Sunday, March 27, 2011


Sat. March 26, 2011
This was the second race I ran in these mountains, and I am not exaggerating when I say they were both tough. The event was well organized, the trails were well marked and the aid stations were stocked sufficiently. I would have liked the drop bags closer, rather than in the final 1/3 of the race, but other than that I give a two thumbs up for the race.
The morning started off wet and drizzly, but was soon just a mild fog. You begin the race by running across a campground single lane pavement road to the trail head for about a mile. Soon you pick up a well groomed single track trail, that gently makes its way unto a canyon edge. While descending down the canyon the trail gets rocky and steep at times. Because of the recent rains, there were muddy gully's and puddles along this section. About mile 7, I slid out on a steep mud bank and tore a muscle below the outside of my knee. At this point it wasn't too bad though.
Near mile 9 there was a creek ford, with a rope, and a safety guy there in a wetsuit. He was caring a few across, but I thought that was cheating. The canyon was nice with several creeks and large trees, as well as long drawn out meadows. The trail does a large loop to another trail head, and back to the creek ford. Soon after the ford, my knee began to have sharp pains, that were beginning to be unbearable. Taking 3 Advil, I began power hiking the hill back up to the start/finish area. At this point the sun was trying to show itself, but never succeeded. Nearing mile 19, I was contemplating quitting, due to my worsening knee.
At mile 21 you are back to the trail head in the campground and next to the vehicles. I grabbed a moeben arm sleeve out of my truck, and wrapped it around my knee. It helped a bit and I continued. Uphills it was ok, and down hill I had to find a happy medium between fast walking and light jogging. More than anything it was frustrating, cause I had the energy to go a lot faster than my knee would let me. The weird thing was though, this was my good knee and my usual troublesome knee was feeling great.
Leaving the Campground you take a short trail to a pavement road that shortly turns into a rocky dirt road. At mile 24, you leave the dirt road and drop into another canyon on a extremely rocky single track trail. The trail has nice views of the canyon walls all around you. Dropping 3000 feet, the trail crosses several creeks, and ends on a dirt road in a small village of cabins. The dirt road arrives shortly at the mile 29 aid station.
This is where the Race Director said the race really begins, and I was soon to find out he was not kidding. Leaving the aid station, you begin climbing along a series of creeks along single track. The trail has a few steep spots, but mostly just traverses contiguously up the canyon that just seems to go on forever. The views were nice below the fog bank, but as soon as you were in the fog, it began to get wet and cold. After a long 5 miles you reach the 34 mile aid station.
I had been anticipating this aid station, for it had my drop bag that contained fresh socks and a much needed knee strap. Not needing a sock change, I just grabbed my knee strap and began the long 3 mile climb up Santiago peak. The wind began picking up with a slight drizzle, and I was beginning to get cold. To make matters worse, near the summit we were now traversing in 6 to 10 inches of snow. My wet feet were starting to chill, but it was short lived reaching the top and marching back down the dirt road.
From here the course follows a dirt road that was rocky at times but well graded. When ever the road traversed the crest the wind was strong and cold, Mostly in the fog, and at times a drizzle, things began to get real cold. At this point I had less than 10 miles left, mostly downhill, my knee was killing and I just wanted to get it over with. While putting my head down and sucking up the pain, I began passing quite a few other injured and tired runners. I came in the finish just barely after 12 hours, for my slowest 50 miler ever, and definitely the hardest 50 to date.
After finishing, they had a carnivores delight with burgers and chili, but I was so wet and cold, I did not wait for the drop bags to return. I hope I can get it back.
Now that it is over with, I am glad I saw it through and my knee does not hurt too much. I believe it is muscle and not the joint. But it will take a few days to recover.