I was looking forward to my visit to Flagstaff as I had heard about it as an up-and-coming location for trail runners, following on from cities such as Boulder in Colorado and Ashland in Oregon. Rob Krar, who took second place in his first 100-mile race at the Western States Endurance Run, is based in the city. It boasts an elevation of 6,910 ft (2,106 m) and a mild summer climate amongst the intense heat of its surrounding Arizona environs.
Following a two-week break after my own 100-mile jaunt at the Western States Endurance Run I would run my very first post-race steps in Flagstaff. I had thought that it would be great to bump into Rob on the trails, but unfortunately no such luck presented itself.
I performed some searches on the web for some trail running options but found a distinct lack of information. Therefore I paid a visit to a local running store named Run Flagstaff to ask the staff there for some suggestions. They were only too happy to help with suggestions, although they did apologise for the lack of climbing in the area when they heard that I had just completed Western States.
The next morning I set out for my first run from the regional Buffalo Park, located right in town. I ran straight through the park to access the huge warren of trails that are immensely popular with mountain bikers in the area. Immediately I began to ascend and I thought back to the comment about the lack of climbs in the area. Apparently setting out from altitude and then climbing 1600 feet (500 m) doesn’t count as a climb, and I had left the tougher run until the following day.
I had felt great on my hike out of the Grand Canyon a couple of days earlier but unfortunately my legs weren’t enjoying the run as much as I would have liked. I pushed on and was rewarded by overtaking a couple of mountain bikers on the climb, which is always enjoyable. I had researched my route and loaded it onto my Suunto Ambit to follow but upon reaching a complex intersection involving multiple trails and a forestry road I found no sign indicating the trail I had planned to follow. Luckily the mountain bikers I had overtaken caught up to me and I asked them for help. They weren’t quite sure but one of them was kind enough to call up her husband for directions, and he provided a couple of options to get me back on track. As it turned out the map was slightly deceptive as the trail I wanted was a very short way up the road. I regained the trail and was back on my way.
I completed a loop over a pass but unfortunately my route did not take me past the lookout that apparently provides views over Flagstaff. I eventually made my way back to Buffalo Park, and was glad to have made it through a first run back of over 16 miles (26 km).
You can see details of this run at MovesCount.com here.
For my second run in Flagstaff I would run up towards Humphrey’s Peak, the highest point in Arizona at 12,637 ft (3,852 m). I had mapped out a fairly long lollipop route and had not decided whether I would actually bag the peak, which required an additional out-and-back section from the loop. I would decide during the run based on how I felt.