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24 Hours of Utah/Moab 100 2012

Dust bloomed from the treads of the Suzuki DR 650S as we pulled up to the base camp a mile up Mill Canyon Rd., off of Hwy. 191. A layer of bugs were pressed flat across the visors of our helmets, blending blood with the red dust of Moab. The Gemini Adventures staff were setting up for the first event of the year: 24 Hours of Utah/Moab 100.

The dirt lot was host to a circle of racer-campers of varying types – those in pop-ups, caravans, sports mobiles, and conventional tents. At 8pm we celebrated the wife of “Two-faced Todd’s” (Todd Duncan) birthday amid a large crowd of ultra runners and staff, all with plates of thickly sliced vanilla cake and ice cream. “Two-faced Todd” was to participate in the 100-mile category of the race the following morning, and would do so with a face shaved on the back of his scalp, equipped with aviators and a mustache. It was difficult to see everyone’s faces in the soft glow of the fire pits, but you could feel the sense of family in the dark despite a lack of light. All of us slowly sank into the background; we fell asleep to the happy cacophony of a female relay team relaxing around their fire.

At 4:15 the next morning, the Gemini Adventures staff, bundled in thick layers, began to set up registration and the Oasis tent. Josh and Karen, infamous for their homey food, were at work on egg sandwiches and coffee. There was a soft purpling peeking from behind the white ridges of the La Sal’s when the first set of runners checked in for their bibs and swag. Just before 7 am, Reid Delman gave the pre-race speech. By this time the light lit the land, and each set of hands were slithering to keep heat and each pair of legs were yawning awake. The large group of men and women huddled at the start line, and then they took off down rocky Mill Canyon road.

The staff was anxious for the many hours to come. Bowls of m&m’s, sliced bananas, small squares of pb&j sandwiches, and potato chips were set at the registration and refuel tent, along with thermoses of hot coffee, water, and electrolytes.

The 24 Hours of Utah/Moab 100 course is set up as a 5.37 mile loop to be run clockwise and counter, as many times as possible in 24 Hours, 12 Hours, 6 Hours, or until 100 miles are accomplished. The loop takes place on the Monitor and Merrimac trail, with soft sandy sections of incline and decline, as well as an expanse of flat red rock that allows for a remarkable view of ancient, receding water lines in varying colors of green against the backsplash of the buttes and cliffs. The wind rustles the limbs of trees and shivers the thin blanket of creek water that appears in pockets along the trail.

The stakes were high for the first person to complete the initial 5.37mile lap. Up for the premium was a 40% lifetime discount for Ultimate Direction (hydration systems). Too Early (Brian Passenti) was the first man through, securing the lifetime gift.

As each runner entered the base camp, flashing their bibs to record their times, some would grab a handful of snacks, take a moment for coffee, or ask Josh and Karen for a sandwich to eat mid-loop. Others would turn on their heel and set off again with a look of undeniable passion for continuity. The variance in personal paces, needs, food and liquid intake provided an intimate inside look, a sort of physical, psychological, and emotional science experiment of ultra proportions. As each participant ran into the base camp, a musical metallic clatter of cowbells rang in congratulations. Some friendly faces with strength called out, “MORE COWBELL!” Others smiled, their eyes aimed in concentration or distraction at some point in Moab’s breathtaking landscape. One guy always kept us on our toes with his, “More Cowbell…okay that’s enough.”

There were lulls in the day, those spaces in time when you wait for the runners to come through, where you schmooze with the loved ones to talk stats and placing, and as we work, we are aware that there’s this whole big thing happening on those trails, something we can sense but not know – personal struggles, dialogues, sweat, aching shins, calves, sore feet. We know these things are going on, but there’s this stillness, this quiet to the experience for us, where the suffering is otherwise unnoticed, except for a brief moment at the base camp. You feel this bond to them, this extreme appreciation, because they must be suffering, and they have chosen to, and they’re doing so for reasons we may never know. As the runners came and went, toasted cheese sandwiches were made, potato soup, coffee. Some heavy-lidded racers took their coffee to go. It was time for each one to carry a flashlight and headlamp, and just about time for the night to reveal its silent secrets.

The 6-hour ended with Midnight Express (Kirk Hilbelink) as first male through with 32.33 miles, and Team Project Athena (Danelle Ballengee) as first female with 26.85 miles run. Some racers fell captive to the pain and dropped out, while others slowed. There were few that maintained their early-morning rhythm. It wasn’t until dawn that the light could recharge the land and some of the spirit that might have fallen asleep beneath the stars that night.

Adrian Shipley of Salt Lake City, UT clocked in 64.44 miles, achieving first place male in the 12-hour portion of the race. Veronica Wilson of Boring, OR ran 42.96, accomplishing first female.

Through an early morning start, a hot mid-day, a clear sleepless night, so many snacks, loved ones with sleepy eyes and arms full of fuel and love, the 24-hour participants were about to accomplish their large feat. What had began as a group had dwindled down to few. With a truly inspiring accomplishment of 91.29 miles, Running Free (Charlotte Vasarhelyi) held first place woman as well as most miles accomplished. First place male’s dirt runner (Gary Culver) held 85.92 miles, while Two-Faced Todd (Todd Duncan) came in second with 75.18 miles. The 24-hour team participants were spirited, each inspired and competitive through the race. The Extreme portion’s Eagle Mountain Runners (Megan Morrisey, Sue Hibbs, Mark Muelenthaler, Katie Mazzia, and Lynne Perry) of Eagle, CO clocked in 139.62 miles in 24 hours, placing first. In the Open section, Monkey Love (Dan Blankenship, Mike Rubsam, Melissa Kinnear, Audrey Oweimrin, Stacie Ward, Alan Ward, Brad Culberson, Regina Daly, Julie Seydel, and TJ Quirk) were first with 128.8 miles.

It was quite thrilling to watch the 100-mile participants compete. Natalie’s Team (Jeremy Bradford) of Denver, CO finished 100 miles in 21:17, winning first place male. Through the entire race he seemed empowered, strong, excited, thankful. His family waited for him at each lap’s completion, offering him love and support. He mentioned not being able to finish this race a while back, and that it was a goal of his to take it down, and take it down he did. Wild West (Christopher Westerman) of Castle Rock, CO was second with 100 miles accomplished in 25:56. Christopher was joyful the whole race through. It was his first 100-mile, and he had spent a good deal of time training on the steps of Red Rock Theatre near Denver to prepare. He encouraged his friend with a sprained ankle to accompany him on some of the laps, was full of high-fives, thankful for any company and conversation, and visibly strong-willed. Mark Hellenthal of Phoenix, AZ was the third and participant to finish the 100-mile portion of the race, with a time of 27:46. It was these three individuals running circles out there on the Monitor and Merrimac for several hours, out of 17 participants, that were able to finish.

When the awards were announced, the medals handed out, and the names drawn for prizes, the racers weren’t sitting on the ground or in chairs, or fragile-looking whatsoever. They were standing, and eager to walk up to receive what they had earned. I wanted to hand out 6-ft. trophies gleaming gold, statues, or in the least a case of beer – I wanted to do something large to show how inspired I was as a person, not just a runner, by them. Yet, here they were, standing and thankful. It’s never about the awards, though it’s nice to show something physical for what you’ve accomplished; it’s more about the memory, and that feeling of community that is ripe in muscles full of acid, fire pits, a toasted cheese sandwich, Reid Delman and his family, all of the runners and for all of the ways they are mentally, emotionally, and physically powerful kinds of people.
from the treads of the Suzuki DR 650S as we pulled up to the base camp a mile up Mill Canyon Rd., off of Hwy. 191. A layer of bugs were pressed flat across the visors of our helmets, blending blood with the red dust of Moab. The Gemini Adventures staff were setting up for the first event of the year: 24 Hours of Utah/Moab 100.

The dirt lot was host to a circle of racer-campers of varying types – those in pop-ups, caravans, sports mobiles, and conventional tents. At 8pm we celebrated the wife of “Two-faced Todd’s” (Todd Duncan) birthday amid a large crowd of ultra runners and staff, all with plates of thickly sliced vanilla cake and ice cream. “Two-faced Todd” was to participate in the 100-mile category of the race the following morning, and would do so with a face shaved on the back of his scalp, equipped with aviators and a mustache. It was difficult to see everyone’s faces in the soft glow of the fire pits, but you could feel the sense of family in the dark despite a lack of light. All of us slowly sank into the background; we fell asleep to the happy cacophony of a female relay team relaxing around their fire.

At 4:15 the next morning, the Gemini Adventures staff, bundled in thick layers, began to set up registration and the Oasis tent. Josh and Karen, infamous for their homey food, were at work on egg sandwiches and coffee. There was a soft purpling peeking from behind the white ridges of the La Sal’s when the first set of runners checked in for their bibs and swag. Just before 7 am, Reid Delman gave the pre-race speech. By this time the light lit the land, and each set of hands were slithering to keep heat and each pair of legs were yawning awake. The large group of men and women huddled at the start line, and then they took off down rocky Mill Canyon road.

The staff was anxious for the many hours to come. Bowls of m&m’s, sliced bananas, small squares of pb&j sandwiches, and potato chips were set at the registration and refuel tent, along with thermoses of hot coffee, water, and electrolytes.

The 24 Hours of Utah/Moab 100 course is set up as a 5.37 mile loop to be run clockwise and counter, as many times as possible in 24 Hours, 12 Hours, 6 Hours, or until 100 miles are accomplished. The loop takes place on the Monitor and Merrimac trail, with soft sandy sections of incline and decline, as well as an expanse of flat red rock that allows for a remarkable view of ancient, receding water lines in varying colors of green against the backsplash of the buttes and cliffs. The wind rustles the limbs of trees and shivers the thin blanket of creek water that appears in pockets along the trail.

The stakes were high for the first person to complete the initial 5.37mile lap. Up for the premium was a 40% lifetime discount for Ultimate Direction (hydration systems). Too Early (Brian Passenti) was the first man through, securing the lifetime gift.

As each runner entered the base camp, flashing their bibs to record their times, some would grab a handful of snacks, take a moment for coffee, or ask Josh and Karen for a sandwich to eat mid-loop. Others would turn on their heel and set off again with a look of undeniable passion for continuity. The variance in personal paces, needs, food and liquid intake provided an intimate inside look, a sort of physical, psychological, and emotional science experiment of ultra proportions. As each participant ran into the base camp, a musical metallic clatter of cowbells rang in congratulations. Some friendly faces with strength called out, “MORE COWBELL!” Others smiled, their eyes aimed in concentration or distraction at some point in Moab’s breathtaking landscape. One guy always kept us on our toes with his, “More Cowbell…okay that’s enough.”

There were lulls in the day, those spaces in time when you wait for the runners to come through, where you schmooze with the loved ones to talk stats and placing, and as we work, we are aware that there’s this whole big thing happening on those trails, something we can sense but not know – personal struggles, dialogues, sweat, aching shins, calves, sore feet. We know these things are going on, but there’s this stillness, this quiet to the experience for us, where the suffering is otherwise unnoticed, except for a brief moment at the base camp. You feel this bond to them, this extreme appreciation, because they must be suffering, and they have chosen to, and they’re doing so for reasons we may never know. As the runners came and went, toasted cheese sandwiches were made, potato soup, coffee. Some heavy-lidded racers took their coffee to go. It was time for each one to carry a flashlight and headlamp, and just about time for the night to reveal its silent secrets.

The 6-hour ended with Midnight Express (Kirk Hilbelink) as first male through with 32.33 miles, and Team Project Athena (Danelle Ballengee) as first female with 26.85 miles run. Some racers fell captive to the pain and dropped out, while others slowed. There were few that maintained their early-morning rhythm. It wasn’t until dawn that the light could recharge the land and some of the spirit that might have fallen asleep beneath the stars that night.

Adrian Shipley of Salt Lake City, UT clocked in 64.44 miles, achieving first place male in the 12-hour portion of the race. Veronica Wilson of Boring, OR ran 42.96, accomplishing first female.

Through an early morning start, a hot mid-day, a clear sleepless night, so many snacks, loved ones with sleepy eyes and arms full of fuel and love, the 24-hour participants were about to accomplish their large feat. What had began as a group had dwindled down to few. With a truly inspiring accomplishment of 91.29 miles, Running Free (Charlotte Vasarhelyi) held first place woman as well as most miles accomplished. First place male’s dirt runner (Gary Culver) held 85.92 miles, while Two-Faced Todd (Todd Duncan) came in second with 75.18 miles. The 24-hour team participants were spirited, each inspired and competitive through the race. The Extreme portion’s Eagle Mountain Runners (Megan Morrisey, Sue Hibbs, Mark Muelenthaler, Katie Mazzia, and Lynne Perry) of Eagle, CO clocked in 139.62 miles in 24 hours, placing first. In the Open section, Monkey Love (Dan Blankenship, Mike Rubsam, Melissa Kinnear, Audrey Oweimrin, Stacie Ward, Alan Ward, Brad Culberson, Regina Daly, Julie Seydel, and TJ Quirk) were first with 128.8 miles.

It was quite thrilling to watch the 100-mile participants compete. Natalie’s Team (Jeremy Bradford) of Denver, CO finished 100 miles in 21:17, winning first place male. Through the entire race he seemed empowered, strong, excited, thankful. His family waited for him at each lap’s completion, offering him love and support. He mentioned not being able to finish this race a while back, and that it was a goal of his to take it down, and take it down he did. Wild West (Christopher Westerman) of Castle Rock, CO was second with 100 miles accomplished in 25:56. Christopher was joyful the whole race through. It was his first 100-mile, and he had spent a good deal of time training on the steps of Red Rock Theatre near Denver to prepare. He encouraged his friend with a sprained ankle to accompany him on some of the laps, was full of high-fives, thankful for any company and conversation, and visibly strong-willed. Mark Hellenthal of Phoenix, AZ was the third and participant to finish the 100-mile portion of the race, with a time of 27:46. It was these three individuals running circles out there on the Monitor and Merrimac for several hours, out of 17 participants, that were able to finish.

When the awards were announced, the medals handed out, and the names drawn for prizes, the racers weren’t sitting on the ground or in chairs, or fragile-looking whatsoever. They were standing, and eager to walk up to receive what they had earned. I wanted to hand out 6-ft. trophies gleaming gold, statues, or in the least a case of beer – I wanted to do something large to show how inspired I was as a person, not just a runner, by them. Yet, here they were, standing and thankful. It’s never about the awards, though it’s nice to show something physical for what you’ve accomplished; it’s more about the memory, and that feeling of community that is ripe in muscles full of acid, fire pits, a toasted cheese sandwich, Reid Delman and his family, all of the runners and for all of the ways they are mentally, emotionally, and physically powerful kinds of people.

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