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Trail Running Training

Surviving Javelina Jundred: Tips from a Local Who Has Done the Race

In 2016, I ran the Javelina Jundred 100k. I’ve sent my race tips to friends getting ready to do the race several times since then, and I figured I should just go ahead and make this a formal blog post that I can link to, and maybe others searching the internet for race information might find it as well.

The Basics

Javelina Jundred is a 100k and 100 mile race that takes place at McDowell Mountain Park every October, the closest Saturday before Halloween. It is traditionally a hot and sunny race, as this tends to be a time of year when we don’t get much rain. While the nights have started their seasonal cooldown, the daytime is still pretty warm and tends to peak around 90º, give or take.

The race takes place mostly on the Pemberton Loop of the park, with detours on the west side along Shallmo Wash and Cinch Trail on the east that take runners down to “Jeadquarters” at the Four Peaks Staging Area. This forms a loop of approximately 19 miles that the 100k runners will do three times, and the 100 mile runners will do five (there is a variation in the first loop that adds a few miles to round out the total mileage for each distance). The loops are done “washing machine” style, which means that each loop you run is done the opposite direction of your previous loop.

When I trained for the race, I deliberately ran in the heat of the day to build up my heat acclimation and to figure out what my systems would need to be to survive the race. The things I did worked for me, and I took away some ideas for improvements I would make if I did the race again.

Here’s what I did, and what I learned.

During the Day

Water is your friend

Our climate here is very dry, with very little humidity. This means that evaporative cooling works great for this race. I carried my drinking water in a bladder in my pack, and I carried a separate bottle of water I could use to squirt myself down with between aid stations. I’d fill it up with lots of ice and water at every aid station and keep it in one of the chest pockets on my vest. I made sure to carry enough in my bladder that I didn’t have to worry about using the water in my bottle for cooling myself, and I never ran dry.

Ice is your friend, too

They’re going to have a ton of ice out at the race. Take advantage of it. If you’ve started researching this race, you’ve probably heard about ice bandanas. I had a buff that I would put my ice in. I didn’t load it up with huge amounts of ice, just enough to cool myself down for a while with. I also put it in the chest pockets on my vest, and it was awesome. You get immediate cooling from the ice itself, and then as you continue on down the trail, the ice keeps your shirt wet as it melts, which also helps cool you. On top of that, it gives you some extra ice you can pass on to someone else who may be in need because they’re experiencing heat issues. I gave other people ice several times over the course of the day.

Watch out for chafing

All that extra water you’re putting on yourself is going to increase the potential for chafing issues. Wet clothes chafe much more than dry clothes do. Make sure you take appropriate precautions. This is one of the lessons I learned while training in the heat, so it wasn’t a race day surprise for me. Don’t let it surprise you.

Take it easy in the heat

It’s going to be hot. Plan on it being hot.

This course has very few technical or steep sections (and it’s only “steep” relative to the rest of the course), which makes the vast majority of it very runnable. Unless you are very experienced at running in sunny, hot weather, I recommend taking it very easy while it’s warm so you don’t overexert and overheat. There is very little shade anywhere on this course, so coming back from overheating is difficult.

I shifted back and forth between running and walking a lot during my second lap because it was so hot. It took me a long time to get through it, but I managed it without any issues. There’s no standard rule for how fast “too fast” is going to be, so just pay very close attention to how you’re feeling. If you’re getting too hot, slow down for a while and let things settle down.

Shade

As I just mentioned, there is very little natural shade on the course. Whatever shade you can make for yourself will benefit you greatly. Aside from the hat and buff I was wearing, I also had a bandana that I draped over my head (under the hat) to keep the sun off my neck, ears, and sides of my face. Very cooling when wet (when dipped into aid station ice buckets, or squirted with my carried water), and even when not wet, still less hot than having the sun shining directly on you. Broad-brimmed hats work great as well.

Foot Care

I fell short here. I’ve only gotten blisters from running like three times in my life, and two of those were around this race (my last training 50k that I did out on Pemberton, and during the race itself). I had a change of socks for my last lap, but that was too little, too late. I underestimated how much of a foot sauna I was going to experience, and how that was going to affect my feet. I was fortunate that my blister was in a non-critical place (tip of little toe), so I didn’t have to do anything but put up with it during that last lap.

If I did the race again, I would have a second pair of shoes (as well as plenty of socks), and swap them each lap, so one pair could be drying out while I was using the other. Failing that (if I didn’t have a second pair of shoes available), I’d do a sock change each loop and let my feet and shoes air out a bit before putting them back on. Make sure to dump the sand out of the shoes while you’re changing.

Be ready for Escondido

Escondido is the extra stretch of trail you’ll do at the end of your first loop. Just know that it is likely to be the point during the day when it goes from being warm to being hot. It feels like a very, very long stretch between the Rattlesnake Ranch aid station and Jeadquarters. That was where I first saw people starting to have serious heat issues. 

During the Night

A dry shirt

While the sun is up, you’re probably going to want to be wet as much as possible. When the sun goes down, you don’t want to be wet anymore, because it’s going to make you cold. Have a dry, warmer shirt ready to put on for your last lap if you’re doing the 100k, or your first lap you start in the dark if you’re doing the 100 mile. 

Bring a Jacket

Once the sun goes down, it’s going to start to cool off a lot. In our race briefing, we were told that there every year there are runners who get hypothermic once night comes. Running in the sun all day can wear you out a lot more than you expect, and the quick temperature drop that occurs when the sun goes down hits hard.

I got chilled about halfway through my last lap, after leaving Jackass Junction, and it wasn’t even really that cold. Fortunately, I had brought my light jacket out with me for that last lap, so I put it on and kept it on for about the last 10 miles of the race. You may not need it, but you’ll be glad to have it if you do.

Lighten the pack for your last lap

I was tired when I came in from my second lap. Everything was sore. I went through my pack and took out as much stuff as I could to lighten the load. I knew I wasn’t going to need to be drinking as much in the night time as I had during the day, so I took the bladder and hose out and just used my bottle for drinking for the rest of the way. Sunscreen wasn’t needed anymore, so that went. I got rid of some of the extra food I was carrying. Everything that wasn’t totally necessary got left back at Jeadquarters. It helped a lot.

In General

Know that it’s going to hurt a lot, but you can do it

It hurt more than I expected it to. You may be more ready for it than I was, and you may be more ready for the pain than I was. Even if it hurts more than you think it’s going to, you can keep going and finish it. All you have to do is keep refusing to quit until you get to the finish line.

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