Location: Winthrop, Washington ♦ Distance: 50 Miles ♦ Elevation: 2,361m

north cascades

Sun Mountain was my goal race this year in regards to trying out a new, slightly intimidating distance. Prior to this the furthest I had ran was 55km last August at TrailStoke. Leading up to Sun Mountain I ran my second Ultra, a 50km in Zion National Park. With two 50kms completed I was confident, but still intimidated by the idea of throwing another 30km on. It was nice to know that the elevation gain on this 50 mile course was less than the elevation in my first 55km, but also had me concerned about having to actually run so much of this distance. sunmountain 50 miler

I went into the race trying to find that ‘run all day’ pace, while maintaining my nutrition and hydration plan. As preparation for this race I wrote out exactly how much water and Tail Wind (almost my entire fuel source for the race) I would need, and where I would take in a few extra calories with chews and aid-station snacks. I carried this typed up plan with me in my pack so when I couldn’t do the mental math, it was already there and done for me. As for planning on how to run the course, the plan was to not ever be exerting a maximum effort, maintain a  conversational pace, and hike the hills.

sunmountain ulrtaIt was amazing to see how different landmark distances become irrelevant when the goal is to reach 80km. I spent the race enjoying the scenery, checking my fuel and hydration, and chatting with runners on course.

There was excitement that came with reaching each new kilometer after hitting 55km. Mr confidence grew and I continued to feel good and strong with each new distance. The course was beautiful and offered great scenery, overlooking lakes and fields, and winding through flower filled meadows. We also ran past a herd of Mules, one who took a liking to us (in the top photo) and tried to run with us, or maybe it was at us? Either way, he was easily scared off and returned to grazing in the field.

The toughest mental challenge I found was repeating the first half of the course, but thankfully after all of the distance in between it actually seemed fairly unfamiliar. Coming into the finish line was beyond exciting! I was thrilled to still feel strong and comfortable. There were aches and pains along the way, mostly with running the down hills towards the end, but all in all I don’t think it could have went much better for my first 50 miler. I would use my fuel and hydration plan again in a heartbeat.

Sun Mountain was a great course with a few out and backs that kept allowing for regular check-ins with other runners. It was great to see people who were running close by a few times, and I found comfort in meeting alot of people that who were also running their first 50 miler! Rainshadow Running put on a great event, perfect for first timers at this distance, and threw a great post-race party (read as: free beer & pizza, with live music!).