Race Summary: My Return to Mesquite Canyon Trail Half Marathon

9:35 PM
WARNING: This is a very tough, rocky, mountainous trail run! 
All runs take place on rugged, single track trail with significant challenging climbs, incredible views, steep descents, large boulders, rocks, and desert vegetation. The courses offer a challenging but rewarding experience for all, from the beginning trail runner to the most experienced ultra marathoner. 
The 50 Km & 50 Mile courses are designed for EXPERIENCED TRAIL RUNNERS ONLY since you travel through a hazardous (but incredibly awesome) section of trail/wash down Ford Canyon 
When I came here in 2015 I was unprepared.  I had not been introduced to trail running.  I was uninitiated.  I was naive.

I wasn't disciplined enough to do my own long runs, thus I descended to Mesquite Canyon as a means of training for my third marathon.  A desperate move I would pay for over the course of 4 hours that would alter the course of my life.   

I did not expect to climb a mountain that day.  I did not expect for my mind to be freed temporarily that day.  I did not expect my soul to find a semblance of peace that day.  I did not expect to fall in love with the backcountry and trail running that day.  That day my life changed.  

I didn't know I needed trail running in my life, but I did.  I had been faced with a lot of life challenges prior to that day and I would face even more extreme challenges in the coming immediate days, months, and years.  But that day.  That day I would be offered a challenging but rewarding experience that would break me, humble me, change me, make me better, and offer me some peace in the midst of life's continuing storm.  

And now I'm back.  And I'm grateful.  And I'm my own badass!

The sun greeted me in the distance as to kiss my face with a warm hello, breaking the coolness in the air.  

Trail running is a special community and it was here, Mesquite Canyon, where I was introduced to the beauty of the trails, the kindness of trail runners, the warmth of the community, and the love of finding true inner quietness and peace.  

This race has several distances, and when I was here in 2015 I was introduced to distances longer than a standard marathon.  Ultra-marathons!  WTF!?!?

Runners can choose an 8K option that stays at the base of White Tank Mountain and in the washes.  The half marathon, 30K, 50K, and 50-mile distances of the White Tank trail run series all take runners over into the mountains and to Mesquite Canyon.  

Remember that warning found at Aravaipa website?  Should you choose to venture into the longer distances, do not find yourself naive like I did in 2015.  Or maybe it is best you are naive because if I had known better in 2015 I would have passed.  Trust that (saved a lot in therapy bills).

But now I have returned.  I'm stronger.  I'm more experienced.  I'm no longer in perpetual mental and spiritual turmoil, pain, and darkness.  

The first 1.5 miles are in the wash at the base of the mountain before you turn to the White Tank Mountains and begin the accent.  And what a climb.  The views back to the city is very rewarding.  

The second aid station is there for you to stock up, refuel, and prepare you for the real climb, as the first climb was just a warm-up.  You're going to be taxed.  But you're going to experience some of the best views you've seen in your life.  The single track can be intimidating as there is a significant drop into the canyon to your right as you make your way on the back side of one of the mountains down to a swift descent into the canyon.  

If your calves, quads, and legs haven't beat up by the time you reach the canyon floor, they will have their due task of climbing back up the back side of the said mountain you climbed.  If you haven't been properly fueling, you won't have much left and will be broken down with not many options. 

But the views!  Oh, the views!  Mental and Physical pain be damned!  

The pain of trail running is what forces you into the moment.  Navigating the terrain is what mandates you pay attention to your foot placement, further distancing you from what has been occupying your mind needlessly or you will pay with a minimum of broken skin, a maximum of broken teeth or bones.  The beauty is what soothes your soul and calms your mind.  

This is where you fall in love if you're not afraid to face your inner demons and angels.  You will have doubts.  You will question your sanity.  You will ponder.  You will run with your dark dog before you even know you have a dark dog to run with!  

March 2015, Mesquite Canyon found me at a low point and exposed me.  And on this return, I was able to not only endure the moment but enjoy the moment.  

Yes, I was still challenged.  

Yes, I was still sore afterward.  

Yes, I was out of breath and had to dig deep to finish.  

Yes, I love Mesquite Canyon.  

Yes, you should come prepared to be both challenged and rewarded.

And just maybe somewhere in the backcountry before and during your descent into the canyon, you too will find a moment of peace in the midst of your pain and be presented with a life-changing experience found in the beauty of the White Tank Mountains as I was both back in 2015 and during my emotional return in 2018.

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