Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Woodside 50k Winter Wonderland

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of joining 200+ runners for Inside Trail Racing's Woodside 50k/35k/20k/10k in my hometown of Woodside, CA. It's always a thrill to have a few new friends over to play in my backyard, and thanks to the brave volunteers who put up with the sub 40 degree temps, we all had a great time!

(Huddart Park trails taken with a Lytro camera - try clicking to refocus the picture!)  

I had a little trouble getting to the starting line thanks to a house of sick kids (and my funemployment-adjusted internal clock), but was able to chase after the 50k runners about 15 minutes after they had left the start. Isn't it always the case that the closer you live to a race, the more you struggle to make it in time? It reminds me of being at the start of the 2005 Helen Klein 50m and hearing "3....2...1....go!" while sitting on a port-o-pottie.

No worries. This was the last race of the season, and the goal was to enjoy the simple pleasures of good friends, great trails, and the blissful quiet of the forest. Plus this way I get to meet everyone!

(Not a lot of traffic at the start when you're 15 minutes late)
(Emily Lopez, Magdalena Hurtado, and Mary Smith from Brentwood, CA, tackling the first big climb)
(Pat McKenna shares a smile on the way up)
(Fast movin' on the single track)
The temperature was brisk, and the trail conditions ideal for weaving our way through the redwood canopy up the 2,000' climb to the top of Huddart Park. The 50k and 35k runners had started together, so there were plenty of ad hoc packs working as teams. I was pleased to hear the conversations were about running, nature, the holidays...a welcome distraction from the tragedy in Connecticut that had shell-shocked the world the day before. Perhaps it is because the tragedy is so jarring, it is beyond words, and requires a deeper healing brought only through the shared solace of Mother Natures embrace. Let her show us that our roots must be wide to keep growing tall.
(Keeping a brisk pace in the winter cold)
(PG+E cut a few new sections of Huddart, but the views were nice)
(Michael Weston is rockin' and rollin' through the redwoods)
I refueled at the aptly-named Dunlap Aid Station (mile 6, in my driveway!), where the volunteer elves were hard at work keeping runners fed while support teams were doing their best to stay dry. I had no trouble staying warm in my Icebreaker wool shirt and orange Dunkin' Donuts hat (from the 2011 NYC Marathon), and the Hoka One-One's were eating up the trail debris like all-terrain skis. So far, so good!

(Aid station in my driveway! Christmas came early!)
(Jennifer Telles smiles up the climb)
(The Aldrich's find a common rhythm)
(Ah, gorgeous single track)
(Old growth, young souls says Lori Clerkin)
(Awesome blogger Jill Homer and I try a simul-shoot)
(Beat Jegerlehner gives me a few tips on keeping your camera the Iditarod 350)
PG+E had cut a few more swaths from the hillside, and the fresh scars gave us regulars some new views. The tempo was fast, but not quite as fast as Elliot Wright who came blazing back leading the marathoners. Too fast for my camera!

The Wunderlich aid station (mile 12) was quite cool, and the volunteers urged us to get down the hill to cut the cold factor. I tagged along with Clare Abram, who was charging the hills and having a great race, and she told me all about the craziness of volunteering at The North Face 50 last weekend. This race will be a piece of cake compared to that!

(Soft and leafy trails)
(In the land of giants)
(Flamingos indicate an aid station is coming up!)
As I took the long descent into Wunderlich Park, I eased into a familiar rhythm tempered from thousands of trips down this same trail over the last decade. It is as familiar as kin, yet every step is a welcome surprise. One run, a hundred runs, a thousand...I can never get enough.

The front runners were heading back up as I started the lollipop loop that marks the halfway point, with Oakland's Phil Shaw and Sean Handel from Moss Beach leading the way. That means they were a solid 40 minutes ahead on top of my 15 minute faux-pas! Phil seemed to be moving the fastest, but the others kept him in sight. I met some nice horses and their people on the return back up, and they were delighted to see so many people out and about on this winter day.

(Winter berries add a side of red)
(Michael Towle leads the climb back)
(Sean sneaks through the redwoods and ferns)
(Making new friends in Wunderlich Park)
One more refill at the Wunderlich aid station (mile 21), and I found a nice cruising gear to head back. The iPod was cranked with Soundgarden's new album, King Animal, and Chris Cornell's voice pulled me through the canyons.

(Climbing along the single track)
(Gravity is our friend!)
The volunteers at the Dunlap aid station (mile 26) were still all smiles, despite a light rain starting to fall. It was tempting to head back up the driveway to my toasty hot tub, but I knew there would be plenty of soup and good cheer at the finish. Clare Abram caught up with me again, and we charged down Huddart Park towards the finish, grunting a bit when we realized ITR had routed the course the "hard way" (to the bottom of Crystal Springs and back up) vs the "easy way" (taking the road, and no more uphill). But no problem - we arrived soon enough, with the clock reading five o' something.

(Heading down the Chinquapin Trail as a light rain falls)
(Clare cruises in)
As we warmed up with chicken soup and snacks, Sean let me know how the race unfolded up front. Phil Shaw had dropped the gang on that climb out of Wunderlich, winning in 4:05, with Sean (4:15), Michael Towle (4:26) and a few others right behind. Caroline Barichievich won the Women's division in 5 hours, and Clare Abram (5:09) got second. Elliot Wright (3:04) prevailed in the 35k, with Nettie Halcomb Roozeboom (3:30) taking the Women's title. Fun was had by all, and no issues with hypothermia or anything! Nice job, everyone.

I got one last handful of Cheez-It's, and hiked back home to plug in my Jawbone UP and laugh about "Scott clocked a workout of 48,954 steps and burned 5,383 calories". Hmmm...think one of us can crack 100,000 steps at the Miwok 100k? ;-).

(Screenshot of the Jawbone UP's interpretation of the Woodside 50k...can you see the three aid station stops?
It sure was fun to see everyone and wish them a happy holiday season. We have much to be thankful for, especially those of us with the time, health, and good fortune to climb mountains, hang with fun people, and build a close relationship with nature. Thank you, ITR and your great volunteers, for a fun race and a day of adventure!

Best to you and yours...



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks for the quick visit during the race. I had to lift your photo because mine really did come out quite terrible (I've just about had it with my Sony CyberShot; I like that you carry a robust and "real" camera when you're running.) Anyway, it was fun to run into you. We'll probably see you back out on the trails soon enough. Happy holidays.

  3. AH! That's why I didn't see you in the video I took of the 50K/35K start! I noticed several people starting it a bit late, but by then I was trying to get ready for our Half. It is SO cool that you get to have these parks for your backyard! Thanks for letting them use your driveway.

  4. Thank you for the picture! (Aldrich's) Fun blog! That was a super fun course and so much beauty!


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