About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I spend countless hours running in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I call it "going to church". I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sugarloaves’ Ultra Vista (S.U.V.) 60K Race Report

Sugarloaf: 1. refined sugar molded into a cone  2. A hill or mountain shaped like a sugarloaf Miriam Webster Dictionary

Sugarloaves’ Ultra Vista (S.U.V.): A crazy long desert foot race to a sugarloaf and back three times followed by a shorty loop. —Greg

The Sierra Vista Trail connects the Franklin Mountains (El Paso, TX) and the Organ Mountains (Las Cruces, NM) and passes through Vado, NM somewhere near the half way point. That is where my Sugarloaf adventure begins this morning on another beautiful weather day here in the Desert Southwest.

While waiting for the race to start I try my best to figure out the course maps. Several short loops make up a six mile route for sane runners who know their limitations. For the rest of us there is an added 10 mile out and back to be completed two or three times and one shorty loop for a total of 28 or 38 miles (60K). Guess which one I’ll be attempting. 

I start off with a decent pace, the first loop taking us down a paved road. We turn into the desert where we run around an old tractor tire (rattle snake habitat) and back out to the road. We then continue along some power lines and turn onto a scenic single track path with great views of the mountains. Before I know it I’m back in the start/finish area.

After completing another one of these loops, the first six miles are history and I tell myself —only 31 more miles to go (and a shorty loop). I start the first 10 mile roundtrip out towards the sugarloaf appropriately named Bishop Cap. The undulating trail winds through desert scrub and into a few sandy washes before entering a flat overgrazed cattle pasture. I take advantage of the easy footing here and run fast knowing that I’ll slow to a snail’s pace as the day wears on.

After reaching a gravel road, I start the upward trek along the base of the cap grateful that I don’t have to go to the top. I walk most of the uphill sections to ensure I save enough for the rest of the day. Soon I’m at the terminus, a little cove, where there is a cache of water, energy gels, a Beatrix Potter book, a sharpie and a notebook. I sign the book with time of day to prove I was here (the notebook, not The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse).

I fill my water bottle and have some snacks that I stashed in the mesh pockets of my RaceReady shorts. I always try to eat frequently, but in small quantities when I run ultras. Today it’s sesame sticks, cream cheese sandwich squares, apricot bars and chia seeds mixed with juice.

The return journey is easier since much of the trail is downhill and I'm encouraged by runners coming the other way. One lady is so full of spirit that she stops every time I see her and gives me a heart felt “NICE! Great job!” She is always laughing and smiling and, having seen her in races before, I’m pretty certain her name is Perky.

 Finally I return to the start area where I think to myself —only 20 more miles to go (and a shorty loop). A hot spot has developed on my big toe, so I decide to stop by my car to change shoes. Some friends assist me at the aid station and then I’m on my way.

I snake my way through the terrain, run across the pasture, climb up the hill and promptly begin to bonk. I’ve hit the proverbial wall just as I’m nearing the turn around point, but another sandwich square and some walking helps the woozy weak feeling subside. When I reach the far aid station for the second time, I take a brief sitting break and then sign the book again (the notebook, not The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck).

The return trip is more difficult this time and I think to myself —wouldn’t it be nice to run five more miles and call it quits (after doing the shorty loop, of course)? The thought of coming back out here again is more than I care to think about right now so I just focus on getting back to the staging area.

When I return, I rest and drink a half bottle of Reeds Ginger Brew. Ginger is great for nausea in case you were wondering why a seeming fit person would be drinking soda when they should be running. Anyway, The race director checks on my well-being and gives me some words of encouragement. “You have plenty of time to finish the 60K.”  Well, I guess I have no choice, but to keep running then. He shows me the way out, by pacing me a hundred yards, but then I’m on my own. 

Bishop Cap
The last trip out to the sugarloaf is quite slow, but I just tell myself —keep moving at all costs; time doesn’t matter (don’t forget about the shorty loop). For the last time, I twist through the landscape, traverse the meadow, plod up the hill and get to the cozy niche where I lay down in the dirt, feet higher than my head. Five minutes in this recovery position helps blood flow to my brain and then I’m able to hydrate and sign the book (the notebook, not The Tale of Two Bad Mice).

I continue back the way I came surprised that I still see other runners coming the other direction. I’m concerned because It will be dark in a few hours and I hope they will finish in time. Nevertheless, I make it back eight hours after beginning my run this morning forgetting that I still have to do the shorty loop. According to the race director it is a tradition, so I head back out for another 15 minutes of fun and finally receive my finisher’s medal. Sitting down never felt so good! I rejoice with another bottle of ginger ale and fade into the sunset. 

See you on the trail.


  1. Very nice recap. I had never thought of the ginger ale trick, but I'll be getting some next time we go grocery shopping. And "Perky" definitely deserves a mention, that lady was great, putting a smile on my face each time we passed.

  2. That was awesome. You finished strong albeit a little dizzy maybe. But you completed the course! Good for you.

  3. You're right Sedona, I'm always dizzy! Thanks for reading.

  4. My friend is going to do this one next month! Do you happen to have an elevation profile?

    1. Sorry Ms. Seven, I don't have one. The race director tends to change the course out there frequently. It's usually just rolling in and out of arroyos. Not any super steep climbs. Hope that helps.

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