“It’s only a training run.” At least that’s what I had to keep telling myself as Inside Trail Racing hosted the first ever trail run at Fort Ord National Monument. With the Way Too Cool 50K, American River 50M, and Ohlone 50K coming up I was looking for a smaller race that I could use as a training run. I have a hard time going out and putting in 20 plus miles on the trail by myself and this race was the perfect opportunity to get the miles in with some company. Unfortunately I also have a hard time taking it easy during a race.
I toed the starting line with a friend from work. The whole time nervously joking that I didn’t want to be up front and freezing my butt off as the fog rolled in. There were a couple familiar faces in the crowd which led me to believe this was going to a pretty quick race.
|Steve and I as close as we’re willing to get to the starting line.|
The 50K and 25K runners took off together and as expected, Leor Pantilat shot off the front and quickly disappeared into the fog. I decided to keep up with Steve for the first mile and then urged him to go on ahead without me. He was running the 25K and is a much faster runner so I was a little relieved when he took me up on my offer. I was then able to settle down into a more comfortable pace.
Around the 3 mile mark you come upon the Pilarcitos aid station. Having a full water bottle I waved and said good morning and continued upon my merry way. This is also about the point you start up the first climb before descending onto some incredible single-track. This was easily my favorite part of the race as the single-track snaked through old oak trees draped with moss.
|Single track through the moss draped trees.|
After a quick little loop you go back up the single-track and then down the road back to the Pilarcitos aid station. Around here I caught back up with Steve and another runner who had gone off course and added some bonus mileage and elevation. After Pilarcitos I ran with Steve for a little bit before I once again urged him to go ahead. Next stop was the Skyline aid station at the top of a short climb. At this point the 50K turns off and the 25K and 10K runners head for home.
|50K and 25/10K Split|
The next seven miles were scenic but largely uneventful. I got passed by a few runners on the way to the Creekside aid station as I intentionally brought my pace under control. I haven’t done a run over 16 miles since the end of December and I was more interested in finishing than gutting myself to stay in the race.
Despite my efforts to maintain an easy pace in the previous section of the course, my faster pace earlier in the race took it’s toll shortly after leaving the Creekside station. After 20 miles the wheels came off the bus and I started having to walk most of the hills I encountered. The next five miles were mostly rolling hills punctuated by a couple tough climbs. I spent most of this section looking over my shoulder as the eventual female winner Jennifer Goldstein stalked me before passing me a mile or so before the Toro aid station.
As I exited the Toro aid station I looked back up the hill and saw two runners heading down. I knew that I was sitting in the top ten and even though I wasn’t racing, I wanted to maintain my place. With around seven miles to the finish I was going to have my work cut out for me. In the last 10K there was roughly 1,500ft of climbing.
Once I got to the top of the largest climb I looked back and realized that my pursuers had gained a bit of ground on me. I tried to use the following twisting single-track to my advantage and pushed myself to get out of sight. On the final climb to the finish I looked back one final time and realized I wouldn’t be caught. I rolled into the finish line in 9th place overall with a time of 4:42:42.
|Inside Trail Racing: Fort Ord 50K Elevation Profile|
This was my first run with Inside Trail Racing and definitely won’t be my last. The course was well marked for the most part, the aid stations well stocked, and there was tons of energy surrounding the race. 50K finishers get a pint glass with the Inside Trail Racing logo on one side and the race logo on the other. I was able to put my glass to good use when I got home from the race.
Age Group (30-39): 2/7
Shoes: Montrail Rogue Fly