I’m so excited to announce we are planning the SECOND annual Wildland 52k Ultramarathon!
When: September 14, 2019, 6:30am-6:30pm
Where: Jemez Springs, NM
Who: Anyone who has completed a mountain trail ultramarathon. Well, the first 30 to sign up, at least!
Q: When does registration open?
A: March 15, 12:00am
Q: What is the cut-off time?
A: 12 Hours to finish the race. There is a 5 minute allowance if you get a massage on Cerro Pelado. Hahaha Yep. I’m serious.
Q: What is the sports drink?
A: We’re hoping Tailwind again! You are welcome to bring something else for your drop bags, but we won’t be able to offer any sports drink other than the sponsoring provider.
Q: Will there be a shorter race?
A: 21 Miler! The “big loop” of the 52k course.
Q: Will there be a relay?
A: We are looking into this; however, if we do, it will be limited to first responders only (Firefighter, EMT or Police; may be combined).
Q: Is the course the same?
A: We are hoping to be able to keep the same course, but may have to change the start due to it being on private property. If it must be changed, it will start and finish in the same location to make it simpler logistically for runners. We will do all we can to keep the same amount of elevation, however; if we have to decide between easier or harder, we will go with “harder”. We should know soon if there is a change.
More details to come soon!
Today marks a heavy anniversary… and one of the driving events behind the creation of the Wildland 52.
These men, the men of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew worked on two major fires in the Jemez Mountains, the 2011 Las Conchas and the 2013 Thompson Ridge. They were key in the development of a Structure Protection Plan for what we called “VDI”. VDI was a name given to the general Vallecitos de Los Indios area including Sierra de Los Pinos, Vallecitos and Ruby Holt tract (Bennet Lane and Sky High Way). Their last assignment before perishing 6-30-13 in the Yarnell Hill fire was here, in our beloved Jemez Mountains.
They, and those who loved them, paid the ultimate sacrifice that day. It is our hopes that the Wildland 52 will help to raise funds to support two invaluable organizations that support the Wildland Community; just a small token of our honor, our love and gratitude.
* Looking north, Redondo Peak backdrops the ridge of Los Griegos Mountain from the Fire Lookout tower on Cerro Pelado. Runners will ascend Los Griegos from the west, run the ridge, then drop into the saddle and ascend to the Fire Lookout.
One of my favorite sections of trail starts with a climb up a dozer line, which I was told was cut last year during the El Cajete fire; it’s rough, loose and steep enough that it caused the course to change direction. Flanked in Ponderosa, Fir and Aspen the wide path is a rocky scar with drainage berms; wildflowers are flourishing in the turned soil. It nearly crests the ridge before giving way to single track over narrow ridge of rock and shrubbery. The rock is still stained coral from the slurry drop and though the steep face to runner’s left is covered in darkened trees burnt in that fire; the right side is more sloping and green and healthy. I felt like an excited kid as I steeped out on it, even more so when I found the old call box nailed to a tree; the phone that the fire lookout and patrol rangers used to call the ranger station in the Jemez Springs village is gone, but remnants of the phone line remain. An abandoned chain left from a sawyer hangs nearby, and a summit register that I didn’t notice my first trip up holds the names of two fire crews who worked the El Cajete and Los Conchas fires. It may sound silly, but given the fact that this was not the original course and the purpose of the race, these finds had me on cloud nine; no one can make me believe I was not supposed to find these items and route the course this way!
The trail follows part of the old “high line” route that the fire lookouts traveled on daily patrols by foot or horseback; runners will drop off the ridge to the saddle on the south, then ascend to the top of Cerro Pelado, where they will find aid and refreshments at the base of the current Fire Lookout. After a pause to refuel and take in the views, they will descend the steep, grassy slope below the powerlines to Keddy Lake (Ranger Keddie used to man the fire look out, which also was where supplies would be brought for rangers at other lookouts farther south; from what I was told, he dug the pond for the horses to water). From here runners will leave the high-line trail and head north through a beautiful mountain meadow, surrounded by fir trees and aspen, on a gentle descent on wide, runnable paths covered in short grass, flirt with the edges of the El Cajete scar and take in spectacular views of the older Los Conchas burn area and Valles Caldera.
*clockwise: climbing up the dozer line on Los Griegos; Los Griegos Ridge line (north side burned during El Cajete in 2017, while the south side was not); Ridgeline still painted from the slurry drops and a sawyer’s chain remains; Fire lookout can be seen on the summit of Cerro Pelado from Los Griegos.
“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter”. — Izaak Walton
A dream born a couple years ago is finally coming to fruition!
Along with my neighbors and fellow volunteers in our small community, we live in, play in, and love the mountains. But with that comes responsibility, as well as risk. We take care of one another, as well as visitors, and we try to be good stewards of these woods, valleys and mountains. Many volunteer as trained first responders and often work side by side with our county, state and federal law enforcement and fire fighters; w work together, laugh together and have even cried together… and in doing so, have become extended family. Too many times our community has been threatened and by wildfire, and yes, we suffer the loss of homes or property. And, sometimes we lose a member of our extended family tragically. Within the past five years, as a volunteer fire fighter and chaplain, I have experienced that pain; tried to somehow come alongside the families and the fire families after such a loss. It is no easy thing, especially when one has worked with the deceased.
Beauty does come from ashes however, and organizations like the Wildland Fire Fighter Foundation, The Eric Marsh Foundation and the Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute are the result of those losses.
September 29, 2018 we hosted the first annual Wildland 52k Ultramarathon in Jemez Springs, NM. to raise funds for the WFF and WFGI; in 2019, we will be raising funds for the EMF and WFGI.
The course will run from the village of Jemez Springs, through the Jemez Monument* and ascend steeply out of the canyon* and then follow the rim. We will run through creeks and by waterfalls, and summit two of the higher Jemez mountains which make up the old “high-line route” that Fire Lookouts and Patrol Rangers used to watch for signs of wildfire, beginning in the early 1900’s. You will flirt with the edges of new burn scars along a high mountain ridge, run through old burn scars to witness the rebirth of a forest, follow the steps of wildland crews, climb an old dozer line up steep slopes now covered in wild flowers and behold the spectacular views from the fire tower. If we’re lucky, the aspens will be changing into gold and elk will be bugling!
*We have been granted use of state and private property for this race, on the race day specifically and have been requested to inform participants that access to the park is by “fee only” outside of race day. Please be advised there is NO ACCESS to the private property surrounding the monument and to the canyon rim, other than registered runners on race day or designated/authorized crews conducting trail maintenance. Please respect these requests so that we may continue this event as planned this year and hopefully in future years to come.