2012 Chuckanut 50K

PHOTO: Mile 10, little wet, little slippery. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

This was my third trip to Krissy’s race. This course is always hard and fun. A fast 10k, 4500 feet of climbing sandwiched in 18 miles on Chuckanut Ridge and a fast 10k at the end back to Fairhaven Park on a gravel pathway.

Bellingham is a such a great town to visit too. I’m always excited to go back—cool little college town. We stayed in the Fairhaven within jog of the start and finish. I brought the brood, so the family could wonder around with out driving or messing with parking. Since Patagonia is a sponsor of the race, a bunch of my teammates and reps made the trip. A few of the Patagonia boys ran too. Shout out to Walker, Josh and Surf Monkey. Way to buck up boys. Plus Luke Nelson, Jenn Shelton, Rocho, Padre, and Tylote made the trek. Good to catch up with the crew.

So, Chuckanut. Definitely not my ideal course, as I tend to do much better the longer the distance, so I’ve never been especially strong at 50Ks, just consistent. So, this one is always fun to get those ultra legs turnin’ over. Plus, over the past few years, this race has become the premiere March 50K with regard to the elite field. It was stacked this year.

Morning of the race dawned to rain and 38 degrees. We took off at the expected quick clip this race is known for and JB (famous for only being the ninth person to finish The Barkley Marathons 100 miler in 2010 and hold Long Trail speed record). Good old southern boy. We talked and I settled into 6:30s with people surging past us. We were hoping our experience would pay off later by throttling the effort. At a couple of miles in, Padre rolls up next to me and says, “How’s it feel to be running 6:30s and be in 40th?” (Uh, ouch). Man, the ultra scene had been changing the past few years. More fast folks, more numbers, filled races. Crazy. Exciting too. This race got out over 300 first time 50Ks. Growing for sure.

Soon Ellie Greenwood and another girl passed us. We let them go. World 100k runner but I was hoping to reel her in in the technical stuff later—fat chance.

Padre and I and few other guys stayed in a loose group through the first trail climb up into the couple inches of snow on the top half of the ridge and reeled a few guys in. Then descended back down into the rain. The group started breaking up on the gravel road climb before Chuckanut Ridge Trail, where Padre and I passed a few more guys.

I lost sight of Padre and just settled into steady race pace and dealing with crazy footing on Chuckanut Ridge. In the snow and mud beneath, I had a few hands and feet slides down rock slabs. Did have some trouble with gel getting too cold in my flasks and couldn’t get last bit out, no matter if I mixed water…nothing worked. Note to self, packets when it’s cold, no flasks.

Once I hit the slushy, muddy climb up to the base of Chinscraper I caught back up to Padre, then he picked it up again and gapped me again and I didn’t see him rest of the race. I soon caught the 2nd place girl who looked like the early fast pace was coming back to haunt her a little.

I was soon jamming up Chinscraper climb, which is basically a bunch of grunt steep pitches with runnable small sections in between. It was slippery in a few spots with all the snow and looked up to see Ellie dup ahead. I was gaining on her in the technical stuff. I was right behind her at the top and came out onto the gravel road to start the almost 3 mile drop to the pathway. Ellie took OFF. Seriously, I was running 5:40 pace on my Garmin and she dropped me like a bad habit. Had to be runnin’ 5s. This old man still has some leg speed, but not that fast. Some times it’s nice to be humbled. Ellie went on to break her own course record and just out distance Padre in 4:09.

Running down the lower part of the road, I was surprised to catch Max. He said he’d missed the hard left off the first road descent as a volunteer apparently had trouble getting up to manage the course markings and that critical turn and he and the Sage, the dude in 2nd, missed it. Luckily, Sage only missed it by 1/2 mile before one of the back of the packers kindly told him he was not on course. He was then in 4th and rallied to 2nd. Strong work. Sadly, Max, because he’s so dang fast, had to have a car chase him down to turn him around. He ran 1.5 miles down hill before he turned back. Extra credit. I gotta respect him though, he took it like a champ, wasn’t mad and still cruised to a finish. Nice work Maximus.

I hit the Interurban Trail for the final 6.5 miles and concentrated on arm swing and heal kick and got in the zone and knocked off sub 7s all the way back to town. I passed a few more folks and finished in 25th in 4:12…and 3rd Masters behind Mackey and Gellin. Gary did the Way Too Cool/Chuckanut double. He won Cool last weekend and ran strong today. I’m hitting’ the double this week too. Chuckanut then Gorge Waterfalls 50k 8 days later on Sunday. I’m coining, “The Chuck-n-Gorge Double”…Giddyup.

GEAR: Patagonia Cap 1 Long Sleeve Jersey, Patagonia Houdini Jacket, Patagonia 5″ Strider short, Patagonia gloves, Old Skool Patagonia hat (circa 1999), Ultraspire Isomeric Race handheld, Ultraspire Melecular Belt System (MBS) with Atom front and Nerve single water bottle holder on the back. Rudy Project Rx Noyz Frames glasses.

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