The Final Countdown!!

Looking forward to seeing you all out here next week!  I’m so excited to have you run this trail.  Thanks for your patience up to this point and in advance for some of the hiccups that will inevitably present themselves in a first year event. We’re working hard to put out any fires before they become a problem, but there’s so much that goes into keeping a race of this distance running smoothly for 34 hours. Thanks for having the confidence in my crew and myself to sign up and support this event.  It has all of the components to become a favorite for many.  It has a very backcountry feel- off the beaten path with some absolutely stunning scenery.  You’ll be seeing country that few have seen.  I spent 14 weekends and hundreds of hours last summer and fall on what would become the course and I only saw a total of 2 other trail users on the singletrack sections! (Excluding Thunder Mountain trail.)
Drop bags are due Thursday night at packet pickup.  If you are late and miss packet pickup, you can still take them to King’s Creek group campground and place them in the appropriate piles.  Drop bags will be leaving the campground at around 4am on Friday to be delivered to their destinations.  Sorry, but drop bags will not be accepted at the starting line.
We will have a shuttle bus on Friday morning taking some runners the last two miles to the starting line in order to alleviate traffic congestion along the road leading up to the starting line.  Any runners that are accompanied by crew members will be directed by parking attendants to park in the paved parking area right after you turn off of Hwy 12 to access Coyote Hollow trailhead. Cars with runners only will be allowed to drive in closer to the starting line and park along the road (The right shoulder only!) The shuttle will start at 4:45 and will likely make two trips.  Fire barrels at the starting line and the shuttle pickup point will keep runners warm until the starting bell rings at first light (5:30ish- might be closer to 5:40, but be there at 5:30am just in case).  Traffic control volunteers will direct you where to park.  Please follow their instructions so that we don’t block the road.  It will take patience, cooperation, and following directions by all to make this staging area work.  After the runners have started, any crew members that accompanied you to the starting line will be shuttled back to their cars in the parking area.  The final 1/3 of a mile before the trailhead will be kept clear of cars for the start of the race to allow runners to spread the field out before getting on the singletrack.  When your crew returns to the finish line to watch you finish they will be allowed to drive in and park in this section and will not be shuttled in from the parking area where they were required to park for the start of the race. We’ll have a passenger car shuttle at the finish line for runners that don’t have crew and drove their own vehicle.  The last thing that you want after running 100 miles is to walk an extra 3/4 mile back to your car.
Early starters- be at the starting line at 4am and make sure that your name gets recorded as an early start.  Anyone arriving after 4am that still wants to take the early start option will be going off of the 4am start for their official time- In other words, it’s not an individual early start.
You will receive a punch card at packet pickup good for two pizzas from Rise Up Pizza (wood fired, organic, and made to order) for your pre and post race meals.  They will not be set up at the finish line due to limitations on space there.  They will be at the King’s Creek group campsite on Saturday evening for you to redeem your second coupon at the post race hangout.  If you don’t plan on using your post race second pizza (which is already paid for), feel free to donate it to a crew member, a volunteer, or eat two at packet pick up 🙂
There won’t be a whole lot going on at the finish line this year since we will be focused on keeping the road clear leading up to the finish line.  After you’ve grabbed your buckle (or medal for 100k finishers), feel free to take a break and get some of Steve’s dutch oven potatoes, but try to move any excessive hanging out over to the group campsite. Next year we will be finishing at Ruby’s Inn (starting at the same point, but breaking off of the out-and-back course at Proctor Canyon aid station and running across the plateau for the last 19 miles on ATV trails that connect over to Ruby’s, with King’s Creek campground being an aid station in the middle as we cut across.)  This will provide a much better staging area and by shuttling to Coyote Hollow from Ruby’s will allow runners to still see the beautiful Thunder Mountain to Proctor Canyon section of trail.  By the time we’d figured this out, we’d already announced and put a lot into the current plan and didn’t want to traumatize you with any more changes 🙂  We weren’t planning to change anything else this year, but the lack of communication with home base on the last course required action and now we’ve ended up with a better trail to run so it all worked out.
We will have the Eco Commode composting toilet trailer at the start/finish line. If you’ve never used a composting toilet, read about how to use one here. Basically, just make sure to throw plenty of sawdust in after each use. Our composting portable toilet system at the aid stations will consist of a simple bucket with sawdust and a toilet lid on it  which is enclosed by a privacy tent.  After the race, with the help of millions of friendly microorganisms, we’ll turn those turds into a healthy, pathogen free compost using 0 water and 0 energy.  I know this is TMI for most of you but something that I am passionate about and you’re stuck with me as your RD so you must endure 🙂
Crew directions are on the website here.  I changed the tabs a little to make them easier to find.  The forest service still hasn’t received this year’s shipment of these maps that we were hoping to hand out at packet pickup, so we won’t have enough to put in each racer’s bag.  We will have some available for crew but we may run out.  You can pick them up for free at the Red Canyon visitor’s center as well.
Please make sure to thank those volunteers while you’re out there. The aid stations will be staffed by the following groups:
#1 Thunder Mtn.- My family (including my mom, those that ran Zion know that she’ll take good care of you).
#2 Proctor Canyon- George and Melissa Walsh (from the famous Whiskeytown aid station at the Zion 100!) They will be teaming up with a group of Mexicans that I met a few months back that work at one of the local hotels and grew up in Chihuahua near Copper Canyon and know all about the Tarahumara. I’m a middle school Spanish teacher at my day job and I love speaking Spanish. I am always asking the Mexicans that I meet if they’ve heard of the Tarahumara.  Jose and Jesus were the first ones that I’ve met that had an in depth knowledge of them since they lived near Copper Canyon. I told them how the Tarahumara are legends among our ultrarunning community and they got very excited to volunteer at an aid station.  They have friends coming all of the way from Salt Lake and Las Vegas to help out. They won’t be at the aid station until Friday evening because they can’t get work off at the hotel, but they will bring the tequila and will be preparing some authentic food for anyone brave enough to try it at mile 84.  Jesus has a soup that he’s making that he says will raise the dead 🙂
#3 Blubber Creek- The wonderful folks from UltrAspire will be sponsoring this aid station.  You know that they know ultrarunning like nobody else and will take care of all your (especially but not limited to hydration) needs!
#4 Kanab Creek- The Pine View High School cross country team!
#5 Straight Canyon- The Desert Hills High School cross country team!
#6 Pink Cliffs- The Bryce Valley High School cross country team!
#7 Crawford Pass- A group of Bryce Canyon National Park employees will be volunteering to staff this aid station along with some additional volunteers.
Many family members and friends and several random kind souls have been getting things set up and will be running around behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly during the race.  So many of them have taken work off and changed plans to make this epic run possible for you guys.  Here are some examples: Butch and 2 other Ham radio operators will be transmitting for as long as they can stay awake.  Steve will be up all night cooking potatoes and shuttling runners to their cars. He also spent 3 weekends with me clearing out all of the winter deadfall from the trail with a chainsaw.  One night our ATV broke down and we froze but were able to hitch a ride out and didn’t get home until a few of hours before work on Monday.  Another day Steve left at 5am at a moment’s notice  (in sub-freezing temperatures) , went and found my 4 wheeler up in the mountains where I’d left it, and came out to pick me up from a point to point overnight run, while he cleared out the trail with the chainsaw along the way to meet me. George is taking an entire week off of work during the busy season to help mark the trail, get things set up, and distribute supplies to the aid stations. He’ll then be over an aid station that is open for about 30 hours. Sean will literally be driving all night from Salt Lake (leaving at 10pm) to get the Eco Commode trailer to the starting line in time for you to have a place to do your business before the race. My mom tied almost every single one of the trail markers and my nieces and nephews spent hours attaching the LED lights to them. For weeks, my wife Danika has spent her nights after the kids are in bed making the buckles (Kali got swamped and had to turn down our order but agreed to teach Danika the process so that we weren’t left high and dry. We couldn’t find anyone else that knew how to do it.)  Danika has sorted bins, stuffed race bags, organized volunteers, represented the race at town and county meetings that I couldn’t make it to, and has practically been a single parent for the last two years while I’ve been working on these races. Here is what our living room has looked like more often than not for the last couple of months- either full of aid station bins that were being sorted, food bins being sorted, or apparel and race bag stuff.
Can you believe what she puts up with? We haven’t benefitted financially from these races up to this point.  It has been rewarding to help local businesses and make some donations to groups that staff aid stations such as the cross country teams as well as a few other community projects that we’ve donated to in behalf of our volunteers. But, in almost every case, the volunteers’ gas money and time amounted to much more than the donation that was received for their organization. I’m honestly not telling you any of this looking for appreciation, etc.- runners give me more than enough of that and it’s really not needed because I LOVE what I do.  I do hope to make money at it eventually, but I would have pulled the plug a long time ago if that was my primary motivation.  I’ll be jumping for joy on the day that I reach the point of having earned a dollar for every hour of time that I’ve spent working on these races.  I do want to make sure that you’re aware of what the volunteers are putting into this, while in most cases expecting nothing in return other than to help a friend in need or perhaps be a witness to greatness as you crazy people attempt to tackle this unbelievable goal. Thanking the volunteers when you have the chance is where I think that we sometimes come up short because the only time you really have the opportunity is right when you’re in the middle of your race and you are often focused on your own pain and needs that are screaming at you. Although it’s definitely the exception and not the norm, it makes me very sad when I hear of runners complaining to or about volunteers for not having information or supplies or whatever. Please save those comments for me at the finish line or in an email after the race if you want your voice to be heard where it can make a difference and without having a negative impact on someone else that doesn’t deserve it. If this little rant can curb even one of those instances then it will be worth it, and for most of you it doesn’t even apply and I’m preaching to the choir. And while it’s nowhere near the majority opinion, there has been enough of a negative vibe in a lot of your emails to have me concerned. I understand your frustration and where it’s coming from- You’ve put a lot of time, money, and effort into preparing for this event and entry fees aren’t cheap.  I just want to make sure that you think twice before you share your negative feelings while you’re out here.  There will be problems, many of which we won’t be aware of until they present themselves during the race.  Usually the solution of how the problem could have been prevented seems very simple and obvious to the observer once the problem is at hand, you may have even seen it coming.  Be forgiving.  There were probably a complex set of circumstances and decisions leading up to the problem and I or someone else may have made the wrong choice somewhere along the way, but probably not on purpose, or at least there was a reason behind it. Thanks for being forgiving.  When you’re kind and forgiving, especially when from your perspective it seems totally justified to be pissed off, it gives people all kinds of motivation to learn from their mistakes and make things right- and in this case, turn the race into something amazing.  The runners at the inaugural Zion 100 taught me that.
Race apparel is in, have a look:
Inline image 1
Inline image 2
Inline image 3
The elevation profile on the back doesn’t line up exactly with the course anymore due to the recent changes but it is very similar with the majority of the trail remaining the same.
I’m looking for a couple of volunteers from the Salt Lake area to pick up some beer from Wasatch Beers and Uinta Brewing Co. and bring it down. It’s paid for, just needs to find a ride to the group camp site.  Email me at if you can help out.  When staging a race in Bryce country, it’s only fitting to have plenty of Uinta Brewing Co.’s Hoodoo Kolsch Style Ale on hand
along with some of their signature Cutthroat Pale Ale.  We’ll also have a sampling of some of Wasatch Beers’ spring/summer seasonal and standard brews.
Only two more days of school, then it’s summer break so I will have a full week free leading up to the race to get that trail marked and get things ready for you guys.  A 26 ft Uhaul truck full of everything Bryce 100 will be heading out early next week! Supplies and food have been sorted and labeled to the extent that they can be at this point and everything’s on track! Can’t wait for this!!

7 responses to “The Final Countdown!!

  1. Matt! Is the title of that entry doing double duty as an Arrested Development reference?

    • Absolutely! Every time I hear that song I think of GOB! I tried to link to that clip of him with the casket but it wouldn’t allow a link in the title! First thing I’m doing after the race is over is watching the new season on Netflix

      • boybunting

        That scene is one of the best: “I’ll be my father’s dead body…how does that not get me a cover in ‘poof’ magazine?” I’ll be using the new season to continue to rest the foot i broke at zion100 and to console myself at having to wait until next year to hit up my second 100 miler – bryce100. So you’re throwing down two of the raddest ultras in the country, and you’re an A.D. fan? Tell your mom hello from my wife, Portia. While Portia was hanging out on gooseberry mesa to see me pass through those couple times she ended up spontaneously volunteering and helping out your mama. She said your mom is rad. Holy shit…you should make one of the aid stations next year a Banana Stand!!! It would be absurdly funny, and totally on point fuel wise! The last thirty miles of zion100 while hobbling on my broken foot I kept hearing Michael Bluth telling me, “keep your head down; power through” Ha. Man I hope GOB brings back Franklin!

        sean o’callaghan

      • Ha. the banana stand on the edge of the mesa there would be legit! Maybe pictures of their faces with rad quotes along the trail…

      • boybunting

        Perhaps a picture of Tobias proudly holding up his business card declaring him the worlds first, “analrapist”?

  2. Matt, At one point, due to the course changes, you had extended the final cut-off to 36 hours, but above (first paragraph) you now say 34 hours. What is the actual cut-off time as it makes a big difference to many of us back of the pack runners (you know, the old guys).

    • Sorry about the confusion. I did extend it when I thought the elevation was a lot more than it is. I think that 34.5 hours (with the 5:30 start) is pretty reasonable, with the option for 36 hours if you take the 4am start. This course should be in the same ballpark for difficulty as the Tahoe Rim Trail which has a 35 hour cutoff. Many aid workers are absolutely beat after their shifts and it was a lot to ask to have them stay an extra couple of hours at each one. As long as you finish, you’ll earn your buckle. I had someone come in (accompanied by his crew) at Zion about 3 hours after we’d shut down and I sent him his buckle but he just didn’t receive an official time.

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