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Old Pueblo 50-Mile

by Tom Crull Santa Rita Mountains S. of Tucson, AZ March 5, 2005 I approached this year’s run with much anticipation as I had my first dnf there in 2004 due to on going medical problems which are now behind me. I started training about six weeks prior so wasn’t up to speed. There is something about this course that captivates me, rugged, tough, scenic, remote and at times, extremes of weather. The Rd’s, Julie and Duane Arter are terrific and they really put on a well organized run. They present one of the most beautiful buckles one could ask for plus great art work on the shirts. Weather is usually very cold at the start, but this year it was around 38-40 degrees and dry. Letha had a recent operation a week before so she hung back with Mark Dick and I. We would end up running the first 37 miles together then blisters would relegate me to a shuffle for the last 10. Cresting the first real climb to the trail on a ridge line we were greeted to a gorgeous sun rise coming up between the Santa Rita mountains. It even caused Mark to be silent but only for a few minutes. About mile 16 we approached Gun Site Pass. I caught up to Lisa Allen, a strong runner from Colorado, who, a few years ago I could keep up with. She had sprained her ankle and was in quite a bit of pain. Lucky for her, they had duct tape at the mile 19 aid station, which was reached after a long, steep, rocky, rutted down hill. Cresting Gun Site Pass, you are greeted by a stunning view of Tucson in the distance. Nearing the bottom of the descent, I pointed out some illegal immigrants booking it through the under brush to Mark Dick. Luckily, they spoke no English, as Mark was trying to tell them the local Social Security office was located just a head in that Chevy Tahoe with the red lights on top of it. At the mile 19 aid station Lisa Allen caught up with us, and Mark showed them how to tape her ankle. That’s all it took, we never saw her again. From there it is a looooooooong gradual up hill back in the mountains to the mile 25 aid station where all hell broke loose! Leaving the aid station for a six mile climb to the top we heard a clap of thunder followed by cold, high winds and black clouds. Chicken Little was upset for he dumped rain and hail on us. What a site seeing Mark and Letha scrambling to get their Ponchos on. Letha ripped the rear out of hers putting it on, what a site! At any rate, we were getting hailed on, rained on, cold and no where to hide. The three of us started laughing so hard we couldn’t run! The rain would be off and on for the next 15 miles. No longer a big deal. Mile 33-40 is a lot of technical, very rocky down hills plus seven stream crossings which started my blister problems. Mark and Letha passed me quickly on the down hills and I would run a lone until the finish. I put on a dry, long sleeved shirt at the 40 mile aid station, had a Red Bull and some soup and was hobbling off. I had developed large blisters on the balls of my feet and on my heels. Down hill running was now an ultra shuffle. Every rock hurt like hell. It was a relief to go up hill. I did the last 8 miles in the darkness. The last big climb, (Letha’s favorite) comes about mile 47 just after the mile 46 aid station. I have never done it at night. What a surprise to see the glow sticks going up, up ,up on the switch backs. It’s not printable what Mark said Letha called me at this point. Finally up on the ridge line dirt road, then back down to the Marsh area for the longest .9 miles to a finish I’ve ever run. At the base of the small up hill to the finish they saw my light and some one said I had 30 seconds to beat the cut off. I crossed with six seconds left, hell if I knew I had that much time left I would have walked the final few yards. It was nice to see Mark, Linda Hurd and Sammy waiting for me at the finish line. Where was Lethal! Mark then advised me that Letha was waiting for me inside by the gas fire to discuss a few things with me. Let me put it this way, don’t ever tell Lethal the last ten miles of a run are easy and runnable unless they are! I faced my maker. Now I’m ready for death, it will be a piece of cake. Hey Letha, how’d you like the climb at mile 47, cool wasn’t it? Tom Crull DFL!
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Old Pueblo
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