Stage 4 Racer Posts! We are through the 52 mile Expedition Stage! The race started at 7am and the last racers reached basecamp at 2am the next day. There are so many things to say about this section of the the Desert

Stage IV Desert RATS Racer Posts 2014
Name: Wendy Drake. A mixed day. Started emotional missing Marcy all the way into Onion Creek Aid where the Boulder Bandito mascots greeted me courtesy Sherry Remick. I left Onion Creek after a 15 min rest and neon green, blister tape juxtaposed to my blue toe nail polish. Then began 16 miles of climbin. I bargained with scenarios that would end the slog: snake bite? Maybe that pain in my shoulder means my back is broken. Magically, mid-drama, I ran into two of the course doctors who massaged my shoulder back to life – they fix broken backs! – and shared cold water. Finally, I reached the last Aid and after a little more massage, coke and a banana, I grabbed a Nut Roll Bar and ran…up again…to reach the 4-mile, paved downhill to the finish. I’d passed three massive cows who seemed terrified and moved to the side of the road. I’m told were still there at midnight marveling at the badasses who were still coming in long after a stunning sunset. Food, company, race organization outstanding! Rest today. Marathon tomorrow to the finish!

Jorge Latre: What a blast! It sounds silly but everything fed me and my soul during this stage: incredible landscapes succeded one after the other. There are so breathtaking I cried six times, overwhelmed by the beauty. When I get into this state, I start talking aloud. I thank everyone that plays a role in my life and thank myself for putting myself there. I was running alone all the time, so I could sing and cry in total comfort. At the same time, I wasn’t alone as I could almost see Ryan running looking at his footprints; feeling Becky’s breath down my neck – a speed goat! – and I knew from the aid stations that Wendy was running a phenomenal race. I got to share the joy at the aid stations where everyone energized and cooled me – first one was all about speed for me as I was putting average speed in the bank before the climbs; the second one was all about taking care of myself to remain fully functional for the final charge; the third one was all about celebrating the by then inevitable ending. Everything this day was joy – down to the cows running with me as I was passing by (note to self: bestseller: ‘Running with the cows’? Hmm) This trail is permanent fun from mile 1 – never a dull moment – lots of enticing variety – like a multi-plate gourmet meal. The climbs, which could have been dreary affairs, are nicely broken down with small flat landings and refreshing little drops. From time to time, a gentle breeze came to cool us down and inviting us to run with it. The temperature became more and more comfortable as we climbed. Soon, we were in alpine forest and aspens showed up! The last six miles are a screaming descent where you can let it all out and celebrate the completion of a one-of-a-kind course. Reid has created a gem of a run that combines every crowd pleaser in one place. The watering spots and aid stations are laid out with a lot of thought and care. And there is still enough marking ambiguity to keep an adventuring component. Desert RATS is a labor of love – a work of art – a trail running masterpiece.
Name: Jim Morrison Dropped on the long day at 9 miles, moving slow, felt okay, but wasn’t up to the 8,000′ of climb left and 41 miles. Hung out at Aid Station 3 at 8,500′ and had a blast. Jeff and John did great coming in at 14:38 for the 52 miles!
Rest day today, time at the beach on the Colorado, then 26 miles tomorrow, 6 mile climb up 2,000′, then 20 miles downhill to the finish at slickrock in Moab. Yahoo!

Name: Matthew Crownover. I’m only now starting to think I can finish this. It has been an amazing event, and totally new for me. I have been really pretty clueless as I try to learn how a stage race works, but I’ve enjoyed that aspect as it moves me out of racing and into a space of just appreciating the land, my thougts, chances to pray. The community aspect each night and morning in camp is a charming and meaningful part of the event. We become friends, help each other, grow to trust one another. However I am running almost entirely by myself. The solitude is lovely, as the landscape is hauntingly lonely and fierce. Day 2 saw an astonishing headwind that blew hot sand right at us all day, literally I do mean until night. It was 30-50mph all day and very hot with sand blasting you in the face..all day. It was the sort of thing that you’d think would be impossible: “I could never do that.” But in that situation, we just stayed calm, worked hard, and had faith. Yesterday we climbed up from the desert floor into the La Sal mountains. It was a very long day of climbing, with plenty of heat befoer we reached the cool of the mountains about 9 hours in. Nevertheless these adversities provide their own sort of beauty. St. Benedict suggests that we need quiet to hear God, and just as I know the point is to cultivate an interior quiet that works amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life, I also know that real, actual quiet like this is like getting a cold drink of waterand only then realizing how thirsty you were. My favorite image was seeing a farmer turn off his tractor when his wife and small girl brough his lunch. I felt so grateful to think of this child growing up in this clean land, with such solitude. But it made me miss my kids terribly as I heard her cry “Papa!” and run towards him. In the end that’s the big value of these things for me: a return to a the deep gratitude I ought to keep closer at hand. Physically, I’m pretty beat up. I have never had blister issues, really. But my feat are painful and messed up with all kinds of bad blisters. Final marathon tomorrow will be a trick but I hope to spend today getting my feet well enough. The body will heal, but the memories and relationships endure: with people, land, and self. Thanks to all who supported my being here.

Name: Heather Loeffelholz I did it!!! This was the big stage. 51 miles. What a day. I pretty much ran the whole day on my own. The course took us on some amazing terrain. We ran down to bowels of the canyons to climbing out up to 9000ft. Being alone in some very remote locations gave me so much time to think and contemplate. I went from loving the majestic beauty to cursing the challenges it was throwing at me. I went from trying to justify dropping out to tears of joy at knowing that I was going to finish. I entered this “race” not to actually race but to challenge myself to see how I handled things when it got rough. I had no expectations of challenging anyone out here other than myself. This stage did exactly that. It pushed me to handle the heat, terrain and the mental challenges when I didn’t think I could go on. Knowing that I was going to be seeing my family was a huge sense of support and encouragement. At about 8 miles to go it got dark which changed the dynamics and put me into another frame of mind. At first I loved not being able to see the hill I was climbing and just focused on moving forward and then I got tired of just bieng in darkness not knowing what was out there. It hurt to walk and it hurt to run but running meant I would get back sooner so I shuffled in. My headlamp would catch the glows of the eyes of the cows that were out roaming. Today is a rest day. We are going to a beach this afternoon and I will enjoy dipping in some water. It is also the day that Hans and the kids are arriving and I can’t wait to see them. All that time out there in complete isolation gives you so much time to reflect on your life. I already know I have a fantastic life but when you are out there struggling and it is the love of your family that pushes you on makes me feel so fortunate. I have an awesome partner who supports my crazy need for these adventures and two beautiful healthy children who inspire me to show them anything is possible. One more stage to go. It is by no means over. Tomorrow is still a full marathon into Moab!
Name: K:Ray: I am going to make it. Only 26.2 to go. Today we have a much needed rest day. Tomorrow we will finish in Moab. I will expand on my adventure soon. Hope everybody is well. I know you all were cheering for me. I appreciate the support. Lots of love, k-ray

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