2019 Crown King Scramble

In the grand scheme of things, running is better than not running. I remind myself of that fact when I’m tempted to complain about not being as fit as I was previously. But I’m no longer injured and I’m able to race in some capacity and I’m thankful for that. Honestly, I wouldn’t call my day at Crown King as “racing” as much as I would say it’s a step to another step which leads me back to fitness that will enable me to get through a hundred miler by the end of the year. The only goal at this point is just to check the lottery box for Western for yet another year. If I can remain uninjured for the next 18 months, I’d be thrilled.

Alright, enough of this and that, let’s get to the event…

The Crown King Scramble is a race that takes place outside of Phoenix. It starts at Lake Pleasant and it consistently heads uphill for about 50 kilometers to the town of Crown King. Roughly, the race starts around 2000’, it tops out at 6700’, with about 6500’ of total elevation gain and only about 2500’ of loss. In other words, you’re doing a LOT of climbing, especially for a 50k race. I expect that kind of punishment from a hundred miler, maybe a 50 miler but not a 50k.

The race mostly takes place on 4x4 trails but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. While there were vehicles on the course, almost all of them were willing to slow down to pass in order to keep the dust to a minimum. As the race moves higher and higher, the vehicles become fewer and fewer. It’s actually pretty decent for a fire road kind of race.

My approach was to take it easy, get to about half way and see how I felt about all of the variables being thrown at me. I still don’t feel like I’m back to 100% as far as fitness and I really just wanted to use this as a long training day where I’d push myself more so than in my training.

The beginning of the day was fairly uneventful. I kept the pace easy, chatted up a few folks, and I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Somewhere in the middle of the day, I came upon a water crossing. Not the first for the day but this one looked like I was going to get wet. Somehow, I managed to get across without getting my shoes soaked. And then I looked past my two feet to see an endless river in front of me that I had to wade through. Not really letting things get to me, I just jumped in and started hiking up the newly formed river (from all the rain and probably snow runoff.). Part of the way through my watery trek, I helped a group in a Tacoma navigate some big rocks. Not acting like I’m racing, I’m just thinking we’re all out here having fun and I can lend a hand. Once I navigated my own self out of that section, I seem to recall this is where the race started to head uphill more than in the previous miles.

I ran some, I hiked some, and I didn’t keep my blinders on so much that I couldn’t take in the scenery. As we headed up towards Crown King, the vegetation turned more green than the brown you’d see at lower altitude. Numbers may vary so don’t hold me to the exact mileage here but I seem to recall the final push being about 3-4 miles in a mostly upward direction followed by 2 miles in a mostly downward direction. The finish is at an old saloon in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t realize how far in the middle of nowhere until I had to catch the bus ride down the mountain back to civilization. More on that in a moment.

This race is excellent! The support is excellent! And yes, there’s a “but”. But. It’s in the middle of friggin’ nowhere. I’m glad my wife didn’t drive up there spectate. I’m not even sure our primary vehicles would make it up there without getting banged up. There is a bus ride down the mountain but I had to wait 3.5 hours to get down. I know… first world problems but I lost the rest of my day hanging out. No, life won’t end but even though I loved the race, and I really loved the challenge, I can’t say I’d do it again unless I knew I could get down when I wanted to leave.

All in all, I’m pleased that I didn’t melt down and I uncovered some weaknesses I need to work on. Aside from that, the training is coming along and I just need to focus -- baby steps.