I was down in Phoenix for meetings, so I thought I would give Camelback "Mountain" a go.. I was unsure how smart this would be considering I had so much trouble with my Hip Flexor the last time I ran.. but when I am in Phoenix, I can hear that dang trail calling me.. so I figured I would give it a shot..
After changing quickly into my short shorts and NB 101's, I headed to the Cholla Trail Head. When I got there, I saw the Parade of people hiking that thing.. it was pretty crazy. My first thought was "it's pretty cool that so many people are getting up this thing today".. but my second thought was, "don't count on running too fast".. what can you do.. Just Run...
I wanted to start out pretty mellow to test my hip .. and after about 5min of ducking and dodging people on my up, I had gained enough confidence in it, that I started to push a bit.. Even though I had several stops waiting on slower hikers, etc, I made it to the top in a respectable 18min 57sec. Not too bad.. now I had to traverse the "busier" side.. Echo Canyon.
I decided right off, to just relax and go with the flow of "traffic".. by the time I got about half way down, I was way off pace, but the trail seemed to thin-out, so I pushed the pace between "slow-spots".. When I got to one-third left, I had caught another runner from behind and I don't think he liked it much. He was shaved-headed, super ripped and was now taking the down hill VERY aggressive. As he recklessly jumped and slid down some of the steeper sections, I couldn't help but stay right on his tail.. Over the final 100m, he broke into some kind of stride that resembled a wild animal.. he was hopping down the choppy wash-boards like a gazelle.. That's when I put on the brakes as I knew one misstep and I am going to lose a good portion of my face.. I got to the end in 17min 22sec... My bald headed friended was slumped over and peeking back at me with a subtle smile.. I'll give it to him, I pride myself in running technical downhills fairly well, but this guy just put it on me.. When I turned around to head back up Echo, I looked over my shoulder and saw that my new friend's smile had turn upside down... I guess that was my consolation prize..
The way back up Echo was a lot less dramatic and a lot more painful. Once again, navigating hikers was as much or more difficult than the actual climb. I got back to the peak in 19min 59sec.
On my way down, I took it fairly easy until I got the more runnable sections. At that point, I pushed the pace as much as the traffic would let me. During the Cholla descent, my NB 101s had burst open on both feet (see pics below). In certain sections, my feet would actually hang out the sides.. I have never demolished a shoe like this before. Though I REALLY like the 101's and their predecessor 100's, I only had maybe 20miles of solid runs on these things.. Honestly, I blame the "blowout" on the rough, technical grade of Camelback.
As I hop by people with ripped up shoes, short shorts, and no shirt.. I near the finish. With about 20m to go, I pass a couple of 16-ish year old girls who started giggling as I stride to the finish. Then after I pass them, I hear a LOUD whisper, "Nice Short Shorts".... followed by more giggles. Hey.. at least they noticed.
"Demolished" Shoes - Thankfully RunFlag replaced them Free of Charge!!