Sun Mountain 50 Miler Race Report (retroactively posted)

I was extremely nervous going into this race because of the elevation change. I also worried that perhaps my previous 50 miler finish was a fluke – could I be successful again? Well, this 50 miler was definitely tougher than my first, but it also had far superior scenery.

We were extremely lucky in our lodging for this race. One of the musicians I work with always kindly asks about my running. When I told him about this race he asked where it was and when I told him, his eyes lit up. He generously offered the use of his cabin in Mazama, which I gladly accepted. Great location and wonderfully comfortable! Adam and I enjoyed dinner from the porch swing, looking out over a meadow. Rough life.  😉

Race day I woke up early, as per usual, but struggled to eat my oatmeal. Got everything ready and we headed out to the race start. I saw quite a few of my High Heeler friends – Kelly, Callista, and Vivian. Even more of them were running the 25K the next day.

The first few miles went very quickly and felt pretty good. At one point I found myself running directly behind Kelly, another High Heeler, and realized I was going out too fast. Oops.

Once we hit our first hill everyone started to spread out, and then the views started! After the first aid station I watched a “cow jam” happen with some runners having to divert a bit because of a very loud and annoyed cow herd that desperately wanted to go up the road that the runners were coming down. And by the way, dodging those cow pies was no joke, they were, uh, sizeable.

The next chunk of the race was very out in the open, and it heated up quickly. The mile 14 aid station came up surprisingly fast (although all our watches said 12), and then we got our first real serious climb. This is also where my stomach first decided that perhaps it wasn’t totally into this whole thing. Thankfully Kari (another High Heeler) was at the top of the climb, and her encouragement was exactly what I needed at that moment. Then down, down, down and through another cow gate (there were many!)

Kari’s photo of me coming up the final climb in this section.

At the mile 20 aid station Adam was waiting for me – it was good to see him! He was so helpful all day. (And he had a great day himself that included the Rocking Horse Bakery and the Old Schoolhouse Brewery.)

Coming in to mile 20!

The next section was my least favorite I think. It was closed in, without really being shaded, and the mile 27 aid station seemed to take forever to get to. We crossed paths with the 50Kers, but since they were going the opposite direction, I kept feeling like I was going the wrong way since I didn’t see any other 50 milers. And at one point one of the 50K runners asked me, seemingly very concerned, “are you OKAY??” Um, thanks for your concern, but yes. I’m just at mile 24, and it’s hot. That didn’t exactly help my confidence (but it’s funny now.)

Getting to the mile 27 aid station seemed to take forever, ugh. But it was great to swap out some stuff in my drop bag (and see the awesome Star Wars duct tape I put on it!) Callista came in at that time and showed me the inspirational quote she had included in her drop bag. A new one for every bag – how fun!  I also realized at this point that while I was still ahead of the cutoffs, I was going much slower than I had intended and poor Adam was going to be waiting at the next aid station for a long time. And I had no cell service to warn him.  

Callista’s photo of me amongst the flowers!


This section had some up and down, and some shade, thankfully. I ran with Callista for a bit of this section, but we drifted apart after a bit and I started to listen to a podcast to help pass the time. I don’t remember much else from it, however. Other than there were very rocky downhills and sunflowers everywhere.

Coming up to mile 36 aid station was great. I saw our car parked and was so grateful that Adam had stuck out the extra 1.5 hours to wait for me. I had thought about changing my shoes as a few of my toes on my left foot were jamming up against the toe box (I’m sure I’ll lose at least one toenail), but discarded the idea as changing my shoes and socks (and re-greasing my feet) sounded like an awful lot of work. But again, it lifted my spirits to see Adam and have his help being my brain.

The next part was extra fun because Callista and I ran together for most of it. I’m grateful she was there, because it was a great distraction from some major elevation change (and some stairs to the tempting Sun Mountain Lodge at the top of a hill, wtf?!?!) It was a weird, extra loop that you had to do twice (sort of) that I hadn’t expected. Once I got there, it explained a confusing conversation I had with another runner when she started to talk about stairs, but I just hadn’t been to that part of the loop yet.

After we got past mile 40 we knew we had it, but the walking/shuffling/chatting together was great for morale. We also had this little ladder to climb over this fence – not fun to attempt after so many miles. But it was especially helpful to have Callista around after the mile 44 aid station because we had a big hill to climb. It felt a little cruel, honestly, because it was an out and back up a mountain, but the views were great. And at this point we could see a thunderstorm heading in, which was also good motivation to keep moving. After that it was mostly downhill, and I knew we were close, so I just had to keep moving.

View from the top of Patterson Mountain

At this point Callista took off, and I was nervous about the cut offs. Down a hill, and we could see the road, but I had no idea how far we really had to go. Once I got down to the road, a car drove by and honked and cheered and I almost burst into tears out of gratefulness of being close. The few people there said “Just under a mile to go!” It seemed like forever to get there, but the finish felt good, and I was so glad to see HHRG ladies and Adam at the end!

Glenn Tachiyama’s wonderful photo at about mile 47!

Some quick numbers:

Finishing time: 12:36:59

Elevation gain: 7,500 feet

Calories consumed: ~1,500

One disappointment was that Rainshadow Running is legendary for their post-race parties, but it was well over by the time I finished. The band was gone, most people had left, and the food was picked over. I did grab a piece of pizza, and chatted with my HHRG ladies before we headed back to the cabin.

My shoes looked so clean in comparison to my legs, but really all the dirt went straight through my shoes and socks!

My body is a bit beat up, as expected, and some joints are a bit more unhappy than others. But I’m very grateful that I made it through without any major injuries, major stomach issues, dehydration, blistering or chafing. I was a bit slower than I had hoped at 12:36, but considering the heat of the day and the challenging course, I’m very pleased that I made the time cutoff. Mentally, I think my tougher part came between 20-27, and then after 45. I wasn’t a fan that the aid station mileage didn’t seem to always match what it “should” have been, and that we didn’t actually know how far we had to go at the end, since it’s a little short on the maps. But I didn’t really have any truly despairing moments like last time.

Overall, my stomach was okay. Not amazing, but it started to let me know it wasn’t happy after 14. I still mostly ate every 30 minutes (with maybe 2 exceptions). Considering the heat and distance, I’m surprised it didn’t get worse. It felt like I was riding a knife edge the whole time. And some foods seemed to make it worse than others, so I really narrowed what I was eating. The last third of the race was basically run on Oreos, lol. I ate about 1500 calories during the race. I know it’s not enough, but it’s what I could tolerate, and I didn’t bonk. Whew!

One thing I will say about this race is that it sure made it way more fun that I knew loads of people there and that the scenery was amazing. Sunflowers and lupine galore!


2 thoughts on “Sun Mountain 50 Miler Race Report (retroactively posted)

  1. Pingback: 2015 in Review – 2016 in Preview | will run for whisky
  2. Pingback: Sun Mountain 100K Race Report | will run for whisky

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