Friday, May 3, 2013

Diablo: As Challenging as Ever

I've got a long history with the Brazen Diablo Challenge 50K - unfortunately none of that history involves actually finishing the race.

Three years ago, in perfect weather, I volunteered at the 50K's 28.1 mile Burma Road aid station. It was my first time being around an UltraMarathon, and after seeing all the runners come through, I was determined to run it the next year.

The weather that next year (2011) was horrific; heavy, cold rain and sleet with high winds made for a tough course. I made it halfway and that was it.

So my goal then was to run it the next year (2012), but a knee injury reduced me to a slow 5K. And as it turned out, the weather was again challenging, but in the opposite direction - it was absurdly hot.

I had hopes for running the 2013 50K, but I knew I was seriously undertrained and settled for the Half Marathon.

Picture of a Weasel, a geeked up Notthat, and Crazy Divad (not his real name, who upgraded from the 5K to the Half and wore a very heavy backpack just for fun) by a brave Brazen volunteer.
The weather was again promising to be hot, but not to the levels we saw last year. And this year I had a new toy; a GoPro Hero 3 strapped to my chest. My intent was to take short videos at various points around the course and edit them into a short movie. (You can see the result here. I also had my still camera, but I weirdly forgot to take as many pictures as normal with it.)

The Heavy Medal group hard at work.
It's not right to have this much fun trying to set up a backdrop.
Some very cool ladies (even the Canadian one) ready to go. 
Mrs. Notthat had injured an ankle the week before the race and didn't know how well it would hold up, so she downgraded to the 5K distance. (Spoiler alert - it held up fine and she did very well.)

Talk about accidental coordination; both Mrs Notthat and Yrrek (not her real name) wore the same shirt, shorts, and design on the gaiters and arm sleeves. Mrs has vowed to even coordinate hair color next year. (Yeah sure, assuming she can ride a flying pig to the race!)

Why can't everyone be so happy to have toilet paper sticking out of their skirt?
Exactly how many pre-race Jamba Juices have you had?

Eventually the race actually started and we were off. There were the normal half a dozen creek crossings (the water was fairly low, but you could still do some splashing around with little effort) that I failed to get any pictures of. But I did manage a picture once we started up the first of the hills.

Nairb (not his real name) The Swift passing me at the first aid station.
In years past when I've done this Half in the fall, the faster 10K runners catch us slower Half runners (who get a head start) on that narrow single-track uphill trail. This time I didn't see the lead 10K runners until much later, on trails that were much easier for them to pass me on. I certainly wasn't faster, so the Half runners must have been given a bigger head start. (I haven't run this Half since 2011, so this might not be a new development, but it was new for me.)

The Brazen Rabbit had the happy (hoppy?) job of letting us know we were really at the top of the hill and could cruise back down it now.

And for the 10K runners, that is pretty much the end of their climbing. For the Half runners though, that was just a taste - the REAL climb started a bit later.

I had no idea you could climb this rock. Not that I am in the slightest tempted, but it was cool seeing all these people up there. (This was NOT part of the race course, thankfully.)

A fun thing was that we shared some of the course with the 50K runners, who were going the opposite direction. (They had started two hours before us.) Sirhc (not his real name) was having a great race and was at about mile 24 or 25 for him.

Eventually I made it to the second aid station - there is a bit more climbing to be done, but the worst is over.

A bit later and I was really at the top of the hill. The views were stunning and that downhill trail looked very inviting.

Once we went down a bit we were again sharing trails with the 50K runners. Nhoj (not his real name) was at about mile 26 here.

The Save Mt Diablo people do an amazing job working with Brazen to support this race. There are many search and rescue people and other volunteers keeping track of the runners and generally causing merry mayhem along the trails.

I managed a creek picture.
It was pretty warm by now and it felt very good to stand in the creeks to cool off a bit. (We had to re-cross all those creeks from the start, plus a few bonus ones, as we headed to the finish.)

I loved these kids out cheering on the runners!
The finish line is in sight!
I was very tired by the end of this race - I'm not sure I could have survived doing even half of the 50K.

I love the synchronized paparazzi getting Asil (not her real name) as she finishes her 50K.

Something new this year were the slushy machines. These frosty treats were awesome on this hot day.

Also new was fresh baked pizza.

One thing not new was Oel winning an age group medal.

I'm pretty sure somebody spiked the slushies.

After I caught my breath a bit, I headed back out on the course to watch some of the final 50K runners come in. One I was anxious to see was Nairb, who was making his second attempt at this 50K. (You can read his account here.) It was thrilling to see him come charging down this hill!

And then last, but by far not least, Haiyr (not her real name, although her real name looks like a secret code all on its own) came around the corner and down the hill. As you can see, she was depressed and dragging. HA! I don't feel that perky after a 5K!

And that's about it. It was a fun day with a lot of first-time 50K runners picking up their bling. The weather was bordering on too hot, but most agreed that this could be considered a normal year after the issues of the previous two years.

And here's to hoping that 2014 will be my year to finally get this 50K done!

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.

1 comment:

NAC said...

What do you mean "Even the Canadian one", eh????? I'll set the Mounties on you!