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