Phoenix Trail Fest 2023 Ultramarathon Race Recap

This race was on 4/22/23 at Lake Lurleen in Tuscaloosa, AL.

It was my FIRST ultramarathon event!

Before this race the longest distance I had gone was about 15 miles during training for my half marathon in February. I wanted to run a marathon after that, but for some reason it sounded like a good idea to not only run an ultramarathon instead, but also do it on a trail which I didn’t have a lot of experience with at the time.

Pre-Race Preparation

I was totally undertrained for this race in terms of weekly mileage and trail running, in general.

Although I was feeling strong as a runner after the half marathon, I knew that this race would be very difficult for me.

My goal was to finish the event and try to stay hydrated and fueled up as much as possible. I took Tailwind and water for my flasks and some gels.

Race Day


Weather was great on the race morning. It felt cool in the morning but the day would be fairly warm as the hours went on.

I had my typical yogurt+granola+fruit breakfast a couple of hours before race start, was able to get some business done, and lined up at the back of the starting line.

Start Line

I was nervous at the line because it was my first ultra event but I found a small group of other runners near the back that seemed to have the same goal as me – finish with dignity – so I hung out with them.

The Race Itself

The race was broken up into loops of 12.5 miles each.

For the first loop, I hung with a small pack of runners at a reasonable pace and ended up having a great time chatting, swapping tips, etc. We made a plan to run the second loop together too.

After the first loop, I took a small break, refilled my flasks, etc. I was starting to feel some cramping in my legs, but it didn’t seem major while I was moving. However, I was basically unable to bend over to adjust my shoes. This was a red flag that I wasn’t really grasping at the time.

My family had also stopped by to see me after the first loop so I hung out with them for a few minutes!

I got separated from my pack and set off on loop 2 by myself.

Loop 2 wasn’t great for me. I was slower and my legs were really starting to bother me. I started having some blistering on my left heel, fortunately a random person helped me out with a little Squirrel’s nut butter and it helped a lot.

I finished loop 2 without much fanfare, took a little break. Unable to bend over, bad cramping in my legs if I did anything but stand or walk forward.

I set off on loop 3 with low spirits as I was NOT feeling great. About halfway through, cramping all the way, I really hit a low point and felt miserable. Fortunately, a lady came up to me and checked to see how I was doing. When I mentioned the cramping, she offered me a salt tablet which I took. The salt tablet helped and we ended up finishing out the race together although I’m sure I held her back on her normal pace.


Immediate Aftermath

I felt great after the race except for my cramping. It was a HUGE PR for me (15>37.5 miles) so I was really jazzed about the result.


When I got home, there was actually a late birthday sleepover underway for my oldest girls so there were kids running around and festivities. Fortunately, there was also fried chicken.

I was a bit surprised that I didn’t seem to have the hunger I thought I would and that post-race beer didn’t taste good either. What I did want to do was lie down with my feet elevated and rest. I also added some compression socks.

I slept okay and the next day I was very sore but it was manageable. The soreness was gone after a few days.


Definitely a solid result for me, all things considered, because of the huge distance PR.

Analysis and Reflection

I think my biggest takeaway was that I was just flat out undertrained and it made the event miserable. My goal for my next event was to finish without being miserable.


Great event, I recommend that you run this race if you have the option!

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