March 9-15, we ventured out to Page, Arizona for the Antelope Canyon Ultras Event. Antelope Canyon is the home of the Glen Canyon Dam which plays an important role in the Edward Abby classic, “The Monkey Wrench Gang.” Check it out if you haven’t already!
The trip to Antelope Canyon has been planned for months! The event (Antelope Canyon Ultras) sells out within a few days, so we knew we were going shortly after the event registration opened (I signed up for the trail half marathon).
Coordinating travel required figuring out Airbnb locations, flying in/out, rental cars, and race logistics. The flight was easy (Southwest makes it a breeze). Initially, the rental car looked good (Turo). The race organizers (vacationraces.com) provide excellent, detailed information, maps, and even schedules.
As the day arrived for flying, everything looked in order until I went to confirm my rental car. I noticed that the pickup location was 20 miles from the airport. Oops, I should have seen that sooner. I cancelled that car and reserved a 2019 Chevy Colorado. The owner quickly accepted my request and was able to drop the vehicle to me at the airport with short notice. Whew!
I had a few hours until Lisette arrived, so I took a spin into Tempe to eat, get groceries, and check out the landscape. I picked Lisette up and we made our way to Flagstaff for stop #1.
The Airbnb we rented was walking distance to downtown. Our first top was food (pizza and beer at Dark Sky Brewing/Pizzacleta). Good food, poor service.
The temperature dropped and the snow started falling. We were not prepared for this. We were planning on trail running the dessert, not stomping through snow. Our trail shoes did the trick and we ended up enjoying the frosty change. The rest of our stay in flagstaff included some hiking, shopping, and lots of eating. A couple places worth mentioning. If you like running you have to check out Run Flagstaff. For food, we loved Kokiyo for some Korean food. Our last night we found Shift Kitchen & Bar – a unique chef’s plating with equally unique cocktail creations.
It was time to hit the road for Page, AZ. This drive was both fascinating and boring. The road just goes north for over 2 hours. However, the landscape changes three times in that span. From the mountains around flagstaff, to a cactus filled dessert, to the red clay and plateaus of the Page area. Nearly this entire area is within the Navajo Nation. There are a lot of roadside stands for Navajo art and other creations.
Arriving in Page we found our Airbnb (and food) and proceeded to the Page Sports Complex for race check-in. Surprisingly, we found check-in uncrowded. We sauntered in and quickly obtained our race gear and then headed back for some RNR.
Our housemates (Lisette’s sister and bro-in-law) arrived later that evening. We enjoyed hanging out with big bowls of homemade pasta, playing horseshoes, and chatting about the area.
Race day arrived and we were all up early.
I geared up and walked the 1.5 miles to the race venue (Page Sports Complex). It was chilly, but the beautiful walk kept me warm (😊). The half marathon started at 7:30 AM with a run up to the Page Rim Trail which runs the perimeter of the plateau upon which the town sits. The morning views were stunning as we circled the trail counterclockwise.
Upon finishing I was regretting the walk to the race earlier…now I had to walk home. At a much slower pace I walked the 1.5 miles back to the house. Showers rarely feel as good as when you are tired, sore, and dirty!
After cleaning up and getting some food I walked across the street to a small perch next to the trail. Yes, our Airbnb was across the street from the Page Rim Trail. The easy access allowed us to set up some chairs, a cooler, and digital cowbells. After Lisette (doing the 50 miler; and her sister doing the 100 miler) passed through I made my way to the finish line.
On Saturday night the sleep came easy. The next morning we relaxed and had some amazing chicken (The Birdhouse in Page, AZ). Monday morning, we packed up, cleaned up, and headed for Phoenix. A quick stop in Flagstaff for lunch and then on to downtown Phoenix for the night. Our final morning was a lot of hurry up and wait as we had nothing to do and late morning flights.
Flights home were uneventful although flying W to E makes for late arrivals. I still welcome the ease of the flights this trip compared to the last series of flights I shared here.
The next big adventure starts July 29th when we fly to Colorado for the TransRockies Run…