Canyon Meadows is based in Redwood Park, which is legendary for having some of the most challenging, technical, and beautiful trails in the East Bay. What's amazing about the Canyon Meadows race though, is that, other than a moderately steep initial climb, the course is fairly mellow, at least as far as climbing goes (you still have the roots and rocks to deal with though).
I signed up for the Half Marathon while Mrs Notthat signed up for the 5M distance.
All but the 5M distance started together. We had a short bit of flat before we hit the Real Climb.
The Real Climb is about a half mile of fairly steep climbing followed by about four miles of rolling uphill, which meant you were gaining elevation, but had a number of short flat or downhill bits to break it up.
This is where the 5M course spits off on its shortcut. We had a 15 minute head start on the 5M runners, and I had a hope of getting to this point without getting passed by the faster runners, but that didn't happen (although I think there were only 5 or 6 that got by me).
The trails were not what you would call smooth. You really had to pay attention or you would end up tripping and end up wearing a bit of the trail. Or worse.
|I've got no idea how they trained that tree to grow horizontally like that - probably just a punk sapling that didn't want to follow the rules, man.|
One of my most favorite named aid stations, Moon Gate, was our first stop at about mile 4.7. It was a bit warm, but not oppressively hot. Still, the next aid station would be in 6, often exposed, miles, so it was a good idea to fill your bottles here.
This aid station also meant that we only had a little bit more of climbing to do before we started a nice, mostly downhill stretch.
I really like running through the woods like these.
A runner after my own heart! She came out from Texas and decided to capture as many of the views as possible.
|Blue ribbons mean "bad" - don't go that way!|
The second aid station, curiously named Fish Ladder, was at mile 10.7. The peculiar thing was that you were actually very close to the finish, and could hear faster runners laughing and cheering and taunting us slower runners.
We had to run past that area, away from the finish area, and back into the woods. There was a long stretch where we could look down on the runners that had already made it to the point where they could head back to the finish for real. I made no rude gestures at them (probably).
Eventually I made it to the main path and headed to the finish for real. As I approached the finish, I saw this guy ahead of me and wondered whether he was in my distance and age group and whether I should sprint to try to pass him. Sanity explained to me that sprinting was out of the question, and the chances of him being in my age group and distance were pretty remote, so I just cruised in behind him.
He turned out to be in my distance and age group and beat me by three seconds. He got 4th and I got 5th though, so neither of us won an award. Whew.
Mrs Notthat, though, did win an award - she got second in her age group (out of eight!), and in addition to the bonus medal, won that empty orange box. (Not really, but she did really want that box.)
|The medal and bib.|
As usual, this race was a blast. These trails are tough to beat. The course is fairly forgiving (a bit less than 2000 feet of climbing) and my time wasn't great (a bit over three hours), but I'll take it.
And my body thanked me profusely for not subjecting it to Double Dipsea again.
That's it - move along…
PS: You can see more of my pictures here.