Black Canyon Ultras Preview

The 2020 Black Canyon 60K/100K, hosted by Aravaipa Running is set for this Saturday, February 15 in Mayer, AZ. Nikki Buurma and Thomas Kean will compete in the sold out race; 60K for Nikki, 100K for Thomas, which will be his first at the distance. Former teammate and dear friend, Adidas sponsored Corrine Malcolm will also race, competing in the 100K. As a qualifying, golden ticket race for the Western States 100 as well as UTMB (via points earned), Thomas will be on the hunt for a top place in the men’s field.

“The Black Canyon 100K takes place on the Black Canyon Trail in Arizona, a north-to-south, point-to-point trail through the foothills of the Bradshaw Mountains. It starts about 75 miles south of Flagstaff and ends just north of Phoenix. Like most any point-to-point trails, the elevation at one end isn’t the same as the elevation at the other end. In the case of the Black Canyon Trail, the north trailhead sits at about 4,200 feet above sea level and the southern terminus rests around 1,900 feet. The 100K itself runs north-to-south, so the course accumulates a net downhill. Flowing downhill through the Black Canyon is the Agua Fria River, a roughly 120-mile waterway that slows to a trickle in the summer and rages with run-off from downpours and snowmelt other times of the year. The river swells so ferociously and quickly that it caused a course re-route of the 2017 race due to flash flooding. But in the desert a wet rainy day is much rarer than a sizzling afternoon under the sun. Even in February, the Black Canyon can heat up to 90 degrees F. The many cacti – saguaros and ocotillos and chollas – easily endure the rain and heat and don’t seem to mind one or the other…Ultrarunners – unlike the cacti – do mind the heat and the rain. Heat slows our pace and might dehydrate us; rain muddies our footing and could cause us to slip. And that’s the beauty of running the Black Canyon 100k…”
(Excerpt on Aravaipa Running by Eric Senseman, “Why Black Canyon 100KM?“)

Based on ultrasignup rankings, the top contenders heading into BC 100K are Tyler Sigl (2nd at last year’s Chuckanut 50K and a top-3 competitor time and again), Hayden Hawks (winner of Arches Ultra ’20, Cedar City 50K, Broken Arrow Skyrace, Ultimate Tsaigu Trail, last year’s Chuckanut 50K, and so many more – and, fortunately, has accepted entry to Western States already, which will open up a spot for someone else should he place in the top few), Elliot Cardin (2nd at Bromont Ultra ’19, 1st at NF Challenge – Ultra-Trail Harricana of Canada ’18, and a top 2-7 competitor in the last few years), Damian Car (A 1-3rd place finisher at Fox Ultra 60K over the past few years), Justus Meyer (2nd at Castle Peak 100k ’19, 12th at Oman by UTMB ’18), Charlie Ware (1st at this year’s San Tan Scramble 50K, and at the ’19 Colossal-Vail 50-50 13-Miler; 36th place at Western States ’19), and our boy Thomas, who’s sitting in at 8 (based on Ultrasignup).

For those not privy to the Western States entry process via racing (outside of the lottery, and which is just one of several ways to be considered, albeit they’re all difficult) – “Up to 24 slots are reserved for top place competitors of the Golden Ticket Races. The top (2) female and male finishers in each individual Golden Ticket race will automatically qualify for entry into the 2020 WS 100 event. In the case that the first, or second place participant is already in WS 100 (or decides to opt out), the automatic bid will slide to 3rd place, 4th place and subsequently down to 5th place as needed. No places below 5th will be accepted.”

With Black Canyon 100K a Golden Ticket Race (other races being the since passed Hoka One One Bandera 100K, and upcoming Georgia Death Race 74 MI, Lake Sonoma 50 MI and The Canyons 100K), and with Hawks already entered into WS 100, the odds are better in our favor. For a current list of the WS 100 2020 entrants see HERE.

With the 100K starting at 7:00 am Saturday, the Black Canyon 60K will start 2 hours later, at 9:00 am. En route to training for her “A” race at the Sonoma 50 MI, this will be Nikki’s 2nd time racing BC 60K. Sitting at 17th in the runsignup rankings, Nikki seeks to improve upon her time & place set in 2019, of 21st place in 5:36.

Want to track our BDP athletes? Live tracking will be made available at the following LINK!

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