Kat'cina Mosa 100K, Springville, Utah 5,3

Elevation Range: 5081' - 9701'               Elevation Gain: 17,404'
August 2, 2014 - After a week of two reasonable training runs, one on my favorite
trail up Cross Creek in Colorado for eight miles, and one for eleven up la Valle de la
Riviere Pontneuf near Lava Hot Springs in Idaho, I felt for the first time all summer
some strength and reserve coming into this run in the Wasatch Range of Utah.
Kat'cina Mosa is an event with a true western flavor, from the appearance of the
broadly-moustached race director to the chiseled terrain of its rugged course.

I am reluctant to get too excited about any race, with injuries enough to sideline me
for months; I should be glad I am not a horse, for someone would surely put me down.
Nonetheless, there was a glimmer of hope in me that maybe the patchwork that I
employ to hold it all together might just allow me to have a good day and might be
enough to carry me to the finish for the first time in a long, dry summer.

Opting to start at 0100 in the morning, two hours ahead of the announced start time,
made for a short night of rest, so I set up my tent at the start/finish along with others
with the same idea in mind.  I had never begun a race at one a.m., but must say I
found it rather delightful to be out there with perhaps twenty other people under the
stars, heading up the road toward our adventure in the mountains.

The evening before the race was eventful with the visitation of an adolescent bull
moose that wandered through the area we were setting up tents, in a characteristic
awkward and gangly fashion.  It hung around for a while down by the creek before
being followed by an adolescent cow.  I could not have imagined sighting moose 
in Utah, especially this close to a metropolitan area.  Really cool.

After not hearing my alarm I managed to get up and get to the start in time.  The
first two miles were paved before cutting to a long and winding Squaw Peak Road
that would take us up to a vantage point above the thin strip of civilization that
sprawled between the mountains and the shore of Utah Lake.  High above the cities
of Springville and Orem their expansive lights would light up the western overlook
for awhile before lower hills would block the view in turn as we trekked northward.
I tried to take pictures but what I came back with doesn't do the memory justice.

For the first in a long time I found a comfortable rhythm right from the start, and 
found myself not lagging behind everyone else for a change.  If anything, I moved on
those few ahead of me without losing ground to those behind for the first 16.5 miles
before we reached singletrack trail.  It was great to feel some strength, and altitude
was not a factor with my having been at higher altitudes for over a month now.

Though we had climbed 3500 feet in the first ten miles it wasn't even noticeable, but
the quick 2000-foot climb in 2.5 miles up to Lightning Ridge Pass from Rock Canyon
had my hamstrings singing a familiar tune.  The trail was relentlessly UP, and for the
first time I knew I was under-trained for this kind of climbing in a race.  I just have
not been climbing this year - not enough anyway.  The night gave way to the dawn 
before I had progressed a half mile.  It was nice to run without a head lamp.  It was
also about at this time that the first runner that started at 0300 caught up to me,
running right up the trail as I pretended my best imitation of a power walk.  With
such scenery I am always glad to stop and take a picture.  Taking out one's camera
is always a good excuse for taking a much needed break that might otherwise get
blow off.




The panorama below clearly depicts just what we were looking at.  I took my time,
kept it aerobic, and breathed in this marvelous landscape.  I was so glad to be here,
and feeling pretty good all the while.  The run down from Lightning Ridge Pass was
perhaps even more severe than the climb up, dropping three thousand feet to the
Big Springs aid station at the bottom.  Here I was in my glory, living up to my
reputation as one who "Dances With Rocks".  While my climbing hamstrings were
under-prepared for the up-climbs, my quadriceps were flawless as I descended with
grace and fluidity, matching the third place finisher step for step down, down, and
down.  It felt so good to float without hesitation or mis-step, with speed and agility.
For awhile, I was as young as ever - and I still had it.


After unloading warmer clothing and losing my backpack at the aid station I was
reprovisioned and headed out for my twenty-fourth mile to begin the arduous six-
mile ascent to Windy Pass, what would be the longest sustained climb of the race.
Not too far out of the aid station two runners behind me alerted me to the presence
of a cow moose and calf along the trail.  I had seen their foot prints atop the running
shoe prints of the runners ahead of me so was prepared for a close encounter.  Bears,
I can handle up close, but moose this close have me on high alert.  Having already 
passed by this pair, I took out my camera and zoomed back to get his shot.


The day was heating up quickly.  While I was drinking generously and eating gels I
was tired, probably from too few hours of sleep, but more from the fact that the
exhilarating part of the race - the descent off Lightning Ridge - was over and I was
back to slogging it out up hill.  I bogged down and it became apparent that despite
feeling excellent to this point, my Achilles and peroneal tendonitis had suffered the
brunt of my enthusiasm, making it painful to climb up the trail at each step.  It 
seemed to take forever to reach the top of Windy Pass at 30 miles.

After sitting down for fifteen minutes, taking off my shoes and socks and airing out
my feet, I resumed the progress of my journey over a gradual downhill to the next aid
station at Little Valley.  For awhile my short break, sans shoes, seemed to have paid
off.  I was once again finding some rhythm and the severe pain had subsided despite
continued pounding.  The route followed trails that seemingly had been carved out
of the raw hillsides only the week before.  This was as close to bushwhacking as it gets.
Fortunately, I like bushwhacking, so was engaged in moving through the brush and 
side-stepping freshly exposed roots and rocks, while moving once again without much

Perhaps it was the uneven terrain, with the trail often exceeding a 45-degree pitch
one way or the other in mostly thick powdered dirt, or maybe it was just the extreme
degree of variability of foot plants, but my tendonitis returned with a vengence after
35 miles or so, reducing me to a walk.  I walked in the last two miles on a mildly
sloping dirt road to the Little Valley aid station, a road that begged me to run with
abandon, but it was not to be on this day, like so many others recently.  Upon arriving
at mile 39 I announced my unequivical withdrawal from the race, sat down somewhat
dejected, not wanting to discuss it with anyone, removed my shoes, tipped down my
hat and began a four-hour wait until I  could get a ride back to the start/finish.

I am resigned to the reality that my permanently damaged heel is always going to be
problematic when it comes to running aggressive trails like this.  I am coming more
and more to accept this reality, but it is still hard to not toe the line and go for it.
The risks of egregious damage are not worth it.  This will be my last season of
chasing down trails like this.

Another fellow stopped to wait it out with me.  We yucked it up and encouraged others
that might have wanted to drop to continue.  Perhaps it was fortuitous that we were
there as the two of us - Don and I, the ham radio operator Cliff, and the aid station 
captain Nanette had to backtrack on the course to come to the aid of a woman that
was late and unaccounted for - Tara - because of a bad fall that injured her back.
Together we collected her from the course and dispatched her safely back to the
start/finish.  All was well.

After finally getting some food and collecting my drop bags, I quickly found my inviting
sleeping bag after a nip of Devil's Cut, and ended my day by chasing the sandman.
The day was exhausting, I don't think I stirred once during the next eleven hours or
so.  After bidding adieu the last two racers to depart in the morning, I headed out for a 
good soak at Crystal Hot Spring in Honeyville and am now poised to head into the
Wind River Range for my next adventure tomorrow.

Overall, I am very pleased with my fitness level and pleasantly surprised at my race 
readiness, but am more and more accepting that I have reached a threshold where 
reinvention is requisite for continued engagement with the trails.  My wheels have
come off and even all the king's horses and all the king's men won't be able to put me
back together again.  The trails will continue to be there for hiking, but my "dance with
the rocks" must heretofore be pursued in a kinder, more gentle fashion.  The passion of
the spirit remains steady.  Only its expression will change.





Lightning Ridge Panorama