Race: The Canyons 100k – http://www.runcanyons.com/

Runner: Josh B

Date: 5/7/2016

Location: Foresthill CA- Western States Trail

Results – Dropped at 75k.

3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most

  1. Course- I chose this race because it was on the Western States Trail and was not disappointed with the trail. It allows you to see parts of the trail that you hear a lot about during the Western States 100.
  2. Volunteers- It really seemed like the volunteers were all trail runners and were all very familiar with the course. Most the volunteers were from the area and had run Western States and had intel on the upcoming sections.
  3. People Racing- It seemed like everyone was there to get a WS qualifier and were all extremely drawn to the area. Having a common goal with all the other runners was fun and gave us a lot to discuss while running. There were also several people that I ran with that had run states and had funny/interesting stories from their states experiences. It made the time fly by, at least for the first half.

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

I had high expectations of this course as I have been thinking of running on this trail since I started running 4-5 years ago. The race met and exceeded all my expectations.

One thing that was somewhat disappointing was the weather on race day. For most of the day it was in the low 50’s and lightly raining. Made for somewhat nice running weather but also made the views on course minimal. In the canyons it was extremely foggy so you couldn’t really see anything.

I can’t be too disappointed in the weather though because last year the highs were in the 90’s in Foresthill and even hotter/humid in the canyons.

Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race

One thing I thought was weird was that when you check in they give you your bib but make you get the race schwag after the race. When you finish, or drop in my case, the last thing I want to think about is grabbing my T-shirt and hat. Although both were very nice. Most races I have been to give all this stuff to you at the packet pickup.

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

The first 50k went exactly to plan.I was within 5 minutes of my goal time for this section and felt very comfortable. The gear and nutrition I used in training worked to perfection on race day. Going into the race I was worried about how I would feel after this section because it had almost 10k of vert and an equal amount of downhill.

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

For the first 40 miles I was right on my pre-race splits. In the early 40-mile range I had a low spell that I never mentally got out of. I mentally felt that at the pace I was going that I could not meet the finish cut-off. My legs felt crappy and mentally I checked out. I dropped at 75k thinking it was impossible to finish.

Looking back on my garmin data it does not appear that I slowed like I thought. I wasn’t moving fast but I was moving fast enough to potentially finish. Trying to calculate splits in a mentally low spot was not a good idea. Hindsight I should have kept moving forward. I would feel better today knowing that I at least tried to finish and then missed a cut-off. Dropping because I thought I couldn’t do something was not right. If you are given a certain amount of time, keep moving the entire time unless injured, and let fate happen as it will. Finish or not.

Aesthetics – is it a pretty course

I would say it is a pretty course especially this time of year because the grass is still green and the creeks still have water in them. I would guess come the end of June for Western States it feels a lot more like a desert. There is also some nice viewpoints if not foggy/cloudy.

Difficulty – is it a tough course

The first half is pretty tough with 10k of vertical and pretty long/steep climbs up devils thumb and michigan bluff. Devils Thumb was especially tough because it was all mud due to the rains. It felt like each step forward was two steps backward. I carried trekking poles for the first 50k which made a huge difference.

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

It was very well organized. All the volunteers were knowledgeable about the course and all seemed to be runners.

Competition – is there a strong field?

It is a very strong field. People use this race as a last tune up for Western States. The runners that win this race have proven to do very well at states. I could see this race becoming a Golden Ticket race in the near future with automatic entries to States which will only make the field even more competitive.

There is talk of also making the final cut-off shorter which will make the overall field more competitive.

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.

If you want to do this race you will want to sign up as soon as it opens in the fall. It will sell out quickly. Make sure you let me sign up first though. ???? I have revenge in mind.

Aid Stations-

The aid station volunteers were well stocked and had great volunteers. The race had most of the nutrition items that I trained with which allowed me to carry minimal stuff. Aid stations are close together so on a cold year there is no need to carry a bunch of water or food. On a hot year I could imagine the need for carrying at least 40 oz of water at a time to be able to cool off and stay hydrated.

Weather and typical race conditions –

The race is a couple years old. Last year it was hot and in the 90’s and this year it was rainy and in the low 50’s. Be prepared for anything. I would imagine it is typically going to be hot so heat training may be a good idea.

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

The weather will affect this drastically. Hot weather will require the ability to carry lots of water and keep your body cool with ice bandanas or some other method. The rain caused me to need a light rain jacket and I had a change of socks/shoes which I ended up not needing. For the first half I carried a UD Pack and trekking poles and in the second section I only carried a single handheld.

The first half and second half are very different in terms of difficulty which caused my gear to change. Depending on individual needs I would assess the gear needed for each section.

Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends

There is only a couple spots spectators can get to on the course. The start/finish as Foresthill is a pretty fun atmosphere and has restaurants and coffee shops for spectators to hang out at while you run. During the 100k runners come through town at the halfway point and the crowd cheering is a pretty nice mental boost.

Awards –

They give out nice belts to all the male finishers and hand crafted necklaces to all the female finishers. The podium finishers got some pretty cool metal artwork.

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

4 out of 5. I would recommend this race for anyone who ever wants to run Western States or for anyone who wants to run on the historic course but does not want to fight with the lottery.

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