Greg, Bree and I drove down on Friday afternoon down to Lancaster and Palmdale where we met Toshi and Judy. We met Race Director, Keira Henninger, at the check-in and got a few tips, the main one that, despite an intimidating course profile displaying quite a long and steep uphills, the course was all very runnable.
My favorite section was the Pacific Crest Trail section before and after the aid station #7 and 9 where we actually ran in the woods (not to forget the special ambiance at this station manned by Jimmy Dean Freeman and his flashy and joyful Coyotes gang!). The second part of the 50-mile is actually a 38-mile out-and-back so we get to see all the other runners. The turn around is at the bottom of a 2.8-mile down-hill, like we have at Miwok. I was just starting going down when I crossed the lead runner who had a 5.6-mile lead on me, yikes! I kept crossing the leaders and counted 14 of them when I reached the aid station at the bottom of the fire road, mile 31 (50K mark). I quickly got my Gu2O bottle refilled, took another cup of Coke and a few chips and off I was for this long climb. Thankfully, it was still early morning (10am) and several sections of the fire road were still in the shade. And the breeze was still strong, keeping the air relatively cool, especially in the shade. On my way up, I was able to run half of it and saw Toshi, about a mile behind, and about 20 other runners including the top 8 women. Unfortunately, Bree wasn't part of them, I actually saw her at the top of the hill, she didn't have a good day. Also from our Club, Clare was a few minutes behind Bree, followed by Greg who was having a lot of fun taking pictures and videos, Scott and Nattu (Karen would drop on foot injury).
In the next section, I passed Scott Jaime (a very competitive Master) and another runner, then crossed hundreds of runners who were so nice to step aside and give the leaders the right of way. I'm particularly appreciative to all of them as they were on a uphill section and it's very tiring to stop and go in such conditions but that was the Race Director's instructions. I provided a lot of "Thank you" and "Sorry" at each crossing, I hope I didn't forget anyone (one even kindly replied "You don't have to feel sorry!"). The traffic actually intensified in the last section as we were catching up with the tail of the 50K race.
I remained in 12th place through the aid stations 8 and 9 (respectively miles 38.6 and 42.6). With 3 downhill miles to go I caught up with a fading Chikara, for whom it was a come back on the ultra trail circuit after a road racing season last year. I told him that we had to keep moving if we didn't want to get chick'ed (for the non insiders that mean being passed by a participant of the other gender...), and here he is, flying down the hill, leaving me in the dust, finishing ahead of me by 1 minute! You know what to tell Chikara to kick his butt... ;-) I crossed the finish line in an honorable 7:07:51, good for 12th this year and 3rd Master. Not too bad after last week's performance, on a course I didn't know.
Tamalpa had only 2 runners lined up today and Jimmy's Coyotes were all volunteering on the course so we had only two teams competing in the league this time, Ashland (Tim, Jenn, Hayden) versus Quicksilver (Jean, Toshi, Bree). And, with Tim's amazing performance, we lost again, by 44 minutes (22:54:58 vs. 23:38:54). Like at the World 100K Championships in Italy last week, these Oregonians are really at the top of the endurance running game!
Great experience and heat training, ready for a busy week in Vegas from Sunday morning to Friday afternoon, then Miwok 100K next Saturday before flying to Riyadh on Sunday. What a busy Spring... Have a great week all!
PS: see a few pictures in my Picasa album, including Judy's pictures (IMG_0084 to IMG_0117) and video clips at the 16-mile aid station