Posts tagged 50k
Majestic Oak trees were scattered across the rolling hills of dry grass around us. The marine layer was burning off and the morning sun was greeting us as we finished breakfast and lounged around camp. After some frisbee, a game of whiffle ball developed quickly as more people wanted to join the fun. There were no rules or teams, or maybe the rules and teams were made up and changed for each individual at every new moment of the game. Sometimes first base was at the porta-potties, sometimes there were no bases, sometimes you could throw the ball at someone to get them out, sometimes you could bat 5 times in a row, sometimes it turned into tag, and sometimes you had someone blowing bubbles behind you while you bat. We all were smiling, running around, and deeply engulfed in one of the best sessions of full on child-like play I have been in in a long time. It felt good. The game went on for hours. I couldn’t imagine a better way to kick off what was to be an amazing weekend of play, running, partying, and all kinds of shennanigans at the 2013 Born to Run Ultras.
The Born to Run Ultras are put on by the one and only Luis Escobar; Mas Loco, ultra-runner, and photographer extrordinaire. Located in Santa Barbara County, California, the BTR Ultras are among beautiful rolling grassy hills on a 4000 (?) acre private ranch. Participants are encouraged to camp on the ranch right at the starting line for the entire weekend of festivities including races of distances of 10 miles, 50k, 100k, and 100 miles. There was also Tarahumara style bola races, an unofficial beer mile, live music, a giant bonfire, blasting mariachi, delicious food, and much more. The course was basically a figure-8 of two different ten mile loops. After each loop every runner would be coming through camp and the start.
After whiffle ball on friday morning I began setting up the Luna Sandals booth where I would be selling Lunas. More and more people were arriving throughout the day. The first (unofficial) event of the day was the Beer Mile at 4pm hosted by Luna-tic, and beer mile champ, Patrick Sweeney. A beer mile consists of running a mile and drinking 4 beers. Drink a beer, run a quarter mile, and repeat until a mile and 4 beers are complete. People were excited for the beer mile. They gathered their beer (or root beer for a few) and lined up at the starting line of the quarter mile out and back as Sweeney explained the rules. Luis started the race with the shotgun. Patrick was first out of the gates. I sat out and took pictures and cheered on the runners. At this point I was noticing there was a lot of people in Lunas. It was really exciting for me to see so many people in them. The beer mile was fun to witness and looked like a blast for the participants unless you were one of the unlucky to puke on the course and have to run an extra quarter mile. Sweeney, of course, came out the winner.
After the beer mile was the Tarahumara style Bola races. Luis brought wooden balls from the Copper Canyons. It would be 10 or so heats of 5 participants racing a quarter mile-ish each kicking a wooden ball. Luna was donating a pair of sandals to the winner of each heat and all the proceeds (10$ each runner) went directly to Norawas, the non-profit that benefits the Tarahumara. Since Luna was sponsoring the Bola races I was handing out gift certificates to the winners and starting each heat with the shotgun. For me shooting the shotgun for each heat was just as fun as participating. Mariachi music blarred from the speakers, people raced, and people cheered. It was a great time.
After the Bola Races people hung around the camp and bonfire. A couple live bands played on the stage. People were dancing and hoola-hooping into the night. I manned the Luna Booth, sold some sandals, and met some great people. The night ended early so that we all could get up early the next morning for the start of the race.
At 4:15am our wake up call was 5 shotgun blasts followed by loud Mariachi music filling the dark campground. The race had sold out for a total of 450 people signed up to run that day. People lined up at the start, Luis made some course announcements, and I had the shotgun ready to start the race.
3. 2. 1… Bang! We were off. I handed Luis the shotgun, grabbed my water bottle and was off running down the dirt road in the crowd of runners. The course is a mix of dirt roads, two track, and some single track. It is a relatively easy course with about 1100 feet of elevation gain per 10 mile loop and not too technical. It is a very runnable course. I was running the 50k and I was excited to push my limits a bit at that distance.
I ran with so many friends, old and new. The Luna Tribe was strong and in full force. So many people were wearing Lunas out there. I felt so honored and special to be part of such a great group of people. As well as the usual suspects of Mas Loco Luna-tics and others, there was also a lot of Luna-tics who have been customers and supporters for a long time that I finally got to meet in person. It was exciting. I’m so grateful for all you!
The miles flew by as the sun slowly rose above the horizon. The course was beautiful. On the second loop there is an awesome section of single track atop a long ridge with great views all around. I was feeling really good. Towards the end of the second loop my hamstrings started to get a little crampy for whatever reason. I made sure to eat some salt and drink water but my legs stayed crampy off and on throughout the race. But it wasn’t bad and I felt very strong otherwise. By the third loop the sun was getting higher and it was starting to get hot. It probably hit about 90 degrees. In the last 2 or 3 miles there is a big gradual downhill so I let it loose and ran my fastest miles of the race. I came through the start/finish at mile 30 and just had a 1/2 mile out and back to be done. I ran it in and got my amulet finishers necklace made by Hawaiian ultra runner AcaBill. I crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 35 minutes which was my new personal record by a long shot. I was very happy with that. I was finally feeling like I could push my pace at the 50k and 50 mile distances instead of just trying to survive. It felt good to be noticing progress.
I was curious to see how others did and were doing. It turned out that Patrick Sweeney won the 50k again in 3 hours and 49 minutes. Team Luna runner Gregorio Ponce placed 2nd in the 10 miler in 1 hour even. Congrats guys! That made Pat the triple crown winner; he won the beer mile, his heat of the bola races, and the 50k. We grabbed some food and lounged around cheering on all the runners as they came through. That evening was a fun evening of hanging by the bonfire, watching Anthony shoot the pinata with the shotgun, push up acrobatics, human pyramids, and watching all the runners come through. I really wanted to stay up and watch all the runners come in but got tired and went to sleep. I was bummed I missed Tyler coming into the finish for his first 100 mile finish in 23 and half hours! Congrats Tyler, you’re a beast. James Bonnet ended up winning the 100 miler in 15 hours and some change and took home the surf board prize. Congrats to Jess on the 100k and to Dawn Marie on her first ultra. Congrats to Jim on his first 100 miler and so many others that ran strong and had fun.
What really makes this event special is the great community of people involved. I came away from the weekend feeling like I had just participated in something very special and unique. The feeling and vibe at the event really only reminds me of the vibe of one other event I’ve been a part of and that is the Caballo Blanco Ultramarathon. It is hard to describe the vibe of these two events. I’m not going to try anymore here. Go do them, you won’t regret it.
Thank you everyone involved!!! Thanks to all the Lunatics out there for your support. Thanks to Sweeney for driving and letting me stay at your house. Thanks to all the volunteers and wonderful people cooking those delicious burritos. Congratulations Luis on putting on such an amazing event! I will definitely be back next year!
This was originally posted on Scott’s personal blog.
The orange and red Madronas contrasted sharply with the dark green evergreens, all clinging to a steep rocky slope spilling into the sea. Our ferry had just left Lopez Island and was rounding the northern point of the island on our way to Orcas Island. The four of us lounged in the cushy seats of our booth on the ferry. The sun was blinding and irresistible. I stared out the window, blocking my eyes from the sun with my hand and soaking in as much as I could. In the grey overcast winter of Seattle, sunlight is the most prized commodity. No amount of money can buy you sunshine in Seattle. You just have to wait and hope. But when it comes out it’s glorious. Something that I don’t notice until the sun comes out is the lack of shadow and color in the normally overcast weather. When it’s overcast everything is muted. People and objects lose depth in appearance. The trees and water are a bland shade of the their true colors. Skin pigment fades away. And then it happens. The blue water glimmers. The vinyl seats shine with warmth. The evergreens of the islands bursting from the sea are bright green. The white seagulls drift in the cloudless blue sky. The faces of my friends, chatting and smiling in our booth, have a depth of shadow, shades, and light that give a better glimpse of who they are. And the Madronas… wow. Light is beautiful.
Photo by Feist, Micheal via flickr.
We were on our way to run the Orcas Island 50k. I was nervous because I hadn’t been running much over the winter and didn’t know how I would do. With 8000 feet of elevation gain, Orcas is known as a tough 50k. Looking at the previous years results a lot of people were finishing in the 6.5-8 hour range which gave me an idea of how hard it is. Also, I am signed up the for Copper Canyon Ultra, which is a 50 miler I’ll be running just a month after Orcas. My performance at Orcas would be a good indicator for what to expect in the Copper Canyons. It can be hard for me to train in the winter, especially when choosing between a nice, warm bouldering gym versus a run in the drizzly 40 degree city gloom. Let’s just say that I’ve been getting a lot better at bouldering. Regardless, mentally I had a lot hinging on how things would go at Orcas.
I was excited for Orcas. I had never been to the San Juan Islands, the weather was supposed to be perfect, and the course is mostly soft single track through old growth rain forest in Moran State Park including summiting Mount Constitution. Orcas is a Rainshadow Running event and I had heard really good things about Rainshadow events.
I was lucky enough to catch a ride with a great group of people.Tom, who just joined us at Luna; Yitka, who I had only met once at the Vashon Island 50k; and Glenn, who I had never met, and who was going to be shooting all the official race event photos. We pulled off the ferry and drove around the island to the Moran State Park as the sun set with golds and oranges. That night there was a potluck style dinner and a lot of people hanging out in the lodge. I don’t do very many events but I recognized a lot of people there. It felt good to talk to friends I hadn’t seen in a long time and to meet a lot of new people. That night we stayed in one of the bunk houses that slept about 16 people. It was interesting sleeping in a room with 15 other people. Im glad I remembered my ear plugs, I woke up quite a bit in the night but still got good sleep.
In the morning everyone was up early. I had decided to run the early start at 7:30 rather than the normal 8:30 start. On the race’s website they suggest you start early if you expect to take over 7 hours to finish the course. Being that my plan was to take it easy, enjoy it, and just finish I expected to take over 7 hours. I put on my sandals (Luna Leadville with ATS laces) and strapped on my water bottle waist belt and was out the door to the starting line. It was chilly and beautiful. James, the race director, said a few words, gave a countdown, and we were off. Down a short little stretch in the campground then into the soft singletrack forested trails that would make up most of the course. Right away I realized I had made a mistake by not starting closer to the front of the early starters. I was close to the back and on the singletrack I was stuck behind lines of people going considerably slower that I wanted to go. It took two to three miles of leap frogging before I got into a place between people going a similar pace. Once we were running and on the trails a lot of my anxiety slipped away as I breathed in the crisp air and ran by giant old growth Douglas Firs. Coming up the back side of Mount Pickett I caught glimpses through the trees of the sun rising over the sound and Cascades. After the summit I started down the easy graded and surprisingly soft fire road leading back towards Cascade Falls and let my legs spin and pick up some speed coming down. I was feeling good and rolled onwards.
Cascade Falls. Photo by stevevoight via flickr.
I pulled back into the campground lodge and first aid station at mile 9.7, grabbed some snacks, and was back on the trail. Shortly after leaving the lodge the front runners started passing me having started an hour later than me. It was pretty amazing that at mile 10 they had already caught up to me. I strolled next to Cascade Lake before turning to head up the infamous powerline climb. It’s definitely steep and full of false summits. Going up my legs were starting to feel worked and were actually getting a little crampy. Which got me worried. Did I just need to eat and drink? I started eating and drinking more and trying to analyze what was going on.
I finally made it to the top of the powerline climb and the trail flattened out and then started heading down around the back side of Mt. Constitution. My legs were still feeling a little crampy but as I moved from the steep climbing to the flat and downhill running my legs started to feel better. I really liked the varied terrain. When one muscle group was feeling tired the terrain would change and I would use another group for a while. The backside of Constitution and the run around Mountain Lake were very meditative. It seemed like a time of transition from a little anxiety about my crampy legs to determination and hope by the time I rounded the lake.
When I reached the aid station at mile 19 at the base of the climb up Mt. Constitution I was feeling pretty good. My legs were getting a little sore but not cramping any more. I climbed up Mt. Constitution and the view from the top was spectacular.
Coming down the steep switch backs of Mt Constitution my quads really started feeling my lack of training. By the time I was at the bottom they were pretty shot and I still had another big downhill coming up. I rounded the mountain and the last big downhill was brutal. My quads were done. I pitter-pattered slowly down the steep hill while others were racing by me. My friend Danielle flew by me ecstatically, urging me to run with her. I had no delusions that I could run that fast right then and she was two switch backs below me in no time. Near the bottom of the hill I stopped to look at a huge old growth Red Cedar towering above the trail. This was an amazing course. Back on flat ground my legs felt great and I was flying around the lake on the last couple miles to the finish line. Finishing felt amazing as it always does.
Besides my quads being brutalized I was feeling pretty good after the run. Orcas is actually a little over a 50k at 32.75 miles. I think I had a tiny bit of gas still in the tank (Im telling myself that now, after the fact) so that leaves me hopeful for running 50 in the Copper Canyons. We’ll find out soon. CCUM is March 4th!
Urique, Barrancas del Cobre. Photo by Ravi.
My Lunas performed great. The course was a little muddy in places with a tiny bit of snow at the top of Constitution but nothing we couldn’t handle.
On the journey back home that evening I was sitting in the car feeling completely satisfied. It’s funny how quickly memories of struggling on the course fade and are overshadowed by these celebratory feelings. I felt warmly content like I had just purged every ounce of anxiety out of my body. I wanted nothing, well food and a shower sounded nice, but really I was completely happy just to be. I remembered and I felt why I love to run in the wilderness.
Thanks to Tom, Yitka, Glenn, Rainshadow Running, and everyone at the event for facilitating such a wonderful time!