Thursday, August 30, 2012

Skirts, dirt, and a lot of (sometimes tired) smiles

What happens if you put on a tough trail race, put "skirt" in its name, and target it at women runners? You get an event that I nearly blew my camera out trying to take enough pictures.

Inside Trail Racing put on the inaugural Skirt 'n' Dirt trail race out of Joaquin Miller and Redwood Parks - parks known for some of the toughest trails in the East Bay. While men weren't excluded from running the race, they were a tiny minority (193 women finishers vs. 16 men). Mrs Notthat ran the 25K course while Weird Haired Mom (with her damaged foot) and I (with my camera) worked at the most exciting of the aid stations, Moon Gate. (Motto: "GU So Nice You'll Want To Come Back Twice! Or Four Times If You Are Nuts And Running The 50K." T-shirts available soon.)

K-Dub being WAY too perky this early in the morning.
We knew a lot of the runners that were going to be out there, which helped make this even more fun for us. WHM and I stopped by the start area to drop off Mrs Notthat and say hi to a few people before heading out to Moon Gate.

Note that WHM is on crutches here. And still was eying that start line, thinking  "I could do a 10K on crutches, right?"

We did what we could to get a group picture, and this one is nice, but a number of people are missing. That was OK though, since we would be seeing them all later.

WHM and I drove up to where the aid station was to be placed. As you can see, it was quite foggy - the  mist dripping from the trees was very close to being rain, and the trails under the trees (which are most of them) were actually a bit muddy and slippery.

Yes - this aid station name is ripe for a practical joke or two. But we didn't have time for that (and it was a bit too cold for the obvious mooning opportunity - besides, the runners had to endure enough without having to experience something like that).

Within minutes of getting set up, the first runners appeared. They loved the cool weather.

Only one of the 16 men finishers got into the spirit of the day, and naturally it would be Yhcrats (not his real name).

Weirdly, K-Dub is still perky after nearly 3 miles of running. She is closely followed by K-Bacon who was a star of the show today - she not only ran the 25K, but helped check runners in at the start, helped us out at Moon Gate once her race was done, then swept part of the course. Not to mention the cookies (more on them later).

Two VERY brave men that drove up to the aid station and walked 100 feet down the trail to cheer on their significant others. They survived. Barely.
Mrs Notthat after 12 tough miles, with 3.3 miles left to go.
All runners hit our aid station at the 2.9 mile mark. Then:

• The 10K runners wandered off to do a 1.7 mile loop (that was much harder than it looked on the map), hit us again, then went back to the finish.

• The 25K runners stormed off to do a 9.1 mile loop (that was exactly as hard as it looked on the map), hit us again, then went back to the finish.

• The 50K runners stormed off to do the same 9.1 mile loop, hit us again, head to the finish, head back out to us again, storm (but maybe with a bit less thunder) the 9.1 mile loop again, hit us yet again, then head back to the real finish.

As I said, this was a great aid station to work at, although we had to be the first to open and the last to close.

That's a LOT of pink! 
Note the pink flamingos. These are a trademark of All Day Nek (not his real name) who places them just ahead of the aid station to provide a tasteful early warning that a buffet is just ahead. 

Don't EVER make the mistake of thinking women in pink aren't tough. The one on the left is smiling, even while sporting a nasty bit of trail rash.

Eventually the runners thinned out and the sun made a token appearance, which meant we could spend some time trying to warm up a bit.

K-Bacon fresh from her 25K race, headed out to sweep the 10K loop. That's a lot of ribbons for less than two miles of trail.

WHM working over a blister.

K-Bacon could have spent the night before the race cowering under the elevation chart, but instead made a bunch of these ridiculously cool cookies, as modeled by Ettevi (not her real name).

Once the last couple of runners came through, we packed up and headed down to the finish area to pick up Mrs Notthat.

I didn't wear a skirt, but I hoped the pink lei would be festive enough. (Don't tell Mrs Notthat, but I also tried to wear her tiara from a previous race, but there was no way it was going to fit on my non-tiara-friendly head.)

This was a great event. There were a number of issues with runners getting off course, which worried me a bit with regards to Mrs Notthat - the last time she did a race in these parks she managed to turn a 13.1 mile Half into a nearly 20 mile trudge. But in talking to her afterwards, she had no issues and said it was all well marked.

Which kind of leads to the last interesting bit.

I'm a tiny bit anal about having a course map with me for all races. Even with races that provide printed maps, I end up making my own, with lots of helpful notes ("Don't die on this stretch"). So I made a map for Mrs Notthat, which she thanked me for, folded up, and tucked safely away in some forgotten pocket. (Note that when she was busy turning her Half into a 20 miler, she also had a map with her. They do NOT guarantee success.)

Before the race, Mr Inside asked how many were carrying maps. Naturally, Mrs was not paying attention and missed that bit, but she did hear about a raffle for a pair of La Sportiva shoes at the end of the race. When she finished, she asked about the raffle and learned that it was only for runners with maps. Like the one she had stuffed into some obscure pocket.

So she entered the raffle, and we found out yesterday, she won!

A map might not keep you from getting lost, but they can help your feet feel better about any bonus miles you add.

That's it - move along…

PS: Here's a link to some more pictures I took. And here's a link to the Inside Trails Picasa site that has all of the pictures I took.


mary ann said...

great report ~ I especially like the women in pink!

Beth said...

Oh, that's sounds like a fun one!

Mrs. Notthat said...

It was fun! I can only say this now because I am all recuperated. Thanks for my map! You are the reason I won!!!!!