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
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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 thebryce100@gmail.com 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!!

Mr. Noob R.D. Strikes Again

Dear racers:

It has been a rough couple of days for a lot of us and I apologize for dragging you all through this.

It is a challenge to calculate total distance and total elevation gain accurately for a 100 mile race. I wish it were as easy as strapping on a watch and running the trail. I have received a lot of feedback regarding my previous announcement that the course now approaches 26,000 feet of elevation gain. I am not an expert with maps or with using GPS data, and I made the best approximation that I could.

I have gone back and consulted with a couple of experts in this area, and they have both independently reached the conclusion that the total elevation gain on the course is about 18,500 feet. They use computers and sophisticated mapping software to make these conclusions, and I don’t pretend to understand it. But I can tell you that I have high confidence in the results, as both of them are experienced ultrarunners and have been involved in the mapping of race courses for years.

The course changes will remain in effect.  While King’s Creek would be a more comfortable staging area, the ability to communicate during the event is far more important.

I’m sorry for any concerns that I may have raised.  I can’t wait for your feet to get on this trail in a couple of weeks.

Course Changes

Some pretty significant course changes were approved with the forest service last week. These changes are very positive, adding a lot of singletrack and beautiful scenery to the course, but most importantly it allows us to communicate with our home base.  We didn’t have cell reception at King’s Creek campground and we didn’t have enough Ham radio volunteers sign up to set up communication between each aid station and the start/finish.  We’ve moved the starting line to Coyote Hollow trailhead, which has good cell reception and provides access to one of the most scenic and popular trails in the region that I had originally wanted to include in the course, Thunder Mountain trail.  The new route also allows us to move the turnaround to Crawford Pass, which allows 2wd access and includes another extremely scenic section of trail that I’ve been trying to work into the mileage somehow. Please have a look at the updated course description on the web page.

An early start option will be available for any runners that feel this amount of time might not be enough.  This option is intended for those that might need more time.  Anybody taking the early start option is not eligible for a top 3 overall finish.  If you’re going for one of those top spots, you need to toe the line with everyone else.  Also, aid stations may not be entirely ready for the
early starters, but will have the basics.

Both distances will start shortly after 5:30, as soon as it’s light enough to run without a headlamp.

Email me for the KMZ file of the course which can be
opened in Google Earth to view interactively.  Please spend some time
getting familiar with the course before race day.

Packet pickup will still be at King’s Creek campground.  There will be
room now for any runners to camp there for free since we won’t be
using the space to stage the race.  We have it reserved and it holds up to 150 people. The unofficial post race hangout will be at the group campsite.  Stop by to get a pizza and beverage after your done.  We’ll have a hot shower set up there for campers and one set up at the small camping area near the finish line as well.   

Runner tracking system– There is cell coverage on most of the course.
If you have friends and family that are really excited to
see your progress, please keep them updated. Don’t rely on us to do
that.  We’ll be working very hard to keep track of each of you while
you’re out there, but making that information public adds a whole new
dimension that requires more manpower and resources than we have
available.  You’ll want to have a camera for this course anyways- why
not just use your phone as your camera and periodically text updates
or post them to Facebook?  We will have volunteers at the 100k
turnaround and Pink Cliffs snap an Instagram photo of each runner
showing their bib# but we don’t know how well this system will work. I
think that you’ll be spread out enough that it could work. If it
doesn’t, we’ll at least post bib #’s to the Facebook page as they come
through the halfway point for the 100k and Pink Cliffs (mile 45) for
the 100 milers.

Parking– One huge challenge that we face with the new starting point
is parking for you all.  It will be imperative that you listen to the
volunteer parking attendants’ instructions as they guide you to turn
around and park your car in a particular place and facing a particular
direction.  If you park somewhere else and block traffic going to the
trailhead, you will jeopardize our permit for future years.  Be
prepared to walk a half mile or more to get to the starting line.

We will no longer be offering a 4wd shuttle service to Pink Cliffs aid
station now that the turnaround at Crawford Pass is 2wd accessible.

The 100 mile course is now over 75% singletrack.  The 100k is over 95%
singletrack.  A lot of the “singletrack” are illegal ATV trails that
have been reclaimed and designated singletrack now but aren’t quite as
singletrack as we’d like.  The footing is an additional challenge on
this course- there’s a lot of loose rock on some of the trails, so
wear a shoe that you’re comfortable with in technical terrain.

Please thank my dear friend Steve Wells (the guy that will be cooking your dutch oven potatoes at the finish line) for helping clear the trails of deadfall.  We worked long hours and put in many miles toting a chainsaw the last few weekends to get this done.

I was able to run a good portion of the course at night and the stars
out there are unbelievable.  Bryce Canyon is well known for attracting
star gazers because it is so far removed from major cities that over
7,500 stars are visible on a moonless night!

A few things that you can count on for race day:

1) The course will be incredibly scenic.
2) The course will be incredibly difficult.
3) The course will be incredibly well marked.

Super excited to share this experience with you guys!

Matt

The hotel manager from Ruby’s Inn just let me know that another group has cancelled, freeing up 15 more rooms for our group. Our block has been full for a while now, so if you’re thinking about staying at Ruby’s you’ll want to jump on this.  Call this number to book and let them know that you’re with the Bryce 100 Trail Run block: (435) 834-5341 (The group code is 93G if you book online.)

Once Ruby’s is full, the next best option is Bryce Canyon Pines http://www.brycecanyonmotel.com/ .  They only have 4 rooms available for the 30th-June 2nd, but if you’re staying Thursday night, checking out, and then staying again Saturday night they have more rooms available.  The Pines is actually the closest hotel to start/finish line, and they are famous for the soup and pie served at their restaurant.  Their rates start at $110 per night.

The next closest hotel is Harold’s Place.  http://haroldsplace.net/_wsn/page2.html  They have plenty of rooms (over 20) and cabins (14) available at $75 per night.  Not sure how to put it nicely-  You get what you pay for and you’ll have a roof over your head.
Not far from Harold’s Place is a new hotel called the Bryce Canyon Western Resort. http://www.brycecanyonwesternresort.com/index.html It’s a step up from Harold’s Place, but there are not any rooms available on Friday night.  If you don’t have a crew and only need a room for Thurs. and Saturday, they have 14 rooms available each of those nights.  They charge $80 per night.
Panguitch, Hatch, Tropic, and Cannonville all have old roadside hotels with rooms available, and are not far from the starting line (all within 30 min.)
Like I’ve mentioned on the website, there is plenty of free camping near the start/finish line and you can come visit us for restroom facilities and hot showers whenever you’d like.  I’ll be set up all week leading up to the event. There are also 37 campsites at the campground with a walking trail connecting them to our group site.  These are available on a first come first serve basis for $12 each.

I made the first trip out to the course for some recon now that the snowpack is dwindling and things are looking on target.  The snow has melted to the point that we could run now if we had to with just a few deep patches to negotiate (although crew access would be limited).  Things should be all clear within a couple of weeks.  There’s a bit of downfall to clear, which I’ll be working on the next few weekends.  If anyone needs some trail service hours signed off for another race or would like to preview some of the course, feel free to join me any weekend between now and race day.
Happy trails,
Matt

Apparel Preview

Here’s a look at what the Bryce 100 apparel will look like.  Each runner will receive a beanie and one apparel item (free with registration) from the following options: Hoodie, cotton T, tech T, tech long sleeve, arm sleeves, handheld water bottle, running cap, or visor.  All items will have the race logo on a charcoal/grey background.

You can pre-order additional items at this link.  Any apparel that we have left over will be for sale at the race for the prices shown at the above link.

Buckle Preview

Artist Paul Ferney just finished the painting for the buckles and sent over a mock-up of what the finished product will look like.  We’ll be making prints and putting them in epoxied buckles like this.  So excited about these…

bryce100buckle2013

We are still looking for 3 groups to adopt an aid station for the race.  If you know anyone that would be interested, we donate $200 to their organization or a charity of their choice and promise beautiful views and great food while they help some amazing runners from all over the world.  4 of our aid stations will be covered by high school cross country teams and their coaches/parents.  They will be holding a summer camp running on some of the Bryce 100 trails, based out of the campground that we’ve reserved all week.  If you can think of any running groups or cross country teams that would like to do something similar, have them email me at thebryce100@gmail.com

Composting Portapotties!!

Very excited to announce that we’ll be using Eco Commode composting portapotties at the race!  By using composting toilets at our race, we’ll be eliminating the most environmentally harmful product produced at the event (portapotty chemical sewage) and in its place producing something that contributes to a healthy ecosystem.   On top of that, they are more pleasant to use than a traditional portapotty system.

If going green is important to you, please let your next event organizer know about Eco Commode.  www.ecocommode.com