Chuckanut 50k Race Report – Olin Berger

chuckanut race reportRace: Chuckanut 50k

Runner: Olin Berger

Race Date: 03/16/2019

Location: Bellingham, WA


Strava Activity Link:

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

Chuckanut is a local classic that always draws strong competition. It has some good trail sections and climbs, but also has a chance to showcase your speed on flats (should you have any).

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

*See showcasing of speed* Cruising flats is not my forte, so a 50k that includes 20k of flat, hard-pack trail is not going to be my favorite. Though it’s always a good test of fitness to see how fast you can go after long climbs and descents. Snow this year also made for some annoying footing.

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

The high speed factor brought in by the 10k beginning/end of the race is “weird” for a trail ultra in my opinion.

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

This was my third attempt and first that didn’t include a blow-up in the last few miles. I felt strong and consistent throughout, which combined with a top 5 finish made for a satisfying race.

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

It is so easy to assume that you’ll be able to make up time in the last 10k on the flats, but it is always so much harder than you think. Practice being able to run fast on flats after big descents. It makes it even tougher mentally to feel crushed on flat trail.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Always kick, there’s something left.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Don’t use all of your speed on the first 10k, be sure to save some of your legs for the way home.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

The back 30k is pretty nice, but 20k is on inter-urban trail, which is fine, but not stunning.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

A decent amount of climbing packed into the middle 30k, but a lot of flats and 90% of the course is easily runnable. Not much technical trail skill required.

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

It’s been around for a long time and run by pros. Well-oiled.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Very strong field. A lot of fast people show up for this one.

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.

Easy to get into; you just have to register right when the race opens.

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


Weather and typical race conditions

This race has always had sunny weather in the three years I’ve participated. But we had snow on the course this year.

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

Fast shoes.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Somewhat. A lot of options to view the first/last 10k. Fewer options on the trail portion.

How’s the Swag?

Minimal. Nothing especially different from other races.

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

If you like pure speed, this is your race. A local classic, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “must-run.”