Pacific Coast Trail Run's Sequoia 10, 20, 30 and 50k races are this Saturday (the 24th). I ran it last July (2009) and had a great time.
signature PCTR coaster
I had put out-- I paid for our babysitter to entertain the kids as my wife did her hair all morning. Everyone happy, no guilt! And a short drive from my house.
I got rock and roll parking-- the closest spot to Joaquin Miller Park on Joaquin Miller Road. Co-RD Wendell Doman (in yellow cap) was out front working hard.
The start / finish area was a short walk.
Got to see David Schoenberg, who had saved me from fashion disaster by lending me his shorts for Skyline to the Sea 50k three months earlier. This race I was better prepared.
Early on I tried to run with and talk with Caitlin Smith, going up the hill right at the start. She told me she'd been having gluteal pain and might have to drop out, which I translated as "maybe this race I'll be able to keep up with her." This proves to be a BAD MOVE, since I became completely out of breath and it took two miles running on more level terrain to catch my breath. I would realize that I paid for it later.
Caitlin doing some yoga pose-- she decided to stop at 20k.
This could have been the moment, six years after I started running trail ultras competitively, that I started to realize that, nice conversations aside, trying to keep up with fast people too early in a race is rarely smart.
I had signed up for the race sort of the last minute-- I wasn't running Tahoe this year, and figured I should take advantage of the comped entry given to Sportiva runners (thanks, PCTR!) So I hadn't studied the course map and description as well as I probably should have.
I didn't realize how long was the stretch between Moon Gate and Canyon Meadows. And then it was also pretty far from Canyon Meadow back a different trail to Moon Gate. Then the second time around you don't do the orange spur to Canyon Meadow, which makes for another long stretch. In words, this was probably a two-bottle race. Although it wasn't the worst summer scorcher, it got fairly hot, so my bottle ran dry during these three splits, each over 8 miles-- I adjusted after that first unexpectedly long leg by drinking extra at the aid stations. (This gave me extra time to thank all the volunteers, but I'll thank them again now.) By the way, that (red) French Trail going out to Canyon Meadows is a running jewel of the East Bay.
I ran with the eventual winner David La Duc returning from Canyon Meadow on the 1st loop. He explained he knew the course well since he lives "just down the street." We ran together a while, before he surged ahead, putting almost half an hour on me to win in 4:31:15, which I do not attribute simply to course familiarity.
David La Duc while pacing a friend at Firetrails 50 a few months later, a couple weeks after a strong 2nd place finish at Hundred in the Hood in Oregon (which I also ran and will eventually blog about).
Coming back to Moon Gate, I caught up to Will Gotthardt who had been winning the 20K race, near the end of the stretch back to Moon Gate. He was limping up the hill, having blown something behind one of his knees. I greeted him with empathic profanity.
I would post another picture of buff Will half-naked, but he gets really upset when I do that, and refused a pre-race pic. So instead here is a more covered shot of him I got from the web.
I passed Jason Perez finishing French Trail on the 2nd loop (so no stop at Canyon Meadow aid station). He had passed me early in the race, but would finish 3rd overall.
Possibly Jason Perez, more likely not. Any idea?
Someone had dropped a small red shirt on the trail right at an intersection. For some reason, my eyes and brain interpreted this as the striped pink ribbon indicating a turn, so I went left and up the hill. Despite not remembering running on pavement earlier, I continued up until I noticed I was in a playground and picnic area that was NOT part of the course. I headed back down. Had I not been this stupid, I would've come in under 5 hours.
Instead-- 5:02:22 (pace: 9:44/mile), 2nd place overall
Even on a schedule to not linger too long post-race, I managed to meet someone new after these races. Here's running Jose and Hope Figuero from South Carolina, who both ran the 30k race, Jose came in 2nd overall. Hope your trip to Yosemite was awesome!
That afternoon, our family met friends at the obon (Japanese mid-summer) festival down the Peninsula. Summer in the multi-cultural Bay Area is great!
Bonus photo: The next day we decided to enrich ourselves culturally even more, and went to the SF Museum of Modern Art, where my then almost 2-year-old managed within seconds to get under a probably very expensive outdoor dome sculpture made of many glass plates, which led to security asking for my name, address and phone number. We decided it was best not to renew our membership.
results on realendurance.com