SOUTH FORK — Lynn Childs, a resident out of South Fork, recently completed a 256.9-mile race out of Arizona and over exceeded his goals at 52 years old.
When asked what prompted him to complete such a feat Childs stated that this was his opportunity to test his ability and his spirit.
“I think mostly it was the challenge of not knowing my limitations and to push those limits,” Childs said. “Between that and the opportunity to see the trails themselves, it was just something I felt I had to do. I had the chance to see Arizona in a way very few get to see it and that was amazing.”
The Cocodona 250 is a world-renowned foot race that tests the limits of racers from around the world and of all abilities. According to the Cocodona website, “The Cocodona Trail is a curated route through central Arizona linking historic towns and trails off the beaten path. The rich history of the towns linked up through little traveled ranges makes this a one-of-a-kind tour of Arizona.
“From the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, through canyons and pine forests this is a magical route. The accomplishment of traveling the Cocodona Trail on foot will be one of the most life changing and epic journeys of an endurance athlete’s career. We envision this as a once in a lifetime experience and the pinnacle endurance challenge in North America.”
Childs didn’t start his running career until he hit age 50 and began with the Leadville 50. After that he was addicted and decided to go from his average 62-mile race and jump headfirst into the Cocodona 250.
“I had never run anything over 100k and wanted to see what I was capable of,” Childs said. “This was an inaugural race and was a huge jump for me. I dove in and loved every minute of it.”
Childs stated that his biggest challenge during the race was the elevation change and the vertical climbs up both Mingus Mountain at an elevation of 7,815 feet and Elden Mountain at an elevation of 9,298 feet.
“If I were to do anything differently looking back it would be that I would train more in vertical and elevation rather than the training I did for endurance and speed,” he said. “I would have to say that the highlight of my adventure was getting to the top of Mingus and Elden and seeing the scenery looking out over Arizona.”
Childs did not set out to win the Cocodona but instead set out to see how much he could finish and with the help and support of his crew and wife Linda, he finished the staggering 256.9-mile race in 115 hours.
“I stayed positive throughout the entire race and could not be more grateful for the support of my crew and my wife,” Childs said. “I never pushed myself to the point of pain. My goal was to just finish the race and to keep moving forward.”
Childs was one of 174 racers who participated in the race and one of the 108 that finished.
“We saw snakes in the dessert after the sun went down, which was odd, and we had the chance to run through a heard of elk at the base of Elden Mountain. We also had a moment when we were running at night in 30-degree temps and noticed two huge eyeballs staring at us. We decided to walk over and investigate only to find that either a possum or racoon was up in a tree. We made a joke of it and ran for our lives,” laughed Childs.
Childs also learned some lessons from his first 250-mile race, one of which was that during the first 50k stretch was to bring more water.
“They recommended you have about three liters of water with you during the first part, but you actually needed more like five. We lost about 30 people during that first stretch. It's not for the faint of heart,” he said.
Childs also stated that the sleep deprivation was what he considered interesting.
“When the Z monster hits, you just can’t help but take a short nap,” Childs said. “We saw one guy sitting on a rock, holding his hiking poles and just snoozing away. I called out to him, but he didn’t respond. He did however pass me about 10 minutes later and then I came across him again, in the same position sleeping the night away. He passed me yet again after that.
“Family and friends were able to track my progress throughout the race thanks to the technology of my tracker, but my crew is what got me through,” he added.
Childs plans on spending some time healing his blistered feet, which thankfully was the only injury he sustained during the race, then he plans on possibly taking on a 500-mile race in the future. He also wanted his fellow runners to know about a 100-mile race coming up at the beginning of June in Beulah, dubbed Mace’s Hideout 100.
“Registration for the next Cocodona race starts in three weeks so if anyone wants a chance to prepare for the next race, they should go check out the Mace’s Hideout 100,” he said.
Most of Childs’ crew were pack burro racers from around the Colorado and Arizona area and he gave a huge shoutout to all who helped him reach the finish line.
“If I could give advice to anyone wanting to complete this race it would be that yes, you can do it alone but if you can get a crew, you will be more successful and have way more fun. I can’t thank my crew enough,” he said.