My training was a little rocky leading up to the 2015 Sun Mountain 50 miler. The week after my first race of the year, the Diez Vista 50k in April, I managed to strain my left hamstring. A couple of weeks after that, I rolled my ankle pretty bad while running on some technical trail at night, resulting in a grade 2 sprain.

Rainshadow Running’s Sun Mountain was my first 50 miler back in 2013, and I’d always wanted to go back to see by how much I could improve my time. After getting injured at the 2014 Diez Vista 50k, I had to skip last year’s race, so there was no way I was going to miss out on toeing the line this year. I just wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish. But if I was gonna run, I would aim for about 7:45 and top 10 overall.

It turns out that my race would be uneventful in all the right ways. My good friend Dave (who I ran most of the Chimera 100 miler with back in November) and I ran side by side for the first 25 km or so. I soon settled in to about 6th place where I’d stay for the remainder of the race.

It was a particularly hot day, but I did a good job of staying on top of my hydration and nutrition by drinking at least a litre of electrolytes an hour, along with a salt pill, two Clif Bar gels, and the occasional Clif Blok.

My race wasn’t without its low points though. My training volume throughout April was much lower than I would have liked, and on the road for the most part which may have actually benefited me to a degree though, given how runnable the course is overall. I had just hoped to get through on my fitness from Diez Vista.

Me at the 2013 Sun Mountain 50 Miler.

Me at the 2013 Sun Mountain 50 Miler.

I felt really great for the first 40 miles or so of the race, really fresh in fact. But I eventually did reach the end of that fitness by mile 41 and had to dig pretty deep to get through to the end.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone in the top 7 or so executed pretty well, as there didn’t appear to be any major blow-ups or much jockeying for position late in the race. I tend to prefer this type of racing in longer events, as they seem to be rarely ‘won’ through pure athleticism alone but can easily be ‘lost’ by making strategic mistakes.

I managed to cross the finish line in 7:47 for 6th place overall, and 1st my age group. This represents an hour improvement over my time from my first 50 miler here two years ago in much cooler weather (times seemed to be about 30 minutes higher across the board this year), and only 2 minutes off my rough goal time for this year!

View from Sun Mountain.

View from Sun Mountain.

I was careful to listen to my body throughout, in case of any further issues with my ankle or hamstring, but my body told me to run on and have fun which I surely did. The entire weekend was a blast as usual, running and partying with a ton of friends. I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

Thanks to Salomon, Suunto and Clif Bar for gearing me up and fueling me during training and the race, and to the amazing race organizers at Rainshadow Running and all the volunteers. Header photo by Glenn Tachiyama. Full results can be seen here.

Gear: Suunto Ambit2 Sapphire (HR), Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Set
Clothing: Salomon Trail Short, Salomon Tee
Shoes: Salomon S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra