Well I might aswell let my big plans for the spring out of the bag. Since moving back to Kansas from New Mexico. This is one of the things that I truely regret not doing when I had the chance and lived so close. It's something I've dreamt about since I first read of the record setting run Peter Bawkin and Stephanie Ehrhart set back in May/2004. And its something that has been on my mind a lot over the past eight months. Eight months in which this has progressed from something I wanted to try. To, something I must do...
Which is why I'm extremely nervous right now as I make this announcement. I know once I punch in the words on the keyboard and see them in black and white. There will be no turning back. Whether I succeed or fail in my goal which I have set for myself. This will become something that will totally consume me. Over the next five months there won't be a moment when I'm not thinking about it.
Aside from the amount of training that I'll have to do. In trying to pull this off. I'll need a strong support group. I'll need key individuals in key positions. Crew persons, Pacers, Drivers. People who are good with map reading. People who have great organizational skills. Basically a rolling aide station. Staffed with the best people I can find. More importantly, people who are willing to take time out of their lives to come and fan the fire of someonelses dream. I'm not looking for front of the pack speedsters to help if that's what your thinking. This is going to be one big family. As such is Ultrarunning. It takes all kinds to make up a family and anyone that wants to help is more than welcome to. I'll find something for everyone. Everyone will be equally important. As it will take everyone for me to succeed.
So... Without any further delay. I'm officially announcing my intentions to take a shot at Peter Bawkin and Stephanie Ehrharts speed record on the Kokopelli Trail on Saturday, May 1ST of 2010. As it stands the current supported record for the trail is 32 hours/ 47 minutes and 41 seconds. For the entire length of the trail which spans from Loma, Colorado to Moab, Utah.
A description of the trail I pulled from the trail guide The Kokopelli Trail Mountain Bike Guide by Alex Hearn says this. Without any additional loops, the trail covers approximately 142 miles total. Most is on remote BLM land, with a few confluences on private and state-held land and a short jaunt thru the Manti-La Sal National Forest.
The terrian is classic Colorado plateau and will vary frequently. You will start off skirting the Colorado River outside of Fruita Colorado, following increasingly technical singletrack on hardpack and occasional slickrock. Later that day, the trail climbs out of the Salt Creek area to gentle hills and rolling jeep trail past enormous Entrada formations reminiscent of a moonscape from a Dr. Suess book. Past the Entrada formations the trail drops into the Cisco Desert. This is typically a less colorful section passing a ghost town frozen in time on smoother 2wd roads eventually narrowing into singletrack that dips so close to the Colorado River you can almost kiss it - a great time to put it on autopilot and score some fast miles while soaking up the desert. Once you've reached pavement at Utah highway 128, the trail crosses over into Yellow Jacket Canyon for a fun climb before a fast sandy descent to the historic Dewey Suspension Bridge, once the only passage across the Colorado. From Dewey Bridge, you are again confronted by numerous photo ops as the trail climbs - sometimes steeply - thru sage and juniper forests into Fisher Valley, passing thru several canyons and a slickrock playground if your willing.
From Fisher Valley, the trail carries the runner through an extended climb into the pine and aspen forests of the La Sal's and Castle Valley. From the second summit, the views of nearby Moab are spectacular, and its all downhill from here! Descend through rollercoaster singletrack to Sand Flats road, and choose between the traditional casual descent past the Slickrock trail or for those feeling strong, the daring descent along Porcupine Rim.
After a description like that. How could one not want to give such an adventure a shot. Combined with my own experiences from running countless hours on trails that seemingly never ended. Amongst the rocks, sand and sage. Where the wind would speak to my soul every time it blew and thunderstorms reminded me what an insignificant part of this universe I really am. I can't help but become restless in the anticipation of such an epic undertaking.
There's power in the desert. The Native Americans who lived there knew that. They embraced it in such a way that celebrated life. In an environment that would at first glance celebrate very little life at best. It's a magical place steeped with running tradition and lore. Dating back to Pre-Columbian times.
It is said by the Navajo people that. When the sun comes up. The Gods come up. So we run to greet the Gods in the morning. Running has it's roots in spiritual tradition. Since before recorded time, American indians ran -- for trade, for communication and for the spiritual belief that a runner creates a living cord between the earth and the sky.
Writing this I contemplate my own Native American Heritage. Though my last name is Wakefield. Along with being English, Norwegian and a dash of German. I am also 1/4 Mohawk from the Iroqouis Confederacy of upstate NewYork and a small amount of Ojibwa to go with that dash of German. Knowing that about myself adds some signifigance to this run. This is why it is something I must do. It's not merely an attempt at a speed record that was set nearly six years ago. It's not a test of discovering new limits and breaking through walls of impossibility. This is a rite of passage for me. This is a way to honor my heritage and give back to that which has been given to me. A gift of endurance and the ability to run.
This isn't the last anyone will hear of this. Right up until May 1ST I'll be actively recruiting people to help out with this adventure. Again, you just have to want to help. Any and all are welcome. For anyone who wants to help. You can contact me via my e-mail address http://firstname.lastname@example.org/ Hopefully when the time comes I'll have a solid team together and we'll get this thing done.
"A competitor will find a way to win. Competitors take bad breaks and use them to drive themselves just that much harder. Quitters take bad breaks and use them as reasons to give up. It's all a matter of pride."