I didn’t know that Skyline 50K is one of the older races in the Bay Area. 2014 was the 33rd anniversary of this run and while they talk about a moderately hilly figure 8 course, a 4,750ft elevation gain/loss is not exactly flat. Just that there’s no single monster climb and it’s a nice rolling course with the first and last few miles being relatively flat. We completely lucked out with the weather and I probably didn’t see the sun until the last 3 miles. Especially high up at Skyline Gate, it was misty, the air was cool and I was grinning through the entire single track stretch of Redwoods along French Trail.
Until this race, my fastest 50K was the 2013 Big Basin 50K with a finish of 5:29 and I’ve just been getting my butt kicked on all of the other 50K’s. So it was nice to get a PR with a finish of 5:04. I’ll definitely attribute it to a whole lot more running this summer, especially my once-a-week, 20-mile (round- trip) commute runs to work.
Some highlights from the Skyline 50K race. Took off with the leading pack and noticed that the speedsters were booking at a 7 min/mile pace. Slowed down and told myself to save my legs for the second half. Ran past Grass Valley AS (mile 4.1) in 37 minutes and Bort Meadow AS (mile 6.29) in 56 minutes. Bryan Weathers (met him at Reservoir Dogs 35K last month) caught up with me and we ran together for a while. Reached Big Bear AS (mile 9.35) in 1:24 and began the steep climb up to Skyline Gate AS. Super happy that I was able to run most of the up’s. The last mile up to the AS felt surreal and magical. Cool mist everywhere, moisture from the clouds licking the skin and I was grinning big time as I got to Skyline Gate (mile 14.4) in 2:15.
This next section through the French Trail was amazing. Soft single tracks, redwoods and many times I forgot that I was supposed to be running as I was stopping to touch the ferns, admiring the cathedrals and taking pictures the whole time. Back at Big Bear AS (mile 20.27) in 3:10, hiked up the last big climb, lingered around Bort Meadow for a while (maybe a little too long) and started on the rolling path to Honker Bay. It felt like I was making reasonably good time and tried not to walk during this stretch. After what felt like eternity, reached Honker Bay AS (mile 28.6) in 4:30ish. With 3:05 miles to go, I thought I had a real shot at a sub-5:00, but just didn’t have the gas to keep the pace. Crossed the finish line at 5:04 and 9th in age group. Took a beer and 3 vegan burgers before I could get my bearings again.
Skyline 50K is an interesting race. Having been around for a long time, there were a fair number of old-timers there, along with newbies like me. Got to chat with Kap’n Kirk (yes, that’s what he goes by) who’s got ~120 something ultras under his belt. He was reminiscing how the course has changed over the years. Finally got to meet Jeremy Johnson (he keeps popping up on Strava!) who finished 7th overall at a blistering 4:18 finish. Best part of the race was when I got home, my kids made me an awesome Blueberry/Mango/Chia smoothie. Now that’s a treat!
Next up for me is Night Sweats Trail Marathon. My first race running in the dark. That ought to be fun.
Did you run the Skyline 50K? What was your experience?
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