Article by Mike Postaski and Shannon Payne
Mike podiums in 3d at the Behind the Rocks 50M while uphill run champion Shannon gets close in 4th in her first Dekafit functional fitness decathlon landing 8th overall in national rankings.
Mike Postaksi: (Boise, Idaho)
Behind the Rocks 50M – Race Report (Moab, Utah)
[Picturesque La Sal Mountains – ever present in scenic Moab]
2 weeks ago I ran the Behind the Rocks 50M in Moab, Utah. It was my first race of the season and I was excited to kick it off. I’ve had a long and steady training block from late 2021 up until now. The plan was for Behind the Rocks to be a kind of/sort of training race for Canyons 100K in Auburn, CA which is 1 month later. But honestly the training block has been really long, so I felt ready to race, and didn’t want to hold myself back.
The idea of a specific “training race” never really works out for me anyway as I tend to get too caught up in the competition and find it hard to hold back. So I intended to go out hard from the start and play it by feel from there. I did keep it in my mind to be careful on the back end of the race. I.e. depending on the situation – don’t bury myself with a bigger race coming up so soon.
The race started out hot – both speed-wise and (relative) temperature wise. It was about 50F at the 6AM start – warm for that time out in the desert. (1 week earlier I ran with Sam in Park City, UT – it was in the 20s with howling wind at 9,000+ ft).
[1 week earlier in Park City, Utah]
We went out at under 8:00/mi for the first 10 miles or so, which felt even faster in the dark as well as over the very sandy terrain in the first section. We initially started with a lead group of 4 runners, then broke off into 2 and 2 – me running in 4th position in the second group. It stayed roughly that way throughout most of the first half to 2/3s of the race. The terrain alternated at times between hard uneven/cambered slickrock and long sandy stretches. Me and the guy I was running with in the 1st half were both caught off guard by how sandy it was. At times, it felt like running on a beach.
One of my main goals this year was to focus on my fueling and especially hydration during training and races. I find it difficult to take in enough fluids during race situations and it always comes back to bite me. So in my long runs I’ve been really focused on the fueling aspect. I was confident in my plan going into this race, but yet again I didn’t execute as I needed to. The first half of the race, while relatively warm, still felt cool as we were in the dark, then mostly shaded below canyon rims with a bit of breeze. Of course the pace was also faster in the first 20-30 miles. I made the mistake of not hydrating enough during this part, as I was feeling comfortable, and not thinking about the warmer temps and backend miles (and hills) to come.
[Finish time was 8:21:26 for 3rd Overall]
I averaged just under 8:57/mi over the first 34 miles, then things got pretty rough. It was also pretty rough for 1 of the 2 runners who went out off the front, as around that point I caught him as he looked to be having big problems with the heat. That put me into podium position in 3rd, and probably gave me the motivation to push through the final, tough 16 miles. I ended up averaging 12:04/mi over those final 16M, as we climbed a seemingly never-ending 8M incline up into the exposed desert, then rolling slickrock/rocks/sand at 80F+ with heat radiating off the slickrock the rest of the way. I never saw anyone coming close behind from 4th position, but you always get that feeling that someone is going to catch you when things slow down.
[All smiles – let’s get out of this dust now!]
I’m quite happy overall with my 1st race of the season. I’m happy that I pushed through during the last miles – forcing myself to run as much as possible, and focusing on pushing for fast hiking in between. The wheels didn’t completely fall off, and I kept up a respectable pace, all things considered. Lesson learned again with the hydration, hopefully I’ll get it right one of these times.
Gear-wise, all of my race-day staples that I rely on and have tested worked well: Gore Ultimate 2-in-1 shorts (RTR Review), UltrAspire Basham vest (RTR Review), Injinji liners + Darn Tough ultralight socks + Altra gaiters, adidas Terrex Speed Ultras (RTR Review).
The Speed Ultras were great over the 50M – I had no issues at all with my feet. As a side note – the 1st place runner wore Torrents, and 2nd place wore Mafate Speed 3’s. Next up I have Canyons 100K in Auburn, California – which I will likely run in Hoka Mafate Speed 3’s.
Shannon Payne (No.California)
DEKA FIT San Jose Race Report
Photo by Spartan DekaFit
I’m normally a bit of a running purist: I want to be running out the trails (or roads) with nothing but my thoughts. Recently, I let myself get talked into doing a DEKAfit event in San Jose. What is DEKAfit I hear you asking? I wondered the same thing about a month ago. But I had just heard of a few Spartan and running friends getting into it so I became intrigued.
To go on a brief tangent, one of my goals for this year has been to get overall much stronger. Not just running miles stronger, but overall full-body strength and durability. So I’ve found myself in a local crossfit gym (not doing crossfit myself mind you) surrounded by people who are good at lifting heavy things and who have helped me to get better at lifting heavy things and they’re the ones who talked me into it.
Anyway, DEKAfit, a “decathlon of functional fitness”, is an up and coming off-shoot of Spartan racing. What it is, is 10 sets of 500 meters of running,with each 500 meter interval separated by some sort of functional strength event: box jumps, assault bike, heavy carries, weighted lunges, sled pulls, etc. Turns out it is quite challenging. I entered the elite heat with no idea what to expect, surrounded by women considerably more shredded than me, and found myself in 2nd place (and $700 of prize money!) with one more event remaining: the weighted burpees. Sadly I lost that runner-up podium spot by 3 seconds as two women who–although I outran them–out-burpeed me and I came away with 4th. In any case, it was awesome and I never would have expected to love doing it so much as it is an event that is so not me. Or so I thought. If you’re a grinder, as most trail and ultra runners are, you might want to give it a go.
Naturally, the shoe-nerd in me took note of footwear. My shoe of choice was the Saucony Kinvara 13 (RTR Review). An excellent choice and one I saw on many feet. Other very prevalent models that I noted were the Hoka Carbon X, a variety of Altras, and some Reebok sprinkled into the mix.
Anyway I signed up for another one in May, I will never be out-burpeed again. Between then and now I will be doing burpees everyday on pure rage!
The top 12 times on the national leaderboard advance to their World Championships in November, and I am currently at #8. Stay tuned for the next episode of, “Am I Becoming A ‘Multisport Athlete’?”
But don’t worry, I am far from abandoning my running ways, and it’s springtime! Mountain running season is not far away. On the (somewhat far out) horizon is the Vertical Kilometer at the Broken Arrow Skyrace in June!
Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. others were personal purchases. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’
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