It didn't take a lot of arm twisting to get me to head to Southern Utah for a mountain run. My absolute favorite part of the country, I had been to the area many times but had never specifically been to the Tushar Mountains. Boy have I been missing out...
The drive up from Vegas to Beaver is around 3 hours. From Beaver, the road cuts off of the interstate, leaves the dry southern Utah landscape, and immediately starts to change as you take the windy road up to to the Eagle Point Ski Resort where the race starts/ends. We rented a condo which was a great options - two bedrooms and a loft and a couch in the living room.
The race is pretty much what you would expect of a tough mountain run at altitude. Technical, steep ups and downs, labored breathing in the thin air. What I wasn't expecting was the "sky series" type rules where the course sometimes veers off an established trail. Early in the 92K race (somewhere around mile 10 or 12?) I was plotting along on the trail and realized I hadn't seen a marker in a while. I didn't want to keep going if I had missed a turn and get further off course, but I also didn't want to turn around and lose all of the elevation I had been gaining. I finally backtracked until I ran into a group of runners. I told them I thought we had missed a turn somewhere. We all started looking around for markers. Finally someone saw one dangling from a tree that was not on the trail. This is when we realized the route was going straight up the mountain rather than following the switchbacks to the top. There were other parts of the course that were like this - going cross country instead of following the trail. It was a lot of fun, but made things a lot slower which meant I missed one of the cutoffs at an aid station. Instead of completing the entire 92K - I ended up taking the marathon route back to the state/finish and still managed to get some decent mileage.
This is a race I'd really like to tackle again with adequate mental and physical prep for thin air and long technical ups and downs.