[Author’s Note: This article is the second in an 11-part series in AJW’s Taproom celebrating under the radar races.]
Emerging just about 2,000 ft above the wasteland ground in central Arizona, the Mogollon Rim dominates the skyline east of the sprawling city of Phoenix. Dotted with large rock outcroppings and wealthy forests of ponderosa pine, “The Rim,” because it’s referred to as in the community, is a well-liked get away for Phoenicians searching for reduction from the summer time warmth.
As well as, since 1990, The Rim has been the house of the Zane Gray Highline Path Runs. The routes traverse the historical Highline Path, a Nationwide Game Path, which was once established in 1870 as a course to permit shuttle between homesteads, and for children to get to university in Pine, Arizona.
The weekend’s marquee match, the Zane Gray 50 Mile, has hosted a who’s who of ultrarunning luminaries over time, together with Scott Jurek, Nikki Kimball, Karl Meltzer, Dave Mackey, Diana Finkel, Anton Krupicka, Geoff Roes, and Ian Torrence.
Held each and every yr in overdue April, the Zane Gray 50 Mile has passed through a number of iterations over time, because it incorporated a 100k possibility a couple of occasions, and was once previously hung on a point-to-point direction. Nowadays, the race includes a changed out-and-back direction, starting and finishing on the Mountain Meadows Ranch in Christopher Creek, Arizona.
The race is 100% singletrack and contains stunning vistas of rim canyons, brushy hills, and far away mountains. A portion of the path between the Washington Park Trailhead and the Pine Trailhead could also be a part of the 800-plus-mile Arizona Path. Rocky and rutted for plenty of miles, the Highline Path will check any path runner’s mettle.
I lately stuck up with Zane Gray race director, Joe Galope, to speak about his match. Relating to the stumbling blocks for placing at the race, Joe had this to mention:
“Path stewards have maintained and advanced the path over time, however in doing so, have lengthened the path. Whilst we admire all they have got performed for the world, it has affected the race direction. Moreover, the ecosystem of path working has considerably modified over time, which has generated stumbling blocks with hanging at the match.”
He elaborated, “The saturation of competing path working occasions, some at the identical month or weekend, now not most effective attracts from the marketplace of runners, but additionally from the pool of volunteers and assets had to placed on an match.”
For years, Zane Gray has been recognized for its low key, community-centered vibe, and Joe says this is through design: “We restrict the full choice of individuals of the development, which supplies the race a way of network. We acknowledge that for some individuals this can be essentially the most difficult factor they ever do.”
He went on, “The race needs to ensure that each and every player looks like they’re particular for having completed this sort of difficult match, and likewise needs their day to be an ideal revel in. We do this through having veteran ultrarunners as assist station volunteers and personnel.”
As a veteran race director for over 25 years, Joe has on the subject of noticed all of it, however he nonetheless seems to be ahead to race day once a year.
He stated, “I maximum look ahead to seeing the enjoyment now not most effective at the finishers’ faces, but additionally their households’ faces on the end line. It’s a shared revel in in the course of the months of coaching, the day crewing out at the path, and persevering in the course of the problem… and in spite of everything attaining their purpose.”
This yr’s Zane Gray Highline Path Runs, which can upload a marathon distance, can be hung on April 27, 2024, and there are nonetheless areas to be had in each distances. If you wish to revel in a vintage old skool race with a Wild West vibe, pop out to The Rim and run this spring.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from That Brewery in Pine, Arizona. That Knotty Nut Brown Ale is a wealthy British taste brown ale, this is relatively candy and uniquely brewed with pinecones, giving it a scrumptious piney end. If you are making it to the Zane Gray 50, make sure you forestall through That for a style.
Name for Feedback
- Have you ever performed the Zane Gray 50 Mile or any of the Zane Gray Highline Path Runs, and, if that is so, what did you suppose?
- Does this type of low-key match attraction to you, or do you favor larger races?