I came 4 hours ago from the South Rim". Most canyoners dont know about the small number of runners that traverse the canyon this time of year. She said, "No Way!!", How old are you???". When I told her I was 51 she then called all of her friends over to meet me and I had a great time introducing myself and describing what I was doing, running Rim to Rim. When I left there I was sprinting on cloud nine you might say! People in the canyon along the trail can be a lot of fun most of the time.

About half way to the Pump House, is Ribbon Falls, which is a huge strip of water falling a hundred feet onto a limestone/travertine mound. Its about half a mile away, and you would need to take a side trail to get there. While I passed that trail, the next part of the north Kaibab is very difficult. There are giant rocky hills, very steep to climb and these go on for about 2 miles. Finally, in the last half mile, a fast down hill run on a totally smooth trail in the green Cambrian shales to the bridge that crosses bright angel creek to the pump house - the last major stop before the worst, rockiest and steepest parts of the trail to the top of the North Rim. I spent about 10 minutes there talking with the resident that actually lives in the house there, and ate a bunch of fruit and graham teddies. Then the final thrust - 7 miles of sheer up hill torture. The good news is that I had taken it more slowly going down to the river this time, and had plenty of energy in me to power hike at a fast pace all the way up. Up through the green shales packed with trilobite fossils, up through the super steep Redwall limestone with its sharp edged glassy cherts on the trail, upward through the orange shales of the Supai filled with the fossil trackways of ancient reptiles. And then there was the short but super steep yellow Coconino sandstone layers, with giant logs as stair steps leading up torturously steep inclines. Up I went non stop power hiking with some down hill running through the final layers at the top, in the Toroweap and Kaibab limestones with blood red richly colored maples, orange oaks and finally near the top blazing yellow aspens! This was a portent of what was to come, a dazzling display of Aspens in full fall bloom at the top of the rim. Finally, after 8 hours and 26 minutes I made it to the top and there she was - Dawn waiting for me at the top of the trail head!

We spent the next day driving around on the North Rim both inside and just outside the Park taking photos of the fall colors, birds and wildlife. A spectacular ending to a long and challenging trek across the one of the most enduring natural wonders in the world!


South Rim - Before the Run Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
The train parked at the lodge station
Hotel on the South Rim
Looking out across the depths
South Rim - Before the Run Chris's Images - Canon 10D
On the way to Flagstaff a herd of Elk
The big souvenir shop inside the south lodge
Buildings on the south rim
Looking out toward Bright Angel Fault
Our reflections in the restaraunt on the South Rim!
Across The Canyon Chris's Images - Sony P10
The first morning light at the river - you can just see the reflection of Venus in the water...
Still real dark, but the path to Phantom Ranch is clearly ahead
Cabins at Phantom
Approaching the store at Phantom Ranch, its 6am
After passing Phantom Ranch, the long run to Cotton wood Camp lies ahead.
The Precambrian Schists are tilted nearly 90 degrees
Coming up on one of the first bridges over the Bright Angel Creek
The new elevated path over the very soggy beaver dam is very welcome!
Deer along the path
Ok, so this was staged a bit, here is the view toward Rainbow Falls
Zoom in on Rainbow Falls
The top of the steep hill you must navigate on the way to Cottonwood.
Just before Cottonwood camp, a stunning waterfall
Finally, sunrise on the surrounding peaks!
A gorgeous water fall after passing Cottonwood Camp.
Next stop - the Pump House You must cross this neat bridge first.
The bridge just before the Pump House.
After passing the Pump house, I found this slab of Bright Angel Shale with a trilobite resting trace on the side of the trail. (Rusophycus)
Roaring springs water fall the trail
Some Hikers took my photo along the trail
The steep ups and downs heading into the Supai redbeds.
After crossing the bridge you see in the last shot, looking back at the way I came.
VERY steep climbing now in the last 2 hours of the crossing.
A very welcome sight - the tunnel in the Supai. This leads to a water stop just on the other side.
After the tunnel water stop, the fabulous maple trees started. You are at the right altitude for them now, about 7000 feet.
The scenery is beyond words as you pass through tunnels made of dense red maples.
The top is over a thousand feet up still...
More maples
close up
Permian fossil trackway of a mammal like reptile in the Coconino sandstone
The claws of this 285 million year old impression can be clearly seen here.
Nearing the top, you can look back down and see the reds
Finally at the top! 8200 feet elevation
The parking lot at the north Kaibab Trail head
At the top of the Trail after 24 Miles Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
Families of hikers await their loved ones arrival
And here I come, after a very long and steep climb out of the canyon floor
Power hiking out the last few torturous steps...
The North Rim in Full Fall Colors Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
The cabins on the north rim
Stunning aspens
Aspen leaf close up
Aspen leaf
We wanted to take this shot for years, inside the dining hall in the north lodge
The dining hall
We then drove the following day all around the north rim taking shots of the fall colors
Leaf on ground
Fall aspens 1
Fall Aspens 2
Even the reflection in the Escapes back window was cool
Near a lake
Meadow view
In the meadow
Cabin on a back road
From greens to yellows
Tall and short
Distant vistas
The deep forest
Rows of aspens
A very rare sight - a golden Eagle eating a rabbit
Hike along the rim
Maples on the hike
Maples 2
Kaibab Squirrel
Along the hiking trail
Small scrub oaks were blazing yellows
Paved trail next to the lodge
Looking down to the roaring springs falls from the top!
The North Rim in Full Fall Colors Chris's Images - Canon 10D
Next to our cabin, I took this shot of the side canyon that contains roaring springs
Looking into roaring springs canyon
The lodge on the North rim.
Cabins on the rim
Driving around the North rim for fall colors
Far less common are the orange aspens
Deep into the forest
Contrasting aspens and Ponderosa pines
The road on the north rim
Blazing yellow aspens
The winding road
Stand of mixed trees
more trees
The side canyon with maples
Maple bliss
my shot of the squirell
The Trip Back to the South Side Chris's Images - Canon 10D
Stopping to photograph the Jurassic sandstones
Jurassic sandstones
Sandstone cliffs
Sandstones and shales

Map on tree of the run Click to Enlarge
The Flagstaff Half Marathon Flagstaff Nordic Center September 26th, 2009 The Race Start (Nordic Center Photo) Click to Enlarge
The Finishers Medal Click to Enlarge
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
  Left: The GPS data clearly shows the very rapid ascent in the first two miles, getting steeper near the top. Three miles of a slight up hill "flat", a big plunge and your at the 10k near the starting line. The second loop is another grueling climb to an even higher altitude. It flattens out for less than a mile before the rapid screaming plunge back to the finish line.
The Half/Full Marathon finishers T shirt Click to Enlarge

 For our first 2009 Fall running season event, we again participated in the Flagstaff Half Marathon and 10k up at the Flagstaff Nordic Center on the west end of town. This extremely challenging trail run starts at just over 8000 feet and goes up hill from there, quite steeply I may add most of the way. This year was for me my second fastest time so far, and Dawn power walked the 10k event in a quick 48 minutes as well. The Half Marathon runs the 10k route, plus an extra loop of 7 more miles to complete the full 13.1 mile distance. The event was pleasantly well organised, and had a back woods atmosphere, quite unlike the typical mega marathons circus carnival atmosphere!

We got up at 3:30 in the morning at our house in Payson to get ready to head up to Flagstaff. About a 2 hour drive, we arrived before 7 and collected our race bibs, T-shirts, and misc. stuff bags. It was upper 30's at that point, but the sun was comming up fast, and warming the ponderosa forest quickly. Small events like this are great, you arrive and park where you want, and walk right up and get your race packets. There was Plenty of food and drinks available under the tent when we got there too, and a very social group indeed, with all of us having a true appreciation for the northern Arizona wilderness. The sheer thought of running like a deer fast through the woods, with the pine scented wind in our faces was very compelling.

As the sun warmed the landscape up to the mid 40s by the 8:00 race start time, over 200 runners gathered at the starting lines for both events. The event coordinator Tim Allen started the race with a countdown - "Three, two, one...GO!", and we were off in a cloud of dust. The first two miles are absoultely brutal. Your going up the steepest slopes for long distances and you really need to hold back a lot to save yourself for what was next. The trail leveled off and again went up, and up, Some gradual downhills to the 10k crossing point, then you turned right and did the second brutal loop. A thousand feet of elevation change again made for the most challenging half marathon I've ever done. The trail goes from smooth forest path, to thousand foot stretches of huge protruding lava rocks, giant logs, branches waiting to trip you, and of course countless pine cones ready to roll under your feet! Combine that with loose rock surfaces on steep up and down hills, and well - you get the idea. The final two miles are a super fast down hill run, blazing through the forest at your full sprinting speed. Injuries this year were mainly confined to the usual cuts and bruises, and I saw two people with blown knees packed with giant ice bags. You can see right away that the trail runner is not like the typical road racer, who stays on the smooth asphault. The trail racer becomes a part of nature and the outdoor experience, with the dangers on the beaten path adding to the excitement of the race. And it is here at the Nordic center in Flagstaff we gathered, and take the challenges of the off road racing events.

When I came over the finish line, Dawn had finished her 10k, and was waiting. This works out great becuase she can take photos of the event while it is still going on, and we can have a more complete pictorial story to share with all of you later.

After the successful race, we gathered under the tent again, and the raffle prizes were handed out. (we didn't enter this year) The awards for the first three places in different age groups was given out, and were stunning slabs of aspen wood with engraving. The perfect finish for an event which holds a very special part in our hearts, and we hope we will be participating in for many years to come!


Half Marathon Before the Race - At the Start Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix AIPTEK Stealth Cam II Images
The thermometer when we arrived read mid 30's
Race day registration table
Before the Race
Gathering at the Starting line
Before the Race
Dawn before the race
Runners warming up before the race
Tim gives us the rules and re iterates the dangers
Me in center before the race
Final instructions
Half Marathon Race Start Nordic Center Images
Race Start - Into the woods!
10k Race Starting Line and Race Start Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
At the Starting line
The pack ahead
Heading into the forest
Half Marathon - During the Race Stealth Cam II Images
Heading into the deep woods
Sunrise in the forest!
Coming up to the first aid station
This fully dressed runner looks like they will be roasting in a few minutes
Going into stands of aspens
Some aspens with the fall leaves still on them!
Look closely and youll see the tiny red flags we had to follow along the route
Dawn Race Walks the 10K Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
Starting out towards the forest
Into the woods
Trail markers up ahead
Aid station
Gorgeous forest scenery
Heading towards the San Fransisco Peaks
Half Marathon - Coming over the Finish Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
The final blast toward the finish!
Into the finish chute
The Author after his grueling trail workout!


High Altitude Trail Running! Click to Enlarge
The BBBS Half Marathon Flagstaff, Arizona August 8th, 2009
The Gun Starts the Race! Click to Enlarge
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
  Left: The GPS data shows the steep climb from 6900 feet to over 7600 feet in a grueling trail run over mostly huge volcanic rock.
The marathon finishers T shirt Click to Enlarge

This year at last, the weather was perfect. No rain in sight, and a clear blue sky greeted us as we arrived early Saturday morning around 6am to Wheeler Park on the west side of Flagstaff. The fine weather made for fast race times, a new PR for Dawn on the 5k race walk, and my second fastest time ever on this trail half marathon.

When we arrived, we first picked up our race bibs and T shirts at the table set up on one side of the park. We then went back to the truck to get some warmer clothes on, since it was a balmy 41F outside! But as the sun rise came, it warmed up to a short sleeve weather at around race starting time, and was a gorgeous day from then on temperature wise.

About 20 minutes before the race, a popular local runner was married at the starting line with his fiance he met last year at the San Diego Rock and Roll marathon, the same one we attended. Both were dressed in running gear, and she had a short veil on the back of her running hat that she wore during the actual run.

After the ceremony at the starting line, the 250 half marathoners lined up and with a starting gun send off, we headed off to the trail head on the short paved road. Dawn started in the 5k run/walk event about 15 minutes later and would be finished before I got back from the half marathon event.

The route is grueling as far as a trail run. The first two miles you ascend a thousand feet in elevation to the top of Lowell mesa, where the world famous Lowell observatory is located. From there we did pure trail running, on a very rocky course. Unlike Gaspin, or the Flagstaff marathon which are trail runs as well, this trail had deeply rutted trails, poorly maintained back roads, and a great deal of rock hopping up very steep hills. This is not one for those road runner types for sure! The course takes you through meadows, narrow passes thorough dense tall pines, brush and deep woods, and along narrow dirt roads through the forest. some of the most spectacular scenery on any run I have ever encountered! At one point, you are running directly at the distant 12,600 foot San Francisco peaks in Flagstaff with the giant Ponderosa pines all around. Simply breathtaking! Put all of that at 8000 foot and over elevations and you can see the immense attraction of this trail run.

The last few miles of this run are a rapid decent down extremely steep trails and back roads with huge ruts, washboard, and giant rocks and potholes. You are running as fast as you can in this type of surface, and is a true test of your coordination skills for sure. The last half mile or so is back on to the pavement and back into town where you end up at Wheeler Park again. My time this year was 2:11 and Dawns was 43 minutes.

The 5k took the racers up the same route as the Half, but stopped just short of the steepest hills on the 2 mile climb up the mesa. After 2 miles of back roads with fantastic views of Ponderosa pines and distant mountains, the route turned around at the 2.5k mark and headed back into town. One big advantage that Dawn has on this route is that she can carry a regular camera and get much better photographs of the scenery than I can with my low res micro cam.

After the race, we raided the great food tables and watched the runners coming in. Rock music was playing over the huge speakers and all the trail runners chatted on this run and all the other challenging trails they had overcome. Trail runs are like this, the runners are very open and friendly, and have a kinship not seen in road races that we have attended.


Half Marathon Before the Race - At the Start Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix NEW Stealth Cam II Images
Starting line view of the wedding
Inside the tent where they kept track of runners comming in
Waiting for the Race to start
David Burnstein & Christy get ready to be married on the Start line
Start line marraige
Registration and Packet Pick up tables
Long lines...
Neil from NATRA gives final instructions
  Runners ready to go
Im in the center with a yellow hat and blue shirt
Before the race
Computers in the timing tent
Half Marathon Race Start Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
Gunstart begins the race!
Here we come - Im in blue
Im just to right of center
NEW Stealth Cam II Images Half Marathon - During the Race
Heading toward the trail head on the pavement
Entering the trail head! (sorry about the distortion)
Heading into the deep forest
  This is what its all about trail running!
On top of Lowell Mesa
Telescope dome in the distance
Spectacular view of San Francisco Peaks
The last up hill battle on the mesa
  Now heading down hill toward the steep part
Steep trail ahead!
Leaving the trail and heading toward the pavement and onto the finish line
Dawn Race Walks the 5K Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
Lining up for the race
Race Start!
Heading into the woods
  Historic House
Lowell Observatory on Mars Hill
Coming into the finish!
Half Marathon - Coming over the Finish Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
Im off waaay in the distance...
The final sprint to the Finish line
Coming in!
  Feel my pain...
The FINAL thrust!
After the Race Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
The After race food Yummm!
Chris at the Finish Line
Dawn at the Finish Line

The "gold" Medal received at the finish line Click to Enlarge
The Gold Coast Marathon Brisbane, Queensland, Australia July 5th, 2009
The very front of 26,000 marathoners! Click to Enlarge
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
  Left: The GPS data shows only about 50 feet of elevation change over the run, however there were a few good hills to run up and down along the nearly sea side route.
The marathon finishers technical T shirt Click to Enlarge


I ran my fifth marathon as a fun run and to gain experience with going this distance.
Normally, you need to ramp up your training and peak two weeks before any marathon event to do well, in this case I was still ramping my training back up to base level after the San Diego marathon. We decided only week before the event to sign up anyway, and off we went!

But who could resist running a marathon along one of the most scenic ocean beaches in the world, with live bands all along the way and hundreds of thousands of cheering fans to push you onward? We did this one on the last full day of my week down under visiting our good friend Paul Tierney in Caboolture, about 2 hours north of the Gold Coast south of Brisbane.

The Route

The race starts and finishes along the Gold Coast Highway, at Southport. It heads south for about 10 miles, then turns around and comes back along a parallel route. It then passes the starting line, and proceeds north for a few miles along the coast, turns around and comes back to the finish line. The marathon started at 7:30 am, but was preceded by the gigantic 10k run, with tens of thousands of runners roaring off the starting line just before us. Just before that the Asics Half Marathon also started off the line as well. A very busy series of events indeed!

Before the Race

On Friday before the event, we attended a sizable Health and Fitness Expo at the Gold Coast Convention center nearby. While not quite as large as the huge San Diego Expo, it had many exhibits and running gear for sale which you could browse after you picked up your race bib and timing chip. We bought a few official race shirts and Paul got an awesome new pair of Asics running shoes at an incredible price. Paul had never been to one of these events before, and it was an eye opening experience to him as to how hugely popular an event such as marathons have become. Paul and his oldest daughter Ayla even got to ride a Segway "human transporter" in the lobby outside the expo.

At the Race Start

Several hours before sun up we found ourselves driving from Pauls house south to the Gold Coast on marathon race morning. Rather than take a shuttle to the race start like all the marathons I've done in the US, we could park a few blocks from the start line and walk. The parking garage was next to a shopping mall, and we went through it to get to the street. We saw many of the runners had retreated to the inside of the mall to get out of the cold, which was in the low 50s that time of morning. We then made our way over to the starting line and both Paul and Dawn were able to stand right at the staring line and watch the race begin. This is unusual for such a big race, since the crowds around the starting line can get quite excessive.

During the Race

I parked my self at the starting line at the 4 hour area, having really no idea how long it was going to take me to finish. I told Dawn and Paul to assume 5 hours, and anything faster will be a bonus for this fun run. The race started with a gunshot, and the nearly 29,000 marathoners headed off to their destiny to the south. After a few miles along the edge of a large inland bay, we crossed a long bridge over a river to the Main Beach area. At about 5km we were in the down town area, running thorough the tall buildings and inner city. After exiting the city, it was beach running for miles ahead including Broad Beach, Mermaid Beach, Miami, and Burleigh Heads where we turned around (finally!) at the 15k mark, and headed back north towards the city, along a similar route. Passing into the city again at the 25k point, with tons of cheering fans to help us along. At around 31km we pass the starting line again and keep going onward along the Gold Coast Highway. When we reach Runaway Bay near 38km, we turned around again, and headed back south toward the finish line at 42km.

The finish chute was really long and somewhat misleading as to exactly where the finish line actually was. There were several over head arches that looked (especially after running 26 miles) to be the finish, and you'd get there and - had to keep going. Finally after two of these false finish arches, the real one comes into sight and I had enough energy left in me to run in at a steady pace with arms waiving in joy!

After the Race

Unlike races here in the US, when runners crossed the finish line, no medal was put around your neck. I then proceeded through the fenced off food and drinks area and found that the exit had a gated coral for the runners to leave the area. It was there you were handed your racing commemorative T shirt, and a medal wrapped up in a plastic bag. Ok, a bit under whelming, but I opened up the bag, and put the medal on myself. It really is a cool medal - or "medallion" as they called it.

I found Paul and Dawn right outside the gate and we took a few more shots of the race action before going back to the car park at the mall. While I didn't break any records on this one, all of us had a great time, and so goes my first international marathon!


15k Before the Race - At the Start Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix NEW Stealth Cam II Images Paul's Images - Canon XTi
Arriving at the parking garage, we were treated to the marathon official car!
In front of the Health and Fitness Expo
The Expo Center
  Looking down the street in Brisbane from the Expo Center
The front entrance of the Expo
A sign guides us inward...
When inside, first you go through a cattle fence like array to the packet pickup
Yep - its me picking my race bib up
  The "Race Kit" was just the chip, bib and shirt.
And then onward to the Expo where they all want you to buy athletic stuff!
Paul gets a great pair of new shoes and a killer price
Dawn choosing a race commemorative shirt
In the checkout line
  Just outside the main hall Ayla tries her hand at a Segway
Then Pauls turn!
Some of the huge poster panels hanging at the Expo
This map shows the marathon route along the coast, from north to south.
Another banner
  Driving through town there were many signs of the upcoming event
Before Sunrise - RACE MORNING. Crossing the street using the overpass bridge
At the starting line the fastest runners line up
A Stealth cam shot of standing inside the 26,000 runners waiting to start
I'm at the 4:30 corral here I got another runner to take my photo
Looking behind me minutes before race start
The street pole banner shows what races are being held today
15k Race Start / During the Race Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix NEW Stealth Cam II Images Paul's Images - Canon XTi
And the gun goes off! Thousands and thousands of marathoners
The last few cross the line (At least I wasn't in THIS photo!)
Stealth cam shot of the hordes of runners heading out of the starting gate
  Running along the ocean was totally kewl
The sun rise along the ocean
Starting to head into the city
Into the big city
The fastest runner separates at the halfway point
half an hour later I run past Paul and Dawn!
I'm running past the Elite aid station here
Running past
Along the route
Paul makes a new friend!
The goal - the Finish chute... (I'm still miles away)
Along the route before the runners come by
And then we came
I'm in Yellow in the center
The scene with the buildings
I'm still coming
Racing past!
Still holding a good clip
Coming over the Finish Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix Paul's Images - Canon XTi
Finally, the finish chute
Heading in to a strong finish!
One more to pass...
The final thrust
And I'm DONE.
After the Race Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix Paul's Images - Canon XTi
After the race, you can see the finish line in the background 
Me and Paul
Ebonee's parting shot of the big city

Gaspin in the Aspens Flagstaff Nordic Center, Arizona June 20, 2009 15k Extreme Trail Run 5k Trail Run/Walk by Dawn
Running through the Aspens (Stealth Cam shot)
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

 Left: The GPS data from the wrist mounted reciever downloaded this plot. You can see the constant up and down roller coaster ride in elevation from 8000 feet to around 9000 feet with four very steep peaks to navigate to the finish line !

This year we were lucky again with the weather. During the long trip in the morning up to Flagstaff, we got a few sprinkles along the way, but it seemed to be darker up north where we were heading. Sure enough, as we approached the Nordic Center the rain increased, but by the time we pulled in to the parking area aroun 6:30am, the rain stopped. The weather would improve for the next few hours and the race went off without a weather related hitch.

About 200 runners showed up this year for both the 15k and 5k trail runs. The start line this year was really special, about 50 feet of duct tape on the ground! The 15k runners went off one way, while at the same time the 5k group headed in another direction from the same staring area. While I was beating myself up on the 15k (just over 9 miles) run, Dawn power walked the 5k. She would certainly beat me back to the starting line on this one, which worked out well for both of us.

The 15k is grueling, and goes up and down from 8000 feet to 9000 feet elevation several times over some very rough terrain including giant lava rocks, huge stumps and roots, and piles of large pine cones. Not as many injured runners this year, although there were two or three covered with dirt and blood from falls on the trail. But that is what makes trail running so unique - the challenge, danger and a level of difficulty not met by mere road racing. Any trail runner can run a road race, but not too many road racers will even attempt a trail run as rugged as this, one of the most challenging in the western United States.

For this year, I tried to use Chi Running tecniques as much as possible on the trail to make for a faster more efficient run. The difficulty of this was appearent because of the rugged terrain. I soon found that on the up hills and most level areas were too rough to chi run, because you spent most of the time struggling just to stay upright and not trip. But on about 1/5 of the run the trail was smooth enough to use this tool to a great advantage. I ran faster, and was able to shave a few minutes after last years PR for a new personal record time of 92 minutes (GPS).

When Elks Attack

An amusing highlight for me this year was the rather unexpected elk encounter at around mile 5. There was about half a dozen of us rounding a long curving uphill trail in the heart of the dense ponderosa and spruce pine forest, when a loud crashing sound was heard to our left. The runner behind me yelled "Look out, hes comming you way!", and a gigantic thousand pound cow elk was crashing through the fallen logs and limbs comming directly at us like an out of control freight train. We came to a total stop, and the elk got spooked when she saw us and tripped on a big log, and slammed chest first into a big 2 foot diamter ponderosa tree. The loud thud shook the entire tree and the ground around us! The stunned elk got back up, and then ran the OTHER WAY. Quite an exciting moment!

The most fun part was the finish, there is a long curving flat run of about half a mile long to the finish line chute, where I put it in "third gear" as it is called in Chi, and had the crowd cheering me on to a very fast finish blast. Youve got to love the attitude you get from people and spectators on trail runs, its like nothing else!

Dawn completed the 5k in a fast 50 minutes, with plenty of up hill scenery and photo oppourtunities.

After the race, we stuck around for the awards and the remaining runners to come in. The wind picked up and the temperature started to plummet. It started raining on the way out back to town. We lucked out again this year! Still trying to break that 90 minute barrier. Maybe next year....


15k Before the Race - At the Start Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix NEW Stealth Cam II Images
Arriving at the parking area at the Nordic Center 
Trail runners gathering for the big event
The event organizers laying out a duct tape starting line
  Just befor race start runners fill the Nordic Center starting area
The registration and post race refreshments area
Organizers setting up the packet pick up for the runners
The finishers plaques and medals
Registration table
  Cold temps on this first day of summer!
The injury clinic ready for victims
Finish line with the injury clinic right past...
Down the trail about a quarter mile from the finish
The NATRA sign (Northern Arizona Trail Runners Assoc.)
  Im waiting for the start of the race!
Another view of the Duct tape starting line
Cold runners ready to race
Getting ready to start
Just before the start
15k Race Start / During the Race + Stealth Cam II Images
Hundreds of runners heading into the woods
Now THIS is trail running!
The first aid station
  Back into the dense aspen forest
This is about as good as trail running ever gets!
Crossing a giant field toward an aid station
Powering in to the fast finish!
To the finish line
5k Race Start/During the Race Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
Starting the 5K trail event, runners in front Walkers in rear
Along the trail
The water station
  The water station near the Yurt (its like a round tent)
Another water station
The reason for this race!
Gaspin in the aspens
Heading in toward the finish
After the Race Dawn' Images- Panasonic Lumix
Tim with awards after the race
Giving the awards
The 15k results
Tired runner after the race!

Circle the Peak Payson, Arizona June 6, 2009 Trail Run/Walk by Dawn

The Circle the Peak Trail Run/Hike took place on the Monument Peak section of the P.A.T.S. (Payson Area Trail System) trails. There were about 40 runners/hikers on this partly cloudy day. The start was at the Granite Dells rd and went back up the road to the Trail head for the Monument Peak Trail. We did the loop in a counter clockwise direction. The trail is mostly decomposed granite and is used by ATV, horses, bikes, and hikers. We traveled around the loop past a small pond and to the water stop just before the halfway mark. Then going on thru and next to a small stream continued down the trail back to the road and then to the finish line. My time was 65 minutes for the 4 miles. (not the last at least) There was a post race refreshments done by Safeway stores for funds for the Prostrate cancer research. The temperature was really nice for the race at about 60 degrees...


Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
  Registration table
  Registration table
  Payson area trail system info
  PATS trail map
  Topo and Elevation Chart
  Monument Peak Trail Topo
  Start-Finish Line
  Trail head Area
  Boulder hills in area
  Hills around area
  Start Area
  Getting Ready for Start
  Racing instructions
  Getting ready
  And their off!
  The trail
  Along the trail
  Water stop
  Along the trail
  Race sign
  Along the trail
  Along the trail
  Along the trail
  Monument Peak
  Monument Peak
  Race Sign

  Logo on Technical Shirt Click to Enlarge
The San Diego Marathon San Diego, California May 31st, 2009
Here is the gigantic Finishers Medal Click to Enlarge 
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

 Left: For the first three miles as you loop through down town, the path is quite flat. Then between miles three and six, the route dips down hill a few hundred feet. The steepest climb is next, about 300 feet total elevation change to mile 9.8 through a subdivision up a very steep hill. Constant up and downs until mile 24, then a dip back into the military base for relatively fast finish.

The weather this year for the marathon was a big question mark, right up to the start of the race. Our early monsoon rains here in Arizona had pushed all the way into the San Diego area, and days of light rain ran right up until the event. Fortunately, it stopped raining for the start of the race and the temperatures were nearly ideal, along with thick enough clouds to keep the sun from baking us on the long haul. This was my fastest marathon so far, and a PR for the event chopping some 20 minutes off of last years time. Learning how to effectively run such a huge distance event as efficiently as possible with reasonable speed is starting to come together for me. Two main factors contributed to not hitting the "wall", and running the entire distance at a fairly constant fast speed. First, I am just learning to the use Chi Running - which is a relatively new running technique allowing me to conserve energy in the first part of the race to keep me going at the end very strong. In the last mile I actually blasted over the finish line just like a half. It was awsome. Second, a lesser contribution was taking Alberto Salizars advice (a world famous running coach) and taking the gels every half an hour.

We arrived under cloudy skies friday morning in San Diego with a light mist comming down. After picking up the car, we went directly to the Expo to pick up the race packet and spend some money on racing gear! We got some great shirts and jackets at this huge event, and I even found some new running shoes I have been wanting to try out for mid foot strikers such as myself. Next, we headed off and met up with Dawns sister and her husband and had lunch with them, and socialized.

Saturday was museum day. We headed over to Balboa park, and took in the Natural History Museums latest fossil and dinosaur displays. The gift shop was great. Then over to the Air and Space Museum nearby, and finished by heading over to Dawns sisters house for dinner. Then back to the motel to get ready for the next days race.

Race Day

This year the race started an hour earlier, at 6:30am Sunday morning. Dawn dropped me off early at the busses to take us to the start line, and I was on perhaps the second bus. It was totally dark and misting when we arrived at the huge park where the race was to be staged from. Heading toward the lights at one end of the park yeiled free fruit, bagels and coffee. I sat under a huge tree on one of its roots as a chair and watched the thousands pour in. And pour in they did. Over 25,000 of them! Its hard to describe the building excitement, and anticipation when you get that many runners together, all of them dedicated to the sport as I am. Whew. As the time got near to race start, we took our assigned corrals, mine was coral 11, about a quarter mile back from the starting line. This year I moved my estimate up from a 5h time to 4:30 so not to be stuck with slower runners in the packs. My guess was right and I finished strong at 4:35 this year, running all the way. I would feel comfortable next year starting in the 4:15 pack Im sure.

After the gun went off, it took us about 7 minutes to get up to the starting line and went over it running. I tried to keep an even pace this time, and kept up with the 4:15 pacers until about mile 20. My pace then slowed slightly and was very even to the finish line. This was the last year we will be ending up at the MRCD military base. Next year the ending will be different, should be interesting to see where they will put it. The race again had rock and roll bands at every mile or so, and cheerleaders along the route to keep you going strong. This was a great run, my best ever. To top if off, the USS Enterprise (The real one) was docked at the bay and we ran right by it!

After the race and I got my finishers medal, I got back together with Dawn and the rest of the group in the "Family Reunion Area", and we walked about half a mile out to the cars parked outside the main gate. A late lunch at a local restaraunt was next, man I was hungry! Then after saying our good byes, we were off to the airport and back to Phoenix!


Marathon - Before the Race Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
Genna waiting at mile 3
Alyssa at mile 3
The unknown spectator...
  Waiting for the first runners at mile 3
The banners all along the route
Marathon Before the Race - At the Start Line Stealth Cam II Images
Dropping off clothing at the UPS trucks in the first light of dawn
Looking over the field we staged at in the morning twilight. Runners in the foreground are getting massages pre race.
Still quite dark out, here I am standing at coral 11 where I will start from. This coral is set for a projected finish of 4:30.
  Minutes before race start you can see the baloon arch ahead marking the starting line!
Looking behind me at the slower runners in higher numbered corals. They went up to mid 20s.
Marathon Race Start / During the Race Stealth Cam II Images
RIGHT after I crossed the starting line, ramping up to speed.
Heading for town, this is the first bridge overpass
Almost to down town, it is with this bunch I stayed with the longest.
  At mile 6 - Here we go right into down town! Millions of spectators!
Our first pass at the bay with parked boats docked on the ocean bay
A giant horde of runners heading for down town San Diego
Now in down town, notice the Rock and Roll banners on the lamp posts all along the route
Heading to a less dense part of town, at a water station cups and water everywhere!
  Next onto the freeway all the cars are gone!
Giant freeway overpass
Still on the freeway at the 15k - 9 mile point.
The first really long down hill slope on the freeway Runners all the way to the horizon
A flock of running "Elvi"
  Somehow female running Elvi just dont seem right...
Mile 13 the clock reads about 5 minutes ahead of my actual time
Now were in Marathon Mode after mile 13.1. Here is a bag pipe player along the route
Handing out tons of oranges for the runners to fuel up on
Rural area, dont slip on the orange peels!
  Comming up on Mission bay
One of the most memorable parts of the run by the bay
Running past the Bay and a sea side park
Mile 17 over a bridge now past the bay
Cutting on to Pacific beach road, again some water!
  Mile 18, many runners are starting to trash now.
Mile 19, the masses are slowing making it necasarry to start passing again
Cheerleaders! how cool is this?
Crossing the bay bridge look at all of us!
What it looks like crossing the bridge
  A very steep up hill at the end of the bridge - Egad!
Mile 20. Now this is really the second half of the race.
Mile 21 and smacking into a ton of walkers
Heading down at mile 22 with water on the right
Fans picking up again we really need the support this far out
  Mile 22 marker - Im still going strong at this point.
Past mile 22 we run up a street and then double back. The route is lined with thousands of spectators and live bands
Mile 23 entering Mission Bay Park
The last long up hill toward the last few miles
Mile 26 Entering the Military Base and finish line chute
During the Race Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
And here come the runners at mile 3!
More Runners
At mile 13.1 Im in blazing yellow in the center
  Passing by and feelin good!
Coming over the Finish Line (From Finish Line Video Camera)
Two images from the finish line cam Im circled in blazing yellow
Over the finish line! 4:35
After the Race NEW Stealth Cam II Images
After the race, wandering around aimlessly in the finishing area looking for food...
I ran out of camera memory about here...
After the Race Dawn' Images- Panasonic Lumix
The winners of the Race
Family reunion area
Heading back to the car
  toward car
The proud runner!

Rim to Rim Run Across the Grand Canyon Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona May 15nd, 2009

Part 1 - The run across the Canyon.

Part 2 will show the great shots we got on the north rim and will be posted later.

Here I'm going to detail the actual rim to rim run across the grand canyon I did on May 15th of this year. This annual patronage that we've done for many years will be discontinued because its too close to the latest event we do in late May, the San Diego Marathon. But we will continue the October Rim to Rim to Rim (Across and back) since this is the peak time for fall colors on the north rim!

Weather was excellent this year, mid 40s on the top of the south rim at 4am, my usual starting time. Dawn dropped me off at the top of the South Kaibab trail head and a short hike to the edge of the canyon trail was lit by a half moon and starlight in the darkness just before morning twilight. There I stood for a moment and pondered: 24 miles. 12,000 feet of elevation change. That's what lie before me as the warm wind rose out of the canyon floor up the slopes and blew gently in my face. The warm air smelled of a mixture of pine trees and desert plants from deep within the canyon. This time, I thought Id take it slower to not trash myself too much since the marathon was in two weeks. Then off I went, a moderately easy running pace. I made the river in dim morning twilight 1h 35 minutes later, and was screaming up toward Phantom ranch after crossing the Colorado River. When I got there, I saw hikers just getting up at the ranch, putting the last touches on their packs for the big hike out from the bottom. I spent a few minutes filling my water bottles, and was off again, toward the north rim!

I made cotton wood camp in under 4 hours, faster than I had ever before. A side effect of all the marathon training in the past months I suppose. I was able to run most of the way to the pump house on the north rim, at the junction to Roaring Springs Canyon. There are some really steep hills to climb near the point where the trail branches off to the falls. Then its a combination of power hiking and jogging up to the top. Saw about a dozen runners this year, going both ways. Once I made it through the tunnel in the Supai I had another snack and then headed up the steep slopes to the top. As always, its a very welcome sight to see the last switchback trail at 8,300 feet elevation, and when I got to the top 8 1/2 hours from when I started, Dawn was there waiting cheering me on to the top. Another great trip across the Canyon!

Below are some of the images I took with my Sony micro cam during the run. Its very dark out until you get near the river, so some of the early images are either blurred or grainy. But as the sun came up, the stark contrasts of sunlit peaks and shadowed canyons made for some stunning views as I progressed up the north face.

After a day and a half on the North Rim doing nature photography and hiking, we drove around the canyon on the east side through marble canyon and back to Payson. Many great memories on this trip! Part two will cover the photos we took on the north side, and the drive back around and will be posted in the Arizona digital images section.


South Rim to North Rim Sony P10 mini cam
This first shot was when it was barely light enough to shoot. The Colorado River below is crossed by the bridge Ill be crossing
Looking up at the moon setting over the cliffs overhead as I near the bottom
1h 35 minutes later, Im at the bottom! This shot is standing on the bridge in the first photo looking at the Colorado.
  Looking the other way off the bridge at the Ranger Station on the shore
After crossing the bridge, you head west along the river for a while
Moon set over the Precambrian Vishnu schist.
Another moon set shot
Turning north into the trail leading to Phantom Ranch
  Entering Phantom Ranch
Rental Cabins at Phantom
Passing Phantom, next stop Cottonwood camp.
Looking back south, the sun is rising over the rim
The sun is finally reaching near me. The Vishnu is overlain by Cambrian, Mississippian, and Permian rock layers
  Heading north toward Cottonwood you cross several bridges over Bright Angel Creek. (Yes thats my hat brim)
The trail to Cottonwood stays along the river
And the moon is still setting
Looking back the way I came at the Bass Limestone
Close up of the Precambrian Bass Limestone
  The sun continues to rise on the canyon walls!
Ah yes, the new Beaver Dam bridge - Awesome!
Beaver dam bridge. You used to have to slog through the muck in the cattails here!
Beaver Dam bridge.
First glimpse of Ribbon Falls off to the left of the trail.
  Looking back behind me, the sun continues to rise on the South rim. its about 7am.
The scene that strikes fear into hikers hearts - the last awful climb before Cottonwood camp.
At the top of the climb!
More climbing - Yikes!
The final view of Ribbon falls, about a half mile away off the trail.
  The small falls you cross before you get to cottonwood.
FINALLY. Cottonwood Camp. Water, Rangers, and camping. 4h to here (running)
Entering Cottonwood camp
Another great waterfall
Just past Cottonwood, and now heading toward the Pump House
  After the Pump house you turn left and go north up the steepest most challenging part of the entire distance.
Another bridge to cross in the base of the Supai red beds
More Supai
And more Supai
The tunnel in the Supai, leads to.......
  The final water stop about an hour from the top. (or more!)
More photos coming from Dawn and me...

  Logo on Technical Shirt Click to Enlarge
The Whiskey Row Half Marathon Prescott, Arizona May 2nd, 2009
Half Marathon Start Line Click to Enlarge 

10K Left, Half Marathon Right Click to Enlarge Click HERE to see the Back Sides

 The 10K and Half Marathon Finishers Medals. They are both so shiny that it is difficult to photograph, like mirrors. The 10K medal is a copper alloy, and the Half a more silver color.

Right: Technical Shirt given to Participants
Click to Enlarge
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

 Left: The nearly constant steep uphill ascent peaks out nearly a thousand feet higher than the start. Then the mad dash back down as fast as you can run to the bottom to the finish line !

The 31st annual Whiskey Row Marathon and Half Marathon was held on May 2nd this month, and attracted nearly 450 runners from the western U.S. to compete in this extremely challenging event. Rated as the third most difficult race in the entire country by Runners World Magazine, the high altitude, very steep climb, and unpredictable mountain weather makes for a grueling challenge. There were more ambulances parked along the route than any of my other runs, and for good reason - Each year many runners who are not prepared for the elevation changes get sick or collapse. Since we live at the same elevation as Prescott - over a mile high, and I am used to the steep hills and changes in altitudes, we were very well prepared. Both of us did very well this year, while I pulled in a fast 2h finish on the Half, Dawn race walked a brisk 1h 40m to the finish on the 10k. Both of us got stunning shiny brass medals at the finish line for our efforts!

Before the Race

After arriving about half an hour later than we should have at 6:30am Saturday morning, we blasted over to the packet pick up at the Hotel St. Michael next to the race starting line on Montezuma street. Things went smoothly and I was at the starting line in plenty of time for a 7am start. Dawns 10k started half an hour later, so she was able to get some shots of the half marathon start in the morning light. It was much warmer than last year, around mid fifties at start time. Clouds were clearing out fast, and the day promised to be perfect for racing, with the possible exception of the wind which might be a problem at the higher elevations in the run. Crowds along the race starting line were not huge, probably twice as many as there were runners. The goal this year was to try once again to make the top turn around point at the maximum elevation with a 10 minute pace like last year. Then blast down the hill to a fast and furious 6.5 miles to the finish line.

Race Start

The race was started with the announcer on a bull horn. The marathoners had left an hour before, with some 2 hours before at 5am. But for us, it was sunrise and such a gorgeous morning. The crowd roared as we ripped through the center of town, and off toward the edge of town, and onto the main Copper Basin Road haul up the hill. There would be about a thousand foot climb to the turn around point, and it was up hill all the way. The further out of town we headed, the fewer homes and buildings we encountered. Once we hit Copper Basin road, the scenery turned to dense pine forests and roller coaster like hills always going steeply upward. You could tell the runners that were unprepared for such a steep uphill run, many had to start walking up the hills, and a few would not make it to the top and give up. Once the road turned to dirt, the trail became even steeper. Up, up we went, a never ending climb to the peak. Finally, after an hour I reached the top at mile 6.5 where we crossed a river flowing over the roadway, where an aid station was welcomed. Then everything changed, a blast down the hill to the bottom, mile after mile of running a pace so fast your legs can hardly keep up. My pace varied from around 6:50 to 8 min/ mile all the way down. This makes up for the slow haul up to the top to bring the average pace down a bit. Once you get back to the pavement, you can speed up even more on the smoother surface. The pace was fast but controlled as we came back into town, and headed toward the Courthouse. One more corner around the Courthouse, and the finish line came into sight. 2 hours even on this run, same as last year. Another exciting race over with until next year!

Notes for next time: Get there earlier, don't forget your race gels, start with slightly faster pace. (8:30 - 8:45)


Half Marathon Before the Race - At the Start Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix NEW Stealth Cam II Images
About 10 mins before race start, over 400 half marathoners line up
Im in center in blazing yellow, and ready for the uphill climb
The view from inside the race starting line with the stealth cam
  The crowds along the street waiting for the start
10k Before the Race - Dawn at the Start Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
Starting to line up
Ready for the starting gun!
Half Marathon Race Start / During the Race + Stealth Cam II Images
Five minutes before race start, runners pack into the start line
Race crowds along the street
And off we go! In town
  Heading down back streets toward Copper Basin Rd.
Dead ahead - the famous Thumb Butte
And now the really steep hills begin.
Another very long steep climb!
The city landscape begins to turn to deep Ponderosa woods
  This was a killer hill. many walked this one. (I didn't)
Finally on to the dirt road part of Copper Basin Rd.
The first aid station on CB road.
Running steep uphill on a gravel road is difficult
A common sight, ambulances waiting for someone on the hills.
  The half marathon turn around point was over a running river.
Then back down hill as FAST AS YOU CAN RUN!
Blasting down slope with slower runners going up hill still.
Several miles down the hill and we hit the pavement again.
Leaving the Ponderosas now and back to the outskirts of town.
  Rounding the corner we finally get back into town
Now were running mostly down hill or flats and still a very fast pace.
Nearing down town where we started, just ahead is the main town square
The final straight away to the finish line about a half mile ahead
The view heading right toward the finish line!
Half Marathon Race Start Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
The race start - the woman in pink is cheering us on
Im in yellow below the Indian Jewelry sign
Im in the center
  Left front now, heading off to the hills
10K Race Start / During the Race Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
Waiting for race start
In line looking ahead
Heading out!
  Look at that line of hundreds of 10k' ers!
Passing Dawns old high school
Now toward Thumb Butte
Nearing the turn around point
Coming over the Finish Line - 10k Stealth Cam II Images
Here she comes!
Clock time 1:40 - a new PR!
After the Race Dawn' Images- Panasonic Lumix
First Place marathon winner gets his award Then has to get medical treatment...
At the finish line I fared a bit better
Along the curb after the race
  Post race refueling!
Runners and their families load up on food
One of the food tables
We watched the rest of the runners coming in, here is the finish line photographer
Banner near the race area
  Prescott Courthouse where the race was held
Looking back at the Courthouse area as we were leaving.

The Brian Mickelson Half Marathon Riverfront Park in Cottonwood, Az April 18th, 2009
Waiting at the Start Line Click to Enlarge
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

 Left: You can see the run goes up hill rather steeply in some spots for the first 2.5 miles. You would then think that the race would be an easy down hill run from there. But no, its a roller coaster of rolling hills until you hit the Tuzigoot National Monument hill. Just past half way in the race, this steep run uphill really slows your pace, and its hard to recover even after the down hill rush after that. Its relatively flat to the finish from there.

This was the first ever inaugural Half Marathon event, in past years it was called the "Verde Mingus Blowout" and featured only a 10k and 2 mile fun run. With the addition of the Half Marathon events drew in record numbers of runners including myself for this new run. This run was quite memorable for a number of both good and not so good reasons, and I'd certainly like to do this one again if it doesn't conflict with the Valley of the Sun Half next year.

The morning of the race

We arrived early as usual at 6:30am and got a great parking spot at the park at Riverfront Drive. This large park hosts numerous sporting events, and we walked over across the soccer field to pick up our race packets before the 7:30 race start. Surprisingly, the event souvenir shirt was a dark blue short sleeve technical fabric shirt, with the race name printed on the front. Much more useful than another cotton T! Temps were around 50 so I kept with my long sleeve Sedona running shirt because we couldn't tell which way the intermittent clouds were going. I felt pretty good at this point, and warmed up by running around the soccer field slowly before the event. Over 500 runners showed up for the three events - way beyond their expectations. About 115 for the Half Marathon, and slightly more than that for the 10k. As the time neared we gathered near the starting line, and surprisingly had been given chips for timing to attach to our shoes. It was hard to say how fast I would be able to run this one, since it was a first time, and there were some steep hills to be had in the first 2.5 miles according to some race profile plots.

The race adventure

No gun start here - just an official waving his arms and shouting GO! We thundered off the start line, and headed toward the main road through cottonwood. My goals at this point was to try to keep as long as possible a fast 8:15 pace (Ok, its Boston Qualifying pace), perhaps exceeding the 4.8 mile St Pa tricks day run I did previously at a similar pace. A big police escort made for a cool send off on the starting line. the first 2 miles went gradually up hill, with the worst part in the half mile after that. My pace slipped a bit to 8:20, but it was going well at that point. As we rounded north east toward the Tuzigoot Indian ruin, my stomach was getting very queasy from I thought some food I had eaten before the race. But I otherwise felt fine and pounded on as fast as I could toward the ruin. We then ran a very steep slope up to the ruin parking area on the top of the big mesa that the Indian dwellings were on. So much for the 8:15 pace. The view from the top of the ruin was spectacular, I could see for dozens of miles around in all directions, and the long line of runners on the frontage road toward and away from the ruin like tiny ants marching along. I met up with another runner about my age and we headed off down the hill and onward to the trail run part of the half marathon.

We banked sharply onto a regular hiking trail and ran past rivers, lakes, and through gorgeous stands of deciduous cotton wood trees. The trail snaked back and forth wildly through the woods - it was fantastic! Many of the "street" runners did not fully expect the rigors of trail running, and I left a huge bunch of them well behind me. I do a lot of nasty high altitude trail runs and it was great fun to do a few miles in the lower elevation trees for a change. Emerging from the trails, on to the road to Dead Horse state park. It opened up a a bit, and we passed thought he camping areas right on the roads where all the camping trailers were parked and watched them staring at us zoom by them. I even heard one camper say to his friend that we were actually going to run over 13 MILES. His Friend couldn't believe his ears. "How can they do that"? I chuckled as I screamed by.

After circling a stunning lake sidewalk trail, we looped past some rather rough musicians, and on toward the finish back where we started. My stomach was tying in knots by the time I passed the finish line in 2h 00m. A fast run for sure, especially for such hills and trails adventures. 2h later I realized I had the flu and from then on the rest of the weekend was awful. But the race itself was awesome, and were looking forward already to running it next year! (hopefully without the virus)

Notes for next year

It might be better to limit the pace to 9min/mile until mile 2.5, then accelerate after that to bring the average pace down. A lighter shirt might also be a plan if the sun is present.


Before the Race - At the Start Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
Officials still setting up the Start Line
Race Packet pickup and late sign up in the park
Bib and bag pickup
  A police escort for the Start of the Race!
Waiting for the race to start
Me in center minutes before race start. I felt pretty good at this point...
Park entrance
Here was finally the posted map and aerial shot of the courses.
The view of distant Jerome mining community miles in the distance
  Race banner...
The Race Start / During the Race NEW Stealth Cam II Images
At the starting line before the race
Moments before race start a group shot of the Half Marathoners
Heading out of the Park onto the main road
  Going through the back streets of Cottonwood
The main highway in Cottonwood
Turning into Tuzigoot
The road to the Indian ruin
The long road in it is still not visible
First view on the left of Tuzigoot
Running right toward the ruin we will climb running full blast!
Turning to the steep uphill slog to the top
At the top at last!
Heading down...
  The view was spectacular see all the runners like ants
  Entering the trail part
Rough going on the trail
An easy road wide part
Through a wash
Winding through the manzinita trees so cool!
  Steep upward oh no my pace is dropping!
Finally leaving the trail part back to the roads
Turning around in the Dead Horse park visitor center parking lot
Going past some spectacular white cliffs of limestone
Around the lake in the park
  Turn around junction
Across the huge bridge over the Verde River
Now heading in, only half a mile to go past the parking lot
Mile 13 - before the turn up ahead to the left to the finish line!
Race Start and During the Race Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
On your mark - get set - GO!
Me in orange passing Dawn on my way out
More runners keep on coming
During the race, officials now start to change the start line to a finish line
  After almost 2h, here I come!
How's this for an official time?
The band plays as the runners come in at the finish line
After the Race Dawn' Images- Panasonic Lumix
And its over - looking forward to next years!
Sitting down in the park after the race, we had the pasta meal and were relaxing when this shot was taken.


The St. Patties Day 8k and 1 mile fun Run At Kiwanis Park, Tempe March 15th, 2009
Race Start! Click to Enlarge
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge

 Left: The route loops through the park, twice around the lake, and only changes in elevation around 800 feet. For this shorter distance, this amounts to some pretty good hills, but you do end up lower than when you started.

With the Valley of the Sun half marathon canceled for this year, we thought it might be fun this March to try something different, an 8k race that was meant both for the celebration of the upcoming st patties day, and as a racing event for the USATF race series, complete with the award of medals for the high school Track and Field racers only. The combined event would feature some of the fastest high school cross country runners in the state, and a mix of local runners from all walks of life. And what a mix it was! The event, attended by just over 200 runners took place on a chilly but sunshine filled Sunday morning, at the Kiwanis Park in Tempe. This was also my fastest race ever, exceeding Boston qualifying pace for the entire 4.8 miles. Its a start!

We arrived at 6:30am, an hour before the start of the race, and they were still setting up the tents and booths on one end of the lake in a parking lot. After claiming my rather diminutive bib number and stunning white and GREEN T shirt that commemorated the event, we waited for the others to arrive and hoped the just rising sun would warm the short hill top most runners were assembling on. As the time of the race approached, I took off my pre race sweats and became race ready. We also had a chip on our shoes to time the event surprisingly enough. I would find out why near the end of the run later how fast runners were coming in to the finish line!

Just before the race, the race official dressed in green (of course!) with a green top hat announced the rules, and that the 8k runners would be going one way, and the 40 or so 1 mile fun run participants would be going the other, starting at the same time. Dawn was ready with the camera and recorded the starting lineup. The official then said "On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! and that started the racing. Quite informal but fun none the less. We headed straight out through the parking lot, and soon found ourselves running along side a canal, along a dirt path for about half a mile. Then we cut across a bridge over the canal, and turned around - it was only then I could see if I was doing well by the number of people behind me. I figured that with all the cross country athletes running too, Id be maybe in the back 10 percent of the pack. When I turned around, there was well over a hundred runners behind me! I was screaming along at an even 8 minute pace, and this was the fastest I had ever raced any race before. Could I hold it for the whole 4.8 miles? The rolling hills through the park led way to two figure 8 loops around the lake, and under some footpath bridges. I gave it all I had right to the very end, with a very fast burst of speed at the end to crush the trailing competition which had been dogging me for several miles. When the results came it, it was a shocker - I was in the top 25%. I would have never imagined this. In my age group which did NOT include the high school track stars, I rated exactly at 50%, right in the middle for my age range. For such a short race (for me) I was ecstatic. Maybe Ill do this one again next year! When we drove back home at lunch time to Payson, what did I do to celebrate such success? Why put on my running shoes and put in another 10 miles around the town! Well I got my marathon training mileage in for this weekend...


Before the Race - At the 8k Start Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
Temps were in the 40's and the rising sun was a welcome sight!
The Announcer for the start of the race (with green hat)
Picking up the race bibs and timing chips
  This gal was 90 years old, and did the 2 mile run.
  The hand draw route in colored pencil and crayons...
Runners gather in the parking lot before the race
Just before the start of the race, we all lined up
I even wore my green Sedona race shirt for the event!
During the Race - The 8K Race Start Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
And the race is on!
Every type of runner and mixed in were the Championship high school runners
The end of the pack were mostly walkers
The 8K Race Start / During the Race NEW Stealth Cam II Images
Approaching race start the sun is just rising!
The race "Official" gives instructions
Sunrise shot of the 8k runners
  And were off! the race takes you down the park streets first
  Runners settling in to their race pace
Running up the canal which lies on the west edge of the park
Heading for the turn around on the canal
You can see the turn around ahead
  Next along the sidewalk around the lake.
  Along the side walk around the park
Next to the main road on the edge of the park
Sharp left turn back into the center of the park
Run under the bridge!
  Back one more time around the lake
  Final loop to the finish line.
During the Race Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
About halfway through the race
Halfway - could I keep up the blistering pace?
Coming for the fastest finish ever!
  Time clock just after I came in, chip time was officially 40:22
After the Race - 8k Run Dawn' Images- Panasonic Lumix
Post race hydration/refueling
Its over - short and sweet!

The Lost Dutchman Marathon February 15th, 2009
After 26.2 miles I'm glad its over !
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
Left: The route rapidly descends in an up and down hilly route for the first 6 miles. Then you start climbing the big hill, which starts to eat away at your fast pace up to this point. Up and down hills lead to an ending very steep incline about half a mile long which you must run up to get to the last stretch of the finish line. Grueling!
The stunning heavy finishers medal for the marathon was a 2 piece assembly, with a rotating center plate. Here is the back. Click to Enlarge

This years Lost Dutchman Marathon Event was held on Sunday February 15th, with the Health and Fitness Expo the day before on Saturday. Also at the same time they do a half marathon, 10k run/walk, and 8k trail run/walk. Since I had run the half marathon once before, it was now time for me to move up to the full marathon this year. Also, this year Dawn signed up for the 8k trail run/walk and planned on doing that while I was off running the marathon. Because of the fact that the starting line for the full marathon would be located at a different location than the 8k/10k start-finish line, I was on my own for taking some images of the race start. It was dark at the starting line, making it a challenge to get anything at all!

Saturday - The Expo

Held at the huge Apache Junction Multi generational Center, you have to pick up your race bibs and "goodie" bags the day before the event. A few vendors with some athletic running wear, and some drink and food stuffs also showed up, but its really nothing to get excited about. After we picked up our racing material, we headed out to lunch, then off to drive the full marathon race route starting up at Peralta Trail head at the base of the Superstition Mountains. The area is stunningly beautiful desert vistas, and with all the recent rains, was as green as ever. If the big storms would really hold out till Monday, we would have a fantastic racing experience! We were still a bit wary after just squeezing in the Sedona half marathon events the weekend before, and having it snow over 7 inches in Payson the next day. Would we be lucky again?

Right from the start, we saw that the first 6 or 7 miles of the run were in prime desert, along a scraped smooth dirt road. It was also a great deal of down hill running making for a fast start. Maybe too fast. After that it leveled off and beyond 13 miles it gradually went up hill. It was not going to be all down hill fun all of the time. And in the last miles, there were some very steep up hills to cover before the finish line at the Events Center.

Sunday - Race Day

We left the house at 3:30am in the dark, and headed down from Payson in an hour and a half drive to Apache Junction. There, Dawn dropped me off at the busses and off I went at 5 am toward the starting line at Peralta Trail Head. The race would start for us at 7 am, while the 8k started for Dawn at 7:30 am. I was on the second bus and we arrived about 45 minutes later. It looked very well organized and everyone seemed to know what they were doing. Two dozen camp fires were going with blankets next to each one for the runners before the race. It was still dark out, and the stars blazed over the looming face of the Superstition mountains which we were right up against. The fires made for a great social atmosphere for the marathoners, telling stories and bragging about their latest conquests. I even met a runner from Flagstaff, who does the Nordic center runs as I do each year.

After about an hour of busses piling in, the place got pretty crowded! some 500 runners packing it in around the cozy fires. The word then came over the bull horns that it was time to move over to the start line, a few hundred feet around the corner, on the dirt road leading out of the parking lot at the trail head. There we found a narrow starting line, with a short banner over the roadway marking the official start line. This was to be a gunfire start, so everyone basically started at the same time. I tried to get some digicam photos of the crowd, but it was still so dark I got only silhouettes. The race officials bull horn was not working and we couldn't hear the race rules read, but I don't think anyone missed them anyway. When the gun finally went off 10 minutes later, we were off, on a very long morning twilight journey!

The first seven miles were some of the most gorgeous desert scenery I have ever seen. The golden sunrise in a partly cloudy sky bathed the giant saguaro cactuses and sage brush in a warm glow. The Superstition mountains were all lit up yellow, and made for an awesome send off. And while it was in the upper 30s, the sun slowly warmed up the air and it felt great. There was a lot of down hills in this first dirt road part, and I kept a steady 9 minute/mile pace easily. Once we hit the pavement, and moved into the gradual up hill part of the run, my pace only slowed gradually over the next final miles. A most amusing part of the run was when we ran on two sections of the 60 freeway, we had the right lane all to ourselves running along miles of orange cones until we exited and went back to street running amongst houses and businesses. At mile 20 we met up with the last of the half marathononers, mainly the slower walkers. From then on, we ran the same route as the half marathoners. The "Dutchmans Revenge" hill at mile 22 was doubly difficult after running so many miles before it! The road roller coasters for the remainder of the race, and the last two miles were excruciating because they were increasingly uphill. Not something you want after 25 miles of hard running. I did manage to run at a moderate clip over the finish line at least looking like I felt fantastic! I think next year, Ill try to even out the pace a bit, and keep a bit of energy to use on that last wicked hill. Strategizing already.

As I crossed the line, the clock changed and I made it at the turn of 4:46:00 according to my GPS. Oh man were my quadriceps sore from all those down hills! The gigantic two part medal was worth the effort however. This first time effort on this run was quite a learning experience once again. Sign me up for next year!


Day Before the Race -Saturday Packet Pickup in Apache Junction Chris's Images - Blackberry cell phone
At the Events Center main auditorium here is where we picked up our race numbers and "goodie bags"
The "Expo" was smallish but had some nice accessories and running wear.
Sign at the door
A huge photo of the scenery you will see on this run is enough to get any ones blood stirring!
Before the Race - At the Marathon Start Line Chris's Images - Stealth Cam/Adventure Sports
In total darkness, the start line was at the Peralta Trail head, where they had campfires.
All the runners huddled around the fires, to keep warm and bond...
Still VERY dark, here all the runners have been called to gather at the Start Line
Minutes before the gun went off, I took this image of the runners packing it in on the narrow road at the start.
And were off! This shot by Adventure Sports of all of us starting out on what would be one LONG morning.
Before the Race - At the 8k Trail Run/Walk Start Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix/Adventure Sports
At Sunrise in Prospector Park, near Start Line (Half, 8k)
Stunning Arizona Desert Sunrise
Shuttles to the Parking area
8K start line Participants gathering !
Starting line of the 5k/8k Run/Walk (Adventure Photos)
  You can see how chilly it was at the start - 30s
The Marathon Race Start / During the Race NEW Stealth Cam II Images
About 10 minutes after start, heading down the start of some amazing hills
Mile 4, the sun started coming out from the eastern clouds and warming up.
The end of the first 6 miles on the dirt road. The desert scenery was amazing.
Then out on to the freeway, we had one lane all to ourselves
Exiting the Freeway
Next into the back subdivisions in Apache Junction
Long runs along back roads
Miles around the Superstition Mountains
Mile 11, some runners starting to slow down long uphill slopes !
Back into more beautiful desert housing developments
On the entrance ramp and onto the freeway again
Exiting the freeway and coming up on a water station. About every 2 miles.
One back road we had to run around a bridge under construction.
Just after the bridge, I remember some very long up hill stretches.
Mile 18, now constant up hills, the runners are now quite far apart
Finally back into a subdivision but wait - its all up hill again! This then turned around at the Half Marathon turn around point - 6.5 miles from the finish line
You got it, even more grueling up hill running. Not something you really want after 20 miles
And finally, the Dutchmans Revenge Hill - the steepest and most wicked hill on the run.
It was then a few more miles to the finish line, up one more last steep killer hill !
During the Race - Marathon Adventure Sports Professional Photographer
First three around half way on the race
I'm coming up on the Revenge Hill now- Eeeaaahh!
Topping the hill (gasp) you run though a fake block wall.
Feel my pain...
Finish line Photos Heading down the very last straight away !
Starting to get excited...
VICTORY ! My fastest Full Marathon so far 4:46
During the Race - 8k Trail Run/Walk Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
Heading down toward the trail
On the Trail !
During the Race - 8k Trail Run/Walk Adventure Sports Professional Photographer
All smiles Dawn heads toward the Finish Line
An exciting fun finish !
During the Race - Marathon Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
Im coming into the Finish Line now !
And Its over - my fastest marathon yet !
Time clock 1 min after I came in.
After the Race - 8k Trail Run/Walk Dawn' Images- Panasonic Lumix
The marathon bag pickup area - very well organized.
Waiting for me at the Marathon finish line
After the Race - Marathon Dawn' Images- Panasonic Lumix At the Finish line

The Sedona Half Marathon February 7th, 2009
The GPS data from the run Click to Enlarge
Left: The route starts with a quick down hill making for a very fast start, then oscillates up and down on the steep hills. The finish is a long torturous run up the sidewalk to the finish, steep uphill almost all of the way.
The awesome heavy finishers medal for the half marathon and 5K

Friday Before the Race

This time of year is always a gamble on the weather, and luck was with us this year for the Sedona Half Marathon. Had it been a day later, it might have been called off. But is was worth it, I set a new PR for this event by running it in 1:58, four minutes faster than last year. More on that later. Friday, we took the day off and headed over to the Tlaquepaque village in Sedona to pick up my race packet in the morning. Once we got there and the excitement of the next days events set in, Dawn signed up to walk the 5k as well. This would be her third 5k walk. After lunch, we headed out down Dry Creek Canyon road to take the half marathon route drive, and spent some time collecting fossils and taking photos of the surrounding area. We also hiked up to Devils Arch, a natural sandstone arch at the end of a steep 1 mile hiking trail.

Saturday Race Day

There were 1800 runners this year. The largest turn out ever. About 600 did the half marathon, and we arrived early around 6am to get a great parking spot near the start line. It was pretty cold, in the upper 30s at that point, but warmed up to low 40s at race start at 8:05. First the small number of full marathoners went at 8am, next it was our turn, and the 5k event followed after we left. This allowed Dawn to get some start photos of the half, and still have plenty of time to get ready for the 5k event.

This year the route was changed at the start so we ran parallel to the main highway on a back road. A very fast down hill start led us to Dry creek Canyon road, where we headed north along the excellent paved road. The scenery along this road is spectacular, and passes by several expensive home subdivisions. The road came to a T twice, and we turned left each time, the second time passing by one of our favorite red shale areas. Then you hit the worst hill of the run, nearly a mile long up hill that seems to go on forever. This is why this wont be your fastest half marathon! Once we topped the hill, a short distance later was the turn around at mile 6.5 which I passed at 1:01, and then it gets real wild - you blaze down hill so fast your legs cant go any faster. On the other side of the road are the runners behind you that have not reached the hill top yet. I think at that point I realized I was in the front 25% of the pack, since so many were behind me. I ran negative splits (This is running terminology meaning I ran each mile faster than the mile before it) back down all the down hills heading toward town, and the finish line. The last mile is very hard - you have to run up hill for about half a mile up a sidewalk next to the highway. Then you top that hill, make a sharp turn to the right and the last half mile of the run is also up hill. Needless to say, you've about had it by the time you reach the finish line! I ended up with an average pace of 9.1 min/mile over the whole race. The finishers medal is awesome, same basic theme of last year, but with slightly different colors.

After the race, they had food right at the finish line and we watched the other runners coming in. A cool breeze picked up and we knew the weather was about to change. The next day we got a huge winter storm, with over 7 inches of snow in Payson alone. Sedona had rain, sleet and snow in the hills. The storm raged for 2 days before we saw the sun again. We really squeaked that race in!


Day Before the Race - In and around Sedona (2) Chris's Images - Canon 10D / (3) Dawn's Images Panasonic Lumix
From Dry Ck. Canyon road, sandstone buttes
Standing in the Red shales looking at Coconino SS butte
Schnebly Hill Sand stone
Im standing on Devils Arch
On the way to the Devils Arch
Day Before the Race - Packet Pickup in Tlaquepaque Chris's Images - Blackberry cell phone
Dawn decides to sign up for the 5k
Picking up Bibs
Race Packet line
Next we picked up our timing chips
  The plaza with shops
Before the Race - At the Half Marathon Start Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
Sunrise in Sedona from Race Start Line
Looking through Start Line at Sunrise
The Runners are gathering for the Events!
After warming up, rrready to race!
  Before the race
  I'm in line at Start (In blazing yellow)
Before the Race - At the Half Marathon Start Line Stealth Cam II Images
Vendors last chance to sell you something
Women have a lot more choices for running wear!
Runners warming up as sun comes up. BRRRRR.
Working my way up to the Start Line
  Standing at the race start for the Half
Before the Race - At the 5k Run/Walk Start Line Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
Getting ready for the Start
Heading toward Starting Line
The Half Marathon Race Start Dawn's Images - Panasonic Lumix
Bang! The fastest runners lead the pack
Me in Yellow center starting the Race
During the Race - Half Marathon NEW Stealth Cam II Images
We first run next to an old ampitheatre
Heading toward town on the back streets - Downhill is fast here!
Through the city of Sedona heading for Dry Ck. Canyon rd.
Now onto the back roads
  Past Coffee Pot rock, and some fancy subdivisions
Heading for first turn at bottom of very steep hill
Looking behind me with the camera - note the gal in the black outfit on the right side....
The BIG HILL. Is this an awesome shot or what?
The difficult run up the long steep hill
  After the hill top, heading toward the turn around we can start to see the fastest coming the other way now.
After the turn around I got this shot heading up another steep hill.
Back and forth we go, me and the gal in black. She is fast and very fit. She's 60 years old!
The last nasty haul up the hill on the sidewalk in town This is where you'll loose most of your momentum. The finish line is just at the top.
During the Race - Half Marathon Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
The final blast up the last steep hill to the finish - look who I'm racing to the finish!
I give it all I got, and finish just ahead of her, what a great final push!
During the Race - 5k Run/Walk Dawns Images - Panasonic Lumix
The start of the 5k
Passing the ampitheatre
In toward town
Almost to town
  Through down town Sedona!
The big traffic sign
Nearing the finish!
During the Race - Half Marathon Provided by marathon photographer "Zazoosh"
During the Race - 5k Run/Walk Provided by marathon photographer "Zazoosh"
After the Race - Half Marathon Dawn' Images- Panasonic Lumix
At the finish line about 25 minutes later
Checking the race printouts for our rankings
The very next day in Payson - 7 inches of Snow!