By Vanessa Runs
Photo by: Andrew Pielage
On the last weekend of September, I had the privilege of volunteering at the inaugural Mogollon Monster 100. I helped out at Aid Station #2 at Dickerson (mile 13), and then hung out at the Washington AS, where runners would passed three times. This race was such a memorable event and far exceeded all my expectations. Here are my three favorite things about it:
1. Labor of Love
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to volunteer at an ultra, you already know how labor-intensive and difficult putting on a race can be. The 100-miler especially has so many moving parts that putting on an inaugural event like this one is nothing less than a labor of love.
The race director Jeremy Dougherty was upbeat and positive the entire time, keeping both the runners and volunteers motivated. He took time off of work to prepare for this event, and took a financial loss to put it on. His entire family was involved in the process, and was inspiring to watch his love for these trails and his eagerness to share them with us.
Here is a numbers breakdown that Jeremy totaled:
3,328 – Miles spent driving during race planning
672 – Miles of the course the RD ran since planning started
564 – Days of planning and waiting for National Forest Permits
483 – Miles of the course the RD ran since April this year
85 – Miles of the course the RD ran straight through
72 – Hours of driving during the planning process
67 – Filled water coolers
49 – Hours the permits were approved before the start of the race
37 – Runners who started the race
27 – Trips from Phoenix to Pine, Arizona during the planning
14 – Emails and voice mails over five months trying to get a response for permit requests
10 – Start time in the morning
9 – Runners who finished and earned their buckle
2. Tough, Tougher, Toughest
Instead of just 100 miles, this race covers 106. Talk about getting your money’s worth! The course is well thought out, covering as much of the trails in the area as possible, without looping back over the same sections. Everything you see is new, with some breathtaking sights and extremely difficult climbs on rough and rocky terrain.
It was so refreshing to see a purposely challenging course, when it seems that so many race directors are favoring easier courses for more registrations and finishes. This Monster had only 9 finishers this year (37 started), making the prized buckle all that more valuable. This is far from an “easy” 100.
3. New Records
Part of the excitement with an inaugural event is watching the setting of a new course record. The stats are ripe with opportunity! Jamil Coury set the record this year with an impressive time of 22:24. The second place finisher was six hours behind him, and I expect that his record will stand for a while on this difficult course.
With a smaller race like this, the chances of placing in your age group, or even overall are appealing. Of special interest to me is the fact that there were no female finishers this year, making me want to train hard for next year and put up a good fight for first female finisher! I’ve put the word out to encourage other bad ass ladies to join me in this rare opportunity to make some history.
Two Trail Legs Up!
I had the opportunity to run about 12 miles of this course, all of them climbs. I can attest to the fact that these trails are both spectacular and brutal. I was shocked at the beauty of Arizona’s trails, expecting more of a desert setting. Instead, I was surrounded by pine trees and serenaded each night by wild elk and packs of coyotes. It’s a wild, rugged land.
If you cannot run this race next fall, come out to volunteer and cheer the runners. Watching the event unfold is a rewarding experience in itself. This race is on my list for next year. A must-run.
I got a Mogollon Monster race shirt for volunteering, which I will wear when I run the Cuyamaca 100K next weekend. As I struggle up the Cuyamaca peak, it will remind me of the valiant nine who conquered their monsters to finish this race, and fill me with the trail strength to slay my own demons.
Congratulations to the finishers:
1st – Jamil Coury – 22:24
2nd – Andy Pearson – 28:05
3rd – Jerome Jourdon – 29:32
4th – Marias Toma – 31:05
5th – Shane Peltonen – 33:49
6th – Danny Speros – 34:21
7th – Rudolph Palmer – 34:48
8th – Alexander Kaine – 35:38
9th – Deron Ruse – 35:49