Sunday, April 10, 2011

Grizzly Peak 30K Race Report: April 9, 2011

Short version: The Grizzly Peak trail run at Tilden Park had something for everyone, whether you prefer gnarly knee-bashing rocks, treacherous ankle-breaking roots, or evil shoe-swallowing mud pits. More than one runner finished the day with bloody knees and a bloody nose. And some never finished at all (note: the mud pits are currently being searched for lost shoes and human remains).

Long version: If you don't like getting dirty, you probably found yourself in the wrong place this Saturday during the Grizzly Peak trail run held by Coastal Trail Runs at Tilden Park in Berkley. Most of the course was quite dry and very runnable, but the few sections that contained mud were... well, muddy, muddy, muddy.

I'm not talking about a little mud clumping to the bottom of your shoe muddy. And I'm not talking about a few mud puddles that you can tip toe around on the skirts of the trail. I'm talking about the kind of mud that will suck the shoes right off your feet and then belch loudly. The type of mud that will swallow small dogs and toddlers. This mud wasn't natural.

And if the mud wasn't enough of a challenge, the course also offered an assortment of other obstacles and booby traps including a fallen tree branch in the middle of one of the steepest sections of rocky single track. There you are, trudging up a 20 degree incline with your hands on your knees trying to catch your breath. Just when you think it can't get any worse, you look up and see a fallen tree limb blocking your path. WTF? Seriously? Damn you Wendell Doman! And guess what, if you are running the 30K or marathon distance, you get to do this section of the course twice. Yea!

And did I mention the rocks, tree roots, and three foot deep ruts? Yep, check, check and check. This trail had them all. I was never more thankful to be wearing my trusty Salomon Speedcross trail shoes, with their knobby mountain-bike tire style treads (see image). So you can imagine my surprise when some young stud blew by me on an extremely rocky descent wearing a pair of Vibrams. I never caught his name, but my hat is off to him!

Those of you who know me or have read my blog before already know that nothing makes me more happy than being completely miserable (out on the trails). So let me stop whining. I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea and think that the course was entirely rocky, rooted, rutted, and muddy. No, there was some great stretches of highly runnable trail and fire road, much of which provided beautiful breathtaking views. I didn't have my camera on me so I couldn't take any pictures myself, but here are a nice photo from the Internet that I think does justice to the beauty of the course.

It was a beautiful day and challenging course. I had actually run 24 miles up at Saratoga Gap the day before with my buddy Dr. Joseph Bistrain, so I decided to just do the short-ish 30K (19 mile) distance instead of the marathon. And rather than trying to race hard and potentially contend for a top finish, I took it easy and enjoyed the day. However, I suppose I did get a little competitive towards the end when I found myself coming into the aid station at mile 13 at the same time as Peter Hsia who had been slowly reeling me in over the past few miles by running all of the uphill sections that I was walking. (Peter is a stud and can run almost any hill, no matter how steep). Luckily I was able to put a little time between us by aggressively running the muddy sections with reckless abandon. Again, full credit to my Salomon Speedcross. Those things are animals.

Here's a link to the official results. As you can see, I ended up finishing in 3rd place with a time of 3:00:44, which is about 9:34 pace. Not too shabby for a "recovery" day. Thanks again to Wendell and the folks at Coastal Train Runs for organizing another great event.

The End.


slowrunner77 said...

nice run, John. almost drove to this one, but the gas is killin me, so we kept it a little closer to home...within a hundred miles anyway. no more travel for a few weeks now. glad to enjoyed your

Anonymous said...

Great write up!! Nice pace, the trail really was brutal...but so much fun!