This was my second time running the Ron Herzog 50k memorial run and also my first long run since Angel’s Staircase 50k back in mid-August. At first glance, it is not that appealing a run – it starts out with almost 8 miles of gradual uphill on forest roads through a lot of devastating clear cuts. Somewhere around mile 13 or so, you take a turn onto the ‘tank traps’. A long long time ago the US army dug really deep ditches every 100 yards or so into a section of forest road in an effort to train tank drivers how to escape these traps. ‘Tanks a lot’ seemed to be the joke of the day. The tank trap section no longer resembles a road, it is incredibly overgrown with trees and wind-fall and prickers, causing one to clamber up and over downed trees before slipping and sliding down a tank trap, only to claw ones way to the top before getting ready for the next. This goes on for a couple of (largely unrunnable) miles. After this the trail improves, there is a single aid station (thanks Tim!) around mile 16 and a lot of gradual downhill on forest road with the last ~4 miles on pavement back to the start.
Probably doesn’t sound like much fun, but I had a great time. And it is nice to do a run where all of the money goes to a good cause and donated soup goes to a food bank. The weather was chilly but not rainy like last year and the sun really came out. We even had beautiful views of some big peaks in the North Cascades (3 Finger Jack? Whitehorse?) and could see pine trees frosted with snow on ridges above certain parts of the course.
I ran the first part of the course with Glen Mangiantini and his pup Oliver, Reed (who I met on the course last year) and Lorie Alexander and some other neat people. I roomed with Glen at Western States in 2010 and have seen him at many a trail run. I’ve also met Lori on a lot of trail runs – she ran fifty 50 milers when she turned 50! That is hardcore. Other than Terry Sentinella, Lorie is the only one I personally know who has completed Badwater, billed as the toughest ultra out there – ~135 miles starting in Death Valley to Mt Whitney portal. And she’s done it twice. Ouch. Maybe someday…http://www.badwater.com/
I lost the bunch in the tank traps. The sun came out and dappled the ground through the trees. I took off and had a great run enjoying a beautiful fall day and losing track of time and distances until I came into the finish and found out I was third with a time around 5:35. Not bad! But also not something to brag about as there were only 20 runners out there and I think the fastest chose to double back at the aid station and run the tank traps for a second time. I’m not that much of a masochist!
It was a slow drive home and a nice Saturday evening followed by an even nicer Sunday. Hope you ha a good weekend too! All of the pics are on picasa, but a few are below. Enjoy….