Race: Canyons 100K

Runner: Jeff K

Race Date: 04/27/2019

Location: Foresthill, CA

Results: 13:20

canyons 100k race report

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

  • I like this race because mostly because it is on the iconic Western States trail and it is also a Western States Qualifier. If I never get in the actual Western States, at least I’ve ran the trail!T
  • he bib pickup place was a running store called “The Aid Station” It has an actual bar in it that serves craft beer and wine decorated with vintage Western States 100 stuff. It was really fun hanging out with runners the day before. I’ve never seen a place like that.

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

The timing of when the race is doesn’t give us PacWest runners any opportunities to train in hot weather

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

This race doesn’t have anything unusual or weird about it.

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

Finishing this race in daylight hours without any falls or other in-run issues, and no new injuries was the best about Canyons 2019.

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

*Canyons 100K is two 50k out and backs, that start in the middle of the Western States 100 route at Foresthill and goes both directions. It is one of those races like White River 50 where you come back to the fanfare of the start/finish line at the halfway point. There will be something in your head that makes you think you are done, and you are not. Try to block those feelings from entering your head.

*The first 50K loop has nice scenic trails that don’t have technical obstacles. This year’s course was the alt-course because there were snow closures farther up the primary trail (although I didn’t see any snow anywhere). Instead of going all the way to the Swinging Bridge, we turned and did a dog-leg out and back on a fire road near Michigan Bluff. With the changes, there was still considerable vert. The normal first loop has about 10K, the alt-course has about 8K. PacWest runners could compare this first loop to running something like Cougar Mountain 50K. Keep it dialed back. Think 100 mile pace and not 50 miler.

*The temperature will start rising about 5-6 hours into the race. This means you can likely get most of the first loop done in the cooler weather. Both the 2017 and this race went into the 90’s in the second half

*The first 4 miles going out on the second loop to the Cal1 aid station felt great. Runners who have managed the first loop well all seem to experience this – it’s a nice downhill and in the trees.

*Leaving Cal1 and continuing towards the turnaround at the Rucky Chucky, and then back the Cal2 aid station were the hardest miles of the race. I had no power to hike a hill. I was in a pretty bad place with the fatigue. What I do when this happens is mentally focus into “finishing mode” e.g. not caring about anything around me except doing what I need to do to make it to the next checkpoint.

*In that second loop there will be a big difference in your finish time if you are walking flats at a 25 minute mile vs. jogging at a 12 minute pace. If you’ve ran the majority of the first loop, its certainly possible to hike the majority of the second half and make the 18hr cutoff. Be sure to pick up a headlamp if you think that will happen.

*Some of the stuff on this race you can simulate in training. I figured out that my favorite pair of shoes would not hold my feet from banging into the toe running super steep downhills on Old Mt. Si trail, and that really hurt. I went with a better pair before this race. Had I not done a simulation on steep long very, I would have been totally F’d on this course.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

If I ever do this race again, and that’s a big *if*, I think I might try to line up a trip to the area to do some training in the actual environment.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

If you can run strong in the second half, you will be highly successful. That is the key to Canyons 100K.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Absolutely. There are some fantastic sites and views on both loops.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Yes. Its up there with 100 mile races.

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

Totally well run

Competition – Is there a strong field?

This year was a golden ticket race so it had a lot of elite runners trying to get the last entries into WS 2019. In years when it isn’t, it has a more club level field with a handful of elites.

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 run it, be sure to sign up first thing, the day it goes live . It usually fills up in a matter of hours.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

They are good. Friendly staff that will ice you down with a sponge. They have shot blocks and GU packs you can take with you.

Weather and typical race conditions

In 2017 and 2019 it got into the 90’s. I heard 2018 was nicer and lower temps. The heat is a wildcard, but I’d say you’d be lucky not to get it.

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

I carried a single bottle for the first loop and picked up a secondary soft flask for the second. I’d recommend two bottles for the second loop. If you run out, there is creek water but they don’t recommend drinking it. Runners are lying down in those creek pools to cool off all day long.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

It’s crazy fun at the midway point and the finish line

How’s the Swag?

This year was awesome. Great shirt from Rabbit that I will definitely keep and wear, and a real backpack from Hoka. Their shirt from 2017 went into Goodwill a couple months after the race.

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

Don’t think that since its a 100K, that it is one of the easier options to qualify for WS100.

canyons 100k race report