Mudfest At Marin Ultra Challenge 50K

I was originally planning to run the Marin Ultra Challenge 50M as a way to get used to that distance before Quicksilver 100K in a couple of months. But with back to back business trips to Japan and London + the RSA conference all crammed in the past 7 weeks, I’ve been averaging about 10-15 miles/week, if that. Not funny, but I actually had a run streak of 5 days just this week. Anyways, looks like I’m the king of low mileage training. 🙂 El Niño is in full swing and the trails were going to be muddy and wet with possible showers along the way too. I had pretty low expectations on this run, other than show up, have a great time and not take a big fall. Here’s my Strava activity from the run (apparently my downhill skills are still intact despite the low mileage).

Marin Ultra Challenge 50K

Last year when I ran this race, I woke up at 3am and drove an hour and a half to the start line. With a new puppy that’s just starting to sleep through the night, I decided to dirtbag. Took out one of the middle seats in our Honda Odyssey and drove in rain to the start line. Thanks Michael Stricklan & Ashley Ryan for offering to stay with them! But turns out with the middle seat removed, I can stretch out fully and I slept like a baby to howling winds and the waves breaking at Rodeo Beach. I did wake up a couple of times during the night, but finally decided to get out of the van @ 5am to walk 30 yards to pick up my bib and was ready to start running. What a concept!

dirtbagging

We took off at 6am sharp. It was nice a cool and there was enough light. DIdn’t really need my headlamp. We were going to make a loop back to Rodeo Beach before heading towards Tennessee Valley.ready-to-go

rodeo-beach

top-of-coastal

brian-mulholland

I was doing my usual trick of lapping at each aid station and only looking at miles to the next. The Coastal Trail towards Muir Beach wasn’t as muddy as I’ve seen it sometimes. But the Redwood Creek trail was pretty gnarly. I was down to walking, slipping and sliding and took a big fall. Luckily didn’t bust anything.

pirates-cove

The rest of the run until I got to Tennessee Valley (last aid station) was a blur. I didn’t carry any water with me and the cool weather meant I was never thirsty. I think I had a total of five gels over the whole run. The ridges were super gusty with wind twisting me and turning me on each switchback. Lost balance a couple of times but was keeping up a good pace.

miwok-trail

All of the headlands were in bright contrast. Green everywhere and creeks flowing. Such a magical place.single-track

creek-flowing

middle-green-gulch

banana-slug

At the last aid station, I finally looked at the elapsed time and 4:30 with just 5.6 miles to go! A real shot at a sub-5:30. Kept the aid-station visit fairly brief, a couple of swigs of Tailwind, some salt pills and started the ascent up Marincello with some potato chips in my hand.

marincello

finish-line

Had enough leg strength to let loose on Bobcat trail. A fantastic low grade downhill that just keeps on going forever. The trails were moist, but not muddy. Must’ve passed 5 or 6 runners on this segment. One last push and crossed the finish line in 5:26 (16th or 17th in age group). What a fantastic day out in the headlands and so many familiar faces. Next up for me is the inaugural Mendocino Coast 50K next month.


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  • So many familiar faces running different distances or volunteering! Anna Liao, Brian Mulholand, Bryan Weathers, Leigh-Ann Wendling, Duke Hong, Jack Hsueh, William Dai, Rida Chow, Kelly Poe, Sarah Lavender Smith, Mark Hauber – Apparently Lance Armstrong was running this one too (4:20ish finish? *whew*) Didn’t know he was going to be there.

    • Good to see you out there on Sat and congrats again on a great race. 🙂

  • Dirt bagging for sure. Nice work!