Orion Ultra is a series of races – from 10K to 100 miles – along the Gulf Coast at Surfside Beach. I signed up for marathon distance as a training run for upcoming Marathon des Sables Peru. With a course that’s 100% sand, zero shade, temps forecast at 90+ degrees, & chance to test desert gear – perfect, yes?
And it was a blast!
RD Rob Goyen (yep — same guy, different suit) put on a great race. Super well-organized, fabulous volunteers, and an extra hot day for even better Ica Desert training (thanks, Rob!).
Course was straightforward – 10 miles out along the beach, 10 miles back, then a short 3.1 mile out & back section.
Beach was open to the public, so instead of potentially monotonous miles – there were fisherman, families, and… wait for it… dogs! Happy dogs! Chasing sticks into the surf, hopping around in the shallows. And greeting runners – or maybe that’s just me because I smiled at them & offered pets & laughed when they ran circles around me.
One (very large) pit mix ran right up & sat, like did I have something for him? Treats, maybe?! Refused to budge until his dad bribed him with food — so SURE I must have something good in my pack.
Finished! hot, tired, not-at-all speedy – but very, very happy.
What worked well:
• OMM 25L pack – weighted to 22# (more than will be @ MdS => additional weight training)
• Purple OR desert hat
• Pearl Izumi arm coolers
• North Face tee shirt
• Nike running skirt
• DryMax socks – zero blisters! after 26 miles of hot sand
• TriFuel – hydration + nutrition
• Shoes – Lone Peak 3.0 with Altra gaiters
Not so well:
• Coppertone sunscreen – ultralight, breathable — but even at SPF 50, I burned badly
• Spotify – mistake in settings forced several-mile slog with really-bad-so-god-awful 60’s pop music. (Gahhh!! make it stop!!)
• Mosquitoes – ginormous! & super aggressive. Dive bombed the minute I got out of my car – and I had neglected to bring bug spray. Ugh! Nice person who parked next quickly shared theirs & I was fine for rest of the day.