Who signs up for a 50K trail run only 4 days before the event?  Yep, that happened this week.

Received a promo email for The Bear Chase Trail Race last weekend, Friday before New Hampshire.  Generally I delete these (my run schedule’s set 6 months out) but was out-of-town/travelling soooo the ad stayed in my Inbox.

Home sweet Colorado Home.  Cool & overcast all week, highs never topped 60 (GREAT weather).  Didn’t have a great run in Keene (REDEMPTION).  Short miles this month in my Run the Year challenge (Sept 30th race) AND only 45 minutes from Home.

I know, I know – crazy ‘healthy‘ addiction.  Paid FULL price & promised Ro we’d hike tomorrow 🙂

Saturday morning.  Hydration vest outta the closet, packed a drop bag – pickles/watermelon/chicken noodle soup, change of clothes (shirt/socks).  I’m my own crew today.  Socks?  Yep, NINE water crossings – 6 of those, knee deep water.  LOVE LOVED it!

Missed bib pick-up night before (work obligation).  Arrived half-hour early in Lakewood’s Bear Creek Lake Park.  FREE parking ($10 fee waived for runners).  Volunteer handed me a Bib, 4 safety pins & my Bear Chase tech shirt.  BAM, done.

2nd time in a month, I’d be running the event’s low-mile race.  100K, 50 mile or 50K – that’s it.  First time since April 2016, I actually registered for a 50K (ran 3 last year).  Marathon 6 miles.  Baby steps.  I see a 50-mile race in my 2018 future.

Sun rose pink over Bear Creek Lake, hats off for the National Anthem & we were off.  Bunched up at the first water crossing, then hiked UP the first of three big climbs.  Backside of hill?  I flew.  Since REVEL Rockies training this Spring, I’m a much better downhill runner.

Easiest trail terrain to date – rolling hills, root-free course (my trail nemesis).  Ran strong first 14 miles.  Lost my mojo during the sun-exposed 6.9 miles ‘round Fox Hollow Golf Course.  No tree, no shade, no wind.  Popped in the ear-buds, tried to flood my head with sound.

Last loop (18.8 miles in), half marathon distance to go.  Dilly-dallied 10 minutes at Bag Drop.  Re-clothed (dry shirt/dry socks), bathroom break, swallowed a half-thermos of chicken noodle.  Departed with a fresh bottle of electrolytes.

Last climb UP, right quad cramped.  Unfamiliar territory.  Nearby runner asked if I needed salt tabs.  I thanked him, swallowed both & hoped for a miracle.  I’m a puker, not a cramper.  Limped/walked the climb, limped/jogged the backside.

Clouds rolled in, temp dropped 10-15 degrees, winds kicked up.  No sun, no headphones…no need.  Quad cramp ceased.  My miracle.

Slow pace – 12/min mile – but I kept moving.  Shoulders back, no walk, no slog.  Head voices stopped.  Focused on a guy in white, later a couple both dressed in red.  Approached, paced closed behind, then passed/moved ahead.  Ninth & final water crossing.

Less than a mile to go AND… I lost the trail.  Are you kidding me??  Bush-whacked thru high grass & willow thicket.  Crossed a paved road, met a 100K runner.  Had run past the Finish by more than half a mile.  Disappointed…but back on trail – I kept moving.

Actually came up BEHIND the Finish.  7 hours – that’s a looooong time but I FINISHED.  32 miles total.  WOW!  ALSO surprisingly, compared with 2016 results – cut more than an hour off my best time.  Today’s run a 50K PR.

Out like a LION (September), in with a ROAR (October) – starting tomorrow with a high-altitude hike.  Gotta, hafta – promised the pup, right?  LOVE LOVE my Colorado life ❤


The Bear Chase

Running @ Lakewood, CO, 50K 9/30/2017, by HAL Sports


Keenan Haga

Bib #732  CHIP TIME  07:04:43



meanwhile far, far away in Germany…look who’s celebrating Oktoberfest!



2 ½ months ‘til my 2017 challenge – BIGHORN.

100+ consecutive run days, 100 miles+ ahead for the year.  Kicked it up another notch – just added swimming.  Not a fan of early morning water, but pulling out all stops this year…no excuses, nothing undone.

10K morning – 6 mile run, quarter-mile swim.  Increasing lung capacity, lengthening my stride, strengthening mind & body.  Marathoning 5 of the next 6 weekends (Colorado, Oklahoma, Canada & New Hampshire).

June 17th: BIGHORN TRAIL RUN.  52 miles of trail – at altitude, north on the Wyoming/Montana border.  Won’t be physically strong enough by mid-June, counting on mental strength to gut thru the day.

Nutrition.  Have yet to solve the riddle, [expecting a] 15 hour run day.  Must learn to eat while running – or I’m doomed.


Bighorn Trail Run 52m


Course Elevation at the Start: 8800 feet



The 52 mile course begins at Jaws Trailhead and proceeds easterly on trail approximately 1.5 miles where it crosses Forest Service Road #14 (Devils Canyon Road).  At this point, the trail joins trail #50 (Little Horn Trail) and starts to descend into the Little Horn drainage. Here is where you start your adventure on the original Little Horn Trail #50. The trail crosses several small creeks as you drop into Willow Creek then Duncum Creek drainage. Panoramic views and splendid seas of wildflowers greet you as the trail descends into the Wagon Box drainage.


After dropping about 1000 feet in 8 miles SPRING MARSH Aid Station #1 awaits your arrival. The supplies are limited there as it is accessible only by foot, so all supplies have been packed in. As the trail descends the Little Bighorn Canyon to Leaky Mountain Creek you might notice a sign about 150 yards after crossing Leaky Creek. At this sign turn and look to your left and you’ll see why it was appropriately named Leaky Mountain. As you descend deeper into the canyon excellent views are afforded of the lower parts of the Little Bighorn Canyon and the confluence of the Dry Fork Canyon coming in from the south. Another limited aid station called THE NARROWS Aid Station #2 at 5500 feet and 15 miles into the course is awaiting your arrival.


Continuing down to the FOOT BRIDGE Aid Station #3 at 18 miles and 4200 feet you’ll find your drop bag at the fully equipped aid station. It is advisable to have dry socks and shoes in your drop bag here. After crossing the Foot Bridge, you begin a major climb up the Dry Fork reaching BEAR HUNTING CAMP Aid Station #4, a limited aid station at mile 21 1/2 and approximately 6300 feet. The course then levels off slightly to the KERNS COW CAMP Aid Station #5 at 28 miles and approx. 6800 feet. This is the course junction where you join the 50 Km course. You’ll continue on together climbing up to the HEAD OF THE DRY FORK Aid Station #6 at mile 34 and approx. 7650 feet. This is your second and final drop bag cache.


After leaving the aid station the course proceeds up the Freeze Out road, following trails and a gravel road cresting on Camp Creek Ridge at 8,100 feet. It then descends down Sheep Creek drainage to 7,300 feet on a four-wheel drive road. After running about 5.5 miles from the Dry Fork station you will reach the fully supplied UPPER SHEEP CREEK aid station (39 Mile Checkpoint). Next is the summit of Horse Creek Ridge at 8,000 feet, following trails and primitive four-wheel drive roads, which will then drop you into Tongue River Canyon. Take a moment to view the canyon and the distant plains before you descend the trail through seas of wildflowers.


LOWER SHEEP CREEK aid station at mile 44 1/2 and 5025 feet, is a good place to fill your bottles before entering the sometimes hot canyon below. Continuing on to the TONGUE RIVER aid station at mile 46 1/2 and approximately 4225 feet you will leave the trail and run on a relatively flat gravel road for the remainder of the distance. At about mile 49 is the final aid station, HOMESTRETCH aid station. Continue on and just as you are entering Dayton you will cross the Tongue River on a rustic footbridge. Runners then cross Highway 14 and proceed into town making a left onto 3rd street. Go one block and make a left onto Broadway and into Scott Park where the FINISH and picnic gala await you.


Brian Morrison, Western States 100 – ‘bucket list’ endurance race



Another Friday half-day work day, this weekend’s trail destination: Las Cruces NM.

Boarded a small plane to El Paso (anytime you walk outside to board a plane, ya know it’s a small ride) – easy 2-hour flight, landed in balmy 86-degree heat.  Think I’m gonna cook tomorrow.  Yikes!

Hour drive in the desert.  Arrived at bib pick-up, 20 minutes to spare.  Dollar Tree snack purchase (tomorrow’s an ultra, I’m comin’ prepared), Italian carry-out dinner, early zzz’s at the Sleep Inn-Las Cruces (good name for a hotel chain, huh?).

The race takes place 99% desert, single track trail!  All races will begin at the northern terminus (Sierra Norte trailhead) of the Sierra Vista Trail.  This is located off of Dripping Springs Road.  All distances are out and back routes and actual mileages are approximate.  The 50k is an out and back from Sierra Norte trailhead to the Vado trailhead.


Headphones are allowed but be aware that rattlesnakes may be out and you won’t hear them rattling if you’re rockin out!  This is a trail run on challenging terrain and differs greatly from running events held on road.  We are not responsible for any injuries sustained during the day of the event.

50K Finisher tile

50K Finisher tile

Early Saturday a.m. start – ok by me, happy to log in as many miles as possible before the day heats up.  15-20 minute drive north to the Organ Mountains, parked off-road, half-mile hike to our trailhead Start.  Been struggling with trail racing thus far, but LOVIN’ these small grassroots events.  Pop a tent & 2 tables at a trailhead – and BAM you’ve got racing.  Much more intimate than road races.  4-5 Aid Stations tops.  Much more a thinking man’s run.  Gotta stay alert or risk injury tripping over rocks, roots, downed trees, trail debris. Gotta manage hydration & food intake.  Gotta be self-supportive.  Hoping to improve endurance & nutrition over the next couple months – really diggin’ mountain trail racing (sport combining both loves, hiking & marathoning).

Met Hoosier-native Carolyn just before today’s 50K trek – she’d be key to [me] finishing with a smile on my face.  Race director added .75 miles to today’s Start – an early extra loop to space out runners before we hit the single-track path in the desert.  Started slow, stopped by my rental & peeled off a double-shirt layer…temps now mid-60’s.

Rolling hill terrain through sage, dirt & loose rock.  Caught Carolyn early, slowed my pace & enjoyed the ride.  Upbeat outgoing personality, this runner’s also chasing 50 States.  Only three miles in, passed our first Aid Station – and we ate.  Not this gal’s first rodeo, Carolyn’s finished multiple trail ultras – so today I stopped, looked & listened.  Go out slow, eat early, stay ahead of hydration.  Not JUST talk, we followed this strategy.

Temps continued to rise; we continued to hydrate.  Terrain turned to open desert, miles 12-19.  Dirt gave way to sand & cracked clay – even cactus grew sparingly.

Turnaround at 16.3 miles…today’s 50K was gonna run longer than 31 miles.

Clicked 80 degrees now, but thankfully ran a cloudy day.  We’d catch a short breeze from time to time.  Not glossing over details, it was warm – but appreciative not to be running when summer temps top 120, it IS the desert.

Barrel, hedgehog & prickly pear cacti, multiple varieties of flowering yucca – and POPPIES.  Each spring (once a year), desert poppies garnish the sage-choked panorama.  Truly BEAUTIFUL!

Spewed twice over the last 4 miles but moving in the right direction.  Felt much better today.  Transitioning to trail & ultra distances been more of a journey than originally visioned – been at it for just 4 weeks, gonna celebrate all small victories.

Stroke a pose at the Sierra Vista Trail sign (last Aid Station) – only 3 miles more.  Steady pace, arroyo (dry creek bed) ups & downs, towering “needles” of the Organ Mountains poised directly ahead.  Having already surpassed 32 miles, no way of really knowing when today’s race would end.  Super excited when I popped up the last rolling hill & could see the Finish Tent in the valley below.

55th marathon finish, 3rd ultra distance – that’s 3 trail ultras in 4 weeks.  FAAANNNTASTIC!

Sierra Vista Trail Runs – 50K – Las Cruces, NM Mar 5, 2016
Keenan Haga
Overall: 46  8:25:03

Received a Finisher’s tile (not a lotta medals in ultras) & snapped a shot with Carolyn before highway trekking back to El Paso.

Returning in 2 weeks to NM’s White Sands Missile Range, as a Bataan Memorial Death March participant – marathoning with our military in honor of service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II.

Bataan’s a HUGE bucket list event – much more than a Sunday 26.2.  Can’t wait!

Sierra Vista Trail Run


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