Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rancho Cañada del Oro and Calero Park 50 Mile

Saturday, June 4th I ran the Rancho Cañada del Oro and Calero Park 50 Mile, an inaugural event put on by Troy's California Trail Runs. Rancho Cañada and Calero are actually two of my favorite places to run in the Bay Area. These two adjoining parks are real hidden gems, at least among trail runners (the parks are both quite well known to equestrians).

I had really been looking forward to this event for weeks, ever since early May wheny  I wimped out and dropped out of the Quicksilver 50M race at the 50K mark due to some stomach issues. Rancho/Calero was going to be my chance to prove to myself that Quicksilver was just a fluke bad day, and that I was indeed capable of easily running a 50 miler. And with my 100 miler fast approaching at the end of June, I desparately needed to know that I could knock out a 50 miler with no problem if I was to have any shot a finishing a full 100. Yikes.

So when I woke up at 4:30 am Saturday morning and saw pouring rain outside, I didn't allow myself to flinch. Wimping out and going back to bed was not an option. I needed to go out there and do a full day's work; I needed to take care of business.

You can imagine my surprise and panic when I arrived at the park in the morning and there were only a handful of cars and no race registration tent or banner. I wondered if perhaps the race had been cancelled? But no, it turns out there were only a handful of people crazy enough to come out and run all day in the rain and mud. Despite the horrible weather the race director Troy did a great job of getting things started nearly on time (we had to wait a few minutes for some last minute race-day registrants who showed up just as the gun was about to go off).

Among the 7 or so runners loitering around the parking lot I saw my Quicksilver teammate (and team coach) Greg Lanctot. Greg had come out to run the 32 Mile  race, hoping for an age group win (or perhaps an overall win) depending on who else was crazy enough to show up for a small, out-of-the-way, local race in miserable rainy conditions. Unfortunately for Greg, three-time Tevis Cup horse racing winner Jeremy Reynolds showed up, and even without this horse he was able to runaway with the win in the 32 Mile race. However, Greg did manage to hold off third-place finisher Tim Koska, bringing home a 2nd place overall finish (and the age group win).

The 50 Mile was slightly less competitive with only two crazy runners toughing out the miserable conditions to complete the full 50 miles. I crossed the finish line first in a time of 9:30:22, while 61 year old Dan Maguire crushed the rest of the field to finsih in second with a time of 12:57:00. Technically I am now the "course record holder" since this was the first year this event was run, and hence my time is (at least for a year) the fastest time on record. Ha. Though technically I probably should have been disqualified since I missed one turn where the mud had washed away the course markings and ended up cutting the course short by 1/2 mile or so.

Anyway... it was long morning of rain, mud, and hills. At one point the sun came out briefly, just long enough to give me a quick sunburn on my forehead. And then it was back to more rain and more mud (the hills never left). The highlight of the day was probably when my wife met me at mile 40 to cheer me on. She even sucked it up and ran a couple of miles in the mud with me, including one river crossing.

The other "highlight" of the day was when I literally almost ran into a couple of skunks as I was flying down a steep hill. I came screeching to a halt just fast enough to avoid getting sprayed in the face with skunk juice. And then, much to my surprise, the mother skunk actually started chasing me back up the hill. WTF? Luckily she wasn't much of an ultra runner and gave up after a few feet. And I come home still smelling like roses! Well, I probably smelled bad enough after 9 hours of sweat, but at least I didn't get spritzed with Aud De Parfum O' Skunk.

Here's a link to the official results and there are my Garmin stats.

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