Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Race Preview: 2016 Four Corners Quad

Over the next four days, I’ll be doing the Four Corners Quad Keyah Marathons.  This is a series of four marathons on four consecutive days in the “Four Corners” states of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado.  These races are sponsored by NavajoYES, a non-profit Navajo youth and community organization.

All four races start near the Four Corners Monument, but each race will be run in a different state.  The courses will all be short loops that we run several times.

Photo by Rich Torres
This will be the first time this year that I run marathons on consecutive days.  A few years ago, I was been able to run moderately hard for as many as five consecutive days.  At my current fitness level, I can’t recover quickly enough to do that.  Instead, I’ll have to pace myself carefully.  My goal each day is to finish comfortably, so I’ll be able to run again the next day without wearing myself into the ground.

Although each race is a marathon, I’d like to pace myself more like I would for an ultramarathon.  I’ll probably take walking breaks, and even when I’m running, I’ll keep the pace well within my comfort zone.

Last summer, I was working on bringing my marathon times down, so I could qualify for next year’s Boston Marathon.  Having done that, my emphasis now is on building my endurance.  Next year, I’d like to do a couple of 100 mile trail runs.  I’m hoping these races will be good training.

The Four Corners Monument is on Navajo land.  NavajoYES is providing camping space nearby, but the nearest city with hotels and restaurants is Cortez, CO, which is 40 miles away.  I’ll be staying in Cortez and driving to the Four Corners Monument each morning.

There aren’t any major airports near Cortez.  I flew into Grand Junction, CO.  From there, the drive time to Cortez was about three and a half hours.  I broke up the trip by flying to Grand Junction yesterday and driving to Cortez today.

This morning, I woke up to a dusting of snow.  It gave the nearby mesa a frosted appearance.

I had time to do some sightseeing on the way to Cortez. I stopped at Arches National Park, which is one of my favorite parks.  I didn’t have time to see the whole park, but I did the hike to Delicate Arch and stopped at the scenic overlooks.

Knowing what to wear for these races will be tricky.  I expect to see temperatures ranging from the upper teens to the mid-40s, so I’ll need to dress in layers.  I’m not really sure what combination of layers I’ll choose for each race, so I pretty much packed a few of everything.  It’s a good thing Delta lets me check bags for free, because I didn’t travel light.

Because of my anticipated slow times and the drive time before and after each race, my days will be fairly full.  I’ll try to find time after each race to post a brief race report.

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