I was debating back and forth for a few weeks on weather to do this race or not. Its local and looked like a fun/challenging race but always has bad weather and I couldnt get a comp entry so it was going to cost quite a bit. I love to run and race but paying for these things is getting outrageous. Finally decided to bite to bullet and enter and felt like I could do fairly well as Ive recovered pretty good from the Red Mountain 55k one month ago. Ran into Hayden at the packet pickup and he said I could prob win. Of course I tried not to think about that but it got me a little excited thinking there was a chance. Got up early Sat morning and my dad ran me up to the start and we sat in the truck and talked for a while because we where pretty early. Tried to use the facilities that were "eco" toilets covered by a "tent". Well the one I picked had a broken zipper and the door kept trying to fly open in the wind. I was trying to hold the door shut while hovering above the completly full crap bucket. Needless to say that that didnt workout at all so I gave up and hoped that I didnt have an emergancy later in the race. Finished getting ready then stood at the start for a few minutes waiting for a late shuttle bringing the rest of the runners. Started off with a group of about 8 guys and hit the first few miles feeling good and enjoying things. About a 1/2 mile before the big climb I jumped up front because I was tired of almost tripping over peoples feet and needed to be able to see the trail better. No one came with me but that changed as I hit the climb. That hike up the mesa is a straight up monster. I went from 1st to 9th place and even though everyone was power hiking i was getting blown away. I tried to keep moving quick but not go so had as to burn myself out because there was still 30 miles of running to come. Finally got to the top and went straight to filling up my water then back out on the course. Most of the others stopped and took a bit so I was back up in 4th place. A couple of guys came up quick and passed but I was able to stay within 10-20 feet for the run along the south rim. I didnt stop at the aide station just ran through for the 1 mile out and back portion. Saw the 1-3 place runners and they wherent but about 3 minutes up at this point. Stopped and filled the water and grabbed some pickles at the aide station after the out and back and then was back in 4th place. Got passed by a guy in here but was able to close the gap on the third place guy to within 50 feet and stay there. Dropped my light with my dad at the aide station just before the decent down the mesa, grabbed more water and a few chips. 3 guys came in right behind me so it seemed we were all keeping whithin reach of eachother. The decent was almost worse than the climb. Its so steep you cant run down but you cant walk either so its really had on the quads and knees. The younger guys came blowing by and I was back in 7 place i think. Thankfully got down without getting hurt or falling and then tried to get back into a steady pace of some kind. The rain started as we went along the north side of the mesa but thankfully it was just enough to wet the ground and not make a muddy mess. I was pretty beat mentally and physically and had a really hard time keeping moving through this portion till the mile 26 aide station. The two guys in front of me were in the same boat though and we played leapfrog for a few miles sometimes even power walking up the steeper climbs. Watered up at the mile 26 station and tried to get some fuel in me but there wasnt anything like it felt I could stomach ( no sandwiches and I was so full of gels the thought of more of those was enough to almost vomit.). I grabbed a hand full of pretzels and headed back out. I was as dead as Ive ever been and the only thing keeping me moving was knowing there was only 5-6 more miles left. I was wrong. After a few miles and passing guy #5 I got to thinking that we were still a long way from the finish and hadnt even crossed over the highway yet. Turned off the music and got into mind over body mode. Those last several miles where exceptionally difficult with lots of steep quick climbs and I was out of water so I was having a tough go of it. Once we crossed under the highway I, for the first time checked the miles and it was 31.25 and we still had quite a ways to the finish line. That was tough and go in my head pretty bad. After a while I saw guy #4 in the distance and he was having the same trouble i was (having to walk up the final portion of each big climb) so that helped me dig down and try to see if I could catch him. I was making progress but then he noticed me coming and stopped walking up the climbs. I just about settled for this place and pace when I though "when you get to the finish are you going to be able to tell yourself you gave it everything you had and left nothing out on the course?" So I started going (felt like i was running fast but the splits tell a different story lol) and started closing the gap. We hit the walkers from the 1/2 marathon the last bit so that was kind of a pain to have to dodge around them while trying to navigate the ups and downs of the trail. I caught #4 and encouraged him to come with me ( not really wanting him to but trying to be nice and encouraging to the other runners) and kept pushing hoping the finish wasnt to far and that he didnt have legs left. Finally saw my dad up ahead and knew the finish couldnt be to far away so I pushed with whatever was left to get to the finish line. Came as close as I ever have to throwing up and passing out for a few minutes after stopping but it felt good to know I gave it my best and didnt give up when I wanted to so badly during multiple stages of the race. Not going to say this was an enjoyable race because it wasnt for about 75% of the run. Very tough course physically and brutal mentally. Glad I ran and Im happy my body lets me race and be able to compete against kids 1/2 my age and do so pretty well. I think I need to take a few weeks away from race thoughts and recover and just enjoy getting out.