Race: Baker Lake 50k
Runner: Uli Steidl
Location: Concrete, WA
Results: 3:45:50, 2nd place
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- The race organization – Terry is doing a great job.
- The friendly atmosphere at the race.
- The out-and-back layout lets you see and cheer for every runner in the field no matter how fast or slow you are.
- The race is all single track except the first and last 1.7 miles. There are some awesome views of the lake. Not sure about the mountains as it was all cloudy on race day.
- The post race food. Besides the typical ultra-aid-station-food there was 2 different soups, burgers, pulled pork, and a never-ending supply of beer. And unlike some other events that have beer at the finish line, this one was free.
- And did I mention the tents, propane heaters, camping chairs and blankets?
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
The trail was not very technical. In fact, it was quite smooth by Pacific Northwest trail standards. I wish there were more rocks and roots.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
On the way out I ran a pace I thought was honest, but not too fast. I managed a slight negative split (1:53:20 – 1:52:30) on the way back.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
The race is 100% runnable. There are constant ups and downs, but besides the first 1.7 miles there are no larger climbs. 200ft max, most are less than 100ft. Of course, those climbs start to add up, and especially if you went out a little aggressive even small uphills may slow you to a walk.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
I carried too much liquids with me. Of course if it’s warm, I’ll need those. But for the conditions I had too much, and it needlessly added weight.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
There is a water-only AS at mile 5.5 (and 25.5), and a full service AS at mile 15.5. I ran in road shoes and had no problem with traction, even though it had rained a lot the night before. The wooden bridges can be slippery, though.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
Yes, highlights are crossing the Baker Lake Dam, and several viewpoints overlooking the lake. For the most part the trail is a typical single track forest trail with views of the lake between the trees.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
For a trail race I give it a 2 out of 5 on technical difficulty, and also a 2 out of 5 on hilliness. Overall I think this is one of the easier 50k courses out there and a great first 50k
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Definitely well run. You will have to pay a little more attention to where you’re going as the trail is only marked by a few ribbons. If you are used to Northwest Trail Run races with flagging, spray chalk, arrow signs …. not at this race. On the positive, all the side trails end shortly at either a camp site, the lake, or a backcountry toilet, so you can’t get lost. I only had to stop once for a few seconds, that’s it.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
There was this year. Both Keith and I were well under the old CR, me by 11 minutes, him by 12 minutes.
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.
Many runners camp at the Kulshan Campground – right by the start-finish area. Registration a few weeks in advance was no problem. There is no lottery and I don’t think the race ever sold out.
Weather and typical race conditions
It’s in October…. it was dry for the first 3:30 hours of the race, then rained for the remainder of the day. Expect typical October weather. Since the race is a low altitude it will never be snowed out.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
No, no special gear required.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
Spectators can be at the start and finish, and at the 15.5 mile aid station. All other parts of the course are only reachable by foot. Or by boat.
Finisher’s medal, stuffed animal bears for the top finishers.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
4 out of 5.
I think my only complaint is that it is not technical enough. As few miles of really rocky trail, and a few steep climbs and descends, and I’d give it 5 stars.