[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 toes above the wilderness flooring in central Arizona, the Mogollon Rim dominates the skyline east of the sprawling city of Phoenix. Dotted with huge rock outcroppings and wealthy forests of ponderosa pine, “The Rim,” because it’s referred to as in the neighborhood, is a well-liked get away for Phoenicians searching for reduction from the summer season 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 Sport Path, which used to be established in 1870 as a direction to permit trip between homesteads, and for children to get to college 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 every 12 months in overdue April, the Zane Gray 50 Mile has passed through a number of iterations over time, because it integrated a 100k possibility a couple of occasions, and used to be previously hung on a point-to-point path. As of late, the race includes a changed out-and-back path, starting and finishing on the Mountain Meadows Ranch in Christopher Creek, Arizona.
The race is 100% singletrack and contains gorgeous vistas of rim canyons, brushy hills, and far away mountains. A portion of the path between the Washington Park Trailhead and the Pine Trailhead may 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 discuss his match. In the case of the stumbling blocks for placing at the race, Joe had this to mention:
“Path stewards have maintained and stepped forward the path over time, however in doing so, have lengthened the path. Whilst we admire all they have got accomplished for the world, it has affected the race path. Moreover, the ecosystem of path operating has considerably modified over time, which has generated stumbling blocks with placing at the match.”
He elaborated, “The saturation of competing path operating occasions, some at the identical month or weekend, no longer handiest 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 identified for its low key, community-centered vibe, and Joe says this is through design: “We restrict the entire selection of members of the development, which supplies the race a way of network. We acknowledge that for some members this can be essentially the most difficult factor they ever do.”
He went on, “The race desires to ensure that each player looks like they’re particular for having completed this sort of difficult match, and likewise desires their day to be an excellent enjoy. We do this through having veteran ultrarunners as support station volunteers and workforce.”
As a veteran race director for over 25 years, Joe has on the subject of noticed all of it, however he nonetheless seems ahead to race day annually.
He mentioned, “I maximum stay up for seeing the enjoyment no longer handiest at the finishers’ faces, but additionally their households’ faces on the end line. It’s a shared enjoy throughout the months of coaching, the day crewing out at the path, and persevering throughout the problem… and in any case attaining their function.”
This 12 months’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-fashioned 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 fairly candy and uniquely brewed with pinecones, giving it a scrumptious piney end. If you’re making it to the Zane Gray 50, you should definitely forestall through That for a style.
Name for Feedback
- Have you ever accomplished 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 sort of low-key match attraction to you, or do you like larger races?