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Crown King Scramble 50K

We choose to go to the moon ... and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win. - John F. Kennedy 1962

As a relative newbie to the Arizona trail running scene, I didn't know much about the Crown King Scramble.  However, when I heard that it started low and climbed for a steady 6,000 feet over the middle miles of a rugged 50K route I figured it was the best thing I could do to work on my weaknesses and help me prepare for future challenges later in the year.

Course Profile of the Araviapa Running Crown King Scramble 50K
The winter in Flagstaff was not too bad by Flagstaff standards, but the erratic snow and sun made it difficult to get in consistent quality training.  I saw the opportunity to run in the sun on fast, runnable terrain for the first half of the race as a great opportunity to stretch my legs and work on my turnover. The second half of the race when the climbing really started I'd be challenged to be sure.  The final steep descent into Crown King also appealed to me as it would allow me to practice running hard on tired legs.

We drove down as a family and camped near the start at Lake Pleasant outside of Phoenix.  The warm weather even at night was not something we were used to. Most of us didn't even sleep in our sleeping bags it was so hot.

Tracy Dimino at the start of the race on the climb out of Lake Pleasant. Photo by Sweet M Images.

The race started at the boat ramp just as the sun began to show over the Eastern horizon.  This enabled me to simply roll out of my truck, down a tube or Trail Butter, and jog to the start.

Since the first few miles were on dirt roads the race started out relatively quick.  Since this where I feel most adept I gradually worked my way up near the early leaders by the first mile.  Over the next few miles the eventual Top 3 finishers, Art Degraw, Dean Dobberteen, and I ran together behind the early leaders.  Eventually after about 5K we comfortably passed and ran together going back and forth for the first 10-12 miles.  When we'd descend Dean and I would open up and pull away.  When we'd ascend Art would pull away.

Eventual podium finishers Dean Dobberteen, Art Degraw, and Jacob Puzey.
Photo by Sweet M Images

I ran with Art until about mile 12 or 13 when the serious climbing began.  I knew he was a serious climber before even starting so I merely hoped that I could make him work in the early, flat miles before the climbing began.  It didn't seem to phase him.

As he began pulling away my stomach began going south.  The electrolyte drink in my bladder was already warm and the high temps were making me nauseous.  By the time I got to mile 15 I was in bad shape and needed some soda to fix my stomach.  While I was filling my bladder with ice and my bottle with soda Dean passed me near mile 15.

I continued to fade and was passed once again at mile 19 by Michael Carson who beat met at Black Canyon earlier in the year.  This was the second time that I was passed while in an aid station, but I figured it would be worth it in the long run to take my time to refill with ice, eat a Popsicle, and refill with fluids.  I knew Carson would be better acclimated to the heat and that he is a strong runner, but I really didn't want to get beat by him again.  We battled back and forth for a few miles and I eventually pulled away for the last time near mile 24.

The course continued to climb, but I was finally feeling better again.  I no longer feared the ascents and actually felt pretty strong over the last few climbs.  I caught and passed Dean as we crested the final climb.

Once I was over the highest point on the course it was a pretty abrupt descent into Crown King. Despite an inordinate number of ATVers, the last few miles were pretty quick.

Descending into finish in Crown King.  Photo by Sweet M Images.
Although I wasn't able to catch Art, I was pleased that I was able to bounce back from a very rough patch and catch and pass those who passed me while I was struggling.  I really enjoyed opening up when I was feeling well and running hard.  This was a good step toward running well later in the year.

Finishing at the Crown King Saloon.  Photo by Sweet M Images.
Happy to have made it safely back to the water hole.  Photo by Sweet M Images.
Podium finishers received gold mining tools.
My son Cairo was disappointed he had to leave the Lake to meet me at the finish,
but he was pretty stoked about the golden shovel. Photo by Sweet M Images.
After the event I felt better prepared to compete in the coming year.  Although I would have liked to run better it challenged my weaknesses and gave me an accurate assessment of where I am at and what I need to continue to work on to improve.

Post Race Pic with Ian Torrence.  Photo by Emily Harrison.
Getting to participate in another great event put on by Aravaipa Running was a true pleasure. Participating with so many friends that I've met over the years made it even more memorable.  The race marked the one year anniversary from when my wife and I traveled from Oregon to Flagstaff, AZ to meet with Greg McMillan, Ian Torrence, and Emily Harrison and begin working for McMillan Running Company.  That decision has been a great one for our family and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than to run with my friend, mentor, and boss, Ian Torrence.