Photo taken by Randall Levensaler

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Training for WS100: Road trip to the Grand Canyon!

I always say life is an adventure and an attempt to keep things exciting. … So why not give the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (WS100) a shot? My 4th place finish at the Ice Age Trail 50 rewarded me with an unexpected automatic entry into WS100.

I was quite perplexed with my decision to race even though most people seemed to offer an easy yes or no: “Western States as your first 100? It’s a no brainer!”  or “What has your training been like? You do realize this is 100 miles?”

I’m seven ultras deep into my long-distance career: 5 x 50k and 2 x 50 mile. I would say that I’m finally getting the hang of it, but 100 miles … this is entirely a different beast.

Sure, the 100 has crossed my mind plenty of times. It is the ultimate endurance distance or at least the one that warrants the most bragging rights (so it seems). I’m constantly curious of my abilities and potential limits, but I had been saving this bittersweet pain for 2015 … or 2016 even. Alas, the stars aligned for a reason and, the time is now!

So how does one prepare for Squaw? What about a road trip to New Mexico and Arizona with the Grand Canyon’s rim2rim2rim as a highlight J
The planning process begins!

My best friend, training partner, and #trailsister Ashley Arnold (@AshleyHArnold) and I put together a road trip that will help prepare her for the The North Face Laverado Ultra Trail, and me, WS100. 
Ash and I acting completely normal. Carbondale, CO circa Fall 2012.

The first stop will incorporate camping in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains outside of Santa Fe, NM. I’m looking forward to waking up to an amazing view, a hot cup of coffee, and hearty cup of Quaker’s Summer Berry Oatmeal before spending quality time getting vertical.
The best portable breakfast EVER!

Stop number two is Flagstaff, AZ, home of trail running all-stars such as Rob Krar and Chris Vargo, to name a couple. To me, running is a very social sport, so I’m excited to explore the town and its trails with great friends. (Plus, we’ll finally have access to a shower at this stop!)

Our third way point will be the Grand Canyon (GC). Neither Ash nor I have previously been to the GC, so running the R2R2R will be a definite adventure. (Thanks to Chris Vargo for the heads up on toting extra liquid.) I guess it is the “warm” season J. Add one extra case of Naked Juice Coconut Water to the list! 
Woot woot for hydration!

With tired legs, Ash and I will drive back to the “motherland,” also known as Carbondale, CO. There is no way we could pass by without doing a tribute run on Red Hill or Mount Sporis. This is where ultra running started for us both.

After expending our last bits of energy, we will return to the trail-running Mecca, Boulder, for some much needed R&R.

With quality miles, lots of vert, heat training, and friendship still in tact (haha), I’m pretty sure this road trip will help us both get one step closer to our goals on the trail.


  1. Love it Gina! Hope the training goes well and you enjoy the canyon. It's truly a beautiful and special place :).

    1. Thanks Amber! The ditch was AMAZING! I didn't get to spend as much time as I wanted there...but will definitely be going back. Thanks for your support!