The following race recap of the 2021 Desert RATS stage race was written by Hart Strength & Endurance Client Meredith Goode. Thank you Meredith for sharing a glimpse into your amazing desert journey!
Running has always been one of my greatest joys, so I was devastated when a hip surgery put my running on pause. To add insult to injury (pun intended), I was told by many people that I wouldn’t be able to run again. On the day of surgery, I promised myself to not only get back to running but tackle one of my biggest goals – a multi-day stage race.
A year post op, I decided it was time to chase after my goal. After much Googling, I stumbled upon on the Desert RATS Kokopelli 150 stage race. It’s a 135+ mile, multiday race that travels from Grand Junction, CO to Moab, UT. There are 5 days of running, and distances vary from 9 to 42 miles per day.
The race happens each year at the end of June…yes, that’s right…the desert in June.
After I clicked ‘register’, the fear set in. Here I was, running only a few miles per week. How wasI supposed to train for a week-long race with heat and elevation?! (I live in Illinois.)
Thankfully, my panicked Google search led me to Hart Strength and Endurance.
After a few emails, I felt an instant connection with Heather and knew she’d be an amazing coach. Heather took into account my level of fitness (or lack thereof) and developed a 6-month plan that got me to the start line feeling strong and confident.
My experience at Desert RATS was pure magic. I met a group of 30+ people equally as passionate (and crazy?) about running and adventure. We shared stories over delicious meals (the race is supported, so food is provided!) and became a tight-knit group over the journey. I felt so at peace laying under the stars with no cell service or work distractions.
A week of running might not sound like everyone’s dream vacation, but it was truly epic.
The week didn’t come without its challenges though. Traveling 135+ miles in 90 – 100-degree temps is not for the faint of heart. There was also 16,280’+ of elevation gain, which is really something for this flatlander!
Thankfully, the views after the brutal climbs were always worth it. I’ll spare the nitty gritty details, because I think you should sign up, and I don’t want to ruin all the surprises!
If you’re considering a stage race, here’s my (unsolicited) advice: focus on back-to-back long runs, dial in your nutrition (seriously, do it!) put in the work, and trust your training to carry you to the finish line.
One of my favorite sayings is “why not me?”, so why not you?! Chase after what sets your soul on fire. And don’t forget to hire Hart Strength and Endurance. (No, this message is not sponsored!)