Sunday, April 27, 2014

Nice weather brings new Diablo records

The Brazen Diablo Challenge has had quite a past, with the weather determined to keep things interesting. Something went wrong this year though, and unusually nice weather led to lots of records falling and lots of fun.

Eilsel, not her real name, showing me the way out of the restricted volunteer area. With a smile!
Luap, not his real name, showing how a trail runner fixes a watch band. (Spoiler alert; this didn't actually work. But it made for a nice picture.)
I had originally signed up for the 10K back when I wasn't sure how my heel would be feeling, but come race time, I upgraded to the Half. This meant that I would get a chance to throw down with Mrs Notthat.

No lifeguard required.
Having this race in late spring usually guarantees a lot of fun creek crossings. This year there were only a few small token crossings.

All those search and rescue people perked up a bit when they saw me stumbling along the trail.
At mile 1.1 we hit the first aid station. It was nicely loud!

And then finally, a creek crossing with a little bit of water. If you look really hard, you can see volunteer paparazzi Leahcim (not his real name) who picked a great spot to take a bunch of pictures (all runners had to navigate this raging torrent). Here are the pictures he took of Mrs Notthat and I crossing:

Photo by Leahcim, smile by Mrs Notthat since she managed to keep her feet dry.
Photo by Leahcim, splash by me. As you can see, it was pretty easy to dodge this creek. But it was a lot more fun to take it head on.

A little bit after bravely surviving that river crossing, we made it to the 5K turnaround where Bob (not his - oh wait, that really is his real name; my secret code has met its match!) and another volunteer were busy cheering the runners on.

I put her up to this, but I love the idea that she's contradicting the sign and pointing me in the opposite direction.
Not long after the 5K turnaround, we took a left onto some of my favorite trail on this course, even if it is largely uphill.

Irual bravely volunteered to go ahead of me to clear the trail of snakes. 

One thing about climbing the hills on this course - you are almost always rewarded with a great view, which is nice to look at while you are trying to catch your breath.

As a complete stunner, I was able to pass Irual and Alram (not her real name) on the way down that first hill. It was really early in the race, and I knew this wouldn't last, but I had to take a celebratory picture anyway. And I did not yell "IN YOUR FACE!" (At least not out loud. I think.)

The second aid station, mile 2.8.
Last year, the lead 10K runner went through here as I was leaving. This year, I saw no 10K runners, which meant that I must be flying! (Umm, no. It meant that the Half runners were given a 30 minute head start this year - last year it was only a 20 minute head start. Still, I didn't know that so in my mind, I had a chance to win this thing!)

Ms Magoo cheering on the runners. 
At the top of the second hill, the Brazen Rabbit was hanging out. A few hours later, she was on her way to Boston for a little race they have there.

Heading down that second hill I had only been passed by one 10K runner and was hoping to make it to the 10K turnaround (which is just a little bit past where the trail disappears towards the top of the picture) before any others passed me.

"Which way do I go?"
I've made it to the bottom of the hill and still have not been passed.

Nairb (not his real name) on his way to a second pace 10K finish.
Then I turned around just in time to see Nairb flying (as normal).

She tried to turn me around since I had a 10K bib - it was awesome that she looked at me and thought I could have been competing for the win in the 10K!
In the end I was passed by three 10K runners before I got to this point.

Runners come at this intersection from all directions.
From the 10K turnaround it is a short dash to the Bermuda Triangle of this race, and the start of a very long climb that makes those first two hills seem like speed bumps.

This climb seems to take forever, mostly because it does. It wasn't all that warm out, but being in the sun for so long managed to make things a bit toasty.

That's the 50K winner's back. Tterb (not his real name) set an impressive course record in winning this race.
This part of the course is shared with the 50K runners. Since this is about their mile 25 or so, we only see the leaders, which is actually a lot of fun (and very impressive!).

"There's this guy back there with frogs on his hat. He can't be right in the head."

After spending so much time climbing up that hill, it was great to see a pink flamingo, since that meant the aid station was near. (Or maybe she was right and I'm not quite right in the head. I touched the flamingo just to make sure it was real.)

Our third aid station, mile 7.8, where the amazing and delightful Nerak Bacon (not her real name) worked her magic and passed out popsicles.

Not long after that aid station, we really are at the top of that long climb and get to begin a long downhill dash (or slog, in my case).

This is probably my second favorite part of the course. It's a bit past halfway in the race, but you know all the hard bits are done and your reward is this pretty trail, surrounded by wildflowers, and all downhill.

Eventually I made it back to the Bermuda Triangle area. At this point I'm mostly on the same trails I came out on (minus those two small hills, which we thankfully get to bypass).

I managed to survive that creek crossing and make it the fourth aid station, mile 12.4 (this was also the first aid station, and was still pretty loud).

And then there was the finish line. I had not seen Mrs Notthat once after the race started, so she likely handily beat me. (She did, by nearly 20 minutes.)

My twin Knarf, not his real name, and I post race. He didn't mind if I sweated on him.

When I first saw Mrs Notthat, she asked if I had a credit card with me. Shopping opportunities at trail races?

I now have an official Honey Bucket t-shirt!
What a fun day. As hinted at earlier, lots of course records fell today, including the 50K men's and women's as well as the men's Half, 10K, and 5K. The perfect weather conditions, and possibly the huge reduction in creek crossings seems to have made everyone faster. Both Mrs Notthat and I set course PRs (I beat last year's time by 25 minutes!).

As usual, this race raised a lot of money and awareness for the Save Mt Diablo group, which works to protect, expand, and improve the Mt Diablo open space area.

And, as it turns out, cheer on trail runners like maniacs!

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.


mary ann said...

love your subtle gloves

Lia said...

Great report, as usual! I love that Brazen puts on a race that supports Mount Diablo.

Beth said...

Man, was a bummer to not be there this time! Great pictures as always. I was quite confused looking through Brazen's pictures at the trouble most went through to stay dry in the few creeks....I love the picture of you charging through that sad excuse of a creek like a proper trail runner!