This 50K is held on the trails at Point Defiance starting at Owens Beach. It's a loop course of roughly 10 miles with about 1,000 feet of gain per loop and it's all runnable. Even my favorite descent, Nelly's Gnarly Descent, is runnable; it has a rope from top to bottom, so you just hang on tight and bomb down (I recommend bringing gloves for this). The trails are gorgeous and I sure do love a course where you can get a steady rhythm and good turnover, it makes for a fast day.
|PC: Marylee Martucci|
The first mile or so of the course is on a concrete path along the waterfront before you climb a set of stairs up into the park. From there, besides a few road crossings, you are on soft, groomed North West trails under beautiful old growth and typical PNW flora. It's an easy and scenic course, two things you don't often get in one trail race. There is only one steep climb, Achilles Hill, and it's very short.
Despite running an average of only 50 miles per week for the past two months following my back to back 50 Milers, I was feeling pretty good. I came through the first loop in 1:15 and the second in 1:17, but during the third loop I lost a lot of time. When I started the third loop I was on pace for a short course PR, I even sent my wife a photo and message that said "I have the lead and I'm on pace for my PR!" but I spoke too soon.
|Mid race selfies are a bad idea|
|PC: On The Run Events|
Getting tired had a lot more to do with my slower time on the 3rd loop than anything else, but I will say that this was one of the poorest marked courses I have ever run. There was no mention of what color ribbon to follow pre-race, which thankfully ended up being pretty self explanatory since there was only one color out there, however, during the first loop myself and two 30K guys (one who was really pissed about it) got off course a total of 3 times. On my last loop, after coming to an intersection with pink ribbons in multiple directions, I took a wrong turn and added 1-2 miles to my run. The volunteers were very friendly, but they didn't seem to know what was going on as every one I asked either had no idea what distance they were stationed at or told me a distance that made no sense and contradicted the previous volunteer's estimation. Maybe I'm Spoiled by Rainshadow Running and Destination Trail, but the lack of course marking and volunteer organization became very apparent on my last loop.
Even with those little bumps, I stayed positive and had a blast. Can I really complain about getting some bonus miles?Besides, it was a fast and beautiful course and I managed to snag the win. Nelly's Gnarly Descent was by far my favorite part. It was thrilling to hold on to that rope and pretty much free fall down that steep section of trail. So much fun!
The aid stations were well stocked and at the finish there was endless pizza. Can you really ask for more than beautiful Pacific North West trails and endless pizza?
We went back the following day for Wifey's Long run. Here are some photos of the beautiful trails out there:
Thank you to all of the volunteers who make these events possible.
Thank you to Clifbar.
For personal coaching visit Upper Left Distance Training.