When I ran Javelina Jundred 100k in 2016, the biggest surprise I had in graduating to that distance from 50k was what the last four, five, six hours felt like. I knew it wasn’t going to be fun, but I wasn’t ready for how not-fun it was going to be. And then when I ran Black Canyon 100k in 2018, I was again surprised—but this time it was by how much easier the back half of the race was, and I think it had a lot to do with knowing what to expect.
So when I started planning the final training block for my first 100 mile race, I wanted to ensure as few unpleasant surprises as possible, and the biggest one I had my eye on was the final hours of the night. It’s a time that is well known for being the worst part of the race, and it makes runners drop.
In my 100Ks, I had passed the 2 AM mark during the race and knew that I could manage that much okay. So it was really the stretch from 2 AM to sunrise that was my area of greatest concern. I didn’t know how it would hit me when it came, and I didn’t want the race to be when I found out for the first time.
Thus was born the idea for my last big training push for Stagecoach. I would go on a 24 hour hike. I chose hiking rather than running, because the point was “time on feet” rather than distance, and hiking would be less wear and tear on me. Running for 24 hours seemed to me like it would be the classic mistake of “running the race before the race.”
After I came up with this plan, I had to decide where to do it. I didn’t want to just repeat loops out at the local parks over and over, so I started looking around for ideas that sounded a little more interesting. I did a rough estimate of what the distance would be if I did 24 hours at a fairly comfortable pace (I was estimating between two and three miles per hour) and came up with a little over 50 miles. That gave me an idea to go do a thing I’d been wanting to do for a while: complete a circuit of the Prescott Circle Trail.