Monday, June 29, 2015

Desert RATS Random Tidbits

Had some questions regarding some of the more "logistical" aspects of the race.

Transportation

After getting myself to Moab, all transportation was included in my entry. The race is a point to point from Loma-ish, Colorado to just outside of Moab, Utah. All our gear was hauled in a U-Haul trailer and the runners were transported in big vans.

Lodging

We were told we could bring our own tent if we wanted to. I chose not to because I hate putting up/taking down a tent and I didn't want to have to do that every night. We were provided with big tents - I shared a tent with four other women. There were volunteers that put up the tent and took it down for us - which was fantastic.

Food

Gemini Adventures uses the services of John Graham for food. This man is fantastic. He has many years experience in "back country cooking" and we had plenty of food every single day. He was happy to take special dietary requests, including vegetarian and gluten free options. I enjoyed food ranging from pasta to grilled cheese to burgers. There was always more food than could even be consumed, no one went hungry. All meals were provided, and on the long days we were able to make sandwiches to pick up at an aid station for lunch.

Charging

There was a charging station available every day at base camp where we could charge our phone and Garmins. I believe this was powered through one of the trucks, but I'm not positive. I do also have a small battery powered charger that I brought with me and used only one time to charge my watch. The charging station was VERY cool and very appreciated!

Clothing

So as you could probably see from my pictures, I had my arms covered every day. All of my long sleeve apparel is YMX by Yellowman. I first discovered this brand about 3.5 years ago when I was training for my first 100. The fabric is so silky and thin it is almost like wearing nothing at all. I have worn these tops for years as a base layer to keep warm, but had never considered wearing them to "keep cool." This fabric was pretty much designed for running in all climates, per the website "as perfect as base layer on the winter slopes as it is for sun protection on a high desert run. With a UPF of 30+, it also serves as a lightweight rash guard that feels like a second skin, light as silk, but totally fuss-free." I did notice that I "felt" hot when I first started each day but within a few miles I didn't feel "as hot" or "any hotter" than if I had bare arms. Not to mention, no sunburns on my arms or shoulders, which I am VERY prone to as I'm very fair-skinned.

In addition to the long sleeve tops, I was using a buff - in the early miles just to protect my neck from the sun, but as the day wore on I would tie off each end and fill with ice - that was HUGE in keeping me "cool."

I normally wear the compression socks for all races, but with the blisters I had I wanted easier access to my feet so I wore the lower socks, and it was fine. Considering this was a lot more hiking than running, my legs felt abnormally "good" after everything was done.

Nutrition/Hydration

There was plenty of "snacks" at the aid stations, although I found that my appetite was greatly diminished with the heat. For pretty much the first time ever, I had to force myself to eat. I fueled with a handful of gels, but primarily used Honey Stinger waffles. By the end of the week they tasted "too sweet" and it was a little rough getting them down. For electrolytes I was putting Nuun in my handheld, taking Endurolytes (by Hammer) and using BASE electrolyte salt. I'm a firm believer that BASE saved me on my last day when I was so hot and feeling pretty dizzy and sick - a few licks of that and I for real felt like a new person. As for hydration, I was back to using my Nathan hydration vest that holds a 70 ounce bladder. I was also using my Orange Mud handheld which holds 21 ounces.

Other Supplies

We had mandatory supplies that had to be carried at all times, and we were subject to random checks to ensure we had them on us. Among the supplies were 1000 calories, a safety blanket, whistle, compass, knife, salt tabs, emergency strobe, emergency mirror, disinfectant spray and at least 80 ounces of water upon leaving each aid station. Carrying all these supplies was definitely tough with the pack I had and it was a bit uncomfortable to carry, especially when the bladder was full.

Course and Trail Markings

The course was NOT marked by the race director. Each evening we were prepped with special instructions regarding any hard to follow turns and given a map of the course. The issue is that the Kokopelli trail IS marked... but the markings are very old, some of them are not clear at all, and there are no "confidence" markers of every kind. We also were told we could purchase a Gaia app that had an interactive GPS map that we could use. The two people that had this app were the only ones (I think) that made no wrong turns. After the first day I contemplated purchasing but didn't have the internet connection (or my debit card) to buy. Using the printed out map was not ideal but it did give a pretty good idea of where to go. We had an "expedition journal" with a handful of instructions, but these were problematic as they didn't seem to match up to the miles on my Garmin. It was good as a "suggestion" and warning to look for certain sections.

Everything Else

This was not for the faint of heart. In addition to the heat and the remoteness of the course, this experience required some "out of my comfort zone" situations. No running water, showering, shaving, etc. for a week. And being in such close quarters with strangers meant a lack of privacy and learning to get along and deal with uncomfortable situations. With THAT said, I had the pleasure of running with some of the most amazing people EVER, and I would not have traded this group for anyone else. I don't know that I will ever tackle something like this again, but I am glad I did this.

5 comments:

  1. I had wondered about the showering thing, I bet you all smelled pretty ripe by the end! but seriously what an experience to have under your belt and the bragging rights for.

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    1. I mean, I honestly couldn't tell if other people smelled, but I sure could smell myself :D The not shaving part was really the hardest of everything. I felt like a Yeti by the time I was done.

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  2. Thank you for answering my questions.

    I always wondered how these things went down and what it was like. A bit like Survivor or some other reality-based show. Not sure I would have the fortitude to take on such an undertaking, especially given the conditions.

    I would be worried about getting lost out there, especially if the trail markings / directions aren't that great. That is always the worst feeling. The remoteness of that area is a bit unnerving as you aren't exactly near help.

    Thanks again for the write-up.

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    1. I mean, yes and no. There were a few people that got panicky when they were "off course" but I don't think anyone was ever in danger. There was a bike sweep (or two) and if people didn't arrive at the aid stations when they reasonably should have, volunteers were looking for them.

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  3. What a crazy epic adventure! You totally impress the hell out of me with almost every post, but this race goes over and above. You are seriously amazing.

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