|Sanborn County Park in Saratoga, CA|
Welcome to Sanborn County Park in Saratoga. It's a little-known, seldom visited hidden gem nestled away off a small one lane road that most people drive right by without ever realizing. Sometimes when I'm in a hurry or just too lazy to drive all the way up Highway 9 to Saratoga Gap, I pull off at the bottom of the hill and drive a mile through the woods to Sanborn.
While the park boasts miles and miles of beautiful shaded single-track trails that cut through stunning redwood forests -- most of those trails go straight up the mountain! Steep, steep, steep with an average grade of about 12%.
I remember being surprised a few years ago when I learned that Brazen Racing was going to hold a half marathon trail race on this course. Brazen is an amazing company who put on top-notch races. They really nail all the details and add special little touches like personalized race bibs with your name on them. And I love that they not only post the race results online the very next day, but they even post pictures from the race that runners can download -- for free!
I ran the 1/2 marathon at Sanborn in 2010 and 2012. Both years my finishing times were nearly the same. I ran a 1:50:05 in 2010 for 2nd place, and a 1:50:49 in 2012 for 4th place. This year I came into the race feeling stronger and faster than ever. 2013 had been a great year for me with numerous PRs and break-through races.
|Not happy to be behind a dude in shorts-over-tights!|
We took off and I found myself running in second place just off the shoulder of a dude wearing running shorts over tights. I consider this a major fashion faux-pas and was infuriated and ashamed to be behind him. So I turned on the jets and accelerated, intending to take the lead. But he suddenly started sprinting so as to not let me pass. He kept this up for a good 1/2 mile before inexplicably slowing down and dropping way off.
|Briefly in the lead|
But then something interesting happened. While I was losing ground on the long opening four mile climb (which was supposed to be my strength), I found myself making up chunks of ground on the short downhill sections. As we approached the top of the climb and hit the flatter rolling section of the course I caught up with François, the runner in second place. As I surged past him I could see the race leader, Christian, hanging about 100 yards ahead.
|2nd place is so painful!|
Christian reached the half-way turn-around point only a few seconds before me. I had him in my sights. But that would unfortunately be the last I ever saw of him. He stepped on the gas and opened up a minute lead on me over the next mile and I would never see him again... until he congratulated me at the finish line when I sprinted across in second place, still a minute behind.
Nonetheless, I was thrilled with my performance and my finishing time of 1:45:33 which was over five minutes faster than either of the 1:50:xx times I ran in 2012 and 2010.
But my five minute PR was nothing compared with my buddy and Quicksilver teammate Jeff Clowers (who I have been coaching this year) who took 50 minutes off his time from last year, finishing 36th out of 191 runners with a 2:19:48. Now that's a PR!