by Rhielle Widders
It’s simple, when mix the perfect ingredients you end up with the perfect product. In Park City, we have been percolating the perfect mix of ingredients for a nice thick mud. In case you want to do it in your backyard, here is what you need.
1. Rain from the sky, a minimum of 12 hours a day
2. A vast system of dirt, dusty from high use and a warm summer in the desert
Repeat the rain for 5-7 days. Keep the humidity level high, at least 80%, to make sure the ground and air are at nearly the same saturation level. Bake at a maximum of 70 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure maximum saturation.
What do you do when you have scheduled a couple hundred people to run a race in a giant valley of mud? Running them all on the trail would leave permanent trail damage and rescheduling is not a very good option. When you don’t have very many options, you have to make a hard decision: change your perfected, scenic course a two-loop course on the driest trails in the valley.
Making the decision to do this wasn’t easy. Losing sleep over this decision is an understatement – it might be more appropriate to use the words anxiety and heart palpitations. Every day this week I have awakened to a wet world and forecast that had changed from wetter to wetest. This morning, after it rained from 5:00am to about 2:00pm, I was worried that putting participants on the trail wasn’t even in the cards for this weekend. So I sat down with my trail map and hand-picked the driest trails in Round Valley. I added up the mileage and saw that I was about 5 miles short of the 13.1 mile promise. So I designed a course that I call a 1.5 loop lollipop. This thing starts out with one large perimeter loop around the outside of the Round Valley then cuts up the gut of the loop and repeats half of the loop again.
That sounds pretty confusing. You may want to check out our Garmin GPS Profile and click player in the top right hand corner. Then push play and watch as the little tracker traces the course.
I want you to understand, I don’t take this decision to change the course lightly. I know how close we are to game day and last minute changes can create some un-ease; plus I know how much people are delighted to read the word “loop,” right? Let me explain myself a little further.
I created these races to introduce new trail runners to my favorite past-time. I designed the race series to slowly introduce the challenging elements such as distance, technical terrain, switchbacks, and vertical terrain. Each race in this series gets slightly longer, aid stations become slightly farther apart, and the terrain becomes a little steeper and a little more technical. The pinnacle race is the half marathon, after-which I feel confident that a runner will be able to visit Round Valley and run solo with confidence. I perfected this year’s course giving participants the best scenery and the biggest hills in the right places. I even got the course down to 13.15 miles – not easy to do on the trails.
And then the rain came, and came, and came. Because I designed this for beginner trail runners to learn how to run, I feel it is my duty to also set the example of being tactful when picking the time, place, and trails you want to run. So after mountain biking some single track this afternoon, after the sun had been out for a couple of hours, and getting mud all up my front of my legs, I made the call I have been dreading: do the loop course.
I try to look at the glass half-full – at least we are able to put the race on, right? But it still feels like I am selling you all short and not giving you what I have planned so perfectly. I just have one favor to ask from you all this Saturday, if you finish the race and are stoked on the race in spite of the rain and updated terrain, let me know about it. Tell me on Facebook or in a comment below. Come up to me after the race and say, “It really wasn’t as bad as you made it sound!” It will help inflate me just enough to gear up for next year and get registration open by November 1. Then, to really thank me, download the original course from Garmin and go run the real course before the snow flies. After all, my real hope is that you come back to Round Valley and run solo after all is said and done. My real hope is that after running these races, we will hear you call yourself a trail runner.