Runner: Dan L
Location: Badger Mountain, WA
Results – 9:44:57, 19th place
3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most
1) The friendliest race I have ever been to, from the race director, to the volunteers, to fans out on the course. Everyone was delightful. As just one example, we needed to run back to an aid station to grab some gear we had left behind. A volunteer overheard us discussing that, and she found another volunteer who was heading that way and coordinated for us to follow her over to the aid station.
2) Plenty of on course support. I think there were 14 aid stations for the 50 Miler, about half of which had good real food. Chicken noodle soup to warm up before heading back onto the cold ridge halfway through was quite nice.
3) Lots of variety to the course. Single track on hills, broad and rocky trails on ridge top, fine gravel farm service roads through vineyards, and a few miles of regular road.
Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
There is a spooky tunnel around mile seven and then again around mile 43 which passes under an interstate highway. It was long enough that you were in complete darkness for a while.
Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race
In one stretch, there are three aid stations within ~2 miles. Granted, the third aid station is at the top of the hardest climb on the course (maybe 1100 feet in 0.7 miles), so it is nice to see someone to say “you’re done, here’s some water.”
Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular
Running on McBee Ridge was the highlight for me. You head up a super steep but luckily brief climb (maybe 1100 feet in 0.7 miles) at mile 19. On our race day, that climb took you from below the clouds to a gap in the clouds (so, above the lowest cloud layer, but there were still clouds above us). The lowest layer of clouds was blocked into the valley to the north by McBee Ridge, but the farmland in the valley to the south of McBee Ridge was clear of clouds. The top of the clouds was just below the ridge line, and you could see them bend upwards by the ridge line. It was a really cool effect. We stayed up on that ridge line until about mile 27, at which point we took some really sweet single track back down.
Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
The weather can be highly variable, especially the wind. The ridge lines and hill tops were quite cold and blustery. I run very hot, but I was thankful to have my hard shell jacket to block the wind and rain (and for a little while very small hail).
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
At mile 14.1, the character of the course changed completely. Up to that point, the course was either super smooth trail (7 miles), road (3 miles), or nice crushed gravel jeep track (4 miles). The middle section of the course gave us some gnarly trail that was muddy (given the rain), rocky, and had more difficult footing. The variety made it more fun, but I was just starting to think “hey, this is a pretty easy course”, when I discovered differently.
It is primarily an out and back, with the only deviation being the trails onto and off of McBee Ridge (super steep direct route to get up the ridge, really fun and fast single track to get off the ridge).
Aesthetics – is it a pretty course
I think so. If you are a fan of Eastern Washington, you should love it. Big open spaces and ridge lines. Columbia River and the Tri-Cities in the distance. Plenty of farms and vineyards along the course.
Difficulty – is it a tough course
Moderately difficult. Only other reference point I have is White River, and there’s a bit less climbing and a bit more “cruising trail / road”.
Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Exceptionally well run and well organized.
Competition – is there a strong field?
Field was not as strong as some of the bigger Western Washington races (White River, Chuckanut, Rainshadow). But it wasn’t a pushover field either… 4 of the 80 people were below 8 hours.
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.
Super easy. Registration closes about a week ahead of time.
Lots of aid stations (14), and very well stocked. Also, drop bags available at miles 19 and 31.
Weather and typical race conditions –
Windy in exposed locations (maybe 10 miles), 40s to 60s.
Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
Be ready for wind.
Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends
Friends could pretty easily see you at miles 4, 10, 17, 19, 31, 33, 40, and 46. That’s probably enough that you might get sick of each other.
Not for 19th place ; )
The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it
5 out of 5 stars. I really loved this race.