Desert Solitaire - Page 3
This began my strongest segment of the journey, and I was happy to run at just over seven-minute-per-mile pace as the trail gradually descended along the plateau overlooking white and red cones, canyons and low desert beyond.
At 4:33 and 31.4 miles, I passed the second Telephone Canyon Junction on the left, began descending steeply towards The Grotto and remembered that my final 17 or so miles would involve a steep descent of over 2300 feet on rocks and pavement before climbing the same amount out of the other side of the canyon during the hottest part of the day. This final stretch would the most challenging, and I ran hard, deeply committed to hammering to the finish.
The descent to The Grotto around mile 36
Descending the 21 switchbacks of Walter’s Wiggles was a quad masher. I passed The Grotto at the Park’s central tourism area, mile 36.4, at 5:16. I had about 12 miles to go. Given the upcoming 2300-foot-plus climb of the East Rim Trail, technical terrain and rising heat, covering the distance in less than two and a half hours was not a given.
Here, my friend and coaching client, Charles, who would complete his own first ultra a few weeks later, joined me to take in the experience and provide company. Power hiking with trekking poles, we met a constant stream of day-hikers, which spurred us on.
Back on the plateau and alone again, we simply trudged on. Nick was waiting for us on the trail a few miles before the finish. Thinking of my family as I crossed the finish in 7:27 alongside two friends, I realized that, at least for me, even a solo event can be a team effort.
Travis and Charles
So, will I continue to toe the line in organized events? Absolutely. Am I already plotting another wilderness journey against the clock? You betcha.
Epilogue: That Didn’t Last Long!
Seven weeks after I set the Zion record, two exceptional runners, Mike Foote and Justin Yates, broke it by five minutes, running together in the east-to-west direction. “Could either of us run faster alone?” mused Yates in a conversation with me. “Hard to say. Ultrarunning in itself is such an up-and-down pursuit, totally given to the moment.”
When Travis Macy isn’t coaching athletes, teaching high-school English or changing diapers, he’s drinking Vitargo S2 while running and biking in Evergreen, Colorado. www.travismacy.me / www.genr8speed.com Videos from Macy's Zion Traverse can be found at http://followtravismacy.blogspot.com/2013/04/zion-traverse-fkt.html.