Monday, June 18, 2012

San Juan Solstice Preview and Plan

I feel somewhat bad for neglecting to blog more about The San Juan Solstice 50. In most years, this would be my big event for the year. And if it holds up to reputation, it might wind up being my favorite race of the year. In the same tradition of what I did last year, I am going to write up a little preview with some goals for this spectacular event. Unfortunately, I do not think I will "race" this event. Instead, I will run something that is more in the training range category. There simply isn't enough time to recover and still do quality training in the next 4 weeks for LT100.

Equipment and Food


I have become a HUGE fan of the new GU Roctane Drink. And I have been experimenting with Clip 2 as well. I like the calories provided by GU better, but the other stuff offered by Clip 2 (fat, protein, etc...).  Most likely I will have both on hand and rotate -- just as I did in the Grand Canyon. I think I will carry one of my hydration packs so that I can keep my hands free of water bottles.  That said, I will have water bottles on hand in case of emergency (bladder leaks!). I should drain this every 3 hours to be on course for good hydration. And there will be s-caps if it is warm.


The difficulty in picking shoes for this event is that there are a bunch of creek crossings early in the race. That means wet shoes and I don't like to change shoes. At this point I am leaning toward wearing the Brooks PureGrit because they are padded and will drain/dry well. They are the leading shoe for LT100 right now. I wore some Montrail Masochists to the Grand Canyon and loved them, but they are a heavy shoes and will not dry out well. Perhaps, since I have three drop bags, I will change shoes for the first time in an ultra? If I do, I may switch to my MT110s late in the race to get a lighter, more comfortable shoe on. Hmm. Lots to think about, but I often make shoe choices at the last minute.


This is a tougher subject because I am constantly changing my food likes and dislikes. I tinker a lot. It is probably best to follow my LT100 pages for specifics on what I am playing with. However, I think it is safe to say that I won't be doing much in terms of gel shots, sugar, or carbs. Beyond my carbohydrate dense beverage, I hope to ingest lots of fat and protein to balance out my body's needs in such a grueling, long event. Lately I have had good success with just eating protein bars and Bonk Breaker Bars on long training runs. All that said, I'll have some gels on hand in case I need a kick at some point, or if my electrolyte beverage starts tasting bad and I need to switch to water.

Drop Bags

Drop bags will be allowed at Williams Creek (mile 16), Carson (mile 21), and Slumgullioin (mile 40).

Your drop bag(s) should include solid fuel (your favorite energy bars, candy bars, or gels), sunscreen, long-sleeve T-shirt and/or nylon windbreaker, dry socks and an alternate pair of shoes, and Vaseline or skin lube, tape (for feet) and powder, NSAID. I will either carry my North Face jacket all day, or put into the drop bag for Carson.

Race Day Strategy and Plan

Segment 1 of 7 - To Alpine Gulch Aid Station ~7 miles

This section of the course is almost entirely ascending with a brutal 4000 feet of elevation gain. That represents double the elevation gain in the first 7 miles of my first 50 miler. Talk about a rude way to start a race! And it is marked with numerous creek crossings, so I will likely be running a good portion of this with wet feed. As it was in Leadville, the first aid station is a "minimal" one (fluids only).

Goal time for this section is 2 hours.

Segment 2 of 7 - To Williams Creek Aid Station ~8.5 miles (16 Total Miles)

Now that you've gone up, you get to go almost all the way back down to Williams Creek. There are 4,000 feet of elevation loss in this segment with just a little bit of gain (relatively speaking). At the bottom you are greeted with a full aid station.

Goal time for this section 2 hours. (4 total)

Segment 3 of 7 - To Carson Aid Station ~5.5 miles (21.5 Total Miles)

After descending all the way back down, the climb to the highest point in the race begins.  The high point is Coney Peak at 13,334 feet in the sky. Before reaching the summit, you stop at a fully stocked aid station in Carson (a ghost town). With 2500 feet of climb, this segment represents a little more than half of the second big climb of the day.

Goal time for this section is 2 hours. (6 total)

Segment 4 of 7 - To Divide Aid Station ~9.5 miles (31 Total Miles)

After leaving Carson, you first climb to Coney Peak and then begin to bounce up and down (net down) to the Divide aid station. This is one of the longest stretches in the race, so it is wise to carry lots of fluid (a hydration pack or three water bottles). This section runs along the Continental Divide so the air is thin and the views are amazing! The aid station is once again full stocked because the next segment is once again long. While this segment saddle backs up and down, it represents a stellar 2700 feet of gain.

Goal time for this section is 3 hours. (9 total)

Segment 5 of 7 - To Slumgullion Aid Station ~9 miles (40 Total Miles)

After the Divide aid station, the course begins to drop dramatically toward Vickers Ranch. There is some climbing in this segment, but is mostly down hill (2500 feet to exact). This is another fully stocked aid station in advance of the last major climb of the day.

Goal time for this section is 2 hours. (11 total)

Segment 6 of 7 - To Vickers Aid Station ~6.5 miles (46.5 Total Miles)

Leaving Slumgullion, there is a little bit of reprieve before one final 1700 foot climb. This is normally not a huge climb for an ultrarunner, but after 40 miles it will probably hurt quite a bit. Then you start the steep descent toward the finish line. But first you stop at the Vickers aid station (not a fully stocked station)

Goal time for this section is 2 hours. (13 total)

Segment 7 of 7 - To The Finish ~4 miles (50 Total Miles)

The remaining miles are a steep descent (2200 feet in 4 miles) back to Lake City.

Goal time for this section is 1. (14 total)

Others' Blogs


There is no plans to have a crew for this race. It is not really a spectator/crew friend course. Just in case, they are allowed to see me at the Williams Creek (mile 16) and Slumgullion (mile 40) aid stations. Pacers are allowed after Slumgullion (mile 40), but I don't think I'll be needing one. Hopefully Tony and I can pace each other!  It sounds as if our families will meet us down there to see the last 10 miles of the race and then stay the night with us.

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