Monument Valley Ultra – 50 miles of absolute crazy beauty

I’m having a hard time writing this one. Words will never be able to describe the past few days. The race. The land. The people. This is going to be a long post.

Mile 46.5

Mostly this blog post will be a photo journal. I probably took over 100 photos along the course. I like to think I could have finished an hour sooner by stuffing the camera away. But really — this isn’t about speed or time. It’s about enjoying the experience, making friends, and creating memories.

The race started at 7 AM, just as the sun was making her grand appearance. The vibe at the start was infectious. There is just an amazing spirit at Monument Valley.

The start

My biggest fans xoxo

The first 10 miles flew by because the scenery was beyond anything I’ve ever seen before — and that’s saying a lot. The views were just… breathtaking, amazing, spectacular… Ultra-Adventures knows how to put on a race. Everything — from the course marking, to the volunteers, to the atmosphere — you’ll never find a race that compares.


My heaven

This is pretty awesome, right??!?

My goal for this race was simple: finish without crying.

So, I modified my strategy. This time I would just enjoy the ride. This time I would not focus on being fast. This time I would remember to eat. And eat often (huge shout out to honey stinger for your support!). And hydrate. Bust mostly I would remember this is much more than an athletic feat. Every single time I run I grow and learn something new about myself and the people around me.

Probably one of my favorite shots

And my second fav

Beautiful desert

Ear of the Wind arch

I love rock art, so this was just such a treat 🙂

After climbing for God knows how long straight up to the top of Mitchell Mesa, we were rewarded with views. VIEWS!!

On top of the world. And HAPPY 🙂 🙂

I knew by this point that I had to be close to the front of the pack. I was feeling awesome. I hadn’t cried ONE time and I had about 9 miles to go to the finish. The last half of my race I was so fortunate to meet an exceptional human being and fantastic runner named Meghan. She kept me going and not only was she straight up hard core (wearing a weighted pack) but she was a wealth of running knowledge. I don’t think she”ll ever know how much she pushed me to keep going. I knew I had a crazy energy reserve stored up for the last final miles so I just went for it. I flew through the last aid station – gave Steve a kiss and the kids a final LOVE YOU and told them I’d see them at the finish.

With just a few yards to go, my little buddies were there to usher me into the finish 🙂 I love this pic!

Happy moment — I see the finish line — and my family and friends 🙂 🙂

I finished in somewhere around 10:52 (I don’t know the official time yet..) I never thought I’d break 11 hours. And the best part was that I felt really great the entire time.

My 2nd place overall female prize — a handmade tomahawk. 🙂 🙂 Proud 🙂 🙂

Top 3 BadASS CHICKS with race director, Matt Gunn

As I now go grab a glass of wine and try and relax (and ice my feet and ankles) I want everyone reading this to take away one thing from this post — you can do anything. ANYTHING. What’s your dream? Go get it! Life is short — do what makes you happy people!

  • Congratulations, Jill, to you and your fellow competitors on this amazing feat! Wishing you good health and all the best as you continue your journey through God's great beauty! Thank you for sharing!

  • A wonderful race and I can feel your happiness with every word and picture. You've captured the beauty and spirit of the day so well. Congrats on a great race!

  • hi jill–killer great job at MV!! I wish I hadn't gone off course so we could run together a little before the finish. great work!!

  • PAUL!! I heard about your course issue. I hope you're at the gym tomorrow so we can discuss all things Monument Valley 🙂 I hope your experience was awesome (besides that last part) !!

  • Hello! My name is Phoebe and I'm also a trail runner. I stumbled across your blog, and I have to say your photos are fantastic! Do you mind if I ask what camera you use?Thanks!!

  • Hi Phoebejoy — believe it or not, most of the photos on this post were from my iphone! But typically I shoot w/ an Olympus OM-D. I love Olympus. I feel like you can't go wrong with the OM-D or Olympus PEN (my last camera that I loved!)

  • Jill … Your pictures are amazing! And your commentary too! I truly believe this area is one of God's most beautiful creations! I especially love the pic of Harry & JJ running with you 🙂 You are truly amazing … not only as a runner .. but as a mom, wife, and mentor. Love … Mom & Dad

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