It's a pretty tough race largely on single-track trails that have many rocks and roots to keep you on your toes - twisted ankles are extremely common here due to the combination of trying to fly down that last three mile hill and the gnarly switchbacks.
One challenge of the course is the congestion that can occur, especially once the faster 10K runners hit their turnaround and start steaming down the hill that is full of Half, 10K, and 5K runners all still coming up the hill. I chose to avoid this issue this year by doing the early start, which meant I was well past the 10K turnaround point before any of the faster runners caught up to me.
|Photo by Brazen volunteer near the 10K turnaround. Mrs Notthat (who did not do the early start) has moved to her right for the 10K runner that's heading back down.|
My finish times have been dramatically increasing each year - I have no explanation for that other than I'm getting slower. This would be the year I would buck that trend. Maybe.
|Mr Brazen getting ready to send us early starters out.|
Seriously - it was cold out! (I know those of you in frostbitten states are busy rolling your eyes, but for the Bay Area, this is cold.)
A little past 1.5 miles we hit our first aid station, which was also the 5K turnaround. I forgot to ask how they got that vehicle up there - it certainly did not go up the trails we just ran up.
This has got to be the wimpiest "tree blocking the trail" that I've ever seen.
About the last mile up the hill to the 10K turnaround had very recently been attacked by a small bulldozer. In time this might turn out to be a good thing, but for this race, this stretch of trail was not much fun. The dirt was soft with many hidden rocks and roots - it was better when we came back through here later after all the 10K and proper Half runners had trampled the soft dirt down a bit.
Possibly related to this was that there were some wasp issues - a number of runners reported getting stung between the first and second aid station. I had no issues heading out, but coming back a bee landed on my neck that I was able to swat away before it could do any damage.
At a bit over 3 miles we were at the second aid station, and the 10K turnaround. I was thrilled to have made it this far without being passed by a fast Half or 10K runner.
|Nhoj, not his real name, wore gloves to help with the cold. Sheesh.|
Weird Haired Mom was also part of the early start. I had caught up to her at the first aid station, but she then took off. At this point she had already hit the turnaround at mile 6.55 and was flying back, about a mile ahead of me.
|Yes, he really thought there was a danger I would fail to stop and turnaround. HA!|
|"Gimmie your GUs and nobody gets hurt."|
|Mrs Notthat being really fast and perky.|
I picked up my pace a bit.
|Eiram, not her real name, at the junction signaling the end of the bonus climbing.|
These aren't really the Summit Rocks (you have to veer off-course a bit to see them), but I think they're good enough to get at least partial credit.
It was great to make it back to that second aid station (now the fourth aid station, mile 10), mostly because it meant the rest of the race was downhill.
|Picture by Brazen volunteer at that aid station.|
Knowing that Mrs Notthat could show up at any time, I pushed it a bit down that hill and made it to the first aid station, now the fifth one at mile 11.5, very quickly (for me). Only a mile and a half to go!
Totally unexpectedly I managed to catch up to Ainigriv (not her real name) a bit after that aid station. I never beat her at these races (she had also used the early start) and figured she must have been really hurting (she was).
|Yes, that's frost still on the trail.|
The finish line. And I had managed to knock 7 minutes off my finish time from last year, so my main mission was accomplished. Barely.
I then went out a bit to catch Mrs Notthat as she raced towards the finish line.
It wasn't long before she flew past me.
|Picture by Brazen volunteer Ecinreb (not her real name). Note how far back I am. That kid has a great finish line kick!|
|Picture by Brazen volunteer Ecinreb. Somebody was happy to be done.|
|Weird Haired Mom (who beat me handily), Mrs Notthat, and I all ready for ice cream! Really!|
This was my first time out with my new Anton vest with the boob bottles. I had been really curious about these vests and finally decided to give one a try. I liked it a lot, although once I put my sweatshirt on the back, the bottles would gradually edge their way up towards my neck. The other thing I noticed was that I could really hear the water sloshing around in the bottles more than when I carried them on my waist. And lastly, I lost count of the number of times I would grab a bottle, take a drink, and try to put it back into my belt. Old habits die hard.
Mrs Notthat fainted when she found out she had won second place in her age group (and had beaten one other!).
|Picture by Brazen volunteer Ecinreb, again. Once we stopped moving, it got really cold again.|
The trails at this race are some of the best around. There aren't many expansive views, but I love spending all that time in the dense woods. The early start is a great way to avoid the only real issue with this race - the congestion near the 10K turnaround.
Another way is to be really fast. That way is not on my radar for the near future.
That's it - move along…
PS: You can see more of my pictures here.