Much Ridge-ness At the Brutiful Vista Verde 50K

My last ultra for the year, the inaugural Vista Verde 50K by Robert Rhodes had all the vistas and amazing amounts of verde too. And quite a brutiful course too with short, steep rolling climbs that never seem to let up. Complementing the climbs were amazing runnable single-tracks under the canopy of Oak trees with the weather staying in the high 50’s. A perfect way to get away and be in the moment. Here’s my Strava activity:

Vista Verde 50K

Some familiar faces at the start line – Larry Neumann (volunteering), Sarah Lavender Smith, Liz PageAshley and Kenneth Clews.


As we rounded the bend on Alpine Lake and headed up the beautiful trails of Long Ridge, the spanning vistas were a sight for sore eyes. The morning sun gently warmed us up even as we could feel the chilly breeze blowing across the ridge line. Things just couldn’t get better than this. Pacific ocean far away to the left and Mount Diablo and the entire Silicon Valley to the right. This was all Vista.

That’s Mindego Hill behind me in the picture below. It’s part of the Russian Ridge Open Preserve and opened not too long ago (March, 2016). I’ve been wanting to explore that for sometime now and finally got the chance. Quite a steep hill, but every bit worth it when you get to the top with amazing 360 views.

Down Mindego Hill and then a long brutiful climb up to the mile 11 aid station. The weather was so awesome, that a single hand-held of water and maybe a gel lasted me through the 11 miles. Refilled the water, grabbed some chips and headed back to the start line for the 2nd 15-miles. If the first half was Vista and the second half was all Verde. The seven miles leading up to the next aid-station was in some ways the hardest for me. I was running with a hand-held water on one hand and a GoPro Hero5 Session on the other. Was kinda betting on gels at the aid station, but had to switch plans and stuff some chips into the small pocket of the hand-held. Almost bonked before I got to mile 22.

More chips at the mile-22 aid-station and headed out for the turn-around. Saw Sarah coming back, looking strong. She would go on to finish 5:30ish. Switched my hand-held from water to Gatorade to keep the salt intake. And more chips.

Not that I had a goal time, but at some point on the return to the finish line, I had a brief idea of a sub-6:00 run, but nope. The gnarly climbs around the tree-farm just a mile or so from the finish line ensured that I had to walk it out. Oh well.

Pulled into the finish line at 6:05, but very thankful and happy to finish the year with such an awesome run. I was telling Rob that there could easily be a 50-miler here with all those amazing trails up on the ridge and down Stevens Creek canyon. Lots of permits though, as these trails are managed by different counties!


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  • Sarah Lavender Smith

    Wonderful report and photos — it was great to run with you!

  • Robert Rhodes

    Thanks for sharing the photos and for the positive race report! Looks like Vista Verde lived up to its name. I’ll see what I can do about the gels 😉

    • Ash Ley

      I also ran out of nutrition, normally 4 gu packets is enough for me in a marathon, but not yours!!!! I needed 5 or 6. 😂 💓🙌 Great course Robert Rhodes, stunning views, breath taking hills, literally!!!!