About NATRA Blog

This page is meant for folks to post their thoughts on the Saturday group run. I (Neil) will post a blurb about who showed up and where it was held. From there, I hope that other runners will share their thoughts since we often have different experiences on the same run. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Getting our butts kicked on Route 66!

Nine runners inaugurated NATRA's first ever run on the Route 66 Mountain Biking Loop on Ash Fork Hill, about 10 minutes west of Williams, Arizona. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, my Kaibab National Forest co-worker Teri Cleeland had the foresight to create a mountain bike loop trail out of the 1921 Old Trails Highway section and 1931 Route 66 alignment. She also had successfully nominated them to the National Register of Historic Places.

For more than twenty years I thought this would make tough 10K, but it wasn't until today that NATRA gave it a spin. The run was every bit as challenging for runners (and David on his Mountain Bike) as it was from the truckers heating up their engines climbing I-40 just to the south of us. We ran the loop counter clockwise so that we could retrace the steps of the runners that competed in the 1928 Footrace Across America, 84 years ago this March! See video below.

Running westward on the broken pavement of the 1931 Route 66 alignment we had a blast and encountered a recently stenciled Route 66 marker in the old pavement. The vistas to the west were stunning and the run was pretty much downhill - we were feeling pretty fast....but what goes down....

See David Blanchard's Photography Blog about this run.

The return was another story. It was entirely uphill with a few twists and turns that left many walking the way that most "bunioneers" did in 1928 up the same exact path. Only when they did it, there had been a snowstorm in the high country so no doubt they had added weight. Despite the nearly 500 foot ascent(that felt like 1000), all felt well challenged and excited to have this run added to our repertoire! Thanks to Don Bayles for the photos below!

In addition to the above video, two amazing books give different accounts of the Bunion Derby. The Bunion Derby, by Charles B. Kastner, University of New Mexico Press 2007; and C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race, Rodale Press 2007.


  1. Awesome photos and great idea for a run! I wish I would have participated! Jackie Banks

    1. Well...this Saturday we are running the Pine Springs 5 mile loop! Join us! Flag athleltic club west, 7:30 AM!