Bryce Canyon 50k – Preview

The Bryce Canyon 50k is my fifth event of the year and takes place this coming Saturday (06/14/2014) not so surprisingly in Bryce Canyon, Utah (although not in the National Park). While traversing the western cliff of the Paunsaugunt plateau and taking in the expansive view of the Dixie National Forest to the east, the course winds it’s way up 6000 feet of vertical gain through singletrack sand trails weaving past monumental and towering hoodoos and spires hovering between 7500 and 9000 feet above sea-level.

Bryce Canyon is located in southern central Utah, about 100 miles as the crow (condors? vultures?) flies north of the Grand Canyon (in Arizona for the geographically challenged) and a 4 hour drive northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. Contrary to the name, Bryce Canyon is not actually a canyon, but a series of amphiteaters punctuated by hoodoos – geological formations of the sandy rock caused through erosion and the freeze/thaw cycle. The area derives it’s name from Mormon settlers in the 1850’s and named after Ebenezer Bryce who staked out the area in the 1870’s. Although it’s location is in the southwest desert, it’s elevation belies the typical 100+ (f) degree temperatures other lower sea-level southwest areas endure.

My goals for this race:
1. Make it to the Start Line.
2. Keep hydrated. It is still a desert after all.
3. Take my time. It is over a mile higher above sea-level than where I’m from.
4. Make it to the Finish Line.
5. Breathe. Take in the landscape. Thank volunteers. Smile.

Without further interruption, Bryce Canyon 50k hosted by Ultra Adventures.

Race Entrants:
112 entrants have signed up from nineteen states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming), three provinces in Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec), and five countries total (Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany, and USA). This is the first year the 50k race is being run (last year was only the 99k, 100k, and 100 mile distances), so no one has  ever finished this race. The youngest entrant is 22 years old and the oldest entrant (but will not necessarily be the slowest) is 72years old.

Elevation Profile (From Race website):
2014 UA-Bryce50kmProfile-1200x432

Video Preview (by Craig Lloyd – although this is the 100 mile race):

Race Description (from Race website):
“The remote and rugged trails that you run on will allow you to fully experience this landscape in a way that few others ever do. The trail is very challenging and has a little bit of everything from sand to roots and rocks to smooth singletrack.  While it is run on a plateau, there are few flat sections on the course.  Temperature highs will likely be in the high 70’s or even low 80’s but can feel much worse being at elevation and on the move.

There is a two mile approach along a dirt road before reaching the Thunder Mounain trail singletrack.  The first 4 miles of the Thunder Mountain trail are up and down draws through the ponderosas.  You’ll then get your first real taste of the hoodoos, descending about 1,000ft over the next couple of miles.  After just over six miles, you’ll reach a junction with the Grandview trail.  Take a left and continue two miles to the first aid station, called Thunder Mountain aid.

The miles between Thunder Mountain and Proctor Canyon aid stations are some of the easiest miles of the course and are at lower elevation.

50k finish will be at the King’s Creek group campsite. 

2 thoughts on “Bryce Canyon 50k – Preview

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