Race: Baker Lake 50k

baker lake 50k
Photo: Takao Suzuki

Runner: Stephanie

Date: 10/7/17

Location: Baker Lake, WA

Results: 4:54:47, 2nd female and 15th overall

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  • It was a fun change of pace to run a 50k that was actually runnable the whole way
  • Like many trail races, the atmosphere. It even made it fun to stand around in the rain for hours after I was done.
  • Out and back courses are always kind of fun because you get to see friends, which always gives me something to look forward to.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

I wish we could have seen the lake and Mt Baker that day, but the weather suddenly remembered it was supposed to be PNW-like.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

Compared to other trail ultras, probably the lack of aid (which we were fully warned about). There is only one manned aid station, and it’s at the turnaround. You also pass by gallon jugs of water set off to the side of the trail twice.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

I thought I started out at a good moderate pace for the first 8 miles or so and didn’t waste energy. I also did much better eating than I have in the past, and took in calories at regular intervals.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

I’d say the aid set up is the biggest consideration. And be prepared to run the majority of the time!

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

  • Drink more early. It was my first cooler weather race in a little while, and I wasn’t really thirsty on the way out. I filled up bottles at the turnaround, but got really thirsty on the way back and ended up filling up at streams twice. I was so glad to see them!
  • Also, don’t take my eyes off the trail. You’d think I’d know this by now, but of course the second I looked up to say hi to someone, I tripped, fell, and the Paydays I was carrying got covered in dirt. Tragic!

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Basically the whole trail (after the initial ~1.5 miles on the road) is single track, which is awesome, but makes it really hard to gracefully pass anywhere. I was also surprised to find just how long I was meeting people after the turnaround. Everyone was very kind and polite, even though I’m sure they were tired of stepping off the trail and having their rhythm interrupted.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

I could give a better opinion if I ever looked up, but the trail itself is in great shape, and you spend a lot of time surrounded by beautiful green forest.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Because I don’t typically run for a whole 50k – in a way, yes. No hiking breaks!

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Very well organized.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

It didn’t look super strong when I first looked at Ultrasignup, but then in the weeks leading up to the race more and more strong runners seemed to sign up. It ended up being a fairly competitive race this year.

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.

It’s far away! You can camp at the start. I wasn’t able to head out the night before which made for an early morning drive from Seattle. But definitely doable.

Aid Stations

Two water-only. One typical trail race aid station at the halfway point.

Weather and typical race conditions

From race reports it seemed pretty typical this year. Mid 40s at the start, raining by the end.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

Just water and probably some calories, unless you can make it 15.5 miles without. Since there aren’t any climbs, the temperature stays pretty consistent so I wouldn’t worry about getting cold and bringing layers necessarily.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

No – they can drive to the turnaround I suppose. There was also one spectator out running and cheering on the course, but I think those are the only two options.

Awards

Medals for everyone, Baker Lake Bears for overall men’s and women’s and master’s winners.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

I would definitely recommend it. It was a fun run after a summer of races with a lot more elevation.

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