Race: Canyons 50k
Location: Auburn CA
Date: Apr-29, 2023
Runner: Sid Sriram
Results: 5:39; 89th OA, 4th AG
- Except for 2-3 hard sections, the course was mostly runnable. Given the wet spring in CA, the hills were very green and filled with wildflowers
- The volunteers at aid stations were very proactive, helpful and motivational
- Even though it was pretty competitive, there was a very fun bunch of runners
Not so much:
- Mildly chaotic start that went up a road for a little too long, followed by a very narrow descent on a trail. If you were stuck behind someone, you were stuck for a while
- Even though I knew to expect it, the final 3 miles were a brutal climb up that same descent in 85-degree heat
Weird factor: It was so much slicker than any other race I’ve been to – I guess that comes with the UTMB brand
Highlights: I controlled my inputs well – I handled the heat, ate sufficiently and drank enough. I felt strong and in control throughout – surprised I didn’t hit a mental block anywhere – and ran my fastest two miles (in ~13min) downhill at mile 26. That gave me confidence to push through the final, insanely hot, climb
Lessons for others:
- Get out early if you can. The first bit is a climb up a road which quickly turns into a downhill down a narrow trail where it’s hard to pass
- The heat is a killer. I was in the sauna 4x/week for a month before the race and hated it, but felt it really made a difference to my tolerance
- The aid stations were very well stocked, and in hindsight I didn’t need to carry as much food as I did. YMMV of course
Lessons you learned:
- Don’t fall :). I lost ~15 minutes (slowdown + first aid at aid station) because I took a big fall around mile 10 due to being distracted eating while running downhill, and that would have put me within spitting distance of finishing first in my AG (and an automatic entry to OCC)
- Trust the prep and your coach. I was very nervous since this was my first race longer than 25k and so was very cautious going out. In hindsight I could have pushed myself a little harder and still had a fun race
Aesthetics: Yes, especially this year with the rains. Wildflowers everywhere, and some nice bits running by the river.
Difficulty: I have no baseline to compare it against, but it felt like a hard workout all through. The heat was the biggest factor since I was training in Seattle – the sauna prep helped
Organized?: Yes. UTMB knows how to run races 🙂
Competition: Yes. It’s the NA UTMB major, which means automatic qualification for OCC for AG winners.
Logistics: The 50k sold out, so yes, I’d recommend booking early. I stayed at a hotel in Roseville 20 minutes away, and it was very easy to get to and park across from the start line in Auburn.
Aid stations: Not much to compare against, but they seemed pretty well stocked
Weather: Hot hot hot! There’s an early, mostly-treeless climb that we luckily did before the sun fully rose, and the last 2.5-ish miles was a killer uphill
Gear: I had a 12L pack which was too much in hindsight – I’d likely have been ok with a 5L one, with most of the space needed for hydration.
Spectators: Yes. Spectators could come to two of the aid stations
Swag: Medal and tee – nothing crazy. There is a massive Hoka store if you want to stock up though 🙂
Overall: Definitely would recommend running this race. The big driver is the double UTMB stones, but with their seemingly adding a new race every week I’m not sure that it’ll help too much