2017 Chase The Moon 12-Hour Endurance Run
62 miles (100K), 6 full laps, 11:23:38
About Chase The Moon
The Chase The Moon 12-Hour Endurance Run is a 12 hour solo (or 3-person, 5-person relay) trail race that takes places overnight on a full moon in July – from 7pm to 7am. The course is a trail system behind Mountain Vista High School out in Highlands Ranch, CO. The solo run is a 10.3 mile loop that runners alternate clockwise and counterclockwise.
The race is well organized, and bolsters strong race support (and perks) for this size of an event. This race is chip timed, announced, provided a great photographer, and has some amazing swag. There are two aid stations – and the main station was stacked with gels, real food, electrolyte drink, and more.
Running overnight is a rare experience usually afforded to the longer ultra distances (100 mile, 24-hour) so I do not hesitate to recommend this race to almost any runner – whether an ultrarunner running solo, or as part of a 3-person or 5-person relay team – as something to check off your bucket list. If you are in the Front Range, you have to do this at least once.
From a personal standpoint, I am proud of the result. My goal coming into the race was to run six full laps. That I did, with time to spare. Six full laps has been only achieved nine times in the 4 year history of the race – and seven full laps has been achieved once.
It was a joy to be able to share this race with my family. This was the first time I have brought my two month old daughter to a race, and the farthest she has traveled from home.
I am also happy to make the podium – my first ultra podium since winning the Vermont 50K in 2015. 2016 was a year where all sorts of facets of my life were up in the air. And while my life eventually settled down to where it is today – nothing shook out too well as far as racing (or training) are concerned.
My lack of success was enough of a downer that the thought of moving away from racing began to cross my mind. After careful contemplation I have diagnosed a major problem in 2016 – which is simply a lackadaisical approach to nearly all facets of my training and racing.
You can chalk up my consistent improvement as a runner to diligence more than talent, and that was noticeably absent in the previous year.
A big part of my success with this race stems from executing on good planning. This includes training on the course. I am considering returning next year prepared to try for seven full laps – which would tie the course record. Stay tuned.
The First Three Laps
For the first 50K, I ran with Jesse Sumrak (2nd Place – Six Full Laps, 10:59). Jesse is a younger guy who just got into ultras a year ago – but when he told me he came in 7th at the Zion 100K this year running well under 12 hours, I knew he would be a good person to be running with. We talked about ultras, our strategy, and the miscellaneous. A more enjoyable way to pass the time early in the race.
We managed finish 3 laps (~50K) at 4:52 – but had lost some pace after it got dark. Besides fatigue, adjusting to the dark caused some slowing down. My new headlamp was bright enough – but I think I could have used some extra lumens.
A couple miles before we completed the third lap, I mentioned to Jesse that I would probably take a short break. He seemed to be feeling pretty good, and I was not.
Second Three Laps
My plan was grind out my low and try to get into any kind of flow state after 50K. I didn’t spend too much time hanging out in reality at the aid station (maybe 5 – 10 minutes tops) – but I did grab my pack, drink a couple Blue Sky sodas, said hello to my family, and then started walking.
Lap 4 was a clockwise loop – which had the bigger initial climb – and I took my time walking up the hill.
I decided it was time for some music – and chose to listen to the Grateful Dead’s live performance from 5/8/1977 in Ithaca, NY. A famous show – many herald it as the band’s greatest of all-time. It is a beautifully performed interweaving flow of different energies from start to finish, and I decided to keep rolling with it until nearly the end of the race. I don’t want to say it induced the flow state I was looking for, but as Bob Marley once sang in Trenchtown, “When the music hits, you feel no pain”.
Although I skipped a few songs, the end of the loop mostly synced up with a great, funky version rendition of Dancing In The Street – which was invigorating every time. As the day broke, watching the sun rise and listening to Jerry Garcia sing Morning Dew after running all night became an emotional experience.
The first half of the sixth and final loop was all business – and I found myself being able to maintain a 10 minute mile pace through miles 4 – 6 of the loop. This allowed me to make my final cut-off checkpoint with plenty of time to spare.
Once I made the cut-off after the Outlaw Aid Station, I had an hour and a half to make it four miles. It did take a little under an hour. But at this point, I was jogging most of the time while sipping soda – just making sure mostly that I kept moving and didn’t go off course by accident.
As I reached the crest up out of the main part of the course, and back to the main road that lead to the finish, I spotted the soon-to-be winner, Andy Palmer. I was happy to share a quick jog back to the finish, and chat with with him for the final several minutes of the journey.
In the 12 weeks leading up to Chase The Moon, I averaged about 50 miles a week – with 2-3 double digit mile runs a week. I also had two good workouts that happened right on the Chase The Moon course, thanks in part to the Highlands Ranch Running Club being there and allowing me to tag along.
My diet has been spot on lately – and I am proud to say I have gotten back into the Low Carb, High Fat (LCHF) groove. I am down ~10lb. from the start of the year, and 5-6 lb. in the past month.
Things I Think I Did Right
– Managed/kept moving through a real down period after 50K
– Did not waste too much time in between laps
– Trained on the course
– Read the course descriptions, rules, and time cutoffs
Things I Think I Did Wrong
– Headlamp was a bit underpowered
– Could have eaten a couple pieces of real, non-sugary foods
Kit and Footwear – Inov-8 TRAILROC 285
I received a pair of the new Inov-8 TRAILROC 285 (and Inov-8 kit) in the mail about two days before Chase The Moon. I like to taper off pretty hard before a longer event – so I did not run in my kit nor my shoes.
Disclaimer – I do not recommend wearing brand new footwear for any race. Nevermind a 12-hour overnight race. This could be considered foolish. However, you can give me a tiny bit credit for given this is a loop race, I figured the worst I could do was run the first 10.3 mile loop, and change out into a pair of something I have broken in.
However, after the first loop – my feet were feeling fantastic. The Chase The Moon course provides a bit of climbing, a lot of uneven singletrack, a little dirt road, a little paved road and while not overly technical – they did have their share of roots and rocks in places. And of course, this race was run overnight where trips and small rolls were inevitable.
When all was done, I had completed 100K in under 11:30 with over 6000 feet of elevation gain in a brand new pair of TRAILROC 285, and my feet were in great shape. One mild blister. I am grateful for the support of Inov-8 and glad to be promoting a great result at the race with these on my feet. To gloat a bit, it does feel great to say I grabbed a podium spot in a 12-hour overnight in my first run in the TRAILROC 285.
I think part of the success here has to do with Inov-8 striking a pretty versatile balance with the TRAILROC 285. The sole is well cushioned, for example, but by no means “maximally” so. They are still very solid and provide good responsiveness with the ground. Given the harder trail terrain – the 4mm cleat matched up well.
Many of my first (and successful) ultras were run in the Brooks Cascadia that I believe has fallen off a bit in recent years. The TRAILROC 285 sports similar characteristics but are slightly more aggressive – lighter, with a thinner sole that gives you enough stiffness to power through the ground. The TRAILROC also sports lesser heel-to-toe drop at 8mm versus the Cascadia’s 10mm.
If you are looking for minimal, this is not it (check out the ROCLITE). Likewise, if you are looking to bounce around on cloud cushioning – this is not it. But as a larger runner (with size 12.5s) who will run aggressively over a variety of terrains, a shoe that provides this combination of support, protection, and responsiveness is optimal for me.
There’s a lot to be grateful for regarding this race.
I am grateful for having a loving family who sacrificed their time to be with me.
I am grateful that more consistent training and lifestyle choices have paid dividends.
I am grateful to be running healthy.
I am grateful for the support of Inov-8, and for giving me the opportunity to run far in a pair of just released TRAILROC 285.
Now I switch gears a bit – with the next race on the list being the Pikes Peak Marathon. Feel free to follow my training and racing, and thanks for reading!