Bad Choices in Great Places: Mingus Mountain Marathon

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By Jacob Wolf, Chief Distribution Officer

I like to think that I’m an eco-conscious guy. When I was craving some Haunted Hamburger the other day, I just couldn’t justify driving my car all the way up to Jerome. I could’ve called on a friend with an electric car, but until their electricity comes from renewable sources, it isn’t any greener than my gas guzzler. To get to Jerome, I had only one eco-friendly mode of transportation: my legs.

I started pounding pavement in the early hours of an overcast morning. Running through Prescott Valley, I made it to an off-ramp of Highway 89 and started up the left shoulder. It was my first time running on the side of a road, so I stayed cautiously far from the traffic lanes. I ran in the dirt next to the shoulder every time I could, which wasn’t often.

A few snack breaks later, I made it to the base of Mingus and settled in for the long ascent. I alternated half a mile of running with half a mile of walking. It was no blazing pace, but please remember: I was running for hamburgers, not records.

Unsurprisingly, Highway 89A wasn’t designed for foot traffic. My running lane was the little space between the driving lane and the edge of the pavement, which was a foot or two across. Most drivers were understanding of my position and gave me lots of space when they passed by. But if there was traffic in the other lane, or someone was compensating with an oversized pickup truck, I was squeezed off the road and into the ditch.

Most vehicles weren’t too surprised to see me trotting up towards them. The only exception was a car of older ladies, who were concerned enough to pull over and ask if I was okay. They thought that I was in some sort of trouble and had to run away as a result. When I said that I was fine and was just out for a lazy morning run, they called me crazy and sped off. Some folks just don’t get it.

By the time I made it up the hill, I was starting to really feel it. I’m talking about quads cramping, arches collapsing, and IT bands pulling. My mind was racing faster than my legs, and I seriously considered calling it quits. But in a moment of clarity, my mind refocused on my mission: a mushroom covered hamburger and a boozy shake. Courage restored, I ran on for the final stretch.

After five and a half hours, 24 miles, and a few thousand feet of elevation, I arrived exhausted in Jerome. I took a quick cooldown in the town’s park, and I saw that car of ladies go by. When I waved hello, they called me crazy and sped off for a second time. Some folks still don’t get it.

In spite of those darling supporters, my burger and shake were well worth the run. They stopped my soreness in its tracks, but they couldn’t keep my mind from wandering. Looking out at Sedona from Haunted Hamburger’s back patio, I wondered if I was eco-conscious enough to leg it to that blue McDonald’s. We’ll just have to see what the summer has in store.

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