Sunday, June 15, 2014

Berry Creek Falls actually had water!

The weekend before Coastal's Berry Creek Falls race, Mrs Notthat and I did a tough training run in Sierra Azul (Norwegian for "You Will Wish You Were Home").

About four miles in - I was still standing.
This was a nearly 14 mile course with little shade and many hills. I had grossly underestimated how hot it was going to be, and started fading badly about halfway through.

There were no shortcuts, so I stuck it out and when it was over, my confidence was shot.

Signing up for Berry Creek Falls was challenging. There are two loops: 10K and 15K. You can sign up for the 10K, 15K or 25K distances, and I had planned on the 25K distance. After the Sierra Azul failure though, I chose to downgrade. The thing is I knew the 15K course was a LOT better than the 10K course, but it was also harder.

In the end I picked the 15K while Mrs Notthat stuck with the 25K - I figured I could take it easy and still finish before her.

Mr Coastal: "Barrel rides down the falls are optional."
This race is held in redwood tree infested Big Basin State Park. The trails in this park are nothing short of stunning, although they can trip you up if you aren't really careful. (I saw several runners limping back shortly after the start.)

It was a really nice day, although it was threatening to warm up quite a bit.

"You have to be THIS skinny to run this race."
Llib (not his real name) had decided at the last minute to run this race, and had also signed up for the 15K. This turned out to be perfect - Llib and I ended up power-walking the course and having a great time together.

Trees seem to have a hard time standing along this trail - it felt like we were constantly leaping over or crawling under some tree or other.

The trail crosses several creeks (or the same one several times - it gets a bit confusing in the woods). The creeks were running, but barely. I had little hope that Berry Creek Falls would be very enthusiastic.

But it turned out to be fairly nice - much smaller than normal, but worth the hike.

Small side note: The next day was the Big Basin 50K, which is the original Skyline to the Sea course. This is an amazing race, and we spent time on some of the same trails. Unfortunately, the 50K does not get this close to the falls - you can see them fairly well, but from a greater distance. The thing I love about this 15K loop is that you get very close, plus you get to see several others.

From the base of the waterfall you climb up to its top. It's really kind of cool and weird to see a waterfall born like this!

Another waterfall a bit further up the hill.

You keep climbing and following the creek. Eventually you hit a point where there are cables to help you up the rock "steps." Things are pretty damp in this area. And drop dead gorgeous.

More creek beauty. This area should have had a LOT more water.
This ranger was amazing - he carried out a jug of water for those that didn't pay attention to the pre-race instructions and thought they wouldn't need water.
Eventually you hit the top and turn away from the creek. At about the halfway point there is an informal aid station (there really is no way to have a proper aid station out here).

Even though there were no more waterfalls, we still had some awesome trails to wander around on. There were a few trees too.

25K runners do the 15K loop first, then do the 10K loop. There is a short bit of trail overlap between the 15K and 10K courses - the chance of running into Mrs Notthat there was extremely small. So naturally that's what we did!

Llib and I had been moving pretty good for walking, but I knew Mrs Notthat would be flying and I actually feared she might finish her 25K before I finished my 15K. (She didn't, but I didn't beat her by much.)

Llib and I finally finished and got to go under the new Coastal Arch!

Anoda and Yrag (not their real names) are proper runners and have both long since finished their 25K races, and both won first in their age groups.

Meanwhile Llib's name was picked in the random drawing and chose to get a stylish green Coastal hat like mine (not quite as "broken in" as mine though).

I was feeling really good, so I headed out the 10K course to try to find Mrs Notthat. I didn't have to go far.

Hugging one of these trees is pretty challenging.

And then she was done! The 25K is a really tough course, and that last 10K loop is challenging; there are no waterfalls to distract you and a lot more sun exposure as you struggle with the hills. And yet she was still smiling.

To make it better, she won an age group award!

Once we left, we gave Htenaj (not her real name) a ride up to the start of the next day's 50K so that she could mark the first 10 miles of trail. (It was really warm out by this point, and was even warmer on 50K race day. You are in the trees a lot, which helps, but hot is still hot.)

The Berry Creek Falls race is a lot of fun - the trails are some of the best around and who doesn't like getting up close and personal with a waterfall? The only issue is that the 50K on the next day is also one of the best around, and trying to run both races is probably out of the question.

I was surprised at how good I felt at the end of the 15K. I could have easily done the 10K as well (although we were far too late to do that). I've got a bit of confidence back, which is a good thing since Double Dipsea is next, and that's going to take a LOT of confidence (along with other stuff) to get done.

That's it - move along.

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.

No comments: