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July 31, 2015 Comments (0) Featured, Race Reports

Capitol Reef – Grand Circle Trail Series

Raising to 11,000 feet, the Aquarius plateau is North America’s highest plateau. The plateau ecosystem is comprised of pine, aspen, pinyon-juniper forests, grassy meadows both dry and wet, along with numerous lakes. The Aquarius supports an environment and diversity not found on plateaus. It’s within this spectacular setting that Matt Gunn brings us his latest race, the Capitol Reef 100. Offering 100 mile, 50 mile, 50k ultra distances. This environment constantly challenges you over ever changing terrain that has seen little human traffic over the years.

RD Matt Gunn

RD Matt Gunn

As Matt clearly outlined in the pre-race meeting we were to expect a truly backcountry experience. The course required us to pay close attention to markings while running trails that have seen limited maintenance over the years. We crossed meadows & streams, worked long climbs and focused on our balance coming down steep descents. And, our bodies could not forget the elevation of 11,000 feet, where the majority of the race was run. This is certainly a race where the challenge was elevated but the rewards of accomplishment and access to beauty matched the effort.

aquarius-plateau-lake-2-capitol-reef-ultra

aquarius-plateau-lake-capitol-reef-ultra

As with all Ultra Adventure Races there was a warm organic feel that is such a part of the history within the ultra community. The camping was plentiful, dogs were welcomed and the racers, volunteers and hosts were friendly and supportive. ALL materials were composted or recycled including your own “personal” waste.

Eco-Comode

Eco-Comode

The awards for completing the races were handcrafted and beautiful; the 100 mile buckles are coveted pieces of art.Feedback from racers after completing the 50 and 100 mile race generally hovered around, “Hard” and “Hell”. Davy Crockett, who has completed 71 100 mile races on 29 courses, ranks this as the 4th hardest course he has run.

Following the trail

Following the trail

Providing some numbers behind the races. The 100 miler included 30,000ft of elevation change (15,000 up and 15,000 down) while the 50 mile ran from the 50 mile turn around and included 15,300ft in change (6,700 up and 8,600 down). The 50k covered 32 miles with 4,500 feet of climbing and 6,250 feet of descent.

Camping at Capitol Reef

Camping at Capitol Reef

There were 15 aid station stops for the 100 milers, 7 for the 50 milers and 5 for the 50k runners. Each aid station had unique food choices and were fully staffed with volunteers. Crew access to aid stations was not recommended. The time to drive into an aid station could take an hour or more give the poor road conditions and making it from one aid station to another could take up to 4 hours.

Slick Rock

Slick Rock

In summary, this is one course that will be on my must do list year after year. The remoteness, beauty and event atmosphere creates an experience that’s difficult to match.

2015 Race Results:

100 Mile Male
Graham Johnson (35) 24:51:07
Adrian Stanciu (45) 26:49:29
Steve Slaby (34) 27:24:09

100 Mile Female (only one finisher)
Gina Slaby (34)27:24:09

50 Mile Male
Kevin Shilling (47) 9:47:34
Phillip Lowry (48) 9:51:12
Paul Tucker (42) 10:05:13

50 Mile Female
Toby Nishikawa (42) 11:09:04
Erin Clark (38) 12:17:00
Deanna McLaughlin (59) 12:29:09

50K Male
Nate Blouin (26) 5:05:24
Zach Hermsen (38) 5:06:10
Diego Espinosa (54) 6:42:41

50k Female
Natasha Melichar (34) 6:55:54
Heidi Sauerland (30) 7:18:41
Jill Williams (38) 7:45:21

Drop Bags

Drop Bags

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