I went back and counted, and it turns out that the new Inside Trail Racing Woodside Crossover trail race would be my 14th race in Huddart Park (2 as a volunteer). Most of those used very similar courses, which are famous for a short but treacherous downhill bit (after you get past the traffic jam) followed by a mostly gentle but long uphill bit. Depending on the distance you signed up for, you would either charge back down the hill or head over to Wunderlich and get some more climbing there.
Three weeks ago we ran a fun race here put on by the BayTrailrunners group (Whisky Hill Redwood Run). This race was very different from the others we had done, starting at the West Meadow picnic area I had never been to and using trails I didn't even know existed.
Fast forward three weeks and it's time for a new ITR race here. This race also started at that remote picnic area, and also used trails that I had never been on before. Even better, it included a new park - Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. (Sorry Wunderlich - no sweaty runners for you.)
I chose to run the Half distance, which meant I would not actually cross over into Purisima. But it did mean I had to go up the dreaded Richards Road Trail, which previous races had only briefly forced us to run.
|Click to see this larger.|
|I get this look a lot when I pass someone. Nobody wants to get geezered by me.|
|It's not easy to see, but that is the trail we will be going up, with about four switchbacks in a tenth of a mile.|
The Half runners had a 15 minute head start on the 10K runners. My hope had been to get to the top of our climb, roughly the halfway point of the 10K loop, before getting passed by a 10K runner. Sometimes my hopes are a bit absurd. In this case I was passed by the eventual winner, a 14-year-old name Ekul (not his real name) about a mile and a half into the course.
This was my first indication of how slow I was going up these hills, and how challenging that second loop was going to be.
|Jesse Ellis (his real name!) of Let's Wander Photography grabbing shots as we stumble by.|
|I like this shot showing me stopping to get a picture of him. The woman to the right is pretty sure I'm about to run into a tree.|
|I didn't even know he had taken this shot - this was me coming back below him after a switchback.|
|I'm pretty sure Ylrac, not her real name, is not really threatening me with that knife. Probably. It does look like Racso, not his real name either, is prepared to hold her back though.|
The first aid station, with the Perpetually Perky Racso and Ylrac, was at about mile 6. From here the 10K runners turned right and pranced to the finish, while the Half runners turn left and headed out on the dreaded Richards Road Trail.
|Richards Road Trail - appropriately named after a dick.|
so it felt pretty warm. My watch said I was going up at a 47 min/mile pace. I honestly didn't think I was going that fast. (For you non-runners, a 47 min/mile pace is really slow. Picture how slow you walk when it's your turn to go into the dentist office. Then walk about half that fast. You would still have been a blur going past me.)
|Trees helped a bit, but not nearly enough.|
|This aid station also served as a junction for the 50K and 35K runners as they headed to and from Purisima Park.|
Lliw, not his real name (on the right, who was involved in putting together this new course) told me he had been getting a lot of glares from the Half runners. I told him that the advertised 2750 feet of climbing was way low, but he insisted it was exactly correct. (He was right, but man - that was the hardest 2750 feet of climbing I've ever done. For the record, the normal ITR Half course here only has 2100 feet of climbing.)
There was a short out-and-back getting to the turnaround aid station, and I was curious whether I would see Coach Luap (not his real name). I had gone so slowly up that hill that I had to believe he would be hot on my heals, and I was right.
From the turnaround, we had mostly downhill trails to the finish. By this point, a lot of the faster 50K and 35K runners started passing me.
|Another great picture by Let's Wander Jesse!|
After bombing down the trail for a couple of miles, you cross this bridge, and cruelly, have to start climbing again. It's not steep, and it's not for long, but it's still a climb that I could have done without.
The finish line, finally. It took me a ridiculously long time to get to this point, but I did it. Racso took a couple of pictures to prove it.
|Picture by Racso. Just. Ten. More. Feet.|
|Picture by Racso. If I can just make it over the timing mat.|
|That's quite a crew you've got there.|
|Nobody can say Luap doesn't use his head at these trail races.|
|Dr. Ylrac (not her real name or profession) digging most of the bits of trail out of Luap's face.|
|Two of my favorite runners: Htirdle, who I have never seen not smiling while doing MUCH longer distances that I ever will, and Kram (not their real names), who always manages to make these races entertaining (and finished 7th overall in the 50K).|
|I like that the medal and ribbon lists the elevation of the various courses. They should have a "feels like" elevation listed too though.|
What's promised on the trail, gets broken on the trail. (Or something like that.)
That's it - move along…
PS: You can see more of my pictures here.