Tiger Mountain 50k – Stephen D

Race: Tiger Mountain 50k

Runner: Stephen

Date: 5/20/17

Location: Issaquah, WA

Results – 6:55:08

3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most
1) I know the course inside and out so I knew where I could push hard and where I can relax. (Poor excuse for a reason to like it, but having first hand knowledge of the course is a confidence booster. I would say I didn’t use it to the full extent since it was more of a fun training run than a true race for me.)
2) I love the railroad grade section. Its is one of my favorite runs in both directions. It is super well maintained and is absolutely gorgeous old growth.
3) This sounds weird but it’s hard. I love hard. The harder the better. I tend to appreciate things that are hard more than when they are easy. The back half makes you earn it and it is unrelenting.
Bonus) I have to give credit to how Northwest Trail Runs does their raffles. They do it based on your race number and have the winning items sitting on the finishers table after the race. I liked that.

Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
1) This course has sparce aid stations on the back half (I talked to the race director for some suggestions to the issue. He took notes and could tell I knew the mountain well based on my inputs)
2) The DNR hadn’t gotten out on lots of the trails this year so there were a bunch more trees and overgrowth on the back half of the course. Not that the DNR doesn’t do a great job, its the fact this winter was super tough on the mountain and the trail network.

Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race
1) How two years in a row the race can start at 55 degrees and end at almost 80.

Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular
I tend to pride my self on my speed going down technical terrain. But this race in particular I really ran the first climb well. I also ran the railroad grade really well. In fact I ran down three mountain bikers. Two on the way up and believe it or not, one on the way down! I took the back half easier since I knew this was a training run and for fun, so I ran with a buddy for a while and stopped to enjoy some views every once in a while. I love tiger.

Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
Biggest lesson – the back half is where 2/3 of the elevation is. It is easy for this race to go out way too fast. The first 13 miles are all very runnable and its easy to be feeling good that early in the race. The second half gets harder from a climbing perspective. Miles 18-25 are easily the most tough from the climbing perspective. There is a spot for a drop bag at the mile 13 aid station (it is essentially the start/finish line)

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
I ran the race I really wanted to for a training run, I ran the first half hard and the second half easy. I enjoyed myself and had a great time. I did get hot towards the end, and was starting to get dehydrated due to the heat.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
If the aid stations do not improve (or if the race doesn’t change where the aid stations are) the aid station at mile around 19 (aid station number 5) – FILL UP YOUR WATER!!!

Aesthetics – is it a pretty course
Yes I like to think so – although there are not many views – only one that I can particularly think of and it is easily missed. Its at about mile 22 and there is a little bench to look through a clear cut at the valley.

Difficulty – is it a tough course
I would claim this as about a 7.5 out of 10. Anything with over 6500 ft of gain is in my wheel house. But again I like hard.

Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Last year my answer would have been seat of their pants. But it was their first year. This year it was better. I did mention the improvement to the aid stations earlier, but I did like how this was a low key race.

Competition – is there a strong field?
There were two strong guys, but there was only about 25 runners total

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.
The signup was open until 3 days before the race and it also had day of. I like the low key aspects of the race, but on the other hand do enjoy more camaraderie.

Aid Stations
I think I have covered the logistics, however I have not covered the actual items. They were okay. They had PB&J but a few aid stations used weird peanut butter, such that I don’t think it was peanut butter but almond or pecan butter. They did have have the other standards like gu and cliff gels, oreos, bananas, some oranges, watermelon, chips, pretzels, and electrolyte drink and water. They did not have more than that.

Weather and typical race conditions –
The last two years it has started cold around 55 and ended around 80. But this time in spring is always a crap shoot.

Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
Regular 50k really. I didn’t use poles and don’t think they are necessary. Nothing special. Some of us wore vests others used handhelds. I think that is more a personal preference.

Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends
NO. The only time they will see you is half way and the finish. Plus parking is pretty limited. The one benefit is that the 50k is the earliest race, so typically there is the most parking available to those runners. If you are going to race a shorter race – get there early or you will have to walk up to half a mile to the start. Also they had about 5 port a potties this year which was better than last year when there was only 2.

Awards –
Decent. They give mugs of various sizes to the top three in each race for each distance, male and female. They also had a good assortment of shirts and shoes for sale at the start/finish line.

The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it
I give it a solid 7 out of 10. 1 point deduction for the lack of really good views, 1 point of deduction since i think another aid station would vastly improve the back half, and finally 1 point deduction because of the lack of competition/people (it could easily handle another 30 or more people which would make it more fun) and there are no official cut off times. That may bug some folks. Since they may come up to you and tell you that you are cut off.

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