Cocodona 250: running for 5 days straight with Mike Sveum

Cocodona 250 is a 256 mile ultra run across Arizona, with 42k feet of climbing. Three of our PATH projects KREW members decided to take on this incredibly challenging adventure, to run and hike further than they had ever gone, through the AZ heat. 

Mike Sveum, Greg Sisengrath and Wes Plate are experienced ultra runners with diverse backgrounds in training and racing. In this mini series of 3 blog posts, we will share their Cocodona race experiences, with plenty of highs, lows, lessons learned and recommendations to other endurance athletes looking to run far. 

Cocodona through the eyes of Mike Sveum

Mike Sveum at Cocodona

Mike Sveum, 37 years old, is an ultra endurance runner in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He works for Special Ops at border patrol in New Mexico and he is a father of 2 young kids. 

After hearing several podcasts about the Triple Crown events (Bigfoot 200, Tahoe 200 and Moab 240), he got really excited and started thinking: 

"I wonder if I can run an event like this..." 

When this race was announced in Arizona, a bit closer to Mike, that's what got him to sign up right away. 

cocodona race 250 miles

Cocodona at mile 90, Granite Dells outside Prescott, AZ.

"On day one I should have moved a lot slower. I passed some of the good 200 mile runners up the steep mountain that first day and should have taken that as a hint. I should have slowed down and just sat under a tree for an hour. Day one put a hurting on me, I felt it for the next 3 days."

Mike Sveum Cocodona Arizona race

Mile 126, down hill fire road in Jerome, AZ. 

"Everything uphill I was going to walk, there was going to be no running uphill. By the end I couldn’t run anything other than flat. That downhill and the rocks was just so terrible, you just kill your feet."

Pyrenees Hooded Shirt on Mike Sveum

Cooling off and refueling at an aid station at Jerome State Park, around mile 126. Not even half way there... 

 

foot care at cocodona race
"The hardest part of the race for me was right around Sedona (mile 160). Just before that is when my ankle was getting really swollen. That night going into Sedona, it felt like you were just going up and down on the same little hill, which you weren’t because you were doing a loop around town."

"It was really really rocky and my foot was just getting so swollen. It felt like every step I had a cast on my leg, I couldn’t even move it. It was just my poles were my crutches, that was the hardest part for me. It was night time, I was really tired and then my foot, shin, ankle was so swollen, I couldn’t move my foot at all, like walking with a cast on. So that was really hard." 

 

blisters at cocodona race

Working through tough spots during Cocodona 250

cocodona van

"Having my crew and my friends there, they wouldn’t let me quit. I wanted to quit so bad, but there is like you are not quitting! It wasn’t even a conversation.

We would be out there and I would say: Man, I don’t think I’m going to make it. But then once we were at the van, switching out crew every section, the next guy would be ok, we are ready, let’s go!

They wouldn’t even let me, I’m so thankful for those guys for helping me out and for taking time away from work and family. They are the only reason I finished it."

cocodona race

"Two of my crew guys are from Special Ops for border patrol with me and one other guys from a border patrol station that I used to work with."

Trails at Cocodona race

"The Pyrenees T19 shirt worked great, I wish I had worn that on day one to keep the sun off my head and neck. You always think you are going to feel better cooler and stuff. I had the arm sleeve the first two days, but also having the head coverage on was really nice. That shirt did really well."

Mike wearing Pyrenees Hooded shirt at Cocodona

Mile 165, heading towards Black Tank. 

Aid station at Cocodona

Aravaipa Running supplied all runners with SPOT Trackers for real-time GPS tracking. This was a great way to see current pace, moving time, stopped time, moving speed, etc for each runner in the race. 

"There aren't too many smiles at mile 219, but when that Squirrels Nut Butter goes on, it brightens up everyone's day!"

Pyrenees Watch Slot

Mile 219.6, Fort Tuthill aid station, 37 miles to go:

“I’m actually able to run now. Luckily my foot swelling is going down haha. Overall I'm feeling good. It’s nice to be cool”

Cocodona Race in Arizona

"Once we got to higher elevation, cooler temperatures and nice scenery, I was feeling a lot better. I didn’t have to stop that much towards the end, I still felt terrible, only took a 3 minute nap on that last segment and kept moving."

"I think my limit is 256 miles, because I don’t want to find anything farther than that. So I have found my limit, luckily it was at the finish line."

"After the finish, I was so happy that the pain was over and that I could go to sleep. I was just so tired and in pain for so long. I was happy for it to be over. I’m so thankful I didn’t quit when I really wanted to."

Recommendations for runners looking to go further / longer than they have ever done?

"Have confidence in your training. Trust your training, put in the time on your feet. Get comfortable being uncomfortable, learn how to manage chafing, sweating, your stomach, etc. Just try it, that’s the only way you will find out if you are able to push it farther and find your limit."

 

Closing thoughts?

"I wish I would have done better. But I'm glad I finished. It was cool to be out there the first year. I’m sure there will be several changes made to the race for next year. Maybe a water drop in that first 21 mile section. Wish I would have played it smarter at day one, but whatever."

"Stepping on those rocks for hours, killed the balls of my feet. A lot of people I talked to were like that. I should have worn my thicker shoes from the start too, that was a mistake. I wished I had worn my thicker cushion shoes and being more careful standing up on those rocks. That’s something I had never experienced before. That’s something you learn. Doing more mountain races and being careful standing up on those rocks. Because it took 3 days for that to finally go numb and then I could finally start running again." 

Find more about Mike Sveum on Instagram and Strava

PATH projects gear Mike used during Cocodona 250:

Crest PX 7" shorts in black

Crest PX 7" running short in black
"I was wearing the Crest PX 7” shorts and like the Relaxed Fit shorts. They worked well, I like having the big side pockets. The zippers are so nice, you don’t have to worry about losing stuff out of there when you’re laying on the ground. That really worked well."

Pyrenees T19 Hooded Long Sleeve Shirt

Pyrenees T-19 hooded shirt with GPS watch slot

James Topo Short Sleeve TeeJames Topo SS tee

Rainier cap

Rainier cap running

 


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