Yesterdays Sneak Peak training run on the 33k course couldn’t have been better. I arrived at the Moab Information Center parking lot five minutes early to find a group of bird watchers had the same idea, to be outdoors in Moab. But, who wouldn’t want to be outside in January with 50 degree weather?!
Our group consisted of myself, Amasa (my dog), and four additional runners; two from Lehi and two from Park City. The turn out was a bit surprising considering the beautiful weather. Last year I had the pleasure of guiding close to 20 runners on this same sneak peak training run, but any day I get to run with others is a good day! We waited an additional 15 minutes for any last minute stragglers and then we set out for an amazing day of trail running.
Once we arrived at the trailhead it was a bit chilly so there was a bunch of second guessing on what to shed or keep. In the end, I finally decided I’d tough it out and run in shorts and longsleeve shirt. We took off up the first steep hill climb along the Gemini Bridges road and quickly realized I had made the right decision with shorts and a long-sleeve shirt. We comfortably settled into a pace that would allow us to finish the 20 mile course in about 4 hours. With 15 years of guiding experience, I naturally began pointing out geological features that are typically missed by those not familiar with the area. How many of you experienced Red Hot runners have ever noticed the arch at the beginning of the Gold Bar Trail or the hidden single tracks that spur off the main Red Hot Course?
We slowly made our way up the steep climb to the Gold Bar overlook. Here we took in the breathtaking views of Arches national Park and the Moab Valley. We then connected to Golden Spike Trail, the most difficult section of the Red Hot course to navigate. So difficult, that at one point on this run, I had to ask the runners to stop so I could concentrate and find the correct path. It’s for this reason that I invite all Red Hot runners to join me for the sneak peak training run. Even with extensive flagging on my part, runners get off-course on this section every year.
At the location of the last aid station, the Poison Spider junction, we took in a few gels and the beautiful scenery of the La Sal Mountains and Behind the Rocks. From this point, the trail becomes easy to follow and once again, we all settled into a comfortable pace. We ran the last five miles into the Poison Spider parking lot with smiles on our faces and with a little color on our checks from the warm sun. We said goodbye to a group of mountain bikers about to embark on the Poison Spider trail and concluded our day at Paradox Pizza, a favorite of locals, with some beer and pizza.