Take a dark foggy night, add in 4 big hills with wind-swept ridges and a visibility of 5, maybe 10 feet, hang multi-colored glow sticks on the side of the trails, post amazing volunteers at the aid-stations bottom of each hill and finally share the trails with runners that have been running laps on said course for the whole day – that pretty much describes Night Sweats Trail Marathon. Set in the Marin Headlands, the Night Sweats Trail Marathon is a fantastic 25-mile, figure-8 course with an out-and-back. With an elevation gain/loss of ~5,000ft it’s hill repeats on magical trails. Check out my Strava Activity.
Night Sweats Trail Marathon
This was my first night-time trail run and running with a head-lamp. Just the night before, my wife gently nudged me to go try out our 4-year old Petzl headlamp and I hesitantly jogged 2-blocks around my house just to realize that it wasn’t bright enough. Also my first time running a race in neither sandals nor vibrams. I’ve recently been experimenting with Merrell’s Trail Glove 2 Shoes. But more on that in a different blog. Morning of the run, stopped by REI to pick up a 110-lumens Black Diamond ReVolt which turned out to be great. Showed up at the starting line at Rodeo Beach and some of the runners were finishing up their 50-milers (2 laps around the course) while the 75-milers and 100-milers were still trickling in.
Ran into a few familiar faces: Anna Liao (1st female finisher – she didn’t even look tired when she crossed the finish line!), Ivan Hernandez (unfortunate DNF) and Bryan Weathers (4:49 finish). At 8pm, it was getting pretty dark and it was magical to see all the runners lit up. To add the 1.2 miles to the otherwise 25-mile loop, we ran to a stop-sign further up the road and back before the 800ft climb up Coastal Trail. Within the first 15 minutes, I was drenched in sweat and had to strip off my wind-breaker. Looking back down, it was fantastic to see the bobbing headlamps spread out on the meandering trails below with gorgeous view of San Francisco’s night sky. Unlike my other runs, I don’t have many pictures to share. But, here are the highlights:
Kudos to someone asking if this was a Boston Qualifier and getting a good laugh while John Brooks, the RD, was giving us the low-down on the race. Respect for Catra Corbett (aka Dirt Diva) finishing up her 2nd lap, resting before heading out again (on her 110th 100-miler?). Switching to the dimmer LED’s on the uphills to star-gaze where possible. Intense focus running downhill on the white-washed, feature-less-looking yet ready-to-trip-you trails. Running with all beeps on my Garmin turned off, hydrating when thirsty and eating when hungry for the full immersion. Lonely ascent up Coyote Ridge where the only passing of time was sighting red glow-sticks. Running through the misty, Eucalyptus Groves off of SCA trail. Approaching Fort Baker from under the Golden Gate Bridge thinking how the general population had no idea that there were a bunch of crazy runners up on the trails. Watching the 100-mile runners bravely heading out for the 4th lap. Cursing seven different times when my right ankle rolled on something, but only to recover in the last minute. Bolting down Bobcat Trail towards the finish occasionally clocking 7:30 min/mile pace in the dark. Finishing 16th overall in 4:56.
If you are a Bay Area trail runner, the Night Sweats Trail Marathon is a course you have to run if anything for the experience. I know I’m glad I ran it and was especially happy to get a sub-5:00 finish. Next up is Stevens Creek Striders 50K, two weeks from now.
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