Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chuckanut 50k Circa 2010

The 2010 edition of the Chuckanut 50k may just have been the greatest of all time, in the history of the worlds. The weather was the 30s at the start, but up to the 60s by the finish. Clear skies, with knock your socks off views of the islands and Mount Baker.

Approximately 300 runners. 300 very fast runners, judging by the times. The trail conditions were stellar, with recent trail work making the course a bit faster on the usually muddy sections on the backside of the ridge by Lost Lake. An amazing amount of prizes and great sponsors. RDs Krissy and Ellen did a phe-nomenal job, as did Ma Moehl with the after race banquet—can’t say enough how well they and their team managed the race. There were so many terrific friends and volunteers helping out—a downright magical scene.

The race was also a notable and successful tribute to Dave Terry, a well known ultrarunner who loved this race and passed away last year. DT pins were seen everywhere, and he’s got to be smiling down on it all.

The basics. Chuckanut is a 50k dating back to the early 90s. The first and last 6 or 7 miles are fast and flat, but the middle 18 miles are a challenging mix of roots, rocks, hills, ridges, lakes, trees, and all sorts of other typical northwest fare. Both the North Face 50 and the Lost Lake 50k have made use of some of the same trails, and locals like me run them all the time. There are saltwater views of the San Juan Islands and Canada from the ridge. The Chuckanut Mountain range form a wildlife corridor to the sea from the Cascade Range. This short description does not do the course or the region justice, so I suggest visiting.

I ran great for me. This was my fifth time around on the course, and I set a personal best by 14 minutes. My time wasn't competitive, but I remained very focused, which is sort of rare, and didn’t dilly or dally at the aid stations. I wore a Nathan hydration pack, and that seems to be my new thing—a good pack, which sits well on the back, frees me up to swing my arms consistently, moreso than carrying bottles. I meant this race to be a confidence test, a proof of concept, on my way to WS, and I feel pretty good about where I’m at, while acknowledging I still have much to do. My training this year is much more fun and focused than last year, when I just seemed to be overwhelmed by all of the unknowns with HR, and the smaller training window.

The best and most memorable part of the race for me was finishing with my friend Rich, who also set a personal best. We had no plans to run together, as those types of plans never really work for me. My pacing is too erratic. In this case, however, we coincidentally fell in step on the last 6 relatively flat miles, and it was mighty cool to fight through that tough last stretch together, and cross the finish line at the same time with mutual PRs for the course.

Afterwards, good vibrations all around the finish line party.

The race was amazing for the list of runners at the top end—very fast finishers up top. I’m sure other bloggers will have much more to say about this, but it was a regular track meet to equal States or any of the other big events around the country. Actually, the times all the way to midway in the pack were very fast.

For me, it was terrific rendezvousing with fellow club members, and chattering with friends I don’t see as much, like Aaron, Joel, and Randy. Also, special props to Dean and Ruth for managing aid station 1, and very special props to friends Keri and Danni for finishing their first 50ks. Keri's beau Al had my camera, and got a few shots, included below. Picture above is the view from Two Dollar Bill Ridge Trail, at about Mile 10 in the race.

Pre-race photo with Keri and Danni, the first time 50kers, and Rich and I.

Ridge Trail, with views of Baker and the islands
(Approx. Mile 14)

Smiles now...

Lost Lake at about Mile 18

Coming into last aid station (Photo by Ruth T.)

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