Mrs Notthat and I had decided to do a shorter distance at Bad Bass - the 5K for her and the 10K for me - so that our bodies would better be able to handle the pavement the next day.
(Minor historical note: The very first trail race I ever did was the 2010 Brazen New Year's Day 10K on this very same course. Since then I've always run the Half distance. Always. Eight times since then. I almost made it nine times when Brazen announced that the Park Ranger was going to let them use the fun stretch of single-track that they had teased us with before. I wisely stuck to the 10K, but my heart was out on that Half course.)
Great races start with great nails.
|The first aid station and 5K turnaround at 1.5 miles.|
To absolutely nobody's surprise, I failed. But not by a lot - I think maybe only four or five 5K runners got past me.
Once we got past that aid station, the pavement ended and our first real obstacle showed up…
… the wildly unstable Bridge of Death. (It's not really all that bad, and is pretty unique since it is most often protecting you from a nice dry trail, as you see in the picture. In the winter though, this area is often flooded and a life vest would be required to use that dirt trail.)
After the bridge is The Hill. This hill is often quite steep, but generally is just relentless.
The 10K course, like the 5K course, is an out-and-back. The closer I got to the top of that hill, and the 10K turnaround point, the more runners I saw coming at me. I knew that Not Normal Sirhc (not his real name) was pacing 6-year-old Speed Racer on the 10K. And I wasn't surprised to see that they were significantly ahead of me as they flew past me. I'm used to getting beat by NNS, and for that matter, 6-year-olds as well.
Eventually I made it up to the madness that was the 10K turnaround. I let out a minor cheer, touched the sign, and headed back down.
I've climbed this hill plenty of times, but only rarely get to run down it. Running down it is much easier, although the steep bits are a bit challenging for me.
Eventually I made it back to the Bridge of Death. If you look really hard and use your imagination a bit, you can see Nivla (not his real name) taking pictures of the runners as they crossed the bridge.
This is the shot he got of me, smiling as I realized I was going to survive the crossing. (The woman behind me is texting her friends about my big butt and how it was clogging up the trail. Or maybe she was ordering a pizza.)
|Another volunteer photographer capturing the tired runners less than two miles from the finish.|
As I was lumbering towards the finish, I was stunned to see NNS and Speed Racer just a little bit ahead of me. Suddenly visions of beating NNS and a 6-year-old started dancing in my head.
I picked up my pace.
And I passed them! I was going to do it! IN YOUR FACE!
Sadly, that small burst of running quickly caught up to me, and the two of them shortly blew back past me. Here is Speed Racer flying towards the finish, a few steps ahead of me. I still had a small chance.
Actually, no. I had no chance. The two of them finished, and while I was plodding towards them…
… I was momentarily distracted by the bagpipes playing a spirited version of Smoke on the Water.
|Three hot trail runners in a post-race bliss.|
And that was it. The race was a blast as always, but I found myself wishing I had gone for the Half. I missed the eucalyptus groves, the 21,000 gun salute as you cruise past the shooting range, and the fun single-track that had been added back in.
On the flip side, I was done in less that 90 minutes and was not nearly as tired as I would have been. And we were both ready for the next day's Wharf to Wharf.
That's it - move along…
PS: You can see more of my pictures here.
PPS: The funny thing I found out later is that I technically beat both NNS and Speed Racer. They crossed the finish line first, but they also crossed the start line a bit ahead of me (I always start at the back of the pack) - the difference was minor, BUT I BEAT THEM!