Mogollon Monster 100

October 12, 2017

Working toward competing in three different 100-mile races, Dr. Darian J. Smith placed second in the Mogollon Monster 100 Mile Race in Pine, Arizona on September 16.
Smith noted that this was his third 100-mile race and he has been working to earn points to qualify for the Ultra Mont Blanc. He said along with Ultra Mont Blanc, he would like to apply for two other 100-mile races, including Western States and Hard Rock.
Smith said he chose the Mogollon Monster because he needs to earn another six of 15 points for Ultra Mont Blanc and because it was a qualifier for the Hard Rock 100 Miler, which is a high altitude 100-mile race in Silverton, Co.
To train for the race, Smith said he just worked on building miles and peaked at 120 miles per week. Smith also had to qualify for the Mogollon Monster 100, which only had 80 – 90 runners.
“I had two races between (the training runs). One was a 50-mile race called, Burning River 50, and the other one, the Grand-Further Mountain Run, a 25k in Banner Elk,” he said. “The cool thing about trail running is that you’re just moving through the trail and it’s not so much about your pace.”
Although he trained a lot by himself and with his dog, Scout, Smith also trained with other local ultra-runners.
Smith explained that there was aid provided during the race around every 9 – 10 miles and his family also crewed him during the race, meeting him at miles 12, 24, 42, 75, 87, and the finish.
Smith explained that the course started out on the Arizona Trail, which runs from Utah through the Grand Canyon south through the Mogollon Rim and all the way to Mexico. From the Arizona Trail, they climbed up to the Highland Trail in Arizona, where the trails meet, and then took the Donahue Trail all the way to the top of the rim.
“This was a big climb not even a half-mile into the race,” he said.
Once at the top of the rim, Smith said they descended back down to meet up with the Highline Arizona Trail and then to an aid station called, Washington Park, where they did another climb to the top of the rim where the Arizona Trail splits from the Highline Trail.
“This made for a spectacular view,” he said, as he explained how different the top of the rim is compared to the bottom. “The bottom of the rim has cacti and the top has ponderosa pine and the temperature changes from hot to cold.”
Throughout the race, Smith said the runners also had to run in and out of slot canyons, ponderosa pine forests and mountain meadows.
During their run back toward the finish, Smith said they had to do a 1,000-foot climb over less than a mile.
“It was so steep that I had to pick up two sticks to use as trekking poles,” he said.
While running, Smith said first place runner Mike Versteeg was laid out at mile 54, but about 10 miles later Versteeg passed him in the dark running about a seven-and-a-half-minute pace.
“It sounded like a bear was coming at me,” he said of Versteeg’s pounding feet and adding that he came in about 40 minutes behind Versteeg at the finish.
Smith said when he passed Brett Maune, a two-time Barkley winner (the hardest ultra-marathon in the US), in the middle of the night on the Highline Trail, he knew he had to be toward the front of the race.
When Smith realized he had placed second overall in the Mogollon Monster 100, he was surprised.
“I was surprised because I was just there to complete it,” he said.
Smith started the race at 6 a.m. on Saturday and finished the race around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, with a total time of 20 hours, 56 minutes and 40 seconds.
After completing each 100-mile race, Smith said he learns something new.
“I learn something new from each race, such as nutrition and training specs,” he said. “I went out a little too fast in the first two races and ran steadier during this one.”
During the race, Smith said he had to make sure he was eating 100 calories about every half hour, making sure he was hydrated throughout the race, and paying attention to the terrain.
“When you’re doing something like this, you’re in the moment, and when you’re at altitude, you have to make sure your breath is controlled,” he shared.
Smith said it is also important in a race such as this that his crew knew where everything was and helped to remind him of the things he needed.
“Every time I saw them, they had a caffeine drink and bacon waiting for me,” he said. “Seeing them and knowing what they had for me was part of my motivation.”
Smith said his favorite part about running the Mogollon Monster 100 was how beautiful it was.
“The sheer beauty of the Mogollon Rim, the blue sky and just seeing the progression of the light changing throughout the day; and having my family there,” he said. “It was cool having my niece there, too. She was a lot of fun.”
Smith noted that this was the first time that his niece, Dawn, had ever seen him compete in a 100-mile race.
Smith explained that even though he will be applying for three 100-mile races this year because of their popularity, he will only compete in one of them in a year’s time.
After the race, Smith and his family drove up to the Grand Canyon and camped on the rim for three days.

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