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Finding specificity, beauty and more at Sinks Canyon

As I worked on my 2019 race calendar, I wanted to focus on racing and training runs that would prep me for my big goal races. After all, specificity is a major part of training for races especially when you can emulate the course profile, elevation or anticipated weather conditions. That’s why I’m heading back to the Sinks Canyon Rough & Tumble this summer. The June 22 race offers 50K, 18K and 6K distances. I’m signed up for the 18K once again as it will serve as a nice bridge between my first 100K at the Ultra Race of Champions in May and an 8-hour race in Indiana in July. When I ran the R&T race in 2017 it took place a week after I completed the Leadville Marathon. I started out too fast and the climbs took a toll on me, as I was still recovering from the quad-busting Leadville course. I finished sixth overall out of about 20 runners with a time of 1:55:47.

The 18K offers 2,000 feet of elevation gain in the loop course, mostly from the 3K to 8K segment. Meanwhile, the 50K has 6,400 feet of gain.

In addition to being a great opportunity for specificity training her are five more reasons to run the Rough and Tumble:

1. It’s a scenic course. Runners start and finish in beautiful Sinks Canyon. During their journey, they will see vast wildflowers, snow-capped peaks, and deep canyons. The course is runnable but participants will likely want to stop and snap a few photos along the way.

2. Gluten-free comes first. Like me, race director Gabe Joyes (pictured above) has Celiac Disease and cannot eat gluten. His race takes food allergies into account and provides gluten-, nut- and dairy-free options for runners at aid stations and the finish line. Joyes is working to find a local company to provide gluten-free fare at the finish line for race participants.

3. An experience to emulate. In addition to being a competitive endurance athlete, Joyes is a top-notch race director. At the 2017 race, his volunteers were helpful, the course was well marked and everything ran smoothly. (Heck, he even helped me figure out my new hand-held water bottle at the beginning of the race.) The race also allows for runners to defer their race registration for a year instead of having to forfeit it, if something prevents their participation.

4. Breathe deep. The start of the race in Sinks Canyon is at 7,000 feet of elevation, which gives us flatlanders an extra challenge. Since this race will take place the month after my first 100K, I opted for the medium distance to ensure I am fully recovered heading into my next challenge. Still, I am drawn to challenge myself at races at altitude.

5. Keep America beautiful. The race prides itself on being cupless, plateless and forkless. It advises runners to bring their own fueling containers during and after the race. This is a great relief after witnessing road races first-hand where runners discard paper or plastic cups at every single aid station. I know the aid station volunteers do their best to clean up the cups, gel wrappers, etc. but I much prefer the approach that Joyes uses at his race.

There’s a lot to like about the Sinks Canyon Rough and Tumble. I hope to see you there.

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