Javelina was a mix of spur of the moment and long term desire for me. On one hand, I didn't plan on racing it this year until less than a month before the event. On the other hand, I have wanted to make my way to this event for a couple years now. It has all the beauty of trails, but with loads of runability. On top of that, it is put on by Aravaipa, which, for my money, is one of the best things going in regards to race orgainization in our sport. My misfortune at Cuyamaca 100k (see my race report) left me with no qualifier for Western States Endurance Run (WSER) and little time to secure one. With World 100k Championships scheduled for November 26th I didn't want to flirt with a super hard effort less than four weeks out, but Javelina gave me four weeks and I haven't raced hard since Spring, so I felt confident toeing the line at this year's edition of the party in the desert.
The week leading into the race I had a few ideas as to what I wanted to gun for on race day. The number one goal was certainly to make sure I got my butt around that loop five times unscathed so I'd secure a WSER qualifier, but I also was very intrigued by where my fitness was at. I recently have focused more heavily on Maffetone training style (MAF) than in the past and as a curious person wanted to know what benefits it may have provided. On paper, I saw, and still do, Javelina as a sub-13-hour course. The biggest variable at this event is weather. You can get anything from overcast skies with temps in the 70s, or you can get blue skies and triple digits. This makes it tough to target a specific time; rather, you have to take what the day gives you.
This year, we had a cloudless sky and temps in the mid 90s most of the day with it possibly hitting 102 breifly in the afternoon. This meant my number-one objective was going to be to get wet and stay hydrated as often as possible. Rich McKnight, my host and Scottsdale native gave me all the course info and scenarios I could want, so I felt I had a good grasp of how to attack the course.
I didn't bring a crew or pacer for this event, so it meant that I needed to have a clear idea of exactly what I needed entering every aid station, so I could get right in and out without wasting any unnecessary time. With that said, it became apparent early that it wasn't worth it to neglect getting absolutely drenched at every aid station.
The course is set up with five loops and four aid stations spread out relatively evenly. The first loop is a bit different than the remaining four as it has an extra section making it approximtely three miles longer. I ran the first half of the long loop with Ryan Kaiser. We broke the darkness and found our way at Jackass Junction (10.5 miles) at around a 7:15/mi pace. It felt very comfortable, and based on what Rich had told me, was followed by a super gradual butter smooth trail heading back to the start/finish (Javelina Jeadquarters), which also served as the finish/start to each lap. With this information I opened up a bit coming down from Jackass Junction. I felt smooth and began to pull away a bit from Ryan. I was pleasantly surprised to arrive at the Jeadquarters completing the first loop at approximately 7 min/mi pace. On paper this may have looked a bit aggressive, but it was somewhat planned as I speaking with Jim Walmsley before the event we agreed with the heat being such a big factor it would be good to get a solid pace set in the cooler morning temps. It's a fine line as you don't want to overreach too much and pay for it at the end, but I felt very smooth and felt confident in recognizing a 100-mile effort and avoid reaching over it.
The second loop was similar to the first in that it hadn't hit peak temps yet, so I was able to move pretty good without raising my core temperature too much. The course is set up washing machine style, so this meant getting to see all the other runners doing their thing and offer and receive encouragement, which I really enjoy in these type of course designs.
The second loop is where I really started to focus on cooling and hydration primarily. I began a process of pouring water on my head in the aid stations and carrying a bottle primarily for cooling. I knew that as the heat picked up it would be harder to take in fuel as the body would need more blood volume for cooling and be a bit more reluctant to send it to my stomach for digestion (a disaster that often plagues folks in warm ultra races). My plan was to take in the majority of my fuel directly after a full drenching at the aid stations as this would be the point at which my core temp was the lowest. I've had a lot of luck with Xendurance Fuel-5 as my primary fuel source, so I stuck with it both in and out of the aid stations. Taking in more at the aid stations and slowly sipping it between aid stations.
Since I didn't have a specific crew, I had prepared bottles set up at Javelina Jeadquarters and Jackass Junction, so I didn't have to worry about mixing and filling new bottles every time. This meant I was guaranteed at least one bottle of Fuel-5 every 10 miles. This along with a few individual serving pouches I carried with me gave me what I needed to stay on point with nutrition and hydration throughout the day.
Lap three was probably the most discouraging of the the otherwise smooth day. It made quite clear exactly how important it would be to get wet as often as possible. It was getting to the heat of the day and as I exited Coyote Canyon Aid (four miles from Jeadquarters and 6.5 miles to Jackass Junction) I didn't bring enough water with me. I was already bone dry from the aid station drenching midway to Jackass Junction and had little cooling water left. I distinctly rememeber thinking that I was only roughly halfway done and things were not feeling super positive. When I made it up to Jackass Junction (mile 52) I dumped loads of water and ice on myself. It was like a light switch went on. My negative feelings must have been directly tied to my core temperature rising. As soon as I cooled down and heading out towards Rattle Snake Aid (5.2 miles from Jackass and 3.7 miles from Jeadquarters) I felt like I had a new set of legs.
Paces were getting a bit slower at this point mainly due to the increase in temperature and additional time spent staying cool, but effort and energy were feeling great outside of the brief stretch up to Jackass. When I arrived back at Jeadquarters to complete my third loop, I targeted ice and water. My basic protocol was to get into the aid station, dump ice water all over me, stick ice in anything that would hold it for even a brief period of time, and head over to my cooler and grab a bottle of Fuel-5. Chris Thornley, creator of Squirrel's Nut Butter, noticed how much attention I was paying to getting wet and began handing me a bottle of ice water as I exited Jeadquarter to get one final soaking in before beginning the next lap.
Lap four marked the hottest temps the day had to offer. I was dialed on cooling, so things stayed smooth. The biggest difference I noticed was that in order to keep core temp down I had to refain from really hammering. It clarified in my mind that the faster early pace was smart use of the small window of time we had in the lower temps. At this point I had close to an hour lead on second place and was feeling good, so I didn't try to really roll the dice, but rather decided to stay comfortabe, cool, and ontop of nutrition/hydration.
From a mental standpoint, I knew finishing lap four would be a big milestone as it meant only one more trip around the course. There is something motivating about being able to tell yourself, "Okay, this is the last time I'm going to see this," as you work your way around. I arrived at Coyote Canyon (mile 84.5) and the sun was just getting to the point where it would be down in an hour or so. I left the aid station feeling really good. I think I realized it was the last time I'd have to drench myself with ice water as by the time I reached Jackass Junction the sun would be down. It was a couple miles outside of Coyote Canyon that I realized that somehow my flashlight had fallen out of the pocket on my pack. At first I was a bit concerned, but recognized if I stayed consistent I would reach Jackass Junction before it got pitch dark, and convinced myself I'd be able to find a light of some kind in the aid station before making the final 9 mile stretch to the finish.
When I got to Jackass Junction, I found Jim Walmsley who had been volunteering all day. I told him about my light mishap and fast as lightning, as Jim only knows, he had a headlamp ready for me. Before I left he told me that I had an hour and twenty seven minutes to cover the last nine miles in order to get under the course record. As I set out on the final stretch I quickly realized that had it not been for that headlamp there was no way I would have been able to run at any consistancy in the dark. However, with the headlamp and lack of direct sunlight I was able to cruise down in plenty of time and cross the finish line in a new course record of 13 hours, 30 minutes, 28 seconds.
My final thoughts about Javelina is that it is an amazing event. It's a race track on dirt and if weather cooperates could produce some blazing fast times. After reflecting on my Strava data (I had my watch set to auto pause, which stops it when I'm standing still) I realized when adding the completely motionless time and the slow splits that included walking in the aid stations, I had spent approximately 51 minutes in the aid stations. Granted, you have to expect some aid staion time during a trail race, but it was intriguing to me to think about what the course could produce with a full crew, pacer, and more typical October temps. I am definitley looking forward to heading back in the future.
- Rich and Erin McKnight for the course intel and making the logistics pre- and post-race so seamless
- Jamil, Hayley, and all the Aravaipa Crew who were on point in organizing and executing an awesome event
- All the great volunteers battling the heat and bees in the hot desert heat to get us runners from aid station to aid staion
- Altra Footwear for the support and excellent gear
- Andrew Neughbaur for letting me test run the Fuel-5 single serving pouches
- Chris for the ice water and Squirrel's Nut Butter
- Jim for the headlamp and encouragement throughout
- All the awesome participants offering kind words and motivation as we crossed paths throughout the day
- Altra Superior 2.0
- Altra Gators
- Altra Performance Tank
- Altra Race Shorts
- Drymax Lite Trail Running Sock
- Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2
- Orange Mud Handheld
- Julbo Zephyr
- Squirrel's Nut Butter
- Xednurance Extreme Endurance
- Xendurance Fuel-5
- Xendurance Hydro-X
- Melon (watermelon and cantaloup)
- Mountain Dew
- Vespa Junior
Pictures (coming soon!):