Great course, aid, volunteers! Definitely a fun race to do.
|Race Start looking toward Mt Shasta on the right|
Our family was spending the week at the Oregon Coast and the going to Crater Lake on the way home so I thought it might be fun to sneak this one in. I asked Michelle if she would like to drop me off and pick me up since it was close to Ashland but she wasn't crazy about getting up that early and making the trip twice after all the driving we had been doing for our vacation.
The 50 miler was full and I didn't really have time for that so I ended up doing the 50k. I got there early enough to watch the 50 milers take off and then mingle around in the parking lot for an hour before my start. My right knee hurt from the first step so I just wanted to take it easy and let it loosen up. It did a bit but then when I got to the first main aid station I flipped a stick up with my foot that stuck in the ground and the other end stuck under my right kneecap as I ran forward. It hurt like crazy but there was still zero chance I was going to quit barring a real injury. I cruised along fairly conservatively to the turnaround and then started back on a ridge top forest service road. After circling back on the road we hit an aid station that was on the outbound rout too.
From here we left the road and I believe it was all trail from there. The trail was on the north side of the mountain now looking toward Oregon. It was a really nice single track with just enough trees for some shade but still open enough to see the wonderful views. It was kind of rocky but just enough to keep you on your toes.
When I got to the last aid station about 5 miles out I decided I was going to give it everything I had after being so conservative all morning. After the last long gentle uphill there were two official race photographers there. As I approached I asked them if the first 50 miler had come through. They said they were going to ask me if I WAS THE FIRST 50 MILER! What?!? They said I was running so strong and fast they figured it might be me (totally serious). That was a good laugh but I was glad I was still ahead of whoever it might be at this point. I told them there was a guy who came flying in behind me at the last aid station that was probably the one they were looking for but he was taking some time to get recovered and eat something.
About 5 minutes later a guy goes bombing past me and I figured it was the 50 mile winner. I continued on at a steady pace and finally popped off of the PCT and onto a dirt road stretch before the finish. There were family members there cheering which was a big boost even though I didn't know them. This was the first race I can recall without Michelle or someone I know out on the course. The dirt road continues for a short bit and turns into pavement as you enter the Ashland Ski Resort. The pavement only lasted a few minutes but I can honestly say it was the most painful part of the course.
I finished in just over 6 hours and beat the first 50 miler by about 12 minutes which was a major win for me the way I was feeling most of the first half! Just after I finished my friend Clyde 'The Glide' Akers came in and we chatted the finish. Big thanks to a new friend I met at the race Samantha de la Vega for getting the finish line photos for me too.
The PCT was gorgeous and the thru-hikers were nice and ripe from days and weeks of being on the trail. The finish line beer was NICE RACK SOB. (A play on all the elk in the area..made by Southern Oregon Brewing Co.)