Posted by: cadavidson | March 26, 2013

Race Report – Mesquite Canyon 30k

My final tune-up before the all-important Zane Gray 50 and my upcoming Rim2Rim2Rim was the Aravaipa Running Mesquite Canyon 30k at White Tank Mountain Regional Park. The timing of this event, particularly the 50k, is just about perfect for a good hard weekend of training in preparation for the Zane Grey 50. Since I have a R2R2R from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the North Rim, then back to the South Rim on  Saturday April 6th, I elected to get a final hard tempo-like / race pace effort in on this day. I like doing the Aravaipa Races, because they’re simply the best run trail events in town.

Race morning, as has seemingly been the case for all Aravaipa Running races this year, was perfect. Start line temperatures were in the low to mid 50s, with temperatures warming up to the low 70s by 30km race finish time.  While I didn’t taper for this race, I did take an easy day of training Friday with only a 25 mile road bike ride. Up until race day, I’d logged about 10 hours of training for the week. Pretty standard for me. With the weekend’s extra time allowance, I usually finish with 12-15 hours. I was really looking to put out a hard effort for this race. I knew the race offered a nasty climb between miles 7 and 10, but until mile 7 the course was flat and fast. My goal was to go out at 6:40 pace for the first 7 miles. Work hard on the hills, and run aggressively downhill; something I struggle with. I seem to get a little lazy on down hills, sometimes I think forgetting I’m in a race. To help with this, I’ve been wearing a heart rate monitor for my training runs, as I usually do, but I’ve been paying close attention to my heart rate on downhills and flats. Trying to maintain a hard, but sub anaerobic threshold, over uphills, downhills, and flats.


Miles one through five went better than planned. I was able to stay under 6:45 pace and even managed a 6:19 at mile two. I knew that I could go hard here because I would be changing from a fast run, to a slow climb and maybe even a power-hike for the middle miles. The usual suspects were in front of me during this stretch; Josh Trevino, Jules Miller, and Van Patterson. There were a couple other guys up the trail as well, who I did not recognize. This is a testament to Nick and Jamil Coury, the race directors, owners, everything at Aravaipa Running. Ultra runners are showing up to their races from out of state. Goes to show that putting on a good race, or even better, a good race series, will bring competitors.

Split Time CUM AVG Elevation Gain Elevation Loss Avg Pace
1 06:44.3 06:44.3 24 59 6:44
2 06:19.8 06:32.1 0 43 6:20
3 06:44.0 06:36.0 113 139 6:44
4 06:34.7 06:35.7 24 0 6:35
5 06:32.4 06:35.0 47 57 6:32


I knew starting somewhere around my 6, 7, or 8 the going would get tough. Sure enough, the trail started tilting upward at mile 6. I still able to keep a good effort here. Having Van Patterson, who finishes in front of me in every one of the Aravaipa Races in front of me helped. I keyed off of him a bit and knew that I probably shouldn’t go too hard here. He usually finishes in front of me, so I figured he should be in front of me here.

Despite the gradual uphill during miles 6 and 7, I was still keeping a nice pace just behind him.  I knew though, that we’d encounter the big hill soon enough.

6 07:52.4 137 0 7:53
7 8:44.1 265 0 8:44
8 14:23.1 811 0 14:23
9 12:43.5 556 24 12:43

I spent probably 50% of the time running (barely) and 50% of the time hiking miles 8 and 9. The elevation gain in the two miles is substantial at over 1350 feet in just over 2 miles. The trail is also very rocky throughout this section with some large step-ups. Another thing that slowed things down here some was the traffic on the trail. 50km runners, who started 30 minutes earlier, were already coming down this section of narrow and steep trail. Everyone is super-cool though, always trying to give each other as much room as possible without running yourself right off the trail. I past Van Patterson and told him he’d probably see me later (when he would pass me). I also passed a couple guys who I had not seen at the Aravaipa events before. Turns out these were the out-of-towners. The weather started heating up during this stretch, as some of the breeze generated by running quickly subsided during the slow grind up the steep slopes. I wasn’t very far in front of the folks I passed on the uphills. I would still hear and see them as we wound in and out, up and down through the canyons and drainages. On a couple of occasions, I would think we’d topped out, then the trail would pitch straight up the side of a drainage.

After my Gel debacle!

After my Gel debacle!

I knew the course would ascend the steep side of the climb, and descend the gradual climb. I assumed from this, that the downhill would be less technical than the uphill. I was right! The downhill was beautiful! Very smooth, very runnable, and very fast. The only thing slowing me, and many others, was the constant stream of other runners and recreational hikers. I try to be as accommodating to the other competitors as possible without running myself right off the trail – as did everyone I encountered. Even the recreational hikers were kind and gave as much room as possible.

10 07:34.3 41 126 7:34
11 07:45.7 88 75 7:46
12 07:15.9 49 266 7:16
13 06:53.9 0 310 6:54
14 06:39.3 0 264 6:39
15 07:53.4 68 219 7:53
16 07:24.1 0 586 7:24
17 06:52.9 84 33 6:53
18 06:25.6 0 98 6:26
19 02:44.8 10 0 6:27

I managed to run a couple of 7 minute miles down this stretch. I was caught my two of the runners who I passed on the uphill. This seems to always be the case. I’m just not a great downhill runner. The stayed with the second runner for about a mile, and he helped me keep that sub 7 minute pace. I lost track of him when I stopped at the aid station at the bottom of the never-ending descent. I hoped I would be able to run a final few flat and fast few miles and potentially pass him, but I wasn’t sure.

Nearing the bottom of the long descent.

Nearing the bottom of the long descent.

Mile 16 still had almost 600 feet of descent! I kept a 7:24 pace for this mile, which is good for me. I think the final aid station was within this mile too, so my split would reflect that as well. I did use a hand-bottle for this race, so I would chug a small cup of Gatorade at the aid station and have my  water bottle refilled. The aid stations are much faster when all you need to do is fill a bottle, rather than drink 4 cup-fulls! I also used three PowerGels during the race. I think I tend to go through a lot of calories when running. I probably should have had a 4th. My plan was to take them every 30 minutes (:30, 1:00, 1:30). That plan seemed to work well.  I never cramped nor felt really bad.

I knew we’d bottomed out at the end of mile 16. I felt really good still and could see the 7th place runner a ways in front of me. I made it a goal to catch him, and I did. We chatted for a few seconds, then I saw the 5th place runner. 5th place sounded so much better than 6th, so I made another goal to catch him. I caught him pretty quickly, but didn’t see anyone up the trail. I knew, though, that I needed to continue running hard or I’d be caught. Both runners who I’d passed still looked pretty good and were running sub 7:00 trail miles still. My splits for miles 17 and 18 were 6:52 and 6:25. I’m glad I ran those last two miles as fast as I did, the next two finishers were only 16 and 25 seconds back!

My Race Data (no HR)

Training Peaks Data

Mesquite Canyon
30k Race Results
March 23, 2013

Place First Name Last Name Age Gender City State Country Finish Time
1 Joshua Trevino 29 Male Phoenix AZ United States 2:11:51
2 Jeremy Hurl 37 Male McMinnville OR United States 2:20:44
3 Jules Miller 27 Male Mesa AZ United States 2:22:12
4 Kevin Tuck 56 Male Salt Lake City UT United States 2:23:13
5 Cory Davidson 35 Male Phoenix AZ United States 2:24:05
6 Zachary Martin 25 Male Boulder CO United States 2:24:21
7 Ryan Witko 29 Male Brooklyn NY United States 2:24:29
8 Brett Busacker 27 Male Minnetonka MN United States 2:26:02
9 Van Patterson 38 Male Phoenix AZ United States 2:30:42
10 Rob Decot 45 Male Flagstaff AZ United States 2:36:11

All in all, I was very pleased with this race. I never felt bad (probably should have gone harder) and felt like I could have run the last two miles faster than I did. I had been struggling a bit during the end of some of the recent long trail races, so I’ve made it a point to negative split some of my 13 milers from my house to Dreamy Draw along trail 100 and back and I’ve also done a couple of progression runs where each of 10 miles is progressively faster than the previous, finishing with a 6:10 mile.  I finished with a time of 2:24:05 and managed to come in before a couple of guys who normally beat me.

Next up

4/6/2013 – I’ll be joining some fellow ultra runners from Los Angeles and Oregon on a Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim.

4/27/2013 – Zane Grey 50. There are some super fast folks showing up this year including Jamil (Aravaipa Running RD),  Catlow Shipek (last year’s winner), Chris Price, Scott Jaime, etc, etc. My goal is to run sub 10:00. So, I figure the more fast folks up the trail, the better…

Gear (because I love writing about GEAR)

Again, I wore my Hoka One One trail shoes with Smart Wool socks. I still haven’t met someone who’d bought (or I say invested because they’re so expensive), that has not absolutely loved them. A while ago I heard someone say they’d train in them, but not race in them. I don’t understand that. They’re not heavy. I’m still looking for a weakness in them……. I elected to wear traditional running shorts, a sleeveless top, visor, glasses and a One Direction hand held water bottle (with pocket for gels).



  1. […] over some tough, rocky terrain. I’d done the Elephant Mountain 35k last year, here are is a link to that race write-up, so I knew pretty much what to […]

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