Quicksilver 100K – The Good, Bad & Ugly

Let me just say Quicksilver 100K is the hardest course I’ve run, so far. A sadistic 100K with 13,000+ feet of relentless steep climbs, this one never lets up until you cross the finish line. None of the ‘hard part of the course is over after this climb‘ stuff here. Even the downhills in Quicksilver 100K felt like they went up. But I’m here alive on day two with sore quads and calves but no injuries whatsoever. And BTW, I’m officially crowning myself as King of Low Mileage Training. 🙂 Here’s my Strava activity from the run:

Also, there’s nothing ugly about any of this. Just a title for a blog that came to me the night after the run when I was all beaten up. If anything the Quicksilver 100K trails are just spectacular, punishing, but amazing.

Quicksilver 100K

The day after Mendocino 50K I looked at the elevation profile for Quicksilver 100K and freaked out. With three weeks to go, I crammed in one hour/day intervals on my treadmill @ 15% grade for the next two weeks. That was it. Two days before the race, I made this map by obsessing over the aid stations, elevation profile, drop bag details and guesstimating the splits. One, I was pleasantly shocked how close I came to the estimates and two, it was pretty cool to see a few folks print out the map on race day. Looking back at Miwok 100K from last year, I’d spent more than an hour in aid stations! So this year I had three goals: Pace myself early on, relentlessly forward and finish. That’s it.

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Dirtbagging in my van the night before the race has become my thing now. Woke up @ 2:45am to a clear sky with fantastic stars. Stepped out of the car with a ‘Wow’. The climb up to Hicks Rd was nice, cool and unhurried. Into the mine entrance, around the Hidalgo Cemetery and past English Camp and the Rotary Furnace. The vista opened up on the steep climb to Bald Mountain with the sun rising. Jog a little, walk a little, rinse, repeat. Wildflowers in full bloom everywhere. Ran around the lollipop, picked up the bracelet.

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Getting to top of the Kennedy was a fair bit of power hiking with a little jogging here and there. The weather was overcast with a cool breeze. Fantastic views all around. Downhill running is definitely my strength and I can make up time pretty quick. But with my $30 ultra-minimal shoes and the rocky terrain, the descent to Lexington was a little slow. A short 3 minute pit stop to lube up, reload gels and I was out again. The steep climb and the Kennedy rollers were slow going. More views and wild flowers.

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Second bio break at Hicks Rd and I gave up on my Quinoa patties after the last one took 15 minutes to nibble through. Coke, gels and potato chips it was going to be. No cramps so far with regular intake of salt pills. Ice under the hat, check. Wet & cold scruff around the neck, check. Sugar level, normal. Thirsty, nope. All systems still a go. When I got to Hacienda I saw a sign that said 3.1 miles to Mockingbird. The Quicksilver 100K sign posts need a qualifier. As in, “this will be nuttiest, hottest, steepest 3.1 miles you’ll have to get through before you see your drop bag“. Anyways, finally got to Mockingbird right around 2pm. Another 3 minute stop and I was out of there. The suckiest part of having to go through Mockingbird (the finish line) was 1. the smell of beer & bbq and 2. the front runners finishing up their 100K while some of us still had 20 miles to go.

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It was getting warm now and I was grateful we were running through the shaded New Almaden trails. I was thinking to myself if it takes me 5 hours for the remaining 20 miles, I’ll finish @ 7pm which meant 14:30 for the overall time. Not too shabby, except the next 3 miles took me an hour. Now the ETA was looking closer to 8pm and I really didn’t want to run the last tired miles in headlamp. More coke, potato chips and gels at the top of Bull Run. Finally a non-rocky descent I can bomb down on! The next 6.1 miles went by pretty quick as I made up time.

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As I left Tina’s Den AS, I was exhausted, legs were thrashed and the usual “WTF am I doing this for” feelings were surfacing. But one foot in front of the other. Just keep walking, walking. Just under 6 miles to the top and 3.5 down to the finish. I got this. 9 miles in 3 hours and I could do that with 20 minute/mile walking. As I rounded the corner to see the reservoir, I was curious and looked at the pace. I was averaging 16 minute/mile. Hmm, maybe instead of running, I could just power hike to a sub-15 finish? As I picked up the pace it was now 14-15 minute/mile on the low grade hill. And this was far more efficient than running at this point. That was pretty much the story to the top of the Bull Run, including the gnarly 0.6 mile out and back to Enriquita AS. It was working!IMG_1903IMG_1905IMG_1906IMG_1907

Past the Bull Run aid station, started running as soon as the downhill started and kept pushing. By now I should’ve known. It’s never just a downhill in Quicksilver. There were some steep ups and descents even in the last few miles. One last push and I came sprinting down the hill charging to the finish line as a mad man. Finished in 14:17, just 3 minutes longer than my Miwok 100K time, but with 2,000+ ft more of elevation gain/loss. Was so happy to see my wife and older son waiting at the finish line. Apparently that’s a clear Western States 100M qualifier, though I just don’t have the calling for a 100M at this point. That’s not why I ran Quicksilver 100K anyways. Maybe another year.

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It takes a village to pull through a under-trained, mid-packer like me through 62 miles. Thanks to the folks that helped me quickly leave the aid stations. Apologies if I missed a name in the later parts of the race. Things got a little fuzzy while I was so introspected doing mental math and self-health checks. And thanks to all the volunteers for the fantastic support.

Tim Thompson & Jeff Clowers at the Bald Mountain AS
Duke Hong & Jeremy Johnson at the Lexington AS
Mark Hauber & Nate Dunn at the Mockingbird Hill AS – thanks for getting me out of there quick!
Peter Hargreaves & Mike Kreaden at the Bull Run AS – Maybe the Striders 50K in September?
Stuart Taylor at the Enriquita AS – Thanks for leading up all the training runs!
Brian Mulholland for handing me an ice cold coke at the finish line
Kristen Dymmel, Saurabh Bhasin & William Dai for sharing their miles with me


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  • It takes a village to pull a mid-packer like me through 62 miles. Thanks to all of the volunteers that made this possible. Also thanks to the following folks for helping not linger around aid stations and sharing many a mile: Tim Thompson, Jeff Clowers, Duke Hong, Jeremy Johnson, Mark Hauber, Nate Dunn, Peter Hargreaves, Mike Kreaden, Stuart Taylor, Brian Mulholand, Kristen Dymmel, Saurabh Bhasin, William Dai.

    • It was great to see you out there – I wish I could have seen you finish (had to leave Mockingbird early for event). You should throw your name in the hat for WS though – you probably won’t get in and at least it starts the process 🙂

  • Nice. I took a lot of mental pictures on this one 🙂 Hard course, but very satisfying. Glad to read you almost matched Miwok time from last year – albeit on a harder course. And yes, throw your name in already. Do what Jeff says

  • “this will be nuttiest, hottest, steepest 3.1 miles you’ll have to get through before you see your drop bag“

    OMG yes! I was very, very mistaken in looking forward to my first trip into Mockingbird.

    • Hope to see you at the Striders 50k!

      Good run, good people, less hills. 😉

  • I can’t believe how awful that little 3 mile section was -Hacienda to Mockingbird (40-43). For me that was worse than the climb outta Lexington. I thought I’d never get to MBird.

  • I was there

  • nice job! I switched to the 50K, thankfully!

  • Nice write up, those 3.1 miles to Mockingbird nearly broke me.

    You should put your name in the WS hat, just in case. With the lottery system if you aren’t selected one year and qualify in consecutive years you double your odds. Just as insurance for the future if you might ever want to run it…