Coastal Marin 50K – An Epic Bay Area Adventure Run

The Lake Sonoma 50 Mile training run was last weekend and I had to miss it due to scheduling conflicts. As luck would have it, I happened to see the Coastal Marin 50K on Strava. Organized by Rob Rhodes of Bay Trail Runners, this is an amazingly picturesque course that starts from Olema and winds its way south along Bolinas Ridge hitting all of the classic trails like Coastal, Matt Davis, Dipsea and Miwok culminating in a spectacular cross of the Golden Gate Bridge. I was hooked once I saw the Google Earth fly over. With an elevation gain/loss of 5,148 ft over the ~34 miles, it’s not exactly a walk in the park, but the informal setting and the camaraderie is hard to beat. I met some amazing runners and made new friends on this run.

Más Locos

Más Locos – Photo by Peter Ferguson

Coastal Marin 50K Elevation Profile

Coastal Marin 50K

I drove up to Presidio after waking up early and got there around 6:30am. We stood around, waiting for the shuttle bus, introducing ourselves and chit-chatting. Rob and Pete did the raffle (two $50 gift certificates from Sports Basement and a pair of Altra Running shoes of the winner’s choosing!) and we then boarded the bus. As we reached the starting point at Bolinas Ridge Trailhead, I couldn’t help wonder if there was a drought at all. The day after a rain, everything was in high contrast lush green and you could feel the moisture in the air.

  • Pete & Rob doing the raffle
    Pete & Rob doing the raffle

We navigated the first couple of miles of cattle country and 11 miles in at the first aid station, Eric Rhodes, Mr. Aid Station himself, was there parked with the trunk full of goodies. There were about 8 of us running together and constantly regrouping. Everyone was in high spirits to tackle the next segment. We would soon come out of the woods into meadows that were in full bloom with yellow poppies. The Coastal Trail is something to reckon with. Switchbacks after switchbacks of “Dang, I have to take a picture of this”.

  • Coastal Trail
    Coastal Trail

Nate Dunn, from Ultra Sports Live TV was there at the Pantoll Ranger Station with his newly acquired puppy, Rosie. Cutest thing ever! We regrouped again, took our time and headed out to the next segment towards Muir Woods, Dipsea and then the Miwok climb. On the downhill run, I was chatting with Scott Corbin who had met up with Caballo Blanco in the Copper Canyons some years ago. Quite the story! I definitely felt the Miwok climb at the tail end of this segment. One of the low grade ones you think you can run up, but you are wiped out at the end. Next stop Tennessee Valley.

  • Old Mine Trail
    Old Mine Trail

I don’t think I ever saw Liz and Kristen stop chatting! And Liz had a smile at mile 23 that made it look like she was running a 5K. By the time I ran down into Tennessee Valley, I was tired. Drank a Gatorade and the salty liquid felt good. Power hiked up Marincello and felt my legs loosen up again as I got to the top. There in the distance, was the all too familiar eucalyptus grove where the Alta Trail passes through. Picked up my pace caught up with Rob and we ran together the rest of the way. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge was epic, but was also a major culture shock – 7+ hours of quietude and it was too jarring to be back in the civilization.

  • On Bobcat Trail
    On Bobcat Trail

It took us 7+ hours to traverse the 34 miles, but the moving time was around 5:45. I’ve never really run this distance in a non-race condition and it was too much fun just running, chatting, eating without worrying about pace, finishing at a certain time, etc. And running with all these amazing people was an incredible experience. Thanks Rob Rhodes for putting the Coastal Marin 50K event together. And I learned that Rob can negotiate with the weather gods as well as talking to cows and having them move out of the trails! 🙂

Here’s my Strava activity for the Coastal Marin 50K.

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