Sagebrush Shuffle 9 Hour Run 2012

Sagebrush Shuffle 9 Hour Run
Sat. Dec. 9, 2012.
7:30 a.m. start.
Vado, NM, USA. 13th annual.

Course: 3 miles paved, the rest narrow single-track trails and old jeep roads through red rock canyons and wooded arroyos. Elev.= 4,050′-4,410′.

Water and drinks every 3 miles. Raffle and door prizes, t-shirts. ntry: Donations$.

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Micah True Trail Run – New Mexico 2012

caballo blanco Micah True Trail Run   New Mexico 2012Date:    Sat, 2 Jun 2012 12:04:42 -0600
From:    Mark Dorion
Subject: Micah True Trail Run/ Gila (NM) Bigtime Fires–

Several longtime southwest ultra/ trail runners have asked me about resurrecting the Sawyer Peak-Hillsboro Peak-Railroad Canyon area runs (held semi-annually from 1990s through 2007– stories and results in some UR issues).  We had various courses, but always with a “long” option of at least 27.5 miles, and always with ascents of Hillsboro Peak (including up the fire tower to check in) at 10,011′ and Sawyer Peak (9,890′).  I know that lister Dr. Matt Mahoney has run here, as well as other runners from the four corners states, Texas, etc.

As Micah True ran on and enjoyed these routes, it would be a natural and easy (logistically) place to hold a low-key but organized and poigant run – Micah True Trail Run.  The footing and signage is good, but the climbs are all between 7,500′>10,000′ and often steep.  Scenery is excellent.  Course records by experienced runners for 27-29 mile routes were around 6:50-7:00.  We always had shorter options as well.

I was in that area (west of Hillsboro, northeast of Silver City) a few days ago and the smoke from nearby fires to the north was notable.  The REALLY big fires on the national news are more to the northwest, near the ghost town of Mogollon, but in the past have swept down towards Hillsboro Peak (which is one of the rare fire towers in the USA that is still in use year-round).

So I am looking at early Fall, and hopefully post-fires.  I met fire crews out in several places in the Gila and even in close to town in Socorro (good-sized city 75 miles south of Albuquerque, home to excellent university New Mexico Tech and hundreds of miles of trails).  These firefighting men and women were working HARD at all hours– to me they make
running an ultra seem a relative piece of cake.

I am open to any input.  We can hold an organized run as far as water stops along the way, light flagging at a few tricky intersections, t-shirts for interested parties, but would charge no fee (donations to USFS fire fighters always welcome), etc.  From El Paso/ Las Cruces the drive is about 80+ miles north on I-10, then 23 miles west through towns of Hillsboro and
Kingston to trailhead areas near Emory Gap (lots of parking, even a restroom).

AND now to post on something completely different and a bit cheerier– the world’s longest official race (the New York Self-Transcendence 3100 mile/ 5000Km) and a well-known U.S.A. runner who plans to be on the starting line on Father’s Day, June 17th.  While held on a 900 meter loop around a small park in the middle of Queens, NYC, I have known a few large barbecue grills there to get “out of control” and send flames shooting way up … have also seen smoke and flames coming from under an overheated car hood in 100F weather there!

Best wishes to all ultrarunners around the globe,

Mark D
(in smoky El Paso, TX at 4,210′)

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Dragoon Mountains Run 2012 – Results

Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2012 09:09:36 -0600
From: Mark Dorion
Subject: Dragoon Mountains Run/ Results/ “Longest Training Run” Topic

  • Dragoon Mountains Run. Near Sunsites, AZ. April 7, 2012.
  • 16.7 mi. (27 Km) (Nobody took ultra option)
  • 2,310′ climb between 4,880′>5,990′.
  • Single-track trails and runnable old jeep roads.


1. Bruce Johnson, 57, AZ 3:45:55 CR
2. Mark Dorion, 52, TX 3:45:57
3. Doug Kelly, 41, AZ 4:56:32** (ran alternate 18+ mile route, including several miles of bushwacking through thick manzanita, mesquite, oak, acacia, etc. Also hitched ride in pick-up truck for 9 or so miles).
4. Toby Dorion, 6, TX 2.5 mile route including much rock-climbing and cave-exploring
4. Amalia Dorion, 11, TX ” ”
4. Helen Dorion, 45, TX ” ” (**note– did this as her 45th birthday hike)


The window rocks, tall stone spires, caves and other natural formations on this classic trail route have to be experienced to be believed (photos forthcoming). If you’ve driven I-10 through Texas Canyon, picture all that scenery, BUT with much taller rock monoliths and motor-home-sized rounded boulders balancing, erratic-like, on high plateaus.

This run starts with a gradual 2 “dull” miles on jeep road, where at one point the road forks around a whale-sized rock. This access road also passes several historic landmark adobe ranch homes (some inhabited by rangers and ranchers, others by Casper The Ghost and friends!). The views of the steep-walled Stronghold Canyon from the runnable jeep road sections at both ends of this out-and-back course are unique and unforgettable. Once one starts up the rocky single-track towards the plateau/pass, breathing is more labored and sightseeing increasingly limited to the rocks in front of one’s feet.

While I had done a few flat road runs of this length recently, this was my first real trail run of any sort since my major ankle surgery January 2nd in Tucson with internationally-known orthopedist Dr. Eric Anctil (a native of Quebec and graduate of the Mayo Clinic Med. School). I was really hurting after 13 miles here, but Bruce, ever the gentleman, waited for me several times on the rough final 3 mile descent to the campground. He is a great runner and wonderful storyteller, and I was honored to share the trail with him. We concurrred that the fully-stocked aid station at the 9+ mile point made a big difference mentally and physically.

Several times during the run I spotted very large, very blue birds hopping along in the bushes next to the trail (maybe just mutant blue jays??) Large black lizards and speedy squirrels also “cheered” us on from the sides of the path.

My kids and wife Helen had fun hiking and rock cimbing in Stronghold Canyon, and we do plan to offer this run again. There is a good chance we may have Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 versions, each on a slightly different but equally scenic loop of 16-20 miles. At my advanced age and with all my injuries, a scenic but runnable trail or hilly road run of 16-21 miles is
just perfect, and has much of the fun of ultras without all the suffering. The great Ted Corbitt, Father of US Ultrarunning, said and wrote man times that his favorite race distance was 30Km to 20 miles. Strategy and pacing are involved, but there is not the prolonged suffering and wear-and-tear of 26++ miles.

THIS relates to a recent ULTRA thread– what is a good distance for a long run before any ultra. I am like Ray K and many faster ultrarunners– 37-38Km (22-23 miles) is about as far as I have ever gone in one training run for even a 24 hour or 6 day ultra. Beyond that and I feel I am too wiped out and can’t recover for other important training sessions during the week (e.g., repeats on the track, steady 10-12 mile runs etc.). As world record holder Don Ritchie and Yiannis Kouros both told me and have written, better to be consistent several days in a row– say, 20Km/ 20Km/ 20Km in three days– then one 60Km run and two days off. Of course, we could all be wrong.

For anyone wanting to visit one of the more scenic but less-known parts of the southwest– Stronghold Campground is an easy 80+ mile drive from central Tucson, and our 7:20 starting time and 45F>70F weather seemed just about perfect. We will have a 27 mile option for ultrarunners, but I doubt many will make that selection.

I hope to see many of you at a May-June Tucson trail event (the 18 mile “Sunset Loop” around Wilderness of rocks etc. is one of my favorites)

I will also be at the New York Self-Transcendence 6 and 10 day starting April 21 as a handler/ race worker. Come by and cheer on the multiday explorers!

Best wishes to all trail runners in southen Arizona and around the globe.

Mark Dorion & Family

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Reminder: Elk Ridge Eleven February 25th 2012

For anyone wanting to do a scenic and fun ultra run in New Mexico, the ELK RIDGE ELEVEN will start amongst the cactus and mesquite trees just south of Las Cruces on February 25th.
This is an 11 Hour challenge (all daylight hours) with a 50Km (actually measured at 32.91 miles, but easy terrain) option.
Water and aid every few miles, special t-shirts, door prizes, etc. A few miles on quiet paved country roads, the rest on single-track trails and old jeep roads.
WEATHER (highs around 62F, lows about 35F, dry and sunny) is usually better than what much of North America is experiencing that weekend!
For more info. please contact me via the contact page, or at (915)581-9541.
Best wishes to all ultrarunners,
Mark D

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Elk Ridge Eleven Ultra 2012

Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2012 16:28:04 -0700
From: Mark Dorion
Subject: Elk Ridge Eleven Ultra/ Feb. 25– See Real Elk!

Elk Ridge Eleven Ultra
Sat. Feb. 25, 2012. 7:15 a.m. M.S.T. start (thus, run is done before darkness sets in) Near Vado, NM– the REAL Wild West of Billy The Kid, Pancho Villa, Calamity Jane and real elk and jackrabbits roaming the hills–
We have had Olympians/ 2:10 marathoners come out and run 25 miles (OK, not quite an ultra) during the event!

11 Hour Event with 50+Km option.
Loops south and north in remote high desert canyon country.
A little bit of pavement (makes up for the steep rocky climbs and sand dunes)
You will pass through the parking lot/ start-finish at aprox. 32.0 miles (50Km) and are welcome to stop there. Or you may keep going for the whole
11 hours (smaller, very scenic 2 mile loops are used during the latter half of the day)

Raffle prizes (including new pair of Brooks shoes) and t-shirts, water and other drinks every 3 miles. What a deal!

More info.? Contact Mark D at markgd55@GMAIL.COM
Best wishes to all ultrarunners!

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2011 Sagebrush Shuffle/ Results & Report

2011 Sagebrush Shuffle/ Results & Report

Sagebrush Shuffle (9 Hour Run)
Near Vado, NM Sat. Dec. 3, 2011. Single-track trails, jeep roads, a little pavement. 4,100′-4,410′ altitude.

1. Steve Kuhn, 41, NM 43.2 miles
2. Bobby Keogh, 62, NM 38.7
3. Mark Dorion, 52, TX 38.5
4. Betsy Kapiloff, 49, NM (1W) 33.85
5. Nicolas Silva, 22, TX 33.85
6. Leo Lavender, 72, TX 33.3
7. Dianna Keogh, 50, NM 27.2
–Max and Amber (Canine winners) 11.6
–Juan Gonzalez, 50, NM 5

Wind gusts of 75-80 MPH tore through the high desert mountains outside El Paso on the two days prior to this run, snapping 40 foot tall pines and palms like toothpicks. Gallon water jugs on the course were sent rolling across the desert. Amazingly, an impressive thatched tepee, hewn from branches and sticks by Amalia (age 11) and Toby (age 6) Dorion, which runners passed every lap, remained intact.

Saturday, the day of the run, turned out to be our only day without snow, sleet or high winds in a week’s span. Albuquerque’s Steve Kuhn took advantage of the good conditions and cruised over the endless small, steep hills and through the wooded arroyos of the route. The only “runners” going his speed were some cottontails dashing back and forth late in the day.

The hundreds of miles of trails in Greater El Paso and Las Cruces probably get less use than those of any other metropolitan area in the USA. The above runners plus three mountain bikers had the whole vast high desert to themselves for 9 hours, a reward not available at most long trail runs. The snow-capped local mountains and distant views up to 50 miles away were added prizes for these adventureseome runners.

Best wishes to all ultrarunners around the globe,

Mark Dorion

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Elk Ridge Eleven Ultra 2012

Date: Mon, 5 Dec 2011 19:39:11 -0500
From: Mark Dorion
Subject: Elk Ridge Eleven Ultra/ Feb. 25 in remotest New Mexico–

Several folks (from “up north” places like Colorado, Utah, Kansas) on the ultralist have asked me about winter ultras in warm, sunny southern New Mexico. Below is some info. As for “warm and sunny,” at the moment it is snowing hard with about a 30MPH wind at my house (4,210′ elev.), as it has off and on for several days. A report on this past Saturday’s 12th annual Sagebrush Shuffle ultra, held in the same remote high desert mountains, is forthcoming.

ELK RIDGE ELEVEN (11 Hour and 50Km)

Sat. Feb. 25, 2012. 7:15 M.S.T. start. Near Vado, NM.

Route: Remote single-track trails/ old jeep roads/ some pavement and cross country. A good runner should be able to get over 50 miles in 11 hours. Due to popular demand, we have a 50Km+- option.

Elevation on course = 4,020′>4,450′.

**Pass old mines up close, remnants of old corrals and adobe structures dating back 100 years.
**Loops in several directions. After 25 miles shorter, scenic 95% single-track 5Km (3.1 mi) and 2.5Km (1.55 mi.) loops with amazing scenery.
**Water, drinks, light snacks every 3 miles, t-shirts, great camaraderie!
**Real elk have been seen on the course, but jackrabbits, cottontails, coyotes, foxes and javelinas are much more common.

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12th Annual Sagebrush Shuffle (9 hour) 2011

Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2011 14:42:12 -0500
From: Mark
Subject: Sagebrush Shuffle Dec. 3

Sagebrush Shuffle (9 hour) 12th annual.
Sat. Dec. 3. 7:30 a.m. M.S.T. start.
Near Vado, NM. (exit #155 off I-10, between El Paso and Las Cruces).

Come out and do a long run, or run all day (until 4:30 p.m.) and enjoy scenic vistas, frequent aid stations, fine camaraderie.

Special prizes for anyone going 28 miles (or longer).

Course: Easy 2+ miles paved at start, then rolling dirt jeep roads and trails for balance. After first 2 miles, 12 miles north out and back> then option of doing 6.5 mile loops or a second 12 mile. Later in day, runners may move to 1.75 mile route where each 1/4 mile is marked. After 9 hours note where you are, come back to the parking lot and enjoy snacks and/ or go down road 2 miles to well-known local restaurant.

Water/ sports drink/ soda every 3 or so miles.

Snacks (gels, crackers, etc.) in parking lot (passed at 14/ 20/ etc. miles).

Special door prizes to all participants.

Come join the fun and run/ walk with the cottontails, jackrabbits, javelinas, coyotes, cows and co.

(for detailed directions to start and further info., please contact Mark D at: or (915)(581-9541)

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10th Annual Dry Rock Ridge Run 20

Dry Rock Ridge Run (10th annual)
Vado, NM
Feb. 12, 2011
50+Km (33 mi.)/ Single-track trails, old jeep roads and some pavement at 3,985′>4,600′



1. Mark Dorion, 51, TX 6:23:22
2. Peter Hudec, 41, NY 6:29:24
3. Bob Klapthor, 56, TX 21.1 miles
4. Greg Helbig, 55, NM 18.1 mi.
5. Tom Alford, 70, NM 12.5 mi.
Lynn Alford, 50, NM 12.5 mi.

After a week of all-time record low temperatures (lows of 0F, highs in the teens) in the border southwest, the Dry Rock runners got roasted by a 70F high desert sun.

I ended up limping in some pain to the finish of this run, and may be facing a long sabbatical from any serious running. Minor surgery, two casts, several new pairs of orthotics and many different types of shoes and tape jobs (all in the past two years) have failed to alleviate ongoing navicular, nerve and tendon problems in my feet.

That said, we expect to have an 11th annual Dry Rock Ridge Run through the local red rock canyons and cactus-shrouded ridges happen in 2012. Come join the jackrabbits, cottontails, coyotes, hawks and runners!

Best wishes to all ultrarunners,

Mark Dorion

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Arizona 6 Day Race

With about an hour to go Saturday morning in the 5th annual Arizona 6 Day, New Jersey’s Bob Oberkehr is at +-315 miles. In 2nd place with about 262 is former winner Jerry Schuster of Tuscon, AZ. Mexico’s Marco Zapata (+-225) is in third.

The first woman is at +-200 miles.
A 12 year old local boy finished 100 miles.
RD Gary Cross managed 63 miles in between his directing jobs.

Runners were exceptionally lucky weather-wise, with highs all week staying 10F or more below normal (some years it has hit 100F). Lots of cloud cover has helped as well.

About 100 meters of each 1,250 meter loop is tufty grass, some stretches feature dirt and gravel, and once again these caused problems for runners. It is funny that in many road ultras and multi-days folks complain of the hard, unforgiving surface, yet in various races, grass (at least anything short of putting green quality) and dirt give runner so much trouble and so many blisters.

Best wishes to all ultrarunners, and especially the 13 brave souls (soles?) ready to start racing around the neighborhood in Jamaica, Queens Sunday in the 3100 mile!

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