OPINION: Run the Red Desert a Great Way to Celebrate Public Lands Day

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Wyoming Wilderness Association photo
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The following opinion was written and submitted by Cassandra Vincelette.

When I started Run the Red 50k in 2018 I arrived 30 minutes late. “Can I still go?” I asked the race director. “Absolutely!” he said. I threw off my pullover, slathered on some sunscreen, and ran past the starting line, hydration pack still in hand. I kept moving as I struggled to put on my race bib and pack, not wanting to stop as I would fall further behind. 

As I started on the course it was silent and I was completely alone. I could see the other racers footprints in the sand. They were far ahead of me by now. The sun was rising above the horizon making me feel more energized. I pumped my legs and increased my speed trying to catch up. I had a long journey in front of me.

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The high desert of Southwest Wyoming is a place that I know well. I live in Rock Springs, so it’s my backyard – my training ground– and over the past few years it has shaped who I am. It takes time to appreciate the subtle beauty of this place. The overwhelmingly fragrant smell of sage brush after it rains. The deep reds of the rocks contrasting with the whites and tans of the sand. The vibrant and short-lived desert wild flowers that show up in late spring. The smell of the dirt in the air from the hot summer sun. The seemingly ever-present Wyoming wind that builds strength and character in the winter time. The antelope, deer, coyotes and other wildlife that I share this space with. This is Run the Red. 

I’ve ran on lots of single track, mountains, national parks all over the west and have yet to find anything like the Red Desert. Running in wild places is everything to me. It’s where I become alive, ground myself, and connect with my environment and that deep, wild part of myself. I encourage the Wyoming running community to join me in the Red Desert on Wyoming Public Lands Day, September 28th, for another Run the Red. Check out the new courses at runthereddesert.com.

Cassandra Vincelette