Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Inaugural Brooks Falls 50k

Last Sunday, I had the great pleasure of joining ~100 trail runners for the inaugural Brooks Falls 50k put on by Inside Trail Racing. A little rain, a little wind, and a lot of smiles made for a perfect start to the 2012 season!

The Brooks Falls 50k is a hilly monster that climbs over 8,000' vertical in a two loop format in San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica, CA. The weather had been challenging the few days before (my house had no power most of the weekend thanks to storms), but fate intervened just in time for our 8:30am start and gave us a relatively clear day to get our groove on. This was certain to be one of those races where the volunteers were the true heroes for braving the weather while we gallivanted about - so nice of them to give us an excuse to have some muddy fun!

(Tim Long gives us last minute instructions)

(Racers prepare while Jason Wolf shoots the duck)

(Ultra Runner Podcast's Eric Schranz capturing the inaugural event)

(Hanging with teammates Gary Gellin and Sarah Lavender Smith)

(Jill Homer, Beat Jegerlehner and friends keeping it fun)
I was stoked to see many familiar faces ready to put in some miles while the rest of the San Francisco area was gearing up for the NFC Championship game between the 49'ers and the NY Giants (sorry 'bout that, Niners). My Inside Trail Racing teammates Gary Gellin (tackling the Half Marathon) and Sarah Lavender Smith (30k) were ready to blaze the shorter distances, while ultra regulars JR Mintz, Darryl Haber, the wicked fast Leigh Schmitt, Beat Jegerlehner, ultracyclist Jill Homer (also UTMB-bound!), and recent ultra-convert Jason Wolf joined two dozen others for the 50k. At 8:30am, the Tim's sent us off for the first big climb.
(Jason hams it up)

(Sarah charges the hill)
(Scenic single track)
(The foggy trees were really cool)
It didn't take long for us to settle into a rhythm through the dense foliage along the creek, and I tagged along with Jason Wolf, Darren Young, and a pack of 30k runners as we zigged up the single track. Views of the ocean caught our glances, while the wet rocks would snap us back to attention with little slips here and there. As we broke out onto the fire road near the top, Gary Gellin and Jonathan Gundersen were already returning, setting a crazy pace for the half marathoners.











I got some flack from the other runners for donning my "moon boots", the Hoka One One Mafetes, but I have to tell ya, there's something very interesting about these shoes. They don't seem to make me faster, but they cut my recovery time in half and make the downhills a lot of fun to bomb. I was curious to see if they had enough traction to hold up in wet and muddy conditions, so this was a good race to try them out. A short sleeve wool shirt, sleeves, and ear warmers seemed to be enough to fight off the wind and rain, while Injinji wool socks kept the toes warm.

(Levitating in my moon boots)
I ran into the first aid station along with Ultra Grand Slammer Franz Dill, who was telling me he had his name drawn for Western States for a third time in a row. Geez! I felt like taking him down to 7-11 to buy some lottery tickets. Darren Young joined us for the next double-hump loop, after stopping to move some course markings that had led a few astray, and we braved the rainy wind that got a little bit stronger with each pass.
(Franz Dill, trail runner and daddy extraordinaire)

(Darren Young bears the number - and stride - of The BEAST!)
It was fun to catch up with Franz and hear about how his family cheered in the New Year from the emergency room, thanks to his son taking a fall at the playground (all is fine). Ah, daddyhood...one of the few things scarier than the Ultra Grand Slam! Franz led us back to the aid station, then bid adieu to finish the 30k while Darren and I went back up the big mountain again. The volunteers were holding on tight to the aid station canopies threatening to take flight with each burst of coastal wind.

(Volunteers hang on tight!)
My climbing felt strong, and I suspected it was the weekly 10x800 routine giving my legs some pep. It appeared I was in 4th place behind a raging fast Leigh Schmitt, Jason Wolf, and Jan Rohde, a runner from Hamburg, Germany, who had relocated to pursue research at Stanford. Leigh and Jason were a solid 20 minutes ahead, so I paced to catch up to Jan, and then embraced my Moon Boot Powers to pass him on the descent. The rain started to come down harder, so I stashed the camera and put on the iPod when I got to the aid station.


I caught Jason Wolf just before hitting the fourth climb, and he was walking back citing some knee issues caused by slipping on the mud. I nodded, knowing I had skated into a few of the switchbacks myself. Too bad - Jason has really done well in his first six months on the ultra scene, including a 7:02 at the Last Chance 50-miler. I think we'll be seeing lots of him this year!

(Darryl Haber getting it done)
The rain picked up again, but it couldn't wash the ear-to-ear smile from my face. Something about this event was bringing me back to the humble roots of why we love this sport. No sponsors on my shirt, no 500+ people at the start, just a gaggle of outdoor enthusiasts making the most of a great winter day. No one captured this spirit more than Chris "Russ" Thomas, who had come all the way from Overland Park, Kansas, to join us for the 50k. You could NOT get the smile off that guys face, and every time I saw him, I found myself grinning for miles. The volunteers would later tell me that he used to weight 400 lbs and caught the ultrarunning bug last year...that guy is my hero!




(Beautiful Pacifica below)
I made the most of the last lap, slowing a bit to navigate the muddy sections, before arriving in 4:54 for second place. Leigh Schmitt had won handily (4:32), with Jan (5:10) and Darren (5:17) coming in soon behind me. Audrey Reyes (5:39) won the Women's division, as did Sarah Lavender Smith in the 30k. Gary Gellin put down a huge time winning the half marathon (1:34).

As I warmed up with chicken soup, it donned on me that I had finished ~20 minutes faster than doing an easier course here four years ago. I'm not sure if it's the training or the crazy shoes, but something is working well! With that, I said my thanks to the volunteers and headed home to watch some football.

Bravo to Inside Trail Racing for a great inaugural race (and nice t-shirts!). They have plenty more races on their agenda for the year, so if you're in the mood for some low-key outdoor fun with great people, this is the place!


Jan 22
Sun
Brooks Falls 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K San Pedro Valley Park Pacifica, CA
Feb 25
Sat
Chabot 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Lake Chabot Regional Park Castro Valley, CA
Mar 18
Sun
Rodeo Valley 8K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Rodeo Beach, GGNRA Sausalito, CA
Mar 24
Sat
Woodside Ramble 10K, Half Marathon, 36K, 50K Huddart County Park Woodside, CA
Mar 31
Sat
Redwood Peak 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Redwood Regional Park Oakland, CA
Apr 28
Sat
Folsom Lake 10K, Half, Marathon, 50K Folsom Point Folsom, CA
May 6
Sun
Big Trees 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Joaquin Miller Park Oakland, CA
May 20
Sun
Tilden Trail Adventure 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Tilden Regional Park Berkeley, CA
June 3
Sun
K2 Summit 10K, Half Marathon, 35K, 50K Cool – Auburn Cool, CA
Jun 16
Sat
Pacifica Foothills 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K San Pedro Valley Park Pacifica, CA
Jun 30
Sat
Inside Trail Endurance Challenge 50K & 50 Miles GGNRA & Mt. Tamalpais Rodeo Beach, CA
Jul 7
Sat
Mt. Diablo 10K, Marathon, 50K Mt. Diablo State Park Clayton, CA
Jul 22
Sun
La Sportiva Table Rock 25K GGNRA & Mt. Tamalpais Stinson Beach, CA
Aug 4
Sat
Santa Cruz 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Henry Cowell S.P. Santa Cruz, CA
Aug 25
Sat
Big Trees 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Joaquin Miller Park Oakland, CA
Sep 9
Sun
Auburn Trail Run 10K, Half Marathon, 35K, 50K Cool – Auburn Cool, CA
Sep 16
Sun
Marsh Land Trail Run 5K, 10K, Half Marathon Coyote Hills Regional Park Fremont, CA
Sep 30
Sun
Redwood Peak 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Redwood Regional Park Oakland, CA
Oct 7
Sun
To be announced soon 5K – Half Marathon

Oct 14
Sun
Briones Crest 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon Briones Regional Park Lafayette, CA
Oct 28
Sun
Falcon Crest 10K, Half, Marathon, 50K Folsom Point Folsom, CA
Nov 4
Sun
To be announced soon Half Marathon – 50 Miles

Nov 11
Sun
Mt. Tam 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K GGNRA & Mt. Tam Stinson Beach, CA
Dec 15
Sat
Woodside Ramble 10K, Half Marathon, 36K, 50K Huddart County Park Woodside, CA
Dec 30
Sun
Rodeo Valley 8K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Rodeo Beach, GGNRA Sausalito, CA

13 comments:

  1. Scott, you did a great job (as always) of capturing the event, and it was fun to see you out there. It's interesting you too felt "Something about this event was bringing me back to the humble roots of why we love this sport. No sponsors on my shirt, no 500+ people at the start, just a gaggle of outdoor enthusiasts making the most of a great winter day." That's the feeling I ran away with as well, and it prompted me to write a commentary on the sport rather than a race report, http://www.therunnerstrip.com/2012/01/trail-racing-and-ultramarathoning-today/
    Check it out because it includes some sage perspective from you :-)

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    1. Very well written! Thanks for the shout out.

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  2. Great run Scott! I had fun running with you...for as long as I could anyway! I think the future looks good for ITR and their team looks strong too!

    My brother also raced out there with us that day. He's only been at it for a short period of time and he is doing awesome. Just thought I'd mention it as I pretty darn proud of him!

    Darren Young
    Reno, Nv

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    Replies
    1. Very cool! I should have gotten a pic with both of you. Great running with you, and thanks for backtracking to clarify the route markings.

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  3. I never new you wore giraffe arm sleeves!

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    1. Yes, my daughter got them for me. She said "Daddy, you run like a giraffe", which is not far off when you look at my stride, actually. But then she said "giraffes are really fast" so I felt better. ;-)

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    2. Where did you find Giraffe Arm Sleeves!? I'm searching for some, preferably in purple... :-P

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    3. Those are Moeben specials that I bought at Zombierunner. I haven't seen purple yet...

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  4. The "Volunteers hang on tight!" photograph is of Ken Michal, who does the Running Stupid podcast and had just gotten back from HURT in Hawaii, and his wife.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mike!! That's Karen Gerasimovich on the right!

      Not to spam your blog, Scott but here's a link to RS just in case:
      http://runningstupid.libsyn.com/

      Really enjoyed your writeup and it was great seeing you out there!! I'm also an ITR ambassador so I'm sure I'll be seeing a lot more of you this season as well!!!

      All Day!
      ~Ken

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  5. Wonderful write-up Scott. Talking with you made the endless switchbacks of the Hazelnut loop fly by! I had mentioned the My Drunk Kitchen while climbing to North Peak. Here's my wife's recommended episode. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTyotI3IHFQ

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  6. Well done! I love the pics here it must have been quite an experience.

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  7. Awesome pics. I used to run the Comrades Marathon years ago. I never ran a trail race before though. It must have been an incredible experience for you. Well done!

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