Holidays are great for runners. If your local runs are losing their appeal it is an ideal opportunity to try something new and it’s a perfect way to explore as well.
In April we spent three weeks in Las Vegas exploring the south west of America. One of our scheduled day trips was to visit the Hoover Dam. Whilst visiting with friends I asked how far away it was, ‘about 25 miles’ came the response. Oh, I thought, that could be interesting. I made the mistake of verbalising this thought and before I knew it I was borrowing a Camelbak and energy gels.
5:00am and with iPhone in hand I set off hoping to beat some of the hot desert sun. As it happens the sun was beating down after about an hour and I was rapidly consuming my water supplies. As I neared the edge of suburbia I tried one of the gels: vanilla flavour. Mmmm this is very American, I thought, maybe the next one would be cinnamon, root beer or even wintergreen!
I found myself on the ‘River Mountains Loop Trail’. If it wasn’t for the highway, never more than a mile or so away, and the perfectly constructed concrete slabs beneath my feet, I could have been in the middle of the desert. It definitely felt like the desert – there was no sign of a river as far as I could see – it was so dry it felt like my insides had been relieved of all their moisture to try and bring some life to the barren wilderness that surrounded me. There was something otherworldly about this place - the rocky crags and mountains seemed to stretch forever.
After running around Boulder City I noticed a 6 mile trail that skirted the side of Lake Mead and would lead me directly to the dam. By this time I was becoming slightly dazed and confused. My water was gone as were the gels. The ‘Historic Railroad Hiking Trail’ was originally used whilst the dam was being created, the trains have long since ceased, but the trail’s 5 tunnels under the Nevada rock were a welcome escape from the blazing sun.
By the time the Dam came into view suspected that I might have some sort of heat stroke. With $5 in my pocket I entered the ‘Hoover Dam Souvenir Gift Shop’. It could have given the gaudiest Casinos on the strip a run for their money. There were mirrors everywhere reflecting light and enhancing the delirium I was then experiencing.
Searching for the water amongst the endless miniature Hoover Dam replicas I took two bottles to the cashier and was greeted in a way that only Americans can. ‘That’s $4.99’ she said. Walking away I knew something was wrong, even given my present physical exhaustion. How could two bottles be $4.99. I returned to the cashier, not wanting that cent change on my conscience. ‘That’s right’ she said ‘one for $2.50 or two for $4.99’.
by Ed Banks