Personally I love it when the weather gets a little crazy in the Marin Headlands. Nothing gets your adrenaline going like zero visibility on a muddy trail with steep drops on both sides, particularly while the crashing waves rattle your eardrums. One can also expect plenty of wicked fast locals to help, on the trail racing with you, and braving any weather conditions required while manning the aid stations. I was feeling healthy, the volunteers had my back, and the new course promised a one-of-a-kind adventure. The epic stage was set!
|(Lance is stoked and ready for his first ultra, photo courtesy of Liz Kreutz)|
|(Shaking hands with the man, RD Tim Stahler, photo courtesy of Liz Kreutz)|
|(And we're off! Photo courtesy of Liz Kreutz)|
|(The gorgeous Headlands, photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography)|
|(Lance goes for round 2 on Hill 88, photo courtesy of Liz Kreutz)|
|(Coming out of Pirate's Cove with Andrew, photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography)|
|(50-milers got a taste of the big trees, photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography)|
|(There's a trail in there somewhere, right? Photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography)|
The fourth climb was a beast called the Green Gulch Trail, one I had never seen before (although it could be I had run it in the fog at some point). Lance was definitely slowing now, but was hanging tough with Ryan and me up the 15%+ grades. As the peak came in sight waaaay up the hill, Lance took that fateful first walking step and gave me a slap on the ass as I went by. That would be the last I would see of him until the finish.
|(Up in the clouds, photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography)|
|(Having fun! Photo courtesy of Liz Kreutz)|
|(David Roche sets a mean pace in the 25k, photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography)|
Alex Ho had won in 4:01:37, with Skip Crockett (4:03), Van McCarty (4:04), and Ryan Woodhouse (4:05) in the first group. Sean Handel (4:15) came in behind me for 6th, smiling as big as he had at the start, and Emily Peterson (4:23) came in later to win the Women’s division. (all results) David Roche had set a CR for the 25k (1:33), with Daniel Metzger (1:34) and Craig Schmidt (1:35) keeping him honest, while Santa Barbara’s Daniella Moreno (1:46) and Bellingham, WA’s Maria Dalzot (1:48) duked it out for the Women. Ryan Neely (6:39) would go on to set a new CR in the 50-mile, with Nicole Kalogeropoulos (8:16) winning the Women's division.
|(Lance takes a moment with a future Billy Yang, photo courtesy of Liz Kreutz)|
Just as we were all speculating where Lance might come in, he rolled in as the clock hit 4:19:46 for 12th place. 4:19?!? Who does that in their first hilly trail ultra? Seriously impressive. Lance was gracious enough to give a local 8th grader a video interview, complete with post-race shaking legs, before taking a seat and massaging the quads that had given up an hour ago. With the wind picking up, we all had to hustle to our cars for warmth.
My mud-caked body shook dirt piles on the floor of the bar as I shared post-race brews with Lance, his friend Mark Higgins (who had an impressive 25k debut in 2:39), and photographer Liz Kreutz who got some amazing shots while braving the weather. Although Lance swore there was no reason to run farther than 50k ever again, it didn’t take long for him to compare Strava records and pick out where he could improve “next time” (downhill training, pacing, food/water, etc.). If he follows the pattern that we all do, he will pick his next ultra before he can even get normal shoes on or walk down stairs without the hand rail. Funny how that pain cave calls you back before you can even get out.
|(Great MUC swag, and 2nd AG!)|