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Oreos and Nutella Coffees at the Black Canyon 100K

Written by David Laney.

The thing about ultrarunning is that the experience is never quite what you expect. That is probably why the sport is so addicting. Sometimes it’s just running effortlessly through sunny unicorn jellybean bliss.  Sometimes you end up sitting on the side of the trail, with a half-eaten Oreo in one hand, a quesadilla in the other wondering why you signed up for this race, and how your shoes ended up  on the wrong feet… Almost always trail races end up being some sort of combination of unicorn jellybean bliss and existential trailside quesadilla eating. Things go good for a bit, then bad, then good, then really bad, then ok for a while, then bloody horrible for a long while, then amazing. Then the cycle repeats. A trail race becomes more of a maltodextrin fueled rollercoaster than simply getting from point A to point B as quickly and chafe free as possible.

Spring is just beginning in the desert of the Southwest United States. Flowers are popping up between the cracks in rocks, plants are green, streams are flowing. The Craft Elite Run team spent a week training and kicking off our 2023 racing season at the Black Canyon 100K, a premier early season ultramarathon outside Phoenix Arizona. 

For me, the training block for this race went relatively well, I had 8 weeks of increasing intensity and plenty of miles. I studied the Black Canyon 100K course. By studied, I mean I put myself into a YouTube induced stupor by watching every live stream and YouTube video from previous years. I felt prepared for the rocky desert terrain, and excited to feel the sun after a few months of Washington rain. Living in the Pacific Northwest, morning winter temps typically hover around freezing, so I spent a week trying to acclimatize to the heat forecasted in Phoenix. Basically, that meant sweating through a puffy coat on a bunch of runs. Not something I’m certain had any effect or something I’d really recommend…but hey, sometimes you just have to try stuff.

Raceday went OK for the Craft Team, kind of like day old pizza, its still pizza so it’s good and you’re going to eat it, but it could have been better. Mimmi Kotka easily won the 60K at the end of a huge training week, Ida Nilsson was 5th in the 100K, I was 7th in the 100K, Jacob Puzey went out strong but got into a rough patch and hiked to the finish line with family, Tim Freriks had a tough day and stopped the race around mile 20. While it wasn’t perfect, we definitely tried. 

As individuals, we really didn’t do anything special. But as a team, we put in 1000’s of hours of training in the snow and ice and rain. We all showed up fit and ready to race which is a kind of months long ultramarathon in itself. We had meals together, told stories, made jokes and drank a few too many Nutella coffees (it’s any basic coffee with a spoonful of Nutella and its way better than that $8 swill you’re drinking right now).

The fact is, as I’m driving out of Phoenix, with the sun rising, face sunburned and legs sore, stomach hungry, I can’t help but feel thankful. Thankful for the opportunity to train and race and get sore. Thankful for the volunteers on the course handing out water, and coke and gels and Oreos. Most of all thankful for my Craft teammates, because running is a rollercoaster, and with good friends, the ride is always worth it

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