Colossal Vail 50/50
My quest to complete a 50 miler brought me to Tucson to run the Colossal Vail 50/50. I found it kinda funny that I left home for a race in Tucson that had 40 people in my distance (100-125 overall) the same weekend a 40,000 runner Rock & Roll event was held back home in Vegas. 40 people on a beautiful trail, 40,000 people jammed together on pavement? I made the right choice!
The race was crazy well organized for such a small event, somewhere around 150 volunteers for a race of only 100-125 people.
This is a very nice fast course. One could run this whole thing, there isn’t any technical portions and very smooth trail. … I couldn’t run the whole thing, it’s more of ‘in theory’ you could run the whole thing. 🙂
The design of the course is a double out and back – 34 mile out and back south and a 20 mile out and back going north. There are no real killer sections, but the climb from mile 12-16 before the turnaround and then the mid day heat on the return half of the 50k knocked a lot of people out of the 50 mile. So watch yourself there.
The deserts in Tucson are more varied than the Mojave desert in Las Vegas. The trail flows between the scrubby desert with scrubby bushes that I’m used to, to the greener deserts you see in old westerns. In the north portion, you get the saguaro cactus forest that AZ is more famous for. Though at that point I was just trying to survive to the next check point so maybe I was imagining things.
I’ve done several trail races, this was the first course that was on an active section of the trail. Several day hikers and through hikers were out on the trail. I’d imagine its because that even though there was no huge ‘payoff’ vista or anything, this was a good solid trail – a place and a route you’d actually go for a hike even if there was no race.
So about the volunteers and aid stations, there really were more volunteers than participants. There was an unofficial bacon aid station at a road crossing as well as pork chops at the 50k aid station!
The most famous runner in any race is generally the fastest. The second most famous is the person at the back. That’s the person that is keeping all the volunteers out on the course. From Mile 34-48 I was that person! 🙂 Though there was a runner still on the course after I DNF’d – but I was famous for a while. I bring that up because there were at least a half dozen mountain bike volunteers out sweeping the course and making sure I was ok.
When I made it back to the finish line (via a car) there was still a ton of food left. A nice treat for me – as a back of the pack finisher in trail races– finish line food is usually very picked over. In fact, the camp fire was still going and it looked like the ‘party’ would continue for hours after I left for my hotel.