Runner: Michael Linscott
Race Date: 03/26/2021
Location: Tri-Cities, Washington (Richland)
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/5019298620/overview
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- It is kind of an under the radar, unknown race, and it has the vibe and charm of a small town. Everyone is welcoming and by the end of the weekend you feel like you are part of a new family.
- The course is two ~25 mile out and backs so it is easy to break the 100 miles down into smaller, more manageable, sections. This also helps with logistics for food, gear, etc
- Living in the PNW is great, all the greenery and beautiful, lush trails. But getting over to Eastern Washington and enjoying the wide open vistas and starry nights is pretty special.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
- There isn’t a lot of “real food” at the aid stations.
- Eastern Washington weather. 36 degrees at the start, 75+ and sunny mid-day and then 40 mile an hour, cold winds in the evening. Bring your sunscreen as well as some warm layers.
- A few weeks before the race the permit didn’t allow for crew or pacers because of Covid. Having run this race before I was planning on crew for most of my calories and to have a pacer in the middle of the night. Hopefully a one-time thing, but it threw a wrench into my planning and affected my race a bit.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
At the top of the very first climb, Badger Mountain, you can see the rest of the course spread out in front of you. The next climb, the road over to the Jeep Trails and then the ridgeline and Butte where you will turn around, 24 miles away! I really liked this but I can imagine it could be intimidating. And the 100 yard culvert under highway! Needing a headlamp in the middle of the day. It was fun but weird!
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
The course is a perfect mix of climbs, descents, rolling trail and flat/road. It feels like just when you are tired of climbing, you are at the top! And after a couple of steep climbs, when all you want is a nice flat trail, you get one for a few miles. I race best when the course is broken up nicely. Where I get to use all my gears and don’t feel worn down with big long grinding climbs, or super long, quad-busting descents.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
I don’t think spending hours training on big climbs is helpful for this race. Work on those transitions between climbing, descending and then running flat. The course throws it all at you. It is an exposed course and the aid stations aren’t necessarily oasis to sit and recover. Some of them were super hot during the day, and at night some were very cold, windy and exposed.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
Respect the Eastern Washington sunshine. The heat got me really quickly around 1pm, and it took quite a few hours to get my core temp back down, and be able to get some calories in. There isn’t a lot of ice or cold water on the course to use for cooling down. Next time I’d try and find a way to get access to a cooler at some point in the middle of the day. Also, I was super sunburned and never really noticed how sunny/hot it was till it was too late.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
The infamous “Jeep Trails”! There are numerous up/downs on some sandy trails that are more difficult than most people expect. Don’t let it get you down, it is only about 2 miles, but be ready for it. Respecting the Jeep Trails and the short steep climbs is important. Also, don’t be tempted to quit at 50 miles just because the turn-around is at the start/finish.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
It is gorgeous! Beautiful vistas, interesting trails on Badger and Candy Mountain and even a few miles next to a vineyard. On the way to the far aid station (Chandler Butte) you can see Mt. Rainier AND Mt. Adams. At night it is even more special with desert orange sunsets, starry, moon filled nights and the lights of Richland and many other towns in the distance.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
It is not a difficult course but it isn’t a PR course either. The fast runners are barely breaking 19 hours. Which, for a course with barely 15k of vert, isn’t very fast. I think because it is pretty runnable, many people go out too fast. And, with the potential for a sunny, warm day after a chilly start, the heat slows a lot of people down. Even with a 32 hour cut-off the DNF rate is pretty high.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
It is a very well run race. You can tell they have done this before.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
I wouldn’t say it is a strong field. Perhaps because it is an early season race or maybe it is a bit under the radar for the higher level of 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.
No special handshake to get in. I think it generally doesn’t fill up until pretty close to race day. There are a few towns nearby with lots of lodging within 20 minutes of the course.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Not a lot of real food at the aid stations. Kind of the standard fare, maybe a cold grilled-cheese, a small bag of chips or a cup of soup at night. If you prefer something more substantial, don’t be relying on the aid stations. Have something in your drop bag, which you can access 4 times at miles 18, 31, 68 and 80, if you need more than just the basics.
Weather and typical race conditions
Chilly start typically. Eastern Washington is the high desert and in the middle of the day, if there aren’t any clouds, be prepared for some brutal sunshine. And the wind can pick up quite a bit. It was so strong it blew over a port-a-potty!
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
A lot of runners used gaiters above their shoes to keep out the sand and dust.
The miles along the ridge out to Chandler Butte (and back) are VERY rocky. I’d recommend some cushioned shoes and strong ankles.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
In a non-Covid year this race is great for spectators, crew and a pacer if you want one. I signed up for it again (2020 version) because my wife enjoyed seeing me every couple of hours and being able to crew my first time there. AND she was still able to run into town for a nap at the hotel, a cold drink and some fast food, or, at night, there was even time for some warm real food at a restaurant.
How’s the Swag?
One other thing I didn’t mention is how inexpensive this race is. Signup is about $150, for 100 miles! And you get a comfy hoody, a long-sleeved shirt, a bag, and of course, a buckle. It isn’t anything special but considering some 100 milers are $400 or more, I was pleased with the SWAG.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
5 out of 5 stars – A great early season race!