The North Face Endurance Challenge Utah 50k - a recap

IV and I recently ran The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k in Park City, Utah. This was my first ultra marathon and the first race IV's done beyond a 10k. 

I trained steadily for about 16 weeks and IV added in more running and some extra bleacher work to his normal workout schedule.

We originally planned to stay together for the race but when IV started having issues with his calf/Achilles we changed the plan. He decided to just speed hike it instead.

Here's how it went:


Pre-race: A little nervous, and a lot excited. I was ready to get up in those mountains!  IV was like a kid...funny.







Mile 1: Fell in behind a man who was trotting along at a nice steady pace:
 
I could still hear IV behind me when he would cough. The race basically started with an uphill climb that would continue on for what seemed like the next 26 miles.

 
Mile 6: I passed the first aid station feeling fine...my pacer took a potty brake so I found a new one:



IV was running with a 50-something-year-old man who's done over 60 ultras! IV said they would jog the flats and down-hills, and hike the ups.


Mile 7: I was thanking God that He allowed me to come experience His beautiful creation in this way!






























Mile 8?: My new pace-man comes to a sudden halt...There's a HUGE BULL MOOSE just off the trail beside us! It had already stared me down and walked on by the time I got my camera out:
(There were five moose total in this little herd...so crazy amazing to see!) 
 
IV didn't get to see them but he did see a HUGE beehive near the end...I found out later that Utah is known as "the beehive state".  Who knew?

 
Mile 11ish: Made it through another check point and was still feeling okay. I fell in behind these dudes for a bit.  We walked the big climbs through here...there was no choice really. 


By this time IV's quads and hamstrings had cramped up on him severely. (The uphill climbing was to blame). He was standing, rubbing his legs, and someone gave him a salt tablet. That did the trick!

Mile 12 (maybe): The views never stopped!


 
Mile 13: I think this was the official summit. I took a quick photo shoot:

(Someone around this point made the mistake of saying "it's all downhill from here." That was a big, FAT lie.)
 
IV said he didn't sit in the chair because he was afraid he wouldn't be able to get up!

 
Mile 15: I become completely famished...like, I need to eat NOW!

 
Mile 16: I eat! I had an orange wedge, a quarter of a pbj sandwich, some chips, a cup of broth (the best thing!), and drank some Coke and Mountain Dew (which I knew beforehand they would offer, but I didn't think I would want it...I thought wrong).  Then I kept on trucking!

I took this pic for IV, since he likes these trees:

 
Mile 19: We go uphill (again) for what feels like a lifetime. I take a long walk break.

 
Mile 20: Running again, and then I fell flat-out on the ground. Not sure which rock got me, but it got me good. Thankfully I was not injured, and I did not cry. 
 
IV didn't ever fall but he said he twisted his ankle bad one time and stubbed his right toe over and over. (His toenails are turning black now. :) )

 
Mile 21ish: Octoberfest themed aid station...much appreciated. From this point forward I do a lot of run/walking.

 
Mile 26: Back to Octoberfest...we did a little loop there. A very nice man filled my water bottles and urged me onward...he said "it's all rolling downward hills from here...finish with a smile," and that was the truth...and that's what I did!

When we emerged from amidst the mountains there were about 4 miles to go.   We caught a glimpse of the finish line...so close, yet so far away:

This reminded me of what I read on the plane ride over. C.S. Lewis wrote about our likeness to God versus our nearness to God in his book The Four Loves. He compared it to seeing your home from a clifftop, and feeling close to it, but still having miles to go before you're there.  It's quoted here.  A good read.


Mile 31: 7.5 hours later...that's a 50k!

(And I do realize this picture should say "that's"...but I was a little tired when I snapped it.)
 
I waited for IV at the finish line...praying his leg hadn't caused him to quit. I was thinking that he would either be hating my guts when he came in, or he'd say, "We've gotta do this again." 
 
Thankfully, it was the latter...word for word. Ha! 

It was just an amazing weekend. The race itself was well organized and the volunteers were fabulous. Park City is now one of my favorite cities. SO beautiful, and the people were very nice! 

We will definitely (Lord willing) go back!

Might even take the kids. ;)
 


By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation,
You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea;
Who establishes the mountains by His strength,
Being girded with might;
Who stills the roaring of the seas,
The roaring of their waves,
And the tumult of the peoples.
They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;
You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.
- Psalm 65:5-8


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