Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Crystal Springs 50k - My Last Woodside Race Ever?!?

As I pinned my number on for the summer edition of the Crystal Springs 50k in my backyard trails of Woodside, CA, I looked forward to joining 200+ trail runners for what might be my last race as a local. What, you say? Well, Christi and I have been pondering career moves that might take us to Washington, DC, or Austin, TX, and the deadlines to choose are coming up soon. So today, I run with a new appreciation for these trails that have been a daily treat for the last decade.

I've been surprised at how deep my roots have become in this area, particularly for our nomad household that has previously relocated every couple of years in pursuit of adventure, careers, school, or just a change of pace. This time, however, it's different. Kids, trails, friends, rituals a decade deep...I can feel the stretch of thick, strong roots that won't let go without a fight. Then again, we never would have found Woodside if we hadn't been willing to move someplace crazy new.

(Wendell leads us off)
My senses felt hyperjacked as Race Director Wendell Doman counted us down at a foggy starting line. It was going to be a warm day thanks to the inversion that keeps the top of this mountain in the low 80's even at 8am, so best to enjoy the cool while we can! I put in a few miles of hills in the hour before the race start, getting my legs good and sore as part of my Wasatch 100 training. At Werder Shelter in Huddart Park, I caught up briefly with the Coastal Trail Run gang and joined the start line, noting that both John Burton and Rudy Montoya looked insanely fit and ready to go. There was a 5 mile, 11 mile, 22 mile, marathon, and 50k option today, and the 22+ mile runners all went out together in the first wave at 8:30am.
(Rudy Montoya and Mark Dorman are excited to get going)
(John Burton, Rudy Montoya, Timothy Vago, Jason Wolf, and Mark Doman lead us out)
Rudy kept pace with the 22-milers, disappearing in the first mile of single track while the rest of us chugged along towards Richards Road. As we entered the first of two big climbs (mile 3), I had a nice little chain gang going with Jon Burg (power hiker extraordinaire), Mark Dorman (heat trained from his usual Fresno runs), John Burton (getting over tendonitis), Riley Reese (Berkeley grad student), and marathoner Anne Cottrell. We relived our favorite parts of the Tour de France, recounted our spring races, and kept a comfortable pace as the temperature climbed with every step.

(Amanda Newell enjoys the redwood canopy)

(Scott Kreider cruises along Richards Road)
(Michelle Larson skirts around one of the hazards of trail running in a horse town)
The first aid station (mile 6 - my driveway!) was already toasty, and we all refilled for the trek out to Wunderlich Park. T-shirts came off and water was consumed quickly, and the 22-milers stepped up their pace knowing their big climbs were done. Ankur Tarneja led the 22-mile race by nearly a mile at the turnaround, and we all thought for sure he was lost! Nope, just fast.

(Breaking out above the fog)
We found the second aid station in Wunderlich (mile 11), and most of us had run out of water. I got to the aid station first and did a quick refill, which allowed me to start the descent alone. I knew Rudy was up there somewhere, but I would need him to ease up in the heat if I had any chance of catching him.

(Riley Reese and Scott Kreider pace up the final part of the climb)

(Wunderlich was TOASTY!)
 Wunderlich was downright hot - one of the hottest afternoons I can remember - and the exposed areas were well over 90 degrees. This forced a slow down in tempo, particularly as I reached the bottom of the loop and began the climb (mile 17). But it also gave me more opportunities to absorb the sounds, smells, and sights that I have taken for granted for so long! 2,500 training runs in this could I have missed these details?

A couple of wasps decided two runners was enough in their neighborhood and attacked, forcing a sprint to avoid any more than a few stings. Damn! You can't even see those guys coming.

(Lisa Donchak plunges into Wunderlich)
(Marathoner Octavia Ganea fastpacks the climb)
(Kristen Farley is all smiles, running 50k in honor of her late Mom's 75th birthday)
I made my way to the aid station (mile 22), once again out of water and feeling on the light (-headed) side. The volunteers took good care of me, feeding me flat Coke, PBJ's, and about half of a quart of water. Rudy was apparently a good 15 minutes ahead of me and "looking determined". I could risk dry heaving and charge into the heat, or just cruise in 3rd gear and enjoy my surroundings. This could be the last Woodside 50k, Scott, so let's get as much time as we can.

(Volunteers, the true heroes of the day)
One of the best parts of this course is the ability to catch up to a number of runners along this stretch, and I enjoyed using the camera to share a smile with them. Everyone was enjoying it!

(Andrew Solovay and friends are in a great mood)

(Sharing a smile as we turn a corner into a nice cool canyon)

(Malik Coates on his way to a sub-5 hour 22-miler)
At the last aid station (mile 26.5, back at my driveway), I decided to change things up a bit and swap my speedy Inov-8 295's for some bombproof Hoka OneOnes. I've heard a lot about these super-fluffy shoes, in particular when used in the final miles of a 100-miler for some reduced impact, and was curious to feel what these pillows were like. It didn't take long to find out! On long descents, you can just fly as the wide platforms absorb everything. Although they aren't much faster descending than other shoes, the impact on the feet and calve muscles was dramatically minimized. Traction was a problem only when you came into a switchback, thanks largely to your center of gravity being two inches taller than normal. It took some getting used to.

(Not the sexiest shoe, but a Cadillac ride)
I came into the finish chute in 4:44, good enough for second place behind Rudy (4:27:40) who had charged the whole way. Riley Reese came in a few minutes behind me (4:48), and we all mentioned having to slow significantly on the climbs due to the heat. Julian Whitelaw triumphed in a close race with Amanda Newell to win the Women's division (all results). Everyone gushed about how gorgeous the course was, telling stories of pigs and goats that got loose on the trail, bobcat sightings, sunning ghekos, and the oh-so-refreshing pockets of cool air that snuck over from the coast in the afternoon.

(The canopy protected us all day...and most of my last decade!
My roots are deep here, so much so it would be impossible to stay away forever. Huddart Park and Woodside, and the trail running world they brought to my doorstep, will always be a part of who I am. I feel lucky and honored to call it my home for as long as I can.

Thanks to Wendell and the gang for great race!



  1. I really enjoyed this race report! Way to be highly competitive even given your extra mileage! I was out on Mt. Diablo yesterday and agree the heat was atrocious. IMHO, you gotta re-weight your decision factors. D.C. and Austin weather and topography can't come anywhere close to the Bay Area! Best of luck with what I'm sure is a very tough decision for you and your family. Sarah

  2. I'm sad to hear that you may be leaving, but I am also excited for you!

    Glad you got to enjoy your home-trail race at least one more time.

    Your friend,


  3. Good luck to you and your family on the road ahead :)

  4. Oooh, Scott, come to DC. We have a great trail running community here in the VHTRC. We'd love to have you join us! And I promise to show you all the fantastic trails out here.

  5. Great race report, Scott.
    I ran once with you last year, and was looking forward to meet you again on the trails around the bay.
    I wish you all the fun wherever you go.
    Happy trails!

  6. Great write up! My wife and I ran this race- the 5 miler that is. Was my first organized running event, and I LOVED it! BTW, never been to Hobart before, but good god was it beautiful. Will be back for sure.

  7. hey Scott- I am using Hokas for long runs, they are great!

  8. I'm brand new to running, going to be tackling my first 5k in the fall :D I literally just googled "best running blogs" yours was #1 :) CONGRATS....and you did not disappoint. I think I will be frequenting here. I love all your race pics. Are you shooting with a head cam??? how are you taking these WHILE running!?! AMAZING!

  9. Oops, I meant to write Huddart, not Hobart. gah!

  10. Austin, TX? Did I just hear it right? There is a chance we'll have our trails and races (sans mountains) exposed by your extra-ordinary photography? Scott, you and your wife are getting a free massage on arrival, a trail excursion, and an introduction into community. Common, join the dark side of 60 straight days of 100F++ and counting!

  11. Hi Scott,

    I love reading about your exploits and adventures ultrarunning. I am wondering if I can send you a brief message, off the blog site, regarding an ultrarunning project I have working on that you may be interested in? If you receive this you can send me a contact via email or Facebook:

    Ian MacNairn -
    Facebook profile -!/imacnairn

    Hope to hear from you soon!


  12. great post. i like it. thanks

  13. That's a nice bunch of people! I love their smiles. Good luck in TX or DC. Keep on running, blogging and enjoying life.
    Greetings from Spain.

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