Monday, July 29, 2013

Flagstaff Extreme

Time once again for our annual team builder, and after last year's trip to Watson Lake I was given the go-ahead to plan our next outing.  The newly constructed Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course seemed like a no-brainer for us fitness professionals and the trash talk began weeks ago.  Who would finish?  Who was going to have a problem with heights?  And for some reason, we threw a pull up contest into the mix as well. 

So what does the course entail?  Here's the description listed on their site:

 "At Flagstaff Extreme we have four large circuits within our Adult courses, each containing a mixture of approximately 10-17 different obstacles. The obstacles range from rope swings, scrambling walls, hanging nets, wobbly bridges and suspended “surprises”.  The skill level and height of each circuit is marked using a color coded system indicating the challenge based on elevation and difficulty. Check-in, safety briefing, demonstration course and all four Adult Course can be completed in approximately three hours." 

GREEN = Minimum Elevation/Minimum Skill
BLUE = Medium Elevation/Medium Skill
RED = Advanced Elevation/Advanced Skill
BLACK = Advanced Elevation/Advanced Skill

Our group rocked the course, and finished in under three hours.  It was physically taxing so everyone was ready for a late lunch at Pita Jungle in Flagstaff.  Luckily I didn't have to drive, allowing me to relax and enjoy the afternoon monsoon activity in the high country. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Holiday in the High Country

Chuckwagon Trail
Coconino National Forest
Sedona, Arizona
Mileage - 9.5
Time - 1:20
AEG - 702ft

I spent the better part of the holiday weekend in Northern Arizona; basically as a mini running vacation in some of the most scenic areas of the state. First making a stop in Sedona on Saturday morning for a 10-mile trail run (Chuckwagon Trail - Right) followed by a refreshing swim in Oak Creek.  It was a bit warm in red rock country so I drove up 89A towards Flagstaff.  I could see the clouds coming off of Mt Humphreys in the distance and knew what was in store. From roughly 2:00 to 5:00pm, a major thunderstorm soaked the region and dropped the temperature into the 60's.  Ahh, how nice! After a relaxing afternoon downtown drinking coffee at Higher Grounds Coffee Shop then getting a bite to eat, I set up my campsite and called it a night. 

Sunday I woke up early to meet my good friend Todd at Fort Tuthill for a 20 mile run.  I'm not sure who was more excited for the next 3 hours of running at 7,000ft, but we were both eager to get started!  Beginning at the fort, we ran North on the urban trail to the Sinclair for a total of 5.6 miles (same as last week) until reaching a dirt road that connected to the Arizona trail near Fisher Point.  It was this stretch that reminded me just how much I love the trails in Arizona (pictured left)!  We exchanged trail for road at the Canyon Vista Campground and ran 5 miles on pavement.  I recall telling Todd this was going to be the toughest part of our run and sure enough it kicked both of our butts.  Running hills at 7,000ft requires a bit of effort to say the least, especially in the final miles of a long run.  All in all, this was a fantastic run and great training for my August marathon. 

Todd running along Sandy's Canyon Trail

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Flagstaff Urban Trail System
Sinclair & Soldier Trails
Flagstaff, Arizona
Mileage - 18.25
Time - 2:17
AEG - 392ft

My training schedule called for an 18-mile run this weekend and there's no way I was going to attempt that in Phoenix, not with record high temperatures in the neighborhood of 118-119!  Instead I opted for Flagstaff and chose the urban trail after much research.  The original plan was to do an out-and-back on a dirt road near Parks, AZ until I found something so much better.  As you can see below, it's smooth sailing through town with an incredible view of the mountains!   

Conveniently enough, the hotel we stayed at was only a couple hundred yards away from the Sinclair trail. Nice, right?  So just before 5:30am I headed East through the campus of NAU on a cool morning in the pines.  Easily averaging a 7:30 pace (despite the higher elevation) I made a clockwise loop down to Lake Mary Road, then ventured even further South to Fort Tuthill and rounded out those 18 miles at the hotel near the Woodlands Village.  Most of this route hovered between 6,900-7,000ft with only a few minor hills to climb, and once I got moving it really felt effortless.  There will be more high country runs to come for sure!