Race: Grand Ridge 50k – http://www.evergreentrailruns.com/grand-ridge-fall-upcoming
Runner: Matt U
Location: Exit 20 on I-90 east of Issaquah
2nd overall, 4:42.53
3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most
- Local race with lots of local friends
- Trails were well maintained and not muddy, which was surprising given that it was November in WA and it seemed like it should be muddy!
- There happened to be a fast guy to pace with, even though he dusted me in the end.
Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
- It was a small race and really low key. I knew this already so it wasn’t a downside, but it’s good to know heading in so you don’t have expectations for a big racing extravaganza. There are a decent amount of mountain bikes on the course which could get annoying. However, I didn’t encounter any rude or discourteous cyclists on course. They tended to stop and move for me and some even cheered as I passed.
Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular
- I am really happy with how I managed my race. This was primarily a training run so that I could get in a hard long run. Because of this, I didn’t want to race too hard or go too hard too soon and wreck my legs for future training. I worked hard, and because Chase Nowak (the winner of the race) was with me for most of the race, I pushed even harder than I likely would have on my own during the latter stages of the race. All around good effort and my goals for the race were all met.
Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
- The third time up the hill was hard. The first time up was noticeable, the second was really tiring, and the final up was just UGHHH! Be ready for the climbs and the fatigue you’re likely to feel later in the race on the climbs.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
- There were more aid stations than I had remembered (I did this race in 2013 too). I knew there was an aid station at the start/finish/turn around, and that there was water at the turn around of the half marathon course. However, there is also aid a few miles into each loop that we pass twice each loop. I carried more fluids than I needed the first lap as a result and I would carry less next time around knowing there was plenty of aid available.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
- There is plenty of climbing – my watch said there was 5,528’ feet over 29.9 miles. The course is all runnable though and not technical. If you’re not ready for hills though, it’s not so runnable! 🙂
Aesthetics – is it a pretty course
- It’s all wooded with no major views. If you like running in the forest, it’s a pretty run. It starts and finishes close to the interstate so there is some freeway noise for parts of the race.
Difficulty – is it a tough course
- Moderate for a 50k trail race with elevation. There certainly easier 50ks out there but there are all more difficult ones.
Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
- This isn’t their first time doing this race and it’s a pretty straightforward deal. No awards (that I knew of) and no shirts, just a simple local 50k. They didn’t screw anything up and it all seemed to function smoothly.
Competition – is there a strong field?
- There were a couple faster guys, but it’s generally a small race (only 36 finishers) and therefore not likely to be fast. Hit or miss race when it comes to competition.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
- Really easy. I signed up close to race day, and it wasn’t too expensive, around $50. Packet pickup (just the race bib, actually) was at the start an hour before the race started.
- There were two manned aid stations, and one unmanned water stop at the turn around point. This was plenty for this race. There were 8 total spots to get something along the course, and for a 31 mile race, that is plenty.
Weather and typical race conditions –
- November in the Seattle area, I wouldn’t have very high expectations for good weather and I’d be sure to own some good rain gear if I were planning to run this race!
Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
- I wore my 5L Salomon vest, and carried one 0.5L soft flask along with some gels. I rarely needed to stop to refill because it was cooler weather and wet so I wasn’t thirsty often. If the weather were bad, I could see wanting more weather-specific gear.
Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends
- Not really. There is access at the aid station in the middle of the course, along with the start/finish, but most of the race is back in the forest with little spectator access. However, given all the out-and-backs on the course, there are plenty of runners to be seen along the way, and lots of cheering from fellow racers.
- None that I am aware of.
The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it
- For me the race is 4 out of 5. There isn’t much more they could do to make the race better, but given the nature of the race, I don’t think 5/5 stars is achievable. The race is well run and it was a perfect training race for me as I build toward bigger goal races ahead.