Chuckanut 50k Race Report – Ather H

chuckanut 50k race report
Photo: Glenn Tachiyama

Race: Chuckanut 50k

Runner: Ather H

Date: 3/17/2018

Location: Bellingham, WA

Results: 4:45

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

  • This is perhaps one of the biggest trail races in Washington in terms of the number of participants. A great opportunity to meet the local (as well as not so local) fellow ultra runners.
  • A good mix of technical and non-technical speedy trails
  • Views from the ridge!

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

The weather can be crappy but it’s March in Bellingham and that’s part of the package!

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

There’s a relatively flat 10k interurban out and back that you run as part of the first and last 10k of the race. The weirdest part is that the ‘back’ 10k somehow becomes longer and hillier than the ‘out’ 10k 🙂

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

This was my 8th time running Chuckanut so getting lost on the trails keeps on getting harder and harder (also that the trails are well marked). I think I paced myself ok, given I’ve been doing some speed training as part of my training for Boston, but not so much hill training. Was able to sustain a decent pace in the first and last 10 miles of the race. Took the hills (that are largely sandwiched in the middle 30k) conservatively yet still took on the downhills. Running the downhills after the chinscraper was a lot of fun as usual.

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

I think the single most important aspect of this race is how long the last flat 10k of this race feels. Saving some fuel for that will definitely help keep the interurban suffer-fest to a minimal.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Over the years, I have gone back n forth between running the early climbs a little too agressive versus holding back a bit too much (hiking up cleator rd instead of running it). This year, I was a bit on the conservative side (given the lack of hill training) but I still thought I could’ve run cleator a bit faster. Also, the ridge is technical and training on technical trails with exposed roots/rocks is definitely going to help.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The course is a mixed bag of packed gravel road, technical single tracks and urban trails. The last 11 miles are downhill/flat and definitely worth saving up some battery for.

chuckanut 50k race report

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

The views from the ridge and also the interurban trail are stellar. Having said that – given the early time of the year, the likelihood of a Mt. baker sighting is usually low. We definitely lucked out with the weather this year.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

With ~5000ft of vert and much of it packed in the middle 30k section, the race isn’t the toughest but can definitely feel tough if you run out of gas towards the last part. In the past, I’ve had to walk the last 10k due to cramps and have seen many other fast runners struggling to keep the rhythm.

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

Krissy and the gang to a great job of putting this race up.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Definitely one of the most competitive races in the state.

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.

The race gets sold out fast – if you want to run it, definitely sign up for it the day registration opens up (usually the first week of Jan)

Aid Stations

Well stocked aid stations – I carry a single bottle and usually skip the first and last aid station. The one right before chinscraper has the best ‘drinks’ 🙂

Weather and typical race conditions

The 8 times that I have run this race, it has been sunny *once*. We’ve had hail, snow and wind and almost always cold weather.

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

Definitely pack a light rain jacket – gloves are a good idea too given chinscraper can make you go on all fours specially if it’s muddy.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

I believe the first (also the last) aid station on interurban as well as the start/finish are good spots for spectators/crew to hang out.

How’s the Swag?

The patagonia shirt (optional) is one of my favorites!

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

Chuckanut 50k is one of my favorites – it was my first real ultra race back in 2011 and I’ve been running it every year since and hope to keep going back to it. Highly recommend it!

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