cascade super halfRace: Cascade Super Fast Half

Runner: Vivian V

Race Date: 06/29/2019

Location: Snoqualmie Pass, WA

Results: 1:41:23

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2490812101

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

  1. No hills!
  2. Beautiful course
  3. Well-organized; great volunteers and pacers

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

  1. The end of the race. The finish area is a little crowded. It’s not really a gathering space; just a narrow gauntlet with back check, food, massage tents, popsicles (that was a nice treat!), and a few portapotties. No area to just stretch and chill.
  2. There is a ~1.2 mile walk from the finish line to the shuttle pickup area (the shuttles that take you back to your car at the start). This walk is downhill and very hard and very rocky – different from the soft packed gravel on the course. Each step was incredibly challenging. My legs stiffened and one of my knees almost gave out on me on my way down. A random couple ended up picking me up and driving me to my car. It would have been a very challenging walk otherwise, only to get onto a cramped schoolbus.

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

The tunnel itself. I’ve done the Iron Horse Half and the Tunnel Light Marathon (which both go through the tunnel) so I was ready for it, but running through a 2-mile dark tunnel is a little weird. There are a few small potholes and puddles, and a few areas where drops of water drip down from the ceiling. Strangely, there were also a few random pedestrians (for some odd reason) walking the opposite direction through the tunnel – so lots to avoid.

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

The pacer I ran with was really good (note: I ran with the 1:45 pacer, which was the fastest one). He told jokes and stories, knew the course like the back of his hand, and gave us lots of positive motivation.

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

  1. There are 2 parking options at the beginning. One is the Hyak Ski Area parking lot, which is very big and free. It’s about a 10-minute easy walk (on pavement) from the start line area. There are lots of signs directing you. The start line is in a second parking lot, which costs about $12. The majority of cars parked here – it was a lot more crowded. I didn’t use it but it looked like an easy credit card-op machine (free if you have a Discover pass).
  2. Because it’s such a journey between the finish and the shuttle bus, I recommend putting a towel and a dry set of clothes/hat in your gear check bag, along with anything else that might comfort you (electrolyte tablets, healthy recovery snacks). You will NOT need sandals/flip flops for the end. You also won’t have any place to foam roll or do any elaborate stretching (at the finish or back at your car), so no need to bring any equipment.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

I’d have someone pick me up at the finish, although I believe the cars that did so had to do some illegal parking.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

There are several race series that take place on this course, but this is the only one (that I know of) that gives you a flashlight to use during the tunnel. You drop it into a bucket as you come out of the tunnel. If you choose to use your own, you must keep it with you the whole time.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

It’s beautiful. There are moments when you will find yourself running without another person in sight and it’s surreal. This is a small local race, but I would encourage non-locals to make it a destination race.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

No. It’s all flat or downhill. The only challenge is running through the dark tunnel.

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

Extremely well-organized. Unlike other races on this course, you don’t need to bring your own headlamp for the tunnel. They give you a small flashlight (with a wrist strap) at the start, and you drop it into a bucket when you emerge from the tunnel. Bib pickup/gear check at the beginning was a breeze. They even have race-day registration. GU and water were available and portapotties are abundant. At the end, they hand you a reusable race-branded water bottle that is full of water, which was a pleasant surprise. There was also free food and popsicles. Volunteers on the course were great; they even warned you when the photographer was up ahead.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Not sure. When I looked at the results, there were about 334 competitors, but about 40 were listed as DNF. I’m assuming they actually DNS.

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.

I registered a week before, and lots of people registered onsite. There was no pre-race bib pickup. If you come in from out of town, just know the race start is about an hour east of Seattle. The Summit Inn is 2 exits away, but driving from Seattle is easy. You can stop at the Safeway (grocery store) in Snoqualmie Ridge, WA on your way to the start if you forgot anything (which I did).

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

Standard fare (GU and water/Gatorade). No Nuun. There was a Search and Rescue guy riding a 4-wheeler on the course to make sure everyone was OK.

Weather and typical race conditions

The nice thing about this course is it’s shaded (i.e., with foliage), so even when it’s hot out, you’re not directly exposed to the sun.

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

It’s difficult to explain the packed gravel situation. You can wear normal running shoes, as opposed to trail shoes. Most people did. My pacer was wearing foot gaiters, but I didn’t see any others wearing them.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

No. There’s really no place to easily legally spectate on the course. There may be one place, but I’m not sure. Have them pick you up at the finish (even parking at the finish is pseudo-legal).

How’s the Swag?

Excellent. The shirt is my favorite race shirt I’ve received so far. This year it was a sleek black technical short-sleeve V-neck. The logo and text look really cool. You also get a branded water bottle, transparent static cling sticker, and Buff neck gaiter. I will say the website mentioned we would get a “fabric gear drop bag,” but the gear drop bag was a normal plastic bag. Not a problem though; it’s probably for the better as it was nice to have the plastic bag for sweaty clothes at the finish.

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

Five stars. I’d do it again.

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