[Author’s Note: This article is the second in an 11-part series in AJW’s Taproom celebrating under the radar races.]
Rising practically 2,000 ft above the desert ground in central Arizona, the Mogollon Rim dominates the skyline east of the sprawling metropolis of Phoenix. Dotted with huge rock outcroppings and wealthy forests of ponderosa pine, “The Rim,” because it’s known as regionally, is a well-liked escape for Phoenicians searching for aid from the summer time warmth.
As well as, since 1990, The Rim has been the house of the Zane Gray Highline Path Runs. The routes traverse the historic Highline Path, a Nationwide Recreation Path, which was established in 1870 as a route to permit journey between homesteads, and for youths to get to high school in Pine, Arizona.
The weekend’s marquee occasion, the Zane Gray 50 Mile, has hosted a who’s who of ultrarunning luminaries over time, together with Scott Jurek, Nikki Kimball, Karl Meltzer, Dave Mackey, Diana Finkel, Anton Krupicka, Geoff Roes, and Ian Torrence.
Held annually in late April, the Zane Gray 50 Mile has undergone a number of iterations over time, because it included a 100k choice a couple of occasions, and was previously held on a point-to-point course. Immediately, the race encompasses a modified out-and-back course, starting and ending on the Mountain Meadows Ranch in Christopher Creek, Arizona.
The race is 100% singletrack and contains lovely vistas of rim canyons, brushy hills, and distant mountains. A portion of the path between the Washington Park Trailhead and the Pine Trailhead can be a part of the 800-plus-mile Arizona Path. Rocky and rutted for a lot of miles, the Highline Path will check any path runner’s mettle.
I just lately caught up with Zane Gray race director, Joe Galope, to speak about his occasion. When it comes to the obstacles for placing on the race, Joe had this to say:
“Path stewards have maintained and improved the path over time, however in doing so, have lengthened the path. Whereas we recognize all they’ve executed for the world, it has affected the race course. Moreover, the ecosystem of path working has considerably modified over time, which has generated obstacles with placing on the occasion.”
He elaborated, “The saturation of competing path working occasions, some on the identical month or weekend, not solely attracts from the market of runners, but additionally from the pool of volunteers and sources wanted to placed on an occasion.”
For years, Zane Gray has been identified for its low key, community-centered vibe, and Joe says that’s by design: “We restrict the full variety of members of the occasion, which supplies the race a way of group. We acknowledge that for some members this can be essentially the most difficult factor they ever do.”
He went on, “The race desires to make it possible for each participant seems like they’re particular for having achieved such a difficult occasion, and likewise desires their day to be an superior expertise. We try this by having veteran ultrarunners as assist station volunteers and workers.”
As a veteran race director for over 25 years, Joe has nearly seen all of it, however he nonetheless appears to be like ahead to race day yearly.
He stated, “I most stay up for seeing the enjoyment not solely on the finishers’ faces, but additionally their households’ faces on the end line. It’s a shared expertise by means of the months of coaching, the day crewing out on the path, and persevering by means of the problem… and eventually reaching their purpose.”
This yr’s Zane Gray Highline Path Runs, which can add a marathon distance, might be held on April 27, 2024, and there are nonetheless areas accessible in each distances. If you wish to take pleasure in a traditional old skool race with a Wild West vibe, come out to The Rim and run this spring.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from That Brewery in Pine, Arizona. That Knotty Nut Brown Ale is a wealthy British type brown ale, that’s barely candy and uniquely brewed with pinecones, giving it a scrumptious piney end. In the event you make it to the Zane Gray 50, you should definitely cease by That for a style.
Name for Feedback
- Have you ever executed the Zane Gray 50 Mile or any of the Zane Gray Highline Path Runs, and, in that case, what did you suppose?
- Does this type of low-key occasion attraction to you, or do you favor larger races?