We are pleased that our 5 year special use permit has been approved by the American River Ranger District in Tahoe Natl Forest. The complexity of this process is compounded by several factors: - The WS Trail from Michigan Bluff to Last Chance is a registered Historical Landmark, which means it has much tougher standards when applying for long term special use permits - most of the staff at the American River District are pulling double duty as they are understaffed and underfunded - all trails and roads have been hit very hard by Wet season precipitation so it is more important than ever to give back to the trails that we love so much. Our relationship now allows us to do volunteer trail maintenance work days in the Tahoe National Forest that you can sign up for at Ultrasignup. Thank You and we will see you on a trail soon!
This was my 4th consecutive TRT100 miler and 5th hundred overall. It's a 50 mile loop course run twice. There is also a 6 mile loop in the loop. You pass through the aid stations several times, Tunnel Creek 6, Hobart and Bullwheel 4, Diamond Peak and Red House 2. There is 20,000 feet of climbing at average 8000 feet of elevation. The Sun is glaring hot, and the air is more than dry. But the views are worth every step.
I am 0 for 5 at the WS100 lottery dating back to 2010. So after a week of being really bummed with a 53% chance of getting in on 16 tickets, I Shake it off. I'll do TRT100 again, I have a love-hate thing with this race.
In those deep dark hours of the pain cave, where I question why it is I am doing this, I hate this course. The altitude, elevation change and sun exposure, at times, are enough to make me throw in the towel. When training or most of the time during the race, I love this course. The people, the views and scenery are amazing. The Sierra Nevada Mountains over Lake Tahoe are a Spiritual and Sacred place for me.
The weather is perfect at 5am and I say good luck to all my friends. I am feeling pretty good except my hamstrings are already tight. 2 hours to Tunnel Creek at mile 12 and then about 1:10 hours for the Red House loop, aka "Taste of Hell". So far so good. I keep rolling out of Tunnel Creek at mile 18 on my way to Diamond Peak at mile 30. I'm told that I am about 13th overall.
Climbing Diamond Peak the 1st time sets the stage for things to come. At 10am the sun is already hot, I've climbed about a mile that feels so steep its stupid, and then it gets steeper. I can't imagine going another 70 miles with the amount of work and time I have already put in. Then I pass someone who is gut wrenching and hurling PB&J all over his shoes. 41 minutes later, 1700 feet up in 1.8 miles, I press on over the top and finally get to run again.
I reach that fabulous oasis known as Tunnel Creek at mile 35, I LOVE this aid station. Can't linger too long, so off I go and it hits me that the heat has cranked up even more and now I have to climb up Marlette Peak, hating it.
At first glimpse of Lake Tahoe and Marlette Lake below, the love comes back, one of the most amazing views anywhere. I cruise to Hobart aid station which is now serving Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA. My stomach is turning over, I haven't had a beer in 2 weeks for my taper, food sounds horrible, I'm at mile 40, screw it, gimme a beer.
I leave refreshed but with an added dimension to my already altered state of mind. Suddenly, my stomach feels better! Time to climb to 9000 feet. I reach the top of Snow Valley Peak climb and the love returns, the view is even better and a cool breeze blows over the ridge. Seven LONG downhill miles to Spooner Lake, time to set cruise control and conserve what I can for the last 50 miles.
I reach the 50 mile Spooner Lake aid station at 2:30pm in 9.5 hours, I went out too fast! How the hell am I going to do that again?
The UNAFRAID keep going!
Doesn't matter if its 2:30 AM or PM, it hurts all the same.
I leave in 7th place and the climb to Hobart has me hating life until I pass someone and move into 6th. Holy cow, I can podium this mother, if I can keep it together. Run my race, and just don't give up. Fight through it, damn it hurts, hate that, wait, I am in 5th place, LOVE that. Crap, who is coming up from behind? Better not be Annie Rutledge, I hear she is closing fast!
Hobart again and I love that 2nd Fresh Squeezed more than the first. It settles the stomach and calms the fears. Press on, moving good, up ahead another guy walking! WTF, I'm in 5th, is this really happening?
Tunnel Creek comes easy after the climb out of Hobart, one more beer won't hurt!
Damn it, Red House loop! Wait, that dude is walking. As I come up on him, he starts sprinting down the hill, "oh he's making a big mistake". Don't chase, there is too far to go. A mile later, he is walking and I am in 4th place. Loving it, NO, hating that I have more than a 50K to run and they are coming for me.
Where is the 3rd place guy? Let's go hunting, I love hunting, wait I am being hunted, I hate being hunted.
Sunset on the TRT is magical, and then night falls and I struggle with every step. My eyes don't work well at night and the headlamp causes tunnel vision. I reach Diamond Peak around 9:30 pm.
and hug pacer 1 as he has set me up perfectly for the last 20 miles. Pacer 2 informs me that 1st and 2nd place don't look too good and 3rd who just left, almost dropped. Hurry up, let's go. Cheers and hugs from friends, "you look great, go get him, you can podium", love that.
Crap, the dreaded 2mi climb up a ski hill. Cool, I am catching 3rd place. "Hang in there bro" as I pass with 18 miles to go. Love it! I am on the podium, crap, I see lights coming up behind, time to motor!
Now I am faced with so many lights coming the other way it's hard to see anything and the dust adds a hazy layer to my vision and lungs, Hate that! Almost every runner I came up on stepped aside to let me pass. "Way to go, great job, dude you are killing it, unbelievable, amazing, way to crush it, holy cow is that you", love that.
Ok, I get to Tunnel for the last time, John Trent, Lon Monroe, Jenny Capel, Andy Pasternek and Noe Castanon, LOVE them! It's 11pm and like a dummy, I stated a goal of sub 21 hours publicly. The fastest I have done the last 15 miles to the finish is 2:45 on fresh legs in the daylight, but I need to finish by 2am in 3 hours. Last year it took 3:35 to cover the last 15 miles. Damn, there goes that dream, wait you are in 3rd! Lon and John kick me out of there, awesome!
The night is cool and clear, I press on and finally reach the top of Snow Valley climb, it's all downhill from here. Love that, wait, it's the hardest 7 mile downhill ever, especially with 94.5 miles on your legs. The footing for about 1.5 miles is harder than I can imagine. My quads are burning with every step. They have been since mile 60.
When did 2nd place leave? 15 minutes ago. Come on, let's catch him, he was 30 minutes ahead at Diamond Peak. I made up 15 minutes in 13 miles, maybe 2nd place is mine. My balance is not good at all, I keep tripping on twigs, and nothing except Coke is going down.
Any lights behind me? No. Good, wait still 4 miles to go.
Any lights in front of me? No. Crap, only 3 miles to go.
Any lights behind me? NO! Great, wait still 2 miles to go.
Any lights in front of me? No. Crap, only 1 mile to go.
ANY LIGHTS BEHIND ME? NO, You're good, keep rolling only a half mile to go. Phew!
Finally, I cross the finish line at 2:30 am as people cheer me on. I love that people are out here at that hour.
I finish in 3rd place in 21:30:24 a 1 hour PR, first in 50-59 age group.
I LOVE THIS RACE!
BUT I WOULD HATE TO RUN IT NEXT YEAR!
By the numbers:
1500 miles run year to date
250,000 feet of climbing
273 hours on the feet
Hoka Challenger ATR
Sport Oxylent vitamin mix
Tailwind, GUs, Coke, Water, IPA, S-Caps, Aleve
Broth, sweet potato, smoothie, snickers
Suunto watch and Iphone strava
Recovery Pump compression sleeves
Donner Party Mountain Runners are UNAFRAID
Pete Broomhall aka Pacer 1
Galen Farris aka Pacer 2
Peter Fain for inspirational text "test your limits, run Unafraid"
Tahoe Mountain Milers, George Ruiz
All of you who have shared the trail with me and those who inspire me.
Love this crazy sport!
Back in 2013 the Western States 100 board changed the qualifying race standards to better emulate their mission and position of being the oldest and most prestigious of all trail 100 milers. The move was meant to give every entrant better odds at getting a ticket to the big dance, (I have been thru 5 lotteries, and there is still close to the same amount of entrants as before, but no doubt there would be double). So the Board eliminated the 50 mile distance that year and the shockwaves were felt around the ultra world. While 50 miles is a long way, it is not half as hard as a 100. The 11 hour cutoff was very generous as well. For some 50's, like Lake Sonoma or Tahoe Rim Trail, that may be about right, but most 50's were not that hard. You could hear all the affected race directors give out a heavy sigh. "Now what?" You could also hear the buzz from all those who were routing new 100k races in hopes of becoming a qualifier.
In 2012, the idea for the Canyons 50k was born, and in 2013 we started working on it. We had applied for our permit when we heard the new standards and so we went ahead with the one distance, but I had decided that we would develop a new 100k race with the hopes of a qualifying nod. Well..... last week I received the news from the Western States 100 board that yes, in fact, we had accomplished that goal. We are thrilled, humbled, honored, and grateful to be chosen. There are only 7 100Ks on the West Coast, and 3 in Northern CA with a total of 84 races worldwide to make the list. It was no small feat and everyone who did their part should be proud. From the runners to the volunteers, the sponsors to my co race directors, I THANK YOU ALL!
My promise to you is that we will honor and cherish the standards set by all those who have come before, those who give so much now, and to those who've yet to run a step on dirt rock or rut. We will be there to help all those who wish to run on these sacred grounds, the Canyons of the Western States Trail, historic and iconic, where champions and back-of-the-packers alike, can share the trail. That's the beauty of our sport. On any given start line, at least for one moment, we are all equal. And when we finish, albeit some in the day and more in the night, we have accomplished the same goal of getting to the finish line.
Registration will no doubt come with a flurry of interest, so if you are thinking the Canyons 100k may be on your list this year, be ready for November 15th as we open the gates to your chance at getting a ticket to the big dance. Click Ultrasignup to register
On Saturday March 12th at 5am I started my season with a difficult 50k at Inside Trail's Marin Ultra Challenge. High fives and hugs all around and myself and a whole bunch of friends and fellow DPMRs hit the trail. We started in Rodeo Beach because of the heavy rain leading up to race day. The day was cold and windy but dawn had broke so headlamps were left behind. Early season races hurt a little more than usual after a long off-season. I spent most of January and February skiing backcountry, skate-skiing, and loving the tons of powder days at Sugar Bowl. The first climb reminded me of how little training I had on my legs even though I had decent fitness.
My coach, Peter Fain of Run on Dirt Coaching had devised a game plan that goes like this: Run the first 5.7 mile loop back to the start hard, then settle into a manageable pace through mile 20. Hold on through mile 25 and the smell the barn and pass a lot of runners. It went as planned except the barn was not so smelly and I faded a bit but still had a decent result. Back in October, I learned that I would not have to endure a 6th WS100 lottery and my good friend and WS Trail Boss Elke Reimer had given me her Golden Ticket to the big dance. Relieved and ecstatic although a whole new level of importance for the upcoming season hit me. I decided I needed to up my game and hire a coach after 6 years of being on my own.
Things were going smooth as I passed through Rodeo Beach on my way to Tennessee Valley. Reaching the coast and the amazing views along Pirates Cove and life is fine. Stopping for the first time at Muir beach around mile 15 in about 2:10 for a tailwind refill, some coke, and a pb&j then out of there quickly! The trail leading out for the next couple miles was flooded and covered with some down trees and branches. Then a tough climb and descent back to Muir Beach then another quick stop. Middle Green gulch came next and that is one big climb! Dropping back into TV again, although not happy about running through the poison oak bushes as tall as me, this was the last aid station before the final climb. A little sip of left eye right eye from Track 7 and all is ok until the Marincello walk/jog/walk/jog! One last decent and my legs were cooked by the time I hit the last flat mile to the finish. I got chicked by Sarah lavender Smith like I was going the other direction, but I held off a fast closing co-RD Chris Perillo who almost caught me. ALMOST doesn't count in a race, so I won the race within a race until our next event, Lake Sonoma 50. I ended up 31st overall and 1st in my 50-59 age group in 5:04:21.
We all hung out and had beer while cheering on our fellow finishers. With around 6500 feet of climbing, great volunteers, well stocked aid stations and a well marked course made for a very nice event. We got out of there just as the rain started coming down. There were still 200 or so 50k and 50M runners out there getting soaked. We stopped at Marin Brewing for dinner and suds before our drive home. A really fun day with a bunch of great friends is my favorite way to spend a Saturday in the Marin headlands!