Monday, August 17, 2015

Answering the question; does Sasquatch get ticks?

Yes. Sasquatch does get ticks. But instead of panicking and heading to the ER, Sassy decided to make  ticks the mascot of a trail race in Huddart Park, and so the Sasquatch Tick Trailblaze was born. To prove Sassy has his heart in the right place, this event was a fundraiser for the Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

Mrs Notthat and I had signed up for the Half Marathon distance, but due to Mrs Notthat's ongoing recovery issues, she downgraded to the 10K while I stuck with the Half. In either case, we were guaranteed a course that was significantly different than any we had done in this park before.

For the Half runners, the course was a lollipop with two sticks. Both the 5K and 10K runners finished on the same trail we started out on.

Not a Canadian was also signed up for the Half distance.
One nice thing about the Sasquatch races is that they start at a relatively civilized time - the Half was set for a 9:15 start. The downside of that is that you could miss out on a nice, cool weather start.

I'm pretty sure Sassy is wanting a high five and not trying to get me to stop. And I have no explanation for the rainbow headwear - maybe that was to keep the ticks away?
But then this race had a nice surprise up its furry sleeve - an early start option for the Half runners. I had not intended to take advantage of the early start, but since I was ready to go by the 8:45 early start time, I waved goodbye to Mrs Notthat and Not a Canadian and took off.

We started as most races do here by going down the Bay Tree trail. (As a spoiler alert, we finished as no races do by coming back up this trail.)

A brave volunteer making sure we stayed on course.
After that short bit of downhill, we then started up the main climb of the course, and would keep climbing for the next five or so miles. Most of the climb wasn't steep, and there were a few breaks, but it was still pretty relentless.

Terror on the trail. And I left my chainsaw at home.
Terror on the trail of a different kind.
After trudging up Richard's Road for a bit, we turned off onto the fun Chaparral trail, which is relatively flat single-track, for a bit. There was a short bit of the this trail that had some poison oak close enough to threaten the runners. Hold this thought…

A brave volunteer where the 5K course meets up with the Half course.
An interesting thing about this race was that the 5K and 10K races finished on the same trail that the Half runners started on - the faster 5K and 10K runners would end up running against the Half runners trudging up the hill.

Now release that thought from earlier - most of the trails were wide enough to handle two-way traffic pretty easily, but then there was that narrow bit with the poison oak. My taking the early start had the bonus of giving me a 30 minute head start on all the other runners, and made it so that I blew past where the 5K runners would join the trail before any of them had made it that far.

Now, could I make it to the point where the 10K runners join the Half trail before they did?

No. Not even close. I started seeing the fast 10K runners shortly after the 5K point. This was actually pretty cool since I don't normally get to see the faster runners in a trail race, given that I'm in the back third of the pack.

And then the Half runners who did the normal start started passing me. The faster ones had gone the same distance as me, about 2.5 miles, but done it 30 minutes quicker. Yikes.

At about mile 3.5, we hit our first aid station.

A brave volunteer at the point where the 10K course joined the Half course, at the base of the loop.
Eventually, I made it to the point where the 10K runners were joining the Half course. I would guess that maybe 20 or so 10K runners made it to this point before me, but Mrs Notthat (not surprisingly, since she was supposed to be walking the course) was not one of them. From here on I would only see Half runners.

It had been really warming up on the lower bits of the course, but as we climbed, we entered a very cool and moist marine layer. Water was dripping off the branches making it feel like a light rain. This was awesome.

Brave volunteer at the top of the loop, pointing us to the turnaround.
Brave volunteer at the turnaround, and the second aid station.
The turnaround aid station was roughly the halfway point of the race. The best thing was that it also meant we had mostly downhill trails from here on, at least until we had to head back up that first trail to the finish.

Brave volunteer still being brave, pointing me to the opposite side of the loop bit.
A first for me - a momma and baby banana slug!
A brave volunteer at the point where the 10K runners joined the loop - all of them had long since been past here.

I had been wondering when Not a Canadian would pass me. I had seen her on the out-and-back to the turnaround, and I knew she was much better at downhill than me, so I figured she would catch me in no time. It was a little longer than no time, but not much.

Brave volunteer still being brave.
Pretty soon, we were done with the loop and were heading back down that trail we had come up.

Aid three, formerly known as aid one, at about mile 9.2.
Brave volunteer still being brave.
Brave volunteer not only being brave, but taking pictures!
Eventually I made it back to the bottom of that first trail, and only had about 0.7 miles to go to the finish. Uphill.

To make it easier, we had our pictures taken by Shell Jiang just before starting the climb.

Picture by Shell, a LONG time before I got there.
Picture by Shell. Of me taking her picture.
Sassy got a bit more comfortable - it was really warm out now.
Finally, the finish. And a beer. I was really missing the coolness of the top.

The above shows how trees and switchbacks can raise havoc with your GPS device - this was an out-and-back bit of the course, although the GPS makes it look like I was pretty wildly directionally challenged. Fair enough.

This race was a lot of fun. The course was well marked (there was one turn that both I and Mrs Notthat had a minor issue with) and filled with course monitors. Because we signed up early, we got a bonus buff! It was also the third Sasquatch race of the year - we have one more to do and we score a bonus belt buckle!

And it turned out to be a special race for me in another way - it was my lifetime 100th Half Marathon! Yes - that picture up there is the body of a fine-tuned athlete!


That's it - move along…

PS: Here are some more pictures I took while wandering around the course.

1 comment:

mary ann said...

I like Sassy, the brave volunteers and the brave banana slug best