Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Kicking Off 2013 with the Crystal Springs Trail Marathon

Last Saturday, I had the great pleasure of joining 300+ runners for the Crystal Springs 50k/Marathon/22-miler/Half Marathon/5k on my home trails in Woodside, CA. The weather was great and it was fun to see everyone - a great way to kick off 2013!

(Chris Rennaker from Ashland, OR, returned this year for more Woodside fun)
(RD Wendell Doman gives us some last minute tips)
I was just returning from a Tahoe vacation, which this year involved far more snacking and champagne than exercise, so I wasn't in any shape to compete. But the crisp air lured me out of my slumber and down to the start for a last minute sign up in the marathon. Why not? Could there be a better way to kick off the year than 20 + 13 miles (if I run to the start, that is)?

(Karen and Matthew Kidwell are ready to roll)
(First time 50k'ers Megan Stroms and Sarah Clarke start the new year off BIG!)
It was great to see so many eager faces ready to start off 2013 with an epic run. Megan Stroms and Sarah Clarke were kicking down for their first 50k, Elizabeth Weil was going for the marathon, while her sister Heather signed up for 22-miles (just 12 weeks after delivering baby #2!), and Jason Wolf was getting back into training with an "easy 22". Penny MacPhail just flew in from Ireland, while Beat Jergelener and Jill Homer just came back from Iditarod training in Alaska, and all seemed happy to be back home. Wendell Doman gave us a few last minute tips, and before we knew it, the grassy field was full of runners heading for that first bottleneck of single track.
(...and we're off!!!)
(Some yummy single track to get us started)
(The redwoods and pines keep us protected)
(Hanoch Raviv leads a pack down Richards Road)
We quickly went through the first mile of single track before spilling out onto the wide Richards Road and finding our various paces. Particularly impressive was 12-year-old Miguel Vivaldo from Sunnyvale, CA, who was tackling the 22-miler. Wow! His parents should be commended (or put in jail, depending on how you look at it).

(12-year-old Miguel Vivaldo on his way to an impressive 19th place finish in the 22-miler)
(Shahid Ali finds a good tempo)

(Lots of smiles!)
(Peter Rahmer tackles the first big climb)
As we began the five mile climb up Huddart Park, a few sprinkles of rain tempted us but never quite committed to anything big. Not to worry...the canopy is thick here and we likely wouldn't feel a drop. Penny MacPhail took off like a banshee and most of the marathoners just hung on her tail...I guess flying in from Ireland the day before didn't slow her down!

(Elizabeth Weil leads us up the switchbacks)
(Tina Le sets a fast pace up the Crystal Springs Trail on her way to a 2nd place finish in the 22-miler)
The Coastal Trail Runs (CTR) team always does a great job marking trails, but it doesn't stop us from getting lost on occasion. Don't look at those views too long!

(Running among giants...find the runners in these pictures!)
We hit the "Dunlap aid station" (mile 6), and I paced along with 50k runner Yaz Saito as we tried to keep up with Penny and Jason Wolf. 16-year-old Lucas Matison from Palo Alto took off to catch the marathon leaders (where are all these fast kids coming from?). There was also a tight race for the 22-miler women, with Monica Zhuang from Belmont trading the lead with Los Altos' Tina Le.

(Volunteers were amazing, and Dwight Brown got us fueled fast)
The marathon had a short loop in Wunderlich, so I bid farewell to Yaz and Jason and tagged along with Adam Wolf from Petaluma, doing only his second marathon ever. He said "I'm going to try a few marathons before kicking up to the ultras", and I did my best to explain that this race is far harder than a road marathon. If he can finish this, he's ready for a 50k!

(Lizbeth Tello came up from Los Angeles to tackle the 22-miler)
I dropped Adam on the descent, but found it hard to get my legs moving on the climb back out and had to take a few walk breaks. That was enough for Penny to pass me once and for all at the Wunderlich aid station (mile 18), and we each gave encouragement to runners still heading in.

(Jenni Love and Diane Lucas enjoy the soft trails)
I was well off the splits from the CR I set here in 2010, and suspected that CR wouldn't last the day with these perfect running conditions. I picked up the pace, and it reminded me how much I enjoy the marathon distance, short enough to put it all on the line, but long enough that misjudging your tempo can have dizzying results. My preliminary 2013 race schedule had a lot of want-to-run trail marathons in the US and Europe, and as I passed the Dunlap aid station (mile 22) one more time, I decided this was the year to do them. Zermatt, Chamonix, Italy...a year with no night running! Sounds good to me. ;-)

(Go, go, go!)
(Alyssa Berman lets gravity do its thang)
I found an extra gear on the last descent, but could hear a runner closing in on me fast. It was Elizabeth! And she wasn't going to let me get away with a lazy finish chute photo. It took all I had to keep her a shoulder length back and we finished in 3:55 for 6th and 7th place. Great fun!

(Elizabeth Weil and I refuel at the finish)
We settled down for some soup, snacks, and socializing, and one of the volunteers said "don't you ever get tired of running these trails?". I thought about it, and sure enough, this was probably run #3,400 and something, and each time it feels more fun than the last. Trail running (and trail runners?) never get old! And never get slower too - Bernardo Tapia (3:30) had set a new CR in the marathon, while Penny (3:54) won the Women's division. Gregory Benson (4:16) won the 50k, and first timer Megan Storms (5:43) got the win for the Women! She looked great at the finish...I suspect we will see her again before she tackles Ironman Lake Tahoe this Fall.

(Medals for marathoners, coasters for ultramarathoners)
Thank you, CTR and your wonderful volunteers, for a great race. I look forward to seeing you all again soon!

- SD


  1. A year with NO night running is exactly what it is for me!

  2. Love this report. Megan is a dear friend of mine and I am not surprised at her performance. That dude trains like a beast! She also turned me on to your blog which I can't stop reading!

  3. Hey look, it's a photo of me! :) This race was a lot of fun, I liked the course. CTR needs to have a race or two up my way so I can race more often! Loved your photos.

  4. Hey Scott...what are you shooting with these days? Last I remember it was a Nikon J1? Just curious. Always looking for something trail-hardened to take out with me on my runs.

    1. Currently shooting with the Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 that was released in Summer, 2012. It's more on the "delicate" side of cameras (vs rough and ready), but the lens and 20mpx sensors work well in sport mode. Beat J uses the same one to take pics at the Iditarod, so it can hold up to the cold and wet...just don't drop it in the silt!

  5. That race was a blast - I can understand how you never get tired of those trails. It was great seeing you and the others out there. I'll never understand how you can be so fast and yet take so many good pictures - even as slow as I am I get a LOT of vague blurs. Nicely done!

  6. I had such a wonderful time, and it was so good to meet you! Thank you for the awesome report and pictures!

  7. I enjoyed reading your post. I recently switched to trail running. I used to live in the Bay Area and miss the area. It looks like the trails are fantastic. Now I live in the foothills outside of Sacramento. I'm enjoying all the trails around here.

  8. This post makes me want to get out on the trails right this second! I am training for my first marathon and did my weekend long run (15mile) on trails this week. One run was all it took to turn me from a road runner to a trail runner!


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