Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reflecting on MOG100 (2013)

There is something about a race born out of hard work and passion that makes the experience and ultimate finish especially satisfying. The Mogollon Monster was the final race of my 2013 season and is an experience that is forever burned into my memory. Both the highs and lows are badges of honor I will wear proudly for a very long time. It truly is the bar I use when comparing other race experiences.

I'm bummed that I can't be at the race this year volunteering (I'll be at my own race that weekend) so I thought the next best thing would be to share my thoughts and experience to get you through those 30+ hours and across the finish line. Have no doubt this will probably be the hardest course you ever experience so bring all your fears, hopes and questions to the table and just make it happen.

Best of luck conquering the Monster!

3 things I'd do again

Carry the map

The best map for the race is here and is an excellent reference to keep with you at all times. There are a number of turns and loops on the course that you may find yourself asking, "What the hell direction am I supposed to go?" The map answers all those questions very easily. Alternatively, there are multiple places to get the GPX course to keep it in your watch.

Bring experienced crew and pacers

This isn't a Sunday stroll on the canal. Despite the excellent course markings, athlete guide and map there are still plenty of opportunities to get disoriented, mentally beaten and/or confused down while you're wandering out in the wild country of the Mogollon Rim. An experienced pacer (combined with a fore-mentioned map or GPS course) is a must-have if you intend stay on track heading up Myrtle or up Webber at mile 95. I had pacers for miles 50-85 and another from mile 85 to the finish.

Mary (L), me and Jon (R)

Take your time down to Washington Park

Given that Washington Park is the 'hub' of all the aid stations, there's bound to be cheers, noise and the welcoming prospect of clothing changes, food and a place to rest your weary bones. You'll be tempted to hurry down this section into the aid station but beware - larger slick rocks often covered with sand make this a potentially hazardous stretch that can easily end your race. Take it slow (both times) and ensure your footing is solid...even more so if you hit this section at dusk or early evening. If nothing else, your knees will thank you :)

3 things I'd do different:

Prepare for lower temperatures (on top of the rim)

The first thing that comes to mind is obviously clothing and being prepared for colder temperatures - this is definitely the first priority. Equally important is placing these in the appropriate drop bags/aid stations. Thanks to my pacer, I reconfigured my drop bag clothing the night before and it ultimately saved my ass while navigating those 35+ miles on the rim that night. The one thing to also consider is how the cooler temperatures will affect the nutrition you plan to carry. 2013 saw nighttime temperatures on the rim in the low-40's...gels, chomps and wafers aren't as chewy and delicious when they're hard as rocks.

Bring more shoes and socks

Post-MOG Hobbit feet
At times, the MOG course is an enigma wrapped in a mystery given the diversity of the many trails it covers. Silty sand can quickly turn to rocky cover. Undulating washes are littered with small boulders and quickly drop off into pine-needle-covered single track. And there's Donahue. Point is, your feet will experience every inch of these trails and unless you take care of them, they will betray you somewhere during the race. I only changed my shoes at miles 50 and 85. Looking back however, I should have changed both my shoes and socks at these checkpoints.

Wear calf sleeves

Yes, we all look cooler with calf sleeves and there might be some side benefits due to compression (or something) but if nothing else, they will save your legs from all the manzanita bushes and agave plants that typically overgrow the Highline trail. A leg massage by Freddy Krueger would feel better than the sweat and dirt mingling with the fresh cuts from these unforgiving plants.
Don't wrestle the natives
You can my my original race report here.


  1. I echo everything you mentioned here, verbatim. Well, there is one thing I would change ...the temperatures were below freezing on the rim that night. I was told the "official" low temperature was 27ºF, which would explain my numbing fingers as I came plodding into Buck Springs. :)

    1. Yikes. No wonder I had snot running down my face (or was that sweat?!) Couldn't tell. Are you going to be volunteering up there this year Marc?