So glad when word went out last week that the start/finish and course had been changed to a lower elevation due to the snow conditions up high. I will miss going up to the peak, but I will not miss the scary drive in the dark to the Falls Creek campground.
Instead we meet at Margaret McKinney, just off a paved road and easy to get to. And no rain this year. Shorts! And trail shoes! It has been to long since I have hit the trails. And $10 entry. Only one aid station, with water only, but that is plenty for my large hand held bottle.
Start - on time this year. I was just chatting with Monte and then it is run time. I am farther back than I would like, but people are moving along. Very large number of runners again, but well organized. From the help with parking to the course markings everything is well done.
Actually nice to get off the trail and onto a logging road for about a half mile. This lets everyone get to their own pace and spread out a little. Most of this course I have run before not on this road. Uphill then an equal downhill that I know is going to be tough on the way back. About a mile on trail and then the stick part of the lollipop course is done.
I don't run with anyone, but it seems like someone is always fairly close. I continue to pass some, and also to get passed. Long gentle downhill on cushy trail that is not too muddy and makes for some fast running.
Past Mima Falls there is one valley that has two little bridges. In my quest to run every trail in Capitol Forest I once ran this area from Mima Falls, and then another day started higher up and came back to the valley, but I did not know there were two identical bridges until I saw the gap in my GPS map. Exciting part of today is that I get to cover that 300 feet or so that I had been missing and otherwise would have taken me hours to complete.
Up and into some clear cuts. I expected the elevation to level off around 800ft, but that was a guess. With my watch I am looking at elevation and ignoring pace, just glancing at the mileage now and then. Feel good, but it is a long uphill with lots of walking.
It finally levels out at 1,000 feet. And a little snow in places.
Now I know I have a 700 foot decline in the next couple of miles. Really nice running. It warms a little as I head down and the sun even peeks out now and then. Happy to reach the lollipop stick. But that means there will be 50K runners coming towards me on their second loop. I step out of the way each time one approaches and try to save a little energy for the road and uphill.
Reach the logging road and the uphill is not that bad. Steve Walters, Pigtails and Jean sightings. Now down and then a half mile on the trail back to the finish. Tired but no wall. A few foot issues and a minor hip thing, but nothing bad.
Finish - 15.1 miles on the GPS
So the course is shorter than last year and the weather and trail conditions were much better. This gives me a 35 minute faster time than last year. Can't really compare, but it was a great day and I feel like the running went very well.
66th place of 113