Grandmasters 100k Trip

I was encouraged by my good friend Gene dykes to run my first 1OOk. It was about a 10 hour drive from our home in Galisteo, NM to Littlefield, Arizona where the race took place. We felt pretty safe driving, sleeping, and eating in our van.

We left on a Wednesday with a quick stop in ABQ for groceries and headed on a familiar stretch of I40 West. We have gotten used to sleeping in rest areas on our trips but were surprised to find our Arizona spot closed for construction. We pulled in anyways and there was room to park plus port-a-potties. We had dinner and slept well.

The traveling got better once off I40 heading north on 89. There was hardly any traffic plus beautiful views all around. We stopped for breakfast looking back at the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff.

Looking south to the San Francisco Mtns at breakfast.

Continuing North, then West on Alt. 89 we encountered beauty everywhere. Marble Canyon where we crossed the Colorado river on the Historic Navajo bridge and then The Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Wow!

First view of the Vermillion Cliffs
The Colorado, from the bridge near Lees Ferry
Part of the Vermillion Cliffs, near the Lees Ferry Bridge over the Colorado
The Vermillion Cliffs, from the climb up to the Kaibab Plateau. Incredible!

We climbed a bit and saw some snow where you turn off for the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Campgrounds closed for the winter. It was a very pretty forest and quiet. We ate lunch in the parking lot of the Pipe Spring National Monument. No time to explore though. Up and over through St. George and then down again through the slot canyon along the Virgin River.

Parking overnight at the race start was pleasant enough. Grandmasters Ultra 100 miler and 100k began at 8 am Friday, Feb. 5th. Gene is a pro at these events now so he was schooling me through the first half. I felt confident but midway was pretty hard mentally. After a break and change of shoes, I felt better and more energized. I must say I enjoyed the second half of the race tremendously. Watching the sunset glow on the cliffs, stopping and staring at the stars in the sky and the cool night air refreshing my now tired legs. Gene and I got separated but he was never too far behind and a much better down hill runner. We finished 1st and second place!

Julie and Gene at the race start
The landscape of the course. That’s one of several thousand Joshua Trees here.
Julie doing her thing in the desert
Julie at “3 Corners”, where NV, UT and AZ meet
Evening time with Julie & Gene still hours from the race end

The next day the race site became a lawn mower race site too. It was interesting for a bit but then just felt noisy and dusty. We left mid day to get on with our drive back this time taking a route through Zion. Paul and I have never been to Zion NP before and just driving through makes us long to return. Fantastic! Sleeping came easy parking on BLM land with views of The Grand Staircase and listening to a Steve Roach concert. Plus a couple glasses of vino.

Pictures can’t do Zion justice. This doesn’t even begin to convey the majesty of it.
just above the dam that formed Lake Powell from the Colorado River

The rest of our journey home was back down 89 but turning left to Tuba City and the taking 264 through Navajo and Hopi Land. Some of the land looked very pretty and you could see some farming plots being developed. There was a lot that looked impoverished though. Paul and I both talked about how COVID19 has hit all tribes even harder.

Back safe and sound in Galisteo without much contact with people. (except Gene) and an overall feeling of being grateful for these small journeys.