|(That's where all the fun will be happening - the Trinity Alps)|
|(Very runnable first half)|
I drove over Friday afternoon, checked into my hotel room, got my bib number at Main Street Shoes and met the very nice Roxanne (who I think was the co-RD or at the very least was one of the sort of sadistic minds behind the course), and topped off the day by attending the spaghetti feed at the Fire Hall, also a fund raiser for the athletics department. In doing so, I was privileged to meet a woman who was celebrating losing 95 pounds and a guy who had lost over 100 pounds (both running the 30k the next day), as well as Wayne, who is from Eureka, too. (Yea! Another local trail runner!) Wayne and I ended up getting engrossed in our own tales of trail running (he’s run Western States three times), and soon it was time to mosey on back to our respective lodges to get ready for the next day.
|(Prepared for the next day and representin' the 3NJs!!)|
|(T-shirts hot off the press!)|
I had already decided I was going to take my time running this race. It was the last after a long training season, and I just wanted to enjoy myself. In talking the night before, Wayne and I figured since we were both going slow, we might end up running together some. At the end of the first 3 miles (a lollipop loop), I was at the back of the pack (not a surprise), and as I left the first aid station, Wayne was slightly ahead of me. He slowed down so I could catch up and in that silent agreement that happens between trail runners, we running the next 9 miles together. At about Mile 12.22 I stepped off the trail to get some salt pills and didn’t catch up with him again until approximately Mile 22.
|(Me and Wayne at Jackass Ridge Aid Station)|
In the interim, I accidentally went off trail, but only for about 1/4 mile total (um - there are no other shoe prints in the dirt. I don’t think I belong here), got to feel like a champion for a moment as I climbed the trail to AS#4 to the theme from “Chariots of Fire,” stuffed my face throughout the race with bananas, potatoes, Pepsi (BPP), and red vine licorice (my stomach was happy with this combo), and had the pleasure of interacting with wonderful and helpful aid station workers, all of whom I can only ascertain were friends, family, and parents of the RD and/or the kids of Trinity High.
|(Jackass Ridge Aid Station Crew)|
I called the RD sadistic earlier, didn’t I? It was all in jest, but the reason is because of how he laid out this race. There was approximately 4700 feet of elevation gain, and almost all of it is in the second half. He sucks you in with a very runnable first half, then at Mile 15.25 begins throwing the climbs at you. The first is half a mile and full of switchbacks. However, at the top you are greeted with a sign that says:
followed by another sign telling you you get a brief reprieve
After that, it’s an up and down fest that tests your will, but never feels insurmountable. Your quads get a workout, but what do you expect? It’s a trail race! In grading the trail on a scale of 1 to 5 ala Ultrarunner Magazine, I’d say the first half is around a 2-2.5 and the second half is around a 3.5.
|(Halfway up the first major climb)|
The only time I felt slightly uncomfortable was during the 2 ½ miles at the top of the first climb. There were a lot of shoe prints in the dirt, but over the top of some of those prints were the paw prints of a large cat. The question: When were those paw prints made? With 13 people ahead of me, I doubted the prints were made over the shoe prints of those who had marked the trail the day before. It was just a matter of whether the cat had been through there moments or a couple of hours before me. This was incentive to kick it up a notch and get the heck outta there.
At about Mile 19, I hit the 5th aid station and the high point of the race, elevation-wise. There was an older gentleman and a teenage boy working this station, and they were happy to see me since I was the last runner to come through. The man couldn’t have been more helpful and was concerned about me getting food while he helped me refill my fluid bladder. I grabbed some more BPP and red licorice, thanked them for being there and took off. Wayne was leaving the station as I was climbing up to it, and about 15 minutes after I left, I caught up to him. Unfortunately, he was having a some significant knee issues and was having a hard time running down hill or climbing. I stayed with him for about 15 minutes or so, but soon we had another silent agreement that I needed to keep going, so I wished him luck and took off.
There was a lot of downhill after leaving the 5th AS. It wasn’t extremely technical, but neither was all of it smooth sailing. Plus, I was getting tired and had to work hard to not use my quads as brakes. I was happy to arrive at AS #6 and stuff my face with BPP and some potato chips. As I left, one of the workers told me, “You have 9 miles left. Cross the road and you get to climb.” Me with a grin: “Well, that’s disappointing.” The next five miles was a combo of some good climbing and descending. I could hear the creek down below me, and at one point if I had been willing to go slightly off trail and climb down some rocks, I could’ve gotten wet, but I just didn’t have it in me.
|(Perty, ain't it!)|
It was four miles to the end, and I’m not ashamed to say I was getting tuckered out. I walked more than I wanted to, but I can honestly say I was still thoroughly enjoying myself.
lthough I was worried about Wayne and if he’d be able to finish, I needed to clean up and get on the road as I had a 2+ hour drive ahead of me. The results show he finished about half an hour after me, and I tip my hat to his determination.
This was a great course that I highly recommend. It was extremely well marked, and all the volunteers get an A++ in my book. Because the first half is so runnable, it makes for a fast course for the right runner, like Winner Ryan Ghelfi who finished in 3:48:12. (Say, what??) I'll definitely go back.