Sinks Canyon Rough and Tumble 50K - Lander, Wyoming

Elevation Gain: 6400'' ... Elevation Range: 7100'-9200'

June 12, 2021 - Sinks Canyon, in and of itself, is one great mystery. It is so named because the middle fork of the Popo Agie River flowing north out of the Wind River Range, raging down the canyon until it abruptly sinks into a large limestone cavern and disappears for a quarter mile as it seeps through fissures and cracks at the back of the cave. The word Popo Agie is believed to be a Crow word (pronounced po-po-shuh) for "gurgling river" - the sound the water makes as it disappears underground. The river mysteriously reappears down the canyon in a calm pool called the Rise, thereafter continuing its course down the canyon. The course of the water underground is unknown. The Sinks narrow to small, unexplorable log- and rock-jammed fissures. Dye tests have demonstrated that it is the same water downstream, but it takes over two hours for the river to flow only a distance of a quarter mile down the canyon.

This was a race I should have walked away from. I was injured, enough so that I walked with a limp. I never wavered on my intent to run the race, but I knew my chances of completing it were small. Keeping that thought out of mind before and during the race, I put forth a sincere effort to finish, but was stopped by missing the time cutoff at twenty miles - first time ever for missing a cutoff. Though I hobbled away injured even further, I have no regrets for participating and am glad I was there.

Severe calf tendonitis in my left leg kept me from doing any running the eight days leading up to the race. After an 1800-mile drive across the country to get there, but a good night's sleep, I was functional, but not really ready to run. The 0600 start from Bruce's Picnic Area in Sinks Canyon State Park left me hobbling as best as I could at the rear as the field set off slightly down hill along the PoPo Agie River. I could manage a stiff-legged hobble on the level, but once the trail tilted up early on, I was experiencing a lot of knee pain pulling myself up at a hurried walk. Despite a concerted effort I fell further and further behind, taking a bit over two hours to reach the first aid station at 7.5 miles. The following downhill was redeeming in that I could actually run with less pain, but I had to do so with a stiffened left leg, reaching 12 miles in three hours and eleven minutes. I entertained stopping here with all due respect to discretion, but I didn't think about it for very long.

The next leg of over eight miles was essentially all up hill. My knee was very tender and I couldn't find any umph to proceed beyond a miserably cautious walk. Focusing on the scenery instead of the pain, I got through it, but it took until a little past 12:30 to reach the third aid station. The volunteers there were generous and would have allowed me to continue. Could I make ten miles or so in three-and-a-half hours mostly downhill? Probably by walking the entire way, but I saw no point in continuing with the pain and swelling so hitched a ride to the finish and left quietly.

I climbed the full 6400 feet of gain for the race and enjoyed the northern Winds. It was just not a race if I had to walk it in pain. A finish in ten hours held no value, so I cut my losses. Ten days later I am still not running - patiently rehabilitating not only the tendonitis, but a strained ACL, in hopes of returning to adventure in another two weeks. Enough races for now. Time to climb mountains.