Way Too Cool 50k

I’m totally tardy on this report, but have been super busy with work. Last weekend, Max King and I headed down to California to run Way Too Cool 50k in Cool, CA (just across the American River Canyon from Auburn, CA). Part of the course in on the Western States 100 course and it’s always a deep field and you have to be prepared to run fast.

Max and I arrived at Auburn Running Company for packet pickup on a very rainy day in Northern California. The area got over an inch of rain on Friday, and it was wet. Luckily, the rain storms blew out Friday night. After a quick 2.5 mile jog on Friday night to flush the legs out with Max after all day in the car, we hit the sack about 11pm.

We woke to clear skies and some heavy frost as the temps had dipped near freezing overnight, but the day looked to be beautiful, with temps forecasted in the upper 50s to low 60s and not a cloud in the sky. After my warm-up, I got to the start line and said hello to a few folks, Kami, Rod, and Karl (who was just spectating after Coyote Two Moons the week before…his wife was running). We got going at 8am sharp and as usual the pace was quick out of the gates.

The pace being brisk, I went through the first mile in 6:17 and the second just about as fast. I knew from my previous 2 times before, you have to be ready run hard out of the gates, as the start is on an old FS paved road. We soon got on the trail and I realized my hopes of breaking 4 hours might not come true due to conditions…it was muddy…but, I was still hopeful. I settled in and tried to run comfortably hard without going too hard on any hills and using the downs to pick up the pace a bit.

I arrived Aurburn Lakes Trail Aid at 15.4 in 1:53 and felt pretty good. I was still thinking sub-4 might be there. After that loop and the climb up Ball Bearing Hill I was still on pace and started the traverse back meeting the back of the pack runners. Everyone was stepping aside so I just had to twist sideways a bit as I ran past (save one guy who almost ran me off the trail). I have to say, since adding the extra mileage last year to the course in the first few miles of the course, it prolongs the time meeting other runners on the traverse. I know I was getting tired of twisting to get by and I’m sure they were annoyed by having to step off the trail every 40 yards for front runners.

NOTE: My personal opinion is that race staff should re-route that section to avoid the overlap, it’s really quite annoying for everyone involved (front and back of the packers), as the traverse there is narrow and the hillside is steep (above and below the trail) with no place to step aside easily. I was in 12th through that section, so all the runners were nice that stepped aside, but I’m sure by the runner in 30th and above, those runners were getting pretty annoyed at having to step aside. I just think if you are going to change the course—a course with a long, rich tradition—you better change it for the better, not make it worse just for the sake of “exact” mileage. However, I don’t want my personal critiques to overshadow the fact that the RD Julie and the volunteers put on an excellent race. Great aid stations, great finish line, great event.

I made it to almost goat hill climb before I quit meeting runners, and ran through the marathon in 3:19. On my way up Goat Hill, I kind of hit the wall. I really had no drive left and felt like I was pretty cooked. My splits definitely show it too. I faded the last 5, but was able to pick a couple of guys off in the last 3 miles to sneak into 10th place in 4:07. It was a solid effort I felt for this early. 50k’s are definitely not my forte, but I felt like it was a pretty good race considering the mud. Bend represented with 3 in the top 10. Rod Bien was 7th and Max was 2nd. Strong work Central Oregon.

As far as the men’s overall race, Max was leading from halfway to the Goat Hill Climb, when last year’s winner, Leor Pantilat caught up to him on the climb. Geoff Roes caught them both just past Goat Hill aid and put the hammer down and left them, only to take a wrong turn on the trail that leads back to Hwy 49 aid. Bummer. (they need a directional sign at that intersection, as it’s flagged in both directions—confusing if you get turned around). Roes, due to the mishap, ended up in 3rd and Leor pulled out another win with Max hanging on for 2nd.

Max and I slogged an easy 8 miler in Red Bluff, CA on Sunday on the way home. It was nice enough to run shirtless. I was able to run every day this week and feel pretty good. Which, if anyone knows me, I’m usually not running again for a few days after a 50k. I forced myself to run every day and feel my legs flushed out and recovered much quickly. Next up…Meissner’s local ultra in Sisters, Oregon in April…The Rumble 60k! Giddyup!

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