The Javelina Jundred is an amazing race in the desert just outside of Phoenix, AZ. The course is known for being fast, as it only has around 6k of gain for the 100 miles. The course consists of 5 - 20 mile loops with 4 aid stations out on the course and 1 aid station at the Javelina Headquarters where each loop starts and finishes. Each of the 20 mile loops consists of a gradual uphill for the first 10 miles and a gradual downhill for the second 10 miles. Once you finish a loop you run through the Javelina Headquarters where there are 100’s of pop-up tents with crews and spectators. You run under the start/finish line and then loop back through Javelina Headquarters. You do this for the start and finish of each lap.
My pre-race goals are a bit of a crazy story! Up until about 3 weeks before the race, I really only had 2 goals. I wanted to run under 15 hours and be in the top 10 for the men. I believe I have the fitness and running ability to run sub 14, but I thought going for sub 14 made my chances of blowing up a lot higher. I have never raced in this sort of dry climate and I have never raced a runnable 100 mile race. Although I love running in the heat, both the dry climate and running for 100% of the race were both new variables to me.
Why do I say that my race goals are a crazy story? Exactly 3 weeks out from my race, in my final training run, I planned to run 28 miles at around a 7:20 pace. I did this exact training run a few weeks before that with no problems at all. But about 10 miles into this run I could feel my upper right calf, going all the way up behind my knee, starting to strain. I had been dealing with tight hamstrings for almost the whole training block, but during this run the lack of mobility and tight hamstrings caught up with me. While some less experienced runners would have tried to finish the 28 miles, I was smart enough to know that such a decision was high risk and low reward. Instead I only ran 14 miles and called it a day.
Within a few days the calf felt ok but my hamstrings continued to be crazy tight from all the flat and fast running. I learned in this training block that If I am going to do all this flat and fast running there needs to also be a bigger emphasis on strength training and hip mobility. Over the next few weeks I really did a lot of deep hip stretches and hamstring stretches, but it was too little too late at that point. My hamstrings and calf pain only got worse the closer we got to race day. On the plane flying to Phoenix my right calf, area behind my knee, and hamstring, we're all on fire. Out of the 3 weeks I dealt with this issue it felt the worse the 2 days before the race. For anyone that has ever dealt with getting injured, or tweaked something right before a race, it is such a frustrating feeling to put in all the hard work and then something happens right before the race.
I was so disappointed the night before the race I though it smart to throw the old goals out the window and come up with new goals. I thought if I was going to hobble through a 100 miles I needed a mindset shift, otherwise the race was going to just be a lot of disappointment. My wonderful wife Allison really helped with this exercise while out to pizza at a wonderful spot overlooking the fountain in Fountain Hills, AZ. First, she reminded me of the bible verse Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his ways but the Lord establishes his steps.” This really helped me to reframe my thinking before the race. We all have plans. We all have goals. But many times when those things do not turn out the way we want them we have to have faith that there is more going on and that we are not ultimately in control of the world. So the night before the race I decided to reframe my goals.
Here are the new goals I came up with:
1) Run the most strategic race I can. While I may not be 100% healthy this was my 6th - 100 mile race and I am starting to become pretty experienced. If I manage my race well and spent limited time at aid stations, did the right heat mitigations strategies, and smart pacing, I could still run the most strategic race for where my body is at. That is ultimately all we can ask for.
2) Run sub 20 hours. Yes sub 20 hours is a long way from the original goal of 15 hours! But I believed even if I was hobbling around the course I could still probably run sub 20 hours. And 20 hours is not a random number, but this is my 100 mile PR from the Grindstone 100. I thought it would be cool to go under that.
3) Western States qualifier. This is why I decided to run Javelina in the first place. The previous 3 years I ran Grindstone 100, which is both a Western States and Hardrock qualifier, but since I did not run Grindstone this year I needed a Western States qualifier. My Grindstone qualifier was still valid for the Hardrock 2023 lottery.
This was an extremely difficult thing to reframe my goals. I am a very competitive person by nature. Not so much competitive with other people but I really like to be competitive with myself and set high goals and really go after them.
One of the cool things about Javelina is the Javelina Headquarters where all of the crew and spectators hang out. There are 100’s of pop-up tents with elaborate set-ups that people’s crews set up for them. So when the runners come through each lap you run through all the rows of tents. Some people that came with larger groups had the coolest tents and support waiting for their runners each loop. I am way more of a minimalist runner so we didn’t have much of a set-up except we did go buy a small 6x4 mini pop up tent (our baby red tent). But since we didn’t have experience with the race we were a little shocked when we got there, the day before the race, to find no tent spaces left since they opened at like 7am and I guess all the crews rush in to get a good spot. Luckily my wife was able to make friends and pop up our mini tent at the end of a row next to some new friends she made.
The tent was just so my wife Allison had a place to hang all day. Our crew set up was pretty minimal. I had 2 extra pair of shoes and socks (although I wasn’t planning on changing shoes or socks but just in case), gels to pick up each lap, a vespa for each lap, and extra sunscreen. We also had backup food and clothing but I did not use any of that during the race, it was just in case the race turned into a 24 hour slog. I was committed to finishing for the Western States qualifier even if I had to walk the entire race.
Gear for the race
For shoes, I raced in the Altra Olympus 5. It is not the fastest shoe but it worked perfect for this terrain. I did not change my shoes at all during the race and only took them off one time to empty some rocks out. I did not use Gaiters although many people did.
In terms of clothing, I wore Under Armour black tights and a white Under Armour shirt both made for hot temperatures.
For socks, I wore black crew length Inji socks. Although I like running in Smartwool socks a lot, the Inji socks keep me from having to change my socks at all during 100 miles. I ran 100 miles with no sock changes and no blisters.
I wore a MISSION Performance Cooling Hat. The hat worked really well.
I also wore a Sprigs Sun Protection Hat shade which also worked really well.
To hold my food, I wore a Naked running belt which may be my favorite piece of running gear. I stored a collapsible bottle in the back of the belt and then gels and any other gear in the front of the belt.
I carried 2 of the Ultimate Direction Body Bottle 3's. I love these bottles as they can sit along your back or front and not rub too much when running a 100 miles. I put one bottle in the back of the belt at all times and carried the other bottle in my hand (and mainly used for spraying water on myself) or put it in the front pockets of the belt.
I carried Spring Energy Gels with me during each lap.
I also carried with me Chapstick and a small thing of Squirrel’s Nut Butter for any chaffing that came up while I was out on the course.
I wore REI white sun sleeves. These worked great for staying extra cool by covering them with water throughout the race.
For my GPS watch I wore the Coros Apex Pro. When the race was over it still had 56% battery life!
For the early morning first hour of the race, and the last 3 hours of the race, I used a Petzl headlamp when running in the dark.
The fueling plan for the race was very simple. I am on a high fat/low carb diet so the fueling plan is somewhat specific to that. Being high fat I still take the same simple carbs during the race like everyone else, but just have to take a lot less, which decreases GI issues throughout the race. In my experience the number one limiting factor in the final 50 miles of a 100 mile race is people being nauseous and not being able to take in calories.
The morning of the race I did not eat any food at all and had a few cups of coffee. At the start of the race I took a Vespa to jumpstart my body using onboard fat as fuel and did not start taking any gels until 1 hour into the race. After that I had my watch set to remind me to take a gel every 30 minutes. That is a really cool setting on the Coros because it is one less thing you have to think about during the race. I carried 2 bottles with me during the race and drank nothing but water during the race. After each 20 mile loop I would pick up 5 gels for the next loop. In addition to the gels every 30 minutes and water, I had a few handful of chips at different times to get some extra salt in. All in all my stomach felt great for the entire race and my energy was very steady.
The race started at 6am. I was in the first wave that went off at 6am and then another wave went off at 630am. The start was pretty exciting as there was some sort of flame juggler at the starting line as well as all sort of other costumes and festivities going on. Once the race starts you run all the way through the row of tents around Javelina Headquarters and then out onto the trail. With the lingering issues with my calf and hamstring I took it out what felt very easy. I definitely would have started the first 4 miles harder if I wasn’t worried about the calf. As we jogged to the first aid station at 4 miles I was probably in around 50th place or so. I averaged around 8:15 per mile for the first 5 miles. Even though I was running very conservative I was around Nick Coury and Kaci Lickteig so I wasn’t too worried as they are very experienced runners.
I knew loop 1 would be an indicator of how I would feel for the day. I ran only by feel in loop 1 and did not worry about pace. Although my hamstrings were tight from the very beginning, I was surprised that my calf held up throughout loop 1. I made a big effort to really lift my legs with my glutes and hamstrings and almost not use my calf muscles at all. I knew I could do that for a while, but wasn't sure I could do that for 100 miles. Throughout loop 1 I slowly passed people that started out ahead of me. Once we got to the very runnable smooth downhill after Jackass Junction I was running 7:30 miles that pretty much felt effortless. I knew at that point how good my fitness was, it was just going to be a matter if my calf and hamstring would hold up for the race. In loop 1 you do a 6 mile section of the course at the end that you only do on loop 1. This was a cool section with some awesome single track. I think I passed 2 or 3 of the elite women at this point, the only one I recognized was Nicole Bitter who ended up getting 3rd place female. The first loop was around 22 miles which I ran in just under 3 hours at an 8:08 pace. I was really surprised how my calf held up even though it was really tight. I was 22nd overall after first lap.
As I started loop 2 I continued to be surprised by how I felt. My hips and hamstrings didn’t feel great, but I was still able to run with a halfway decent running form. I don’t really have mantras during a race, because that’s not really how my brain works, but if I did have one mantra for the day it was “bend but don’t break.” I knew with my 100 mile race experience if I could just keep running without my calf getting worse I could have a pretty good finish. The thing with a calf strain is that when it gets bad you cant really run through it and gut it out, so I was hoping I could just continue to manage it. All in all I was surprised how good I felt throughout loop 2. The weather was still very manageable and I was working to cool myself at each aid station and between aid stations with my handheld collapsible bottle. I was surprised when I came through the marathon mark at 3 hours and 30 minutes of how fast it went by and how effortless it felt, from a fitness perspective. Right before I went through the last aid station on loop 2 Nick Coury passed me. He looked so smooth and it was cool to see how quick he went through the aid station. I wasn’t really aware of place at all but it seemed like I continued to pass people throughout loop 2. I finished loop 2 in 2:39 which is a 8:22 pace for that loop. I also hit the 40 mile mark in 5:28 which is an 8:12 pace. I think I was around 12th place for the men at the end of 2 loops, but I didn’t realize it at the time as I wasn’t checking place at all.
I went into loop 3 still feeling pretty strong, but the hip and quad pain was beginning to add up. Making a concerted effort to only run with my glutes and quads made the pain in those areas add up quicker than what would be normal. I also realized at this point that if I just stayed consistent I had a pretty good race on my hands. I knew I probably couldn’t keep the pace up, but as long as I continued to run, I figured I would probably hold my place. Many people can really blow up the last 40 miles of a 100 mile race. I think it was after the first aid station on the third loop that I passed Patrick Reagan. I was a little surprised by this, as he has won this race 3 times, and was the course record holder coming into the event. He said he was dealing with some knee pain which is a huge bummer, but he still gutted out a top 10 finish. Coming up to the 50 mile mark I realized that I could get under 7 hours for 50 miles, so I decided to push it for about 1 mile to get under 7 hours. I haven’t run any flat races before so everything beyond 50k were pr’s at this point. It is kinda funny to push for 1 mile in a 100 mile race but I guess it helped me stay engaged. After 52.2 miles the tracker had me at 7th male.
I definitely made one big mistake going from aid station 1 to the Jackass Junction aid station at mile 11. Up until that point I was using 1 of my bottles to spray myself with water between aid stations. And up until then I thought it was fine to only drink 1 of the bottles between aid stations. But the heat started catching up to me at this point and I think I was not taking in enough water. Running in a dry climate like this is very deceiving because your sweat quickly drys and its hard to tell if you are taking in enough water. After Jackass Junction I slipped off the trail to pee and realized how dark my urine was (like darker than I had ever seen it before haha). This was worrisome because once you get behind on fluids its hard to catch up. The reason it is hard to catch up is because you cant just start chugging water at this point in a race. That is a sure recipe to start throwing up. At this point I knew I had to start using my second bottle to drink and not use it for cooling, and also I needed to drink an entire bottle at each aid station. I didn’t really recognize many people I was going by and so it was hard to tell who was on loop 2 and who was on loop 3. After the last aid station on loop 3 I did recognize Jacob Puzey. He looked like he was struggling a little at this point and so we chatted for a few minutes about a mutual friend of ours, Gray Riley. I tried to encourage him that hopefully he would catch back up to me but I think he dropped after that loop. I finished loop 3 in around 3:00 which is a 9:28 pace.
It wasn’t until I talked to my wife between loop 3 and 4, and had her pull up the race tracker, that I realized I was in the top 10. Although I wasn’t super concerned with place, top 10 was one of my original goals so it was pretty cool to be 60 miles into the race in the top 10. But I have run enough 100’s to know that 60 miles into a race is not very far, haha. I remember in a lot of the pre-race podcasts people noting how anyone can run a fast 100k, but those last 2 loops is what its all about. It was pretty cool to hit the 100k mark after the start of loop 4. I hit the 100k mark in 8:50 which is a 8:33 pace. Loop 4 and loop 5 were probably tied for the hardest loops out of the 5 for me. Because I was running a decent time, loop 4 ended up being as hot as loop 3, as it was still full sun exposure. I picked up two headlamps to start loop 4 just in case it got dark (I always run with a backup) but didn’t end up using either one of them on loop 4.
The story of loop 4 was how hard the hills started to feel between mile 4 and mile 11. Between the aid station at mile 4, and the Jackass Junction aid station at mile 11, it started to be tough to run the uphills, but I wanted to make a point to run the entire race so I continued steady running all the uphills. This was probably one of the toughest sections of the day for me. It still felt pretty hot with the sun exposure, and I was way more tired than at any other point in the race, and the quads and hamstrings felt pretty spent. Although I was pretty confident I wouldn’t have a blowup at this point, I also was pretty confident that a super fast finish was not in the cards either. The amount of acute muscle pain I was experiencing was different than any mountain race I have run. Ultimately, racing is about specificity and one 10 week flat training block will only take you so far in a race like this. But like in most 100 mile races, if you just run smart the last part of the race it will still be a pretty “fast finish” compared to most of the people in the race. I finished loop 4 in 3:07 which is a 9:51 pace.
I only spent a small amount of time between loop 4 and 5 because I wanted to get the 100 miles done. Mile 80 in previous 100's has been a low point for me, so the sooner I could get through that the better. And many times in my experience, the last 10 miles are actually pretty pleasant as the finish is pretty close. One thing that is interesting about this race is it being a looped course. Many people say this is hard mentally because it gives you such an easy “out” between each lap to just hop in the car and call it quits. I actually didn’t find it that difficult, even though it was my first looped race. If you can get over the mental side of being able to easily drop from the race, it is actually much easier to run 100 miles in a looped fashion. When it comes down to getting aid during the race, there isn’t anything much easier than a looped race. I don’t think it really mattered much for me since I didn’t really get aid from my crew except just 5 gels each lap. I thought it would be much harder to run a looped course, but I just tried to put it out of my mind. It was actually kinda cool to run the course 5 times and see the course at different times of day. I started looking forward to certain parts of the course and dreading others.
In terms of loop 5, it was just about survival at this point in the race. I knew I was in 6th place and anything between 7th-10th place didn’t make much of a difference to me. Although I didn’t know where the people were ahead it didn’t seem like I was going to be moving up unless someone blew up or DNF’d. I knew I wasn’t going to blow up, but I also knew if someone came storming from behind, I probably would have just congratulated them and kept running the same pace. I felt ok, but my legs just didn’t have anything else to give. Within a couple miles of starting loop 5 I came up behind Heather Jackson. She is a a professional triathlete and was in 2nd place at that point in the women's race. I love watching her videos on Youtube so I said hi and tried to encourage her on crushing her first 100 mile race. I could tell she was in the pain cave.
In the last loop I just told myself to make it to halfway and it’s all downhill from there. I knew it would be a fair amount of suffering to mile 11 but after that I could just cruise in to the finish. One of the things that was on my mind during loop 5 was that I could possibly break 15 hours. This was my number 1 goal when I first started dreaming up Javelina Jundred, and after everything with the calf injury, it was pretty cool that I was even close to that in loop 5.
Going between aid station 1 and Jackass Junction, the halfway point, I took a pretty bad fall on the rocky section. I started coming up behind groups of people hiking together on the trail and sometimes they wouldn’t move or weren’t coherent enough to realize someone was behind them. I looked up when I should have been looking down and took a nasty fall and scraped up my right elbow pretty bad. When I got up I thought my quad had locked up for a second but I tried to not give it a second thought and kept running. I ultimately ended up missing 15 hours by 3 minutes. Part of this was due to the struggle of doing simple math late in a 100 mile race and the other part was my GPS got a little off at one point. So during that loop I never quite knew how far I had left. I think my GPS showed 99.5 miles when I finished. From the last aid station, with about 4 miles to go, I knew what I needed to run in order to break 15 hours. If my life was on the line or I had a chance to get in 5th place, I probably could have done it but at that point I was just happy with the day and so cruised in. Normally the last 5 miles of a 100 mile race are pleasant but this one was pretty excruciating all the way until the end! I ran loop 5 in a time of 3:19 which is a 10:28 pace.
Overall I was a little disappointed with fading like I did in the last 2 loops but on the other hand I thought this would be my weakness going into the race. I didn’t think fitness would be an issue but didn’t really know where my muscle endurance would be for a race like this. Ultimately I was right about the muscle endurance, but think I could put in a couple more training blocks for flatter 100 mile races and greatly improve on this performance. Seeing that this was my first Javelina I thought I could run 15 hours and I missed that goal by 3 minutes. I think in the future I could go sub 14 with some more specific training and the course knowledge I now have. All in all I could not recommend this race more. Definitely one of the coolest races I have ever done.
How did I feel after the race? After my first two 100 mile races, which I did in 29 hours and 26 hours, the level of pain and fatigue after the race was on another level, but neither of those compare to what happened after Javelina, haha. I knew the post race fatigue and pain would be really bad from how I felt during the race. So between loop 4 and 5 I gave my wife specific instructions about a chair and ibuprofen and all the stuff. But it didn’t help that much. Within the first 15 minutes or so I felt ok but then we decided it was time to head to the car.
My wife had too much to carry on her own and so we decided I would carry half the gear (first bad decision) but I would only walk half the distance and she would pick me up at the road crossing (second bad decision). The walk wasn’t far but the hill I had to go up kinda got the best of me. I walked up the rocky hill in the dark to wait for my wife at the road. While standing next to a car at the road I felt like I had to throw up. When I bent over to throw up I immediately passed out from bending over. Next thing I remember there was a dude and two ladies standing over me. They asked me if I just ran the race and I said “yes” haha. At that point my wife got there in the car to see me sitting on the ground with a crowd of people around me. All in all I was fine, but the hill and carrying the stuff got the best of me.
For the next 24 hours I could not eat anything without feeling like I was going to throw up. That night the muscle pain was so severe I laid in bed all night without sleeping. We determined the severe muscle damage was diverting all the blood from my stomach to the task of healing my legs. I never experienced anything like that after a race before. It stinks when you need to eat to begin the healing process but cannot eat because of a sour stomach. Right around 24 hours after the race things got better and my stomach came around. At that point it just turned into your general cant walk down stairs running soreness. Honestly I think the 15 hours after the race was harder than the 15 hours of the race. But that’s type 2 fun for you! I hope you enjoyed this race report.
If you plan to run Javelina Jundred and need some coaching for the race hit me up! Reach out here.