2021 Ultra #4 – The Puddle Jumper 50K

Last week was super busy and I didn’t really get to run much during the week. I suppose I’ll chalk it up to extra rest days. The Puddle Jumper route was pretty fun, running it right after a storm passed through last night. It starts in Stevens Canyon Road and from there lets me hop across six Open Space Preserves including Upper Stevens Creek, Long Ridge, Skyline Ridge, Russian Ridge, Coal Creek Ridge and finally Montebello Open Preserve. Wasn’t completely feeling it, but was good to keep the weekly ultras streak going. My Strava activity:

Upper Stevens Creek County Park

Given there was no aid station on this loop, I was planning to carry an extra bottle of water with Tailwind with me for the first 5 miles and then stash it behind a tree. I’d then be out 20 miles before coming back this way to pick it up around mile 25. It would turn out to be the right call.

The first five miles went by quick along Stevens Canyon Road. I guess it was still early, didn’t see anyone. Stashed the Tailwind bottle around mile 5 and start making my way up Table Mountain Trail. The trail was moist but not muddy (that would come later). The trees were groaning with the wind and had to climb over a few downed trees.

Long Ridge Open Space Preserve

Crossed Hwy 35 and started on Hickory Oaks Trail. There was a light drizzle coming down, it was overcast and the winds were picking up along the ridge. Not to mention pretty muddy.

Ran into a group of bikers and we would play tag a bit until I entered Skyline Ridge (no bikes there!). Highlight of this run was me slip sliding 10 feet on a steep, muddy downhill only to recover without a face plant. Little victories.

Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve

These are some really amazing trails and I was a little happy to get out of the wind on to the single tracks. I couldn’t move fast on the muddy trails and wasn’t generating enough body heat to compensate for the wind. Was definitely feeling cold. Hindsight I should’ve packed a windbreaker.

Russian Ridge

Ran into a few more hikers once I entered Russian Ridge. The trails continued to be pretty muddy and I was churning a fair bit. One step forward, two steps back in some places. Looped around Alpine Pond and wondered where the turn around point was. I had the route loaded on my Suunto Ambit3, and as watching it to stay on route. Had no idea how many miles I was in and just like that I reached Clouds Rest Road.

Montebello Open Space Preserve

I was in Coal Creek Open Preserve just for a little bit while I descended on Clouds Rest trail and then back out on Alpine Road to Page Mill. The views from Cloud Rest always is stunning, but I wanted to finally get a break from being out on the cold, wind-swept ridge.

Eventually connected to the Canyon Trail and started heading back towards the car. Was tired from churning the mud, but no GI issues or bonking. Picked up the bottle of Tailwind that I had stashed earlier and kept moving.

The sounds of the creek was super soothing. Got back to the car in 5:40. Such a beautiful day. Grateful that my body is putting up with all that I’m throwing at it. Four ultras down, another 46 to go for the year!

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